Druid: Dreamwalker

I have a thing for druids. I play a night elf druid in World of Warcraft and it was sort of “her” that got me into cosplay (again) and inspired me to start making my own cosplays. My first self-made cosplay was Skymone the Druid, and I felt like it was my most fun cosplay experience, so I wanted to re-experience that by making a new druid.

And although I ended up with a lot of trouble and sadness in the end (you’ll see later why), I have not a single regret, because I loved almost every minute of working on this cosplay!

Below are my references. The in-game model was mostly used for the backside, while I mainly used the artwork by Samwise Didier from the Burning Crusade collector’s edition as my reference for the front.

 

I figured a good place to start was the inner layer – the green skirt with the rhombus shapes. I found fabric that was pre-quiltet, so I only had to add the middle line of yellow/gold rhombus. I chose gold, because I figured all of the yellowy parts in the reference are golden, since they look sort of shiny.

I used a pattern from a random sewing magazine to get the darts at the waistline down, but I made it longer, tighter and added a slit at the back to make it easier to walk – the back is hidden by the next layer of skirt, anyways.

I cut out the fabrics – both the quiltet top layer and a green cotton that I used for lining. Before stitching anything together, I added the gold rhombuses to the front piece using appliqué seems on my sewing machine.

After applying them all, I stitched the skirt together – there’s a zipper in the back, which will be hidden by the next layer of skirt. Also butt-pockets, because it’s nice to carry my own stuff such as phone, money, extra batteries and convention tickets. xD

 

Next I started on the inner layer of sleeves – these all looked to me like they were made up of individual scales, so that’s what I did – I cut individual scales, painted them and stitched them on. Here’s a little video that shows how I did it:

I made around 350 of these scales in total – enough for two sleeves.

Once that was done, I started working on the next level of skirt – the white part.

I used the same pattern as for the previous skirt, but instead of having a split at the back, I made it open in the front. I first made the base skirt pieces in white pleather, then traced all ages and free-handed all other gold details to make patterns that I applied on the gold pleather.

 

All the gold borders everywhere on the fabric/leather parts of the cosplay are appliquéd on, and that took me hundreds of hours and 1,5km of thread. I used seam widths between 2 and 3 mm on my sewing machine. Most appliqués were done as early as possible, so for example I’d take a front piece, applieqúe and then stitch together with back piece when it was possible, so as to have as little bulk as possible at the sewing machine. I’ll show photos from now on, but I won’t explain all the appliqués, since they were all made this way.

I started on the green layers of leather skirt and used the same pattern to make these layers. There are two “layers” on the same skirt as the white – these parts all close with a zipper in the front:

Attached on top of these, a “flap” is attached with a magnet clasp in each side – it covers the zipper.

On top of THIS, there’s yet another skirt – this one very short and it just closes with a single magnet in the middle, which is covered later by the top, making all closures invisible.

When I was finally done with all of the skirts, I started on the top. For this one, I used a random vintage vogue – I mostly just needed the princess seams. I made a test piece in cheap cotton and fitted it before I started working in my leather.

Since many of the swirls on the top stretch over more than one piece of the underlaying fabrics, I had to stitch the top together before I could add the gold details – I did make the details on the green area on the back before I stitched the whole thing together.

Finally, I added the sleeves. To make the shorter sleeve patterns, I just took a sleeve pattern piece from a dress I had and taped it together where the seam would be at the bottom. Then I instead cut it open where I wanted the sleeve to be open at the front and this now became my pattern after I rounded the edges. I added gold borders and stitched together a few cms in the top, leaving most of the sleeve open. I basted the scaled sleeves I previously made onto the short sleeves and stitched both onto the top.

The last remaining part of the top is the green piece that sits in the middle front, hiding the zipper. This piece I made separate and it attaches with 4 pairs of magnets; Two in each side at the top and two in each side of the bottom of the top. This extends over the skirt and hides the magnet that holds the top layer of skirt together. The result is that there is not a single visible closure anywhere on the sewn part of my cosplay!

I was done with the majority of stitching, and started with my pauldrons. I used the artwork as my reference here, since they look more elegant, and I scaled them down a bit to look more feminine. I just took some thick paper and freehanded a paper model. When I was satisfied, I transferred the pattern onto craft foam.

I used Cosplayflex to make the shoulders sturdy. It’s similar to Worbla, but a bit more smooth.

I purchased easter eggs to make up the glowing spheres.

After I had the basic shape down, I used more craft foam and cosplay flex to make up all the little details, then primed everything with spray filler (actually made for cars, but works great for this purpose). I also used metallic green auto spray colour to colour the spheres – even though they are no longer see-through, they still let through plenty of light, and the paint works both to hide the insides and also to diffuse the light from the LED strips that I installed later.

I added cling wrap on the egg and drew the shape of the dragon I wanted, then used polymorph pellets to shape the little dragons.

After the first dragon was done, I moved the cling film onto the other egg and put it upside down, so I had the same shape, just mirrored in an attempt to make it somewhat symmetric.

Almost succeeded xD I went over them lightly with acetone to remove any excess oils and such that might have gotten on them while I worked with them, so paint would stick to them easier, then I sprayed both the dragons and the shoulders gold.

 

The spray was just the basic coat, I went in and used acrylics and a brush to give it a bit more depth

Left dragon with acrylics, right dragon pure spray paint.

 

The finished shoulders look like this – I will explain electronics last.

Here’s a photo of the outfit so far – the shoulders are attached with a strap of leather that goes from a square ring at the end closer to my neck on one shoulder to the same point on the other side behind my neck. The straps that go under my arm are decorated with the same green/gold leather as the rest of the outfit, so they are visible but look like they’re meant to be. They close with velcro under the arm.

Next I worked on the helmet.

Using the same technique as the shoulders, I first made a paper pattern, then transferred to craft foam and added cosplayflex on top.

Of course the helmet also has horns – because why not? XD

I have more experience than I care to from all of my versions of Ysera’s horns, so while I hate making horns, I at least knew what material would be a good choice here – isolation foam! So I made a basic shape from paper and cut two chunks of foam that I then carved and sanded until they were more or less symmetric.

I used my dremel-like tool to make ridges:

And last I primed it with 4-5 layers of wood glue and then a couple of layers of black spray paint.

I also primed the rest of the helmet and added gold spray paint, just like the shoulders.

I used acrylics again to add depth to the gold and also acrylics for the green layers at the back.

The armor parts of the helmet complete – I added different darker and lighter shades of green to the back layers to give it more depth.

The fabric parts of the helmet were honestly a pain in the a** to pattern out. I first used cheap cotton, then as I got closer, switched to my main leather fabric and did small adjustments while using a LOT of duct tape and needles.

Still held together with just hope, tape and needles, but taking shape – this took me many hours of just trying and trying:

And finally, the finished helmet! Elastic at the bottom gives it the “balloon” shape, which is perfect, because it fits my more than 1 meter long braid rolled up in my neck. The horns are attached with velcro, so they can be taken off when I transport it, since they are somewhat fragile. The fabric parts are just glued onto the helmet with contact glue. I love glue <3  A magnet clasp at the front holds it together while I can still easily take the helmet on and off.

Reaching the point of being done, I was only missing the bracers and electronics.

I’ll just show photos of bracers quick, since I used exactly the same method as I did shoulders and head-piece: paper pattern, craft foam, cosplayflex, prime, gold base, depth with acrylics.

The mounting is a fabric bracer that goes all around my wrist and closes on the backside. I glued a strap of green leather onto the underside of the wrist “egg” and then stitched this onto the fabric.

I made little leaves of craft foam and cosplayflex and stitched these onto the fabric part of the bracer.

I also made gloves – these were very simple, since I used a very stretchy jersey, and was able to just trace my hand on a piece of paper and make them from just 1 front and 1 back piece each. I made full gloves, then marked how long I wanted them to be and cut off the tip of the fingers for fingerless gloves – one of my references had this, the other had finger gloves, but honestly, fingerless is just so much nicer, so I chose that option.

The last part that remained was the electronics. Here I enlisted some help from my boyfriend, since I thought it would be awesome to have everything powered by just 1 power source. Originally, I had planned for smoke machines in the shoulders as well, but due to limited time, I ended up not adding that.

Anyways, each armor piece – shoulders, helmet, bracers and gloves – have LED strips of various lengths.

The LED strips are glued to the side of the eggs under the border of the cosplayflex. They face sideways, not up, since the light is dispersed better like that, so you don’t get as much dots. All pieces are mounted like this, except the gloves, which just have a 3-LED long strip – the shortest possible with the type I’m using – and they just face upwards, since there’s no space to do the whole sideways thing. The “gems” on the gloves are made of extruded copolyester (it’s a thin plastic that can be shaped when hot and is stiff when cold) and I added a thin layer of green kitchen sponge to help disperse the light. And also painted them with the same car paint as the eggs.

The strips are all RGB, meaning they can be all colours. That also means they each have 4 wires that needs to be connected, which was a bit of a challenge, since I wanted all of them to have plugs, so I could connect them all to the same power source. In the end, we ended up using stereo jack plugs for the RGB channel and banana plugs for the power channel (simplifying things, probably, but that’s what you need to know xD).

Each armor piece as two plugs like these:

… And on the power source, there’s the corresponding female version of them:

My boyfriend made a “squid”, which splits the power into 5 wires. Inside the jacket, I added little loops that close with velcro to run the wires through, so they’d stay in place. The gloves connect to the bracers.

Here’s a photo of the squid as it sits inside my jacket. Notice how there’s holes at the top of the shoulder for shoulder armor power and between some scales in the sleeves for the bracers (which I didn’t manage to photograph. Woups)

At the other end of the squid, there’s a plug for which my boyfriend made two adapters: One for powering the armor with 2xUSB powerbanks (10V) and one for powering it with a 9V battery – the 9V battery option was actually a back-up in case my powerbanks ran out of power, and it turned out to be a good thing he made it, since the powerbanks I purchased were faulty and not able to run my costume for more than a few hours. A 9V battery can power the whole thing for 6-7 hours roughly, though the blue channel stops working towards the end. The squid also contains an extra cable, which is the controller for the LED strips. They have various features, such as constant glow in all kinds of colours, pulsating, strobe blinking and so on.

The black part of wire here is the 9V battery adapter. The USB one connects to the white plug instead of this when using powerbanks as a source, but is not pictured here.

This is the infrared controller for the strips. I ran it through my left sleeve so I could easily control the lights with my right hand.

This is the remote that controls everything – as you can see, it has various colours and modes. Fancy stuff!

I made a belt from the green leather that holds two powerbanks and fits under the jacket without being visible – hence no picture xD

Lastly, I added small details such as the shoes – but I won’t bother showing that. I basically ran out of time and just spray painted some pleather shoes I found in matching gold and green colours and then painted on a few details.

And thus, we’ve come to the conclusion of my long, long description!

But wait – didn’t I mention something about a lot of sadness and such at the beginning?

Oh yes – because while I wore this cosplay for the first time at Gamescom, I was horrified to discover that the fabric I had used for the gold appliqués – yup, the ones I spent several hundred hours on – just wasn’t any useable quality and it just started peeling really, super, horribly bad. BAD BAD BAD!

I noticed this as I was waiting for my prejudging in a contest. Nice, right?

Anyways, this is what it looked like after 1 wear – and I’m super careful when I wear my cosplays, too.

Much of crying and frustration later, I showed this to my followers on Facebook to warn others to MAKE SURE TO STRESS TEST YOUR PLEATHERS BEFORE USING THEM!

And apart from making sure a few had a chance to find a different material before they had gotten too far along with their project, I also got a tip on how to stop the peeling!

So I purchased this Leather Finish scratch repair-thingy. And while of course it couldn’t bring back the material that had peeled off, it seems to have stopped further peeling. In a few places, I’ve gotten away with just picking off the loose bits, painting the peeled off areas with fabric paints (I mixed gold, copper and black to get a similar shade of gold) and then add the scratch proofing stuff on top. Sadly, the upper part of the back, the sleeve edges and the lower triangle on the back of the skirt were too destroyed to save, but I was able to replace them without ruining the rest of the outfit. So far I have taken it out for a photoshoot and walked around in the cosplay for a couple of hours after repair with no new peeling visible, so the stuff seems to have worked! (I added it on the fresh pleather parts I replaced, too).

The front panel was peeling at the edges, but I managed to save it with fabric paint + the scratch proofer. Here it is wet from a fresh layer – I gave everything 3 layers and let it dry through between each layer.

The upper back of the jacket was totally wrecked, so I replaced it with a new piece. Damaged at the top, repaired at the bottom – like it never happened!

And here I thought this was finally the end of that. But one more con wear, and we were back to square zero with peeling gold leather… Finally, I’ve decided that I’ll start the tedious work of replacing ALL the gold borders. It hurts, but it hurts more to have the cosplay be unusable.

But here’s how it looked completed – and after pictures, a bonus video of the smoke I ended up adding to the shoulders!