Maybe I should start on one of the journal-majiggy things for this, since it's the most ambitious and detailed cosplay I've done all by my onesome. And it's been a blast so far. :D Therefore, this first entry will be set in the far off past ... just over a week ago. (I guessed the precise date.)
I picked Bartz, out of all the Dissidia heroes, initially because a) I have a soft spot of FFV, b) I just believed I wouldn't suit anyone else and c) I didn't think he'd be one of those over-done FF characters that you see all the time. Nothing wrong in that, but this way I don't have many people to trump me on the looking-good in it and the skillz and shizz.
So I plucked up the courage, with a handy suggestion from Kii-chan, to toddle down to Hobby Craft and buy some craft foam. I've never used the stuff before, but it's a god-send. Cheap and light weight. When I got it all home (I got plenty), I sketched out the shape and pattern of the shoulder piece on paper and tranferred it to the foam. I bought some very cute sparklies off ebay and inserted them into the foam as landmarks of the pattern, as can be seen in the image here. I then placed the pattern on using more foam, to build up a 3D effect. Once it was done, I painted it a rather fetching shade of gold using fabric paint, which I was told would work well on a surface which I would need to bend. It took roughly 4-5 layers to get it looking bold, which took some time as you can imagine. I did all of this process to make the back-plate, too. I call it that because I have no idea what it actually is, other than having the cape hanging off it. Which will come later!