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  • by Sarah Awad

Sarah's Comic Con Chronicles, Entry I: Who, What, and Why

The Comic Con Chronicles will document Sarah's quest to 3D print her cosplay for 2015 New York Comic Con. She hope through these entries to share what she has learned, especially from a 3D modeling and printing perspective, and hopes her findings can both aid and inspire her readers in their own 3D printing journeys.

What and Why: The Project’s Conception

Both Dhemerae and I have been interested in moving into more wearable 3D work for a while. Living in New York, where the computational fashion/ Wearable Tech/ 3D printing fashion community is very alive and well, we often found ourselves overwhelmingly inspired after attending a meetup or lecture, fantasizing about what we could contribute. In our personal work and that as TheLaserGirls, we truly feel a calling to push the boundaries of what 3D printing technology is capable of, and raise the bar for what is possible. We want to be pioneers, and felt that creating wearables was the right next step, turning up the volume -both as a technical/design challenge and conceptual challenge- to all the right levels.

As admirers of the craft, we saw cosplaying for Comic-Con as the perfect gateway project to pursue these wearable dreams. The structure and context were there: we had an unmoving deadline (Convention weekend) that the project had to be finished by, and since we would be making costumes based off of pre-existing characters, we had an unlimited amount of reference material to work off of, from movie clips and images, to the work of other cosplayers and designers. And since we have never printed anything to this scale, we would be willingly faced with a challenge that would force us to push our limits as artists and designers, and learn heaps of new techniques along the way. This was a perfectly balanced challenge, and we were psyched to get started.

All the images used in this post are directly from "The Sleeper and the Spindle"

Who: Choose Your Weapon

We each chose a character that we not only felt a strong connection with, but also found their garb to have the right balance of old and new territory for us to explore from a 3D perspective. For me, “The Queen” was the one straight out of the gate. I felt that fate put us together for this project.

The protagonist of Neil Gaiman’s fairy tale, The Sleeper and the Spindle, the Queen is a reimagined Snow White, post-kiss, and how she sets out to find the source of a sleeping curse that is slowly consuming the land she now rules.

My first impression of the character was that I looked just like her (just tanner!). I adore Chris Riddells’ luscious illustrations in this book, and his thick browed, long locked, bug eyed, pouty lipped Queen felt uncanny alongside my thick browed, long locked, bug eyed, pouty lipped self. I had never seen a character that resembled me so closely before; a mix of Lebanese, Irish, German, and Polish, I had never known anyone that shared similar features to me! It was as if I was watching myself take her journey as I read. Needless to say, I felt a bond with her right out of the gate.

More importantly though, I was struck by the complexity and nuance that Gaiman did such a beautiful job crafting into her character. The Queen successfully fails to be a stereotype; she is equal parts hard and soft, masculine and feminine, stoic and vulnerable, confident and humble. She is never one or the other, and has true, realistic depth through the conversations these layers engage in. She feels like a real woman, and I found myself being drawn to her in a genuinely special way.

And technically, her garb fit the balanced challenge bill to perfection. Since she is a drawing, the ambiguous information regarding color, pattern, and texture would allow flexibility with my interpretation and would let me put a twist on the design, which suits my interests more so than creating an accurate duplicate. It would also force me to confront my greatest weakness: making things fit together. As a more organic sculptor, I have found engineering workable parts and/or parts that fit together to be a more difficult feat. While Dhemerae immediately understands machines, I find that it me a bit longer to truly understand how things work; I will eventually get there, but I have to put in more work than others. My brain is just not programmed in that way, and that is fine. I just need to exercise the muscle more, and making large pieces of armor that have to fit perfectly together is basically like the ultimate bench press. It is also the cornerstone of the costume actually working, so I gave myself no choice but to learn it and learn it well.

This choice would also give me an opportunity to explore new areas of post processing. I learned a lot of different techniques while working on my university thesis project, but I know that I have only scratched the surface with what is possible. Finishing this armor with a metal appearance would be something I have never attempted before, but would only put a few more chunks of knowledge in my brain, and a whole lot of unique experience under my belt.

This project is a game changer for me; it is the most daring, complex, and straight up largest production of a 3D print I have ever set out to make thus far. From start to finish, it will be an exciting, but nail-biting experience, and I nervously look forward to Thursday October 8th, when I will put on my creation on as not just as a different person, but as a new, more experienced maker.

T-minus 5 months until Game Day...

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