SLComicCon Cosplay Classes – Upcycling (June 2014)


Salt Lake Comic Con is providing cosplay workshops to help get your A-game ready for September’s comic con. I attended the inaugural workshop in June and thought you would be interested to hear what they talked about specifically. This particular workshop focused on upcycling or reusing old materials to create a new work. They slated 6 presenters who talked about different topics such as dumpster diving, creating wigs from paper and more. Here are the introductions to each of the presentations:

I’m not going to write up the entire workshop because there is definitely value in attending and being able to interact and ask questions. I loved Jason Luu’s presentation (the guy in the pink shirt). He was awesome. He walked you through the processes of design up through the beginnings of fabrication. Here are the highlights:

Jason Luu

  1. Build a Story
    Jason encourages us to find out the background information on the character that you’re building. This way you can have a good mental image of things the character would do while designing. I can see value in this for a few reasons. If you’re trying to decide what kind of materials to use, it could be helpful to know what the character would choose. Often times you’ll know you need something black, but you might have flexibility for materials. You could go with leather or a coarse material, silky… whatever. But if you know the characters background, the choice might be easier. Also it would help to know how the character moves around so you build in that freedom into the costume as you go.
  2. Design
    Scale when building a costume, particularly a costume that is potentially bigger than your body is good to know. Most comic book characters are 9 times the size of the head, so the scale when building a real version can become challenging. One thing that Jason suggested that I thing would be great to do is get a silhouette of yourself and the character you’re making from the side and front and lay them over each other. That way you’ll have a better idea of where things will fit together. I know on the Igor Iron Man suit that I’m thinking about building, the one other person I’ve found that built it had to retry the helmet 3 times to get the scale right.Get and use reference images.You’ll also need to pick which characteristics are the most important to you. Building a costume can get very costly. Some things may need to be sacrificed to keep the costs down. If you know what you have to keep, then you know where you can cut.Pepakura. If you haven’t heard of it yet, this is a software solution that can really help with the design phase and knowing how your stuff is going to look. Pepakura feels a lot like Origami, but with less folding and more cutting. Basically you’re going to build your armor piece or whatever out of paper. You’ll cut and fold and glue stuff together until you have a 3D version of what you’re looking at. The cool thing is with the software you can change dimensions and such to fit you.Then use bondo or resin to harden up your Pepakura shape ad you can use it as is if desired. Just paint it up and you’re done. Yes, that description is very much simpler said than done, but that’s the premise.
  3. Resources
    Jason also talked about how to acquire materials. He mentioned dumpster diving as a great resource. He points out that industrial parks are great for plexiglass and stuff. Lots of places like this are relieved because they pay by weight to dispose of it so you’re doing them a favor by getting rid of it for them. Just don’t be sneaking onto private property.Cosplay Utah is a good resource, Pinterest, There’s a Foam Smoothing tutorial from Punish Pixels that’s really good. They have a 3 part paid ebook you can buy.
  4. Feedback
    Don’t forget that you really should get feedback on your idea. It might be hard, but in the end you’ll know how your costume is going to come across. Take our to someone who can be brutally honest about your work and get their honest opinion.
  5. Fabrication
    Jason suggests trying out with something small. This way you’ll be able to try it more than once until you get the process down. But don’t get bogged down in the details or your build will crash and you won’t know how to get done.

Last but not least, if you get discouraged because there’s a skill you don’t have, just go out and try it.


Just a few final thoughts. These first classes were good, but don’t get the wrong idea, it still needs quite a bit of polishing for it to become great. I think as they continue, that will likely happen. But bear that in mind and keep going. The more people attend, the more will Salt Lake Comic Con will think the class adds value and keep it going.  The next one is a week from today and who couldn’t use help with lighting or Arduino? Go check it out:

SLComicCon posted a fun gallery of it on their Facebook here:

Next week’s information can be found here:

Cosplay Lighting

Class 2: Adding Light to Cosplay

New lights meet old-school stitching. How to plan, prep and sew traditionally tailored costume pieces that contain light.


Tonight during this 3 hour workshop, make and take home either some new wrist bracers, a hood, or even a collar containing EL wire, LEDs, fiber optics or other affordable, readily available and self- contained consumer electronics.


We’ll show you some strategies and methods for building these into your costume projects, so you can change them out, repair your units if needed, replace your batteries and always GLOW on demand.


Take the techniques from tonight into your larger costume projects for even more luminosity.


Includes an EL Wire Take & Make Kit.


Week 2 includes Intro to Arduino!

Ready to take your lighting to the next level? Arduino kits allow you to actually PROGRAM your own lighting sequences and even robotic movement. If you’ve ever considered buying your own Arduino kit, this workshop demonstrates the basics of how to use it to plan something even more complex and stunning that you’d like your costume or prop to do!


All costs for this are included with the admission price (does not include an Arduino unit of your own). This presentation is approximately 30 minutes long and will be given several times throughout the evening.




Trevor Nielson
Writer & Photographer at
Trevor began his forray into nerdom as a kid peddling his bike all the way to the local bookstore to purchase comic books. The boring superhero comics weren’t good enough for Trevor, he wanted the real ones. The ones with ducks. Now who's laughing while he’s on his way to cash in all those valuable Ducktales comics. Soon he’ll have his own money bin full to the brim. These days, to fill the time before the money bin construction completes (and begins), Trevor fills his time with photography, movies, television and comic book conventions. You can find his cosplay Meet & Greet mini-shoot and articles on this site as well as prints of his photographs being sold by cosplayers throughout the land.

P.S. Trevor converted to Marvel & DC comics and movies later on, so no heartburn on that one, right?