Rorschach - Watchmen

Worn AtLondon Film and Comic Con 2011




This is my first costume, so decided to go with something easy and familiar (and one of my top 3 favourite characters, the others being V and Dredd).

I decided I wanted to do a dark (more movie inspired) version of Rorschach as that works better IRL (IMO).

Despite being an easy one I still managed to overcomplicate it. 8)

* Hat

I bought 3 hats in total for this costume, ended up using the middle one (from a market stall). All about £25 each.

The official hat was a 'backup' but it wasn't great (it's very light, more comic book than movie look and that wasn't what I was looking for).

The other hat (a narrow brim Fedora) was more Indiana Jones (potential future cosplay fodder - also just a v. cool hat!).

* Mask

2 layers of thick, white tights (really good quality, not thin ones!), with 2 layers of thin, black tights (dirt cheap) underneath. The latter are easier to see through, but still provide more opacity externally.

I wanted to use thermocromatic paint for parts of the mask (which goes from black to transparent with the heat of breath) but I didn't want to have to buy a large amount of raw powder and transparent base, so I decided to buy a couple of pre mixed small pots from eBay (for £6 each). The came with express warnings that in liquid form they "go off" very quickly and they should be painted on right away. That wasn't a lie.

By the time (only two weeks) I got round to using the paint, it was no longer dark grey/black, but light/mid grey (and useless for the mask, although it still had it's thermocromatic properties!). This was even though I'd kept them cool and stored in a dark place. I came away with the impression that buying pre-made paint is technically not a very viable approach, even though it's temptingly cheap. I would fork out for the raw powder and base and mix up my own next time.

In the end I used a vector art package to experiment with designs, placed the mask on and marked out eye holes (by placing black dots with a felt pen while wearing it), stretched the mask over a small basketball, copied the designs on to one half of the mask, took the mask OFF the basketball, folded it in half and held it up to a lampshade (I don't have a light table...) and traced the design on the other side (so they exactly mirrored).

I then stretched it back over the basketball and used a brand new black permanent marker (angular tipped, so I could do both fine edging and filling in). This worked REALLY well and held it's form. The only downside was by the end of the (hot, sweaty!) day the front of the mask was more grey than white. Maybe some fixer would have helped with that (or using fabric paint instead perhaps).

It was VERY hard to see through the thick white tights (but not the thin black ones). You can make tiny holes for eyes with a pin (which I made with some of my early test masks) and they are imperceptible but give you great vision. I didn't do this in the end I found that has a chance to cause the whole mask to spit and rip when you put it on and didn't want to risk it. I have been subsequently advised to treat the holes with nail vanish to prevent this!

(It was very hot and squished my head quite a lot, which probably accounts for why Rorschach is so angry, but fortunately I'm very stubborn so I didn't mind.)

* Coat

Bought a second hand light beige raincoat from eBay for £30 (great condition, just a tear on the inside that needed mending) with a view to dyeing, waxing and ageing it.

I machine dyed it and despite it being 60% polyester (and not machine washable, and specially coated) it came out brilliantly. Alas once I'd rinsed off the excess dye I found it lost quite a bit of colour (confirmed by pictures taken at the time) and it was very dark (a much less saturated brown) and when I waxed it (by applying regular jacket re-waxing wax with a sponge) it was darker still. It was obvious I should have used a lighter shade of dye.

I washed it again (with another pre-wash to get rid of the wax...) and then dyed it a second time (the dye was cheap and I had enough to do two lots) with the idea of not rinsing it off this time (and just sealing it in with wax). That didn't work - it just looked the same, only now it was bobbled (arg!). I then had to re-wax it (a couple of tins for a large coat, £8 each, from Barbour (contrary to warnings on the tin and online will applied very nicely and easily to a coat with nothing more than firm clean sponge).

I then spent a day (two evenings) de-bobbling it with a razor (it's still bobbly now, but looked /really/ awful).

Other mistakes included trying to make it look worn by experimenting with sandpaper on the wax. Turns out that's a good way to destroy a fabric coat. I still don't know how to get that two-tone brown aged look (which I've seen done effectively on fabric, waxed jackets).

I was really happy with how it looks from a distance (even if not so much up close, because repeatedly washing it caused excess wear).

I'd planned to take up the length to more above the knees, but I didn't have time for that after I'd finished trying to correct my mistakes!

* Scarf, Gloves, Trousers, Shoes

Gloves were official costume gloves. Crummy, but I wanted them as as they were plastic and I wanted non-leather ones for personal reasons.

Scarf was an appropriate fine Ivory gentlemen's scarf, but actually it was too thin in practice (not helped by me having no idea how to tie it well). It kept slipping down and not covering the bottom of the mask. I think something thicker would have been better for cosplay (or could have used safety pins, which I had, but I didn't want to get stuck in the thing! :).

Trousers were dark pinstripe trousers (went for charcoal rather than purple, to blend in with the darker coat). Shoes were black (rather than brown) for the same reason (more cohesive overall).


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