The making of a crazy costume, more or less from start to finish, with some fun techniques to surprise your friends and confound your enemies. Condensed version of four months of my life, neatly packaged for your convenience - because doesn't everyone want to be a feared and adored demon sorcerer?

This is my first Instructable, so please feel free to ask questions or comment or whatever. I'm a very OCD costumer but I'm also certain that the same methods I used could easily be applied to whatever you wanted to do. Because of the complexity of the costume, most of the individual steps could have been Instructables in themselves; but I've tried to be concise and clear with the explanations so you can apply my methods on your own projects.

I've been costuming for about five years now. For some insane reason, I had been jonesing for something complex and challenging enough to make my brain melt out of my ears. So, I actually sat down and tried to THINK of something really hard I could make. Finally, going through a folder of images, I found a design I'd previously dismissed immediately after looking at it as a real pain because it had at least two things I didn't know how to make - armor, and giant horns.

The character in question is Mystic Lord Orlouge from the Square RPG SaGa Frontier. It's an older game, from back when there was still a pretty large gap between concept artwork and the in-game graphics. If you've been playing games for longer than a few years, you probably remember the mild disappointment when a game didn't exactly match with the explosively fanciful cover artwork. In the game, Orlouge is a moderately interesting little super-deformed villain. Tomomi Kobayashi's artwork, however, paints a much richer picture than the practical confines of the game.

The great thing about working from illustrations is what happens if you think about the restrictions on other types of designs.
A) Live-action, music, etc - has already existed in reality and therefore cannot break any laws of physics. (Any person who's done live-action costumes knows that finding the exact that someone ELSE used is a huge pain, though.)
B) Animation - can break laws of physics from here till Doomsday, but has to be simple enough to be re-drawn say 32 times a second.
C) Comics - can break laws of physics and vary from page to page, but still has to be drawn multiple times (on a deadline).
D) Illustrations (for novels, covers, artbooks, etc) - only has to be drawn once, can make Newton roll over in his grave, and doesn't have to make any sense to anyone but the (one) person drawing it.

So, obviously, if you're looking for a sanity-killer, illustrations are the way to go. Thanks, Kobayashi-san! ;)

Step 1: Breakdown

I guess for me a costume begins and ends with a breakdown (just not the same kind). Before I actually start a costume, I spend a good long time with whatever references I have making sure I understand exactly what it involves. This means I have to figure out what each piece is, how they relate to each other.

There are some unique challenges when you're working from an illustration. The great thing about the "vagueness" of art that doesn't have to be redrawn (depending on the artist's style, of course) is that it gives you room to make some of your own choices. I'm primarily a cosplayer and most of the time only do recreations of anime, games, movies, bands, etc; so creativity is a real luxury in a hobby comprised of imitation. The bad thing is you have to figure out what the heck that squiggle is supposed to be, and what that means about the squiggle next to it, and when to ignore it because it really IS just a squiggle and isn't supposed to be anything at all. This can be especially infuriating when you may only have one reference.

For this project, the images below comprise ALL my references. I had two illustrations by Kobayashi and the in-game sprite (represented here by a sexy photo of my TV), none of which quite agreed with each other on the details. Often, you don't have ANY reference for what a costume might look like from behind. Basically, you start with the elements common to your references, then analyze the ones which are similar (and pick what you prefer), and resign yourself to (or celebrate) making up the remainder.

Once I have a fairly good idea in my head, I usually draw my own references. They don't have to be coherent, and they certainly don't have to be very artistic; but they're very useful to refer to when you're trying to remember how YOU wanted something to be. I usually write my notes on what techniques and materials I want to use on these. I also print out the most useful references I have so I don't have to keep running to a grab a book or my computer to check a detail when I start working.

I'm not going to list this as a separate step, but it's really important to figure out which elements of your costume need to be purchased; supplies and things like shoes or wigs. Everything you need to order should be ordered early in your process. Even if deadlines don't really matter to you, it's profoundly frustrating to have to wait for something to arrive.
<p>This is amazing! What gauges of wire did you use for the horns?</p>
This method of making horns could be good for homestuck cosplay too :3
Hi, This is awesome, How did you find working with that skull cap? Was it sturdy enough for the weight of the headpiece? was it easy to cut and glue and paint?
It looks so amazing.
My good! 8D You're awesome, specially for taking your time to explain your process to others ;w; So nice of you!
this will be how i make my unicorn horn and helmet base (pre-mane), thanks so much : ) <br><br>
You've made a really incredible costume with a wonderful level of detail and, best of all for the Instructables community, documented it incredibly thoroughly. Thank you so much! Personally I've learned much from your work and documentation.<br><br>In addition to all that though, I especially love your horns. They came out so well! You say you bought a 1lb kit - did you use the whole pound?
Thanks! Really glad to hear from people that it's been useful. :) <br><br>I assume you mean the Magic Smooth... I did use the whole 1lb +the start of a second one, but I was using it on the armor as well for a while (not so great for that). If it was just the horns, I probably would've been fine with a 1/2lb kit. Because the stuff's so gloppy, you do lose more of it to mixing and applying than you do with a clay, where you can more easily use every scrap.
Yes the Magic Smooth, sorry.<br>Excellent. Thank you!
Wow, this is just amazing workmanship.<br> ^_^
epic anime figures collection in the background! sorry, just had to say that :3
I know right! I'm loving that Totoro!
i'm tired just after reading the instructions for this project. you are a very brave and dedicated soul to take this on with such high standards.
Amazing job. I love all of the extra touches that you added to make this a truly awesome cosplay.
it would be very helpful if you showed each piece separete ffrom every thing else!
Your costume is PHENOMENAL. Thank you so much for going to the trouble of putting up this instructable! I have some pretty big cosplay dreams myself, and the information you've put up is going to be really helpful!
This is AWESOME. demonic things are cool =]<br/>
I'm sorry... but when I look at your picture, the first thing that comes to mind is: NA... nanana... na... na... na... ... na... Katamari...Damacy!!!! bad thing is, I don't know why... Just thought I'd comment though.
you missed a na...
I have no idea why it makes you think of that. But Katamari association can't really be a bad thing, so hey.
did you at least win? this is amazing btw, not sure if you said how long it took you to make and how much all together it cost you, but I would love to know for future reasons.:) Made my own Yazoo coat and it looks so much like the real one I'm to scared to show it off... I already had 4 people try to steal it. meanies...:)
is that from a game? if it is, which one?
SaGa Frontier. It's a bit old and obscure! lol.
lol looks like FF
omigodd pretty tightt your freakin innovative!
This as such an awesome cosplay. I just wanted to add that instead of attempting to find a matching thread to finish the end of cording a product called "fray check" is amazing and dries clear, also slightly singing most fabrics with a lighter - very carefully - will stop them from ever unravelling.
Fray Check is also great for sure. I normally use Fray Block, because it makes things a bit less crunchy (but for some stuff Fray Check is better). But since I didn't mention it in the article, I didn't use it on the cording because it tends to not work well at ALL on braided stuff! It just unspirals. Sometimes I smush a quick-drying glue called Fabric-Tac into the ends, which works for some things - but even though it's slow the thread is a nice finished look.
I know some have said this isn't an "instructional" but I think it was! This is brilliant. I have a hard time picturing how to create small parts of costumes. Thanks for the Wonderflex instructions, especially. And those horns are amazing. :D I am working on a project soon, I will try to post my photos.
Wow! My nerd muscles are tingling. That is beautiful. You did very well. Thanks for sharing!
Wow. I guess if your going to be a giant nerd, be the best-dressed giant nerd in the place. ...and I mean no disrespect.
Wow! that's awesome, and thanks so much for sharing the how-to!
Omg this is so awsome its amazing what you can do win you set you mind to it that is really nice.
wow. that's the only word to describe it. wow...
Nice, I'm making my first costume for the "Anime Expo" next August and am starting it soon, Thanks a million for the help.
impresive very very impressive this is really nice. you know though its only for show why not make a costume that you could wear that could protect you in lets say i guess maybe a bb gun fight.
Wow, what a mind-boggling amount of work! Fantastic costume!
Absolutely brilliant. I was going to sew/form an Orlouge costume for AnimeEXPO last year, but due to time constraints, I had to give it up. I was surprised and pleased when I saw your costume. This year for AnimeEXPO, myself and four friends are going to be four of the mystics: Asellus, Ildon (myself), Time Lord, and Dr. Nusakan based upon Tomomi Kobayashi's work. You are an inspiration.
Haha... Lord of Mystra, Mystic Lord costume, sounds right up my alley, but seriously awesome.
Yeah, cosplayers often get a bad name, but stuff like that is awesome. (On a convention related note, no more fat girls in baby tees, when I'm at a con I want to see booth babes not babes the size of booths)
I'm gonna add a wow! How long did this take you to make? What was it, two years, you said? :)
I was in "R&D" for longer but I was working on it for about four months.
*curses relentlessly* Was this just for Hallowe'en??? If it was you went BEYOND extreme! Very, very, very nicely done!!!
For a cosplayer, every day is Halloween :) So no, it wasn't just a Halloween costume. But thank you!
Yay, it's up! When I first saw this, I was so inspired that I committed myself to a friend to do some kind of super-complicated costume with her for next year's Comicon... I hope I can get even anywhere close to this level.
Fantastic :D I did the masquerade there for the first time this year and it was really a great experience (intense: but that was from my end, the people were awesome). I'll probably be in the masquerade again for 2008, so I hope I see you there!
I must say that is a beautifully done piece! Not really an "instruction" set as it appears to be more of a "look what I did!", so I wouldn't think this to be great for people with no clue on costume making. However for someone with sewing abilities and the skills to make a costume, this is an EXCELLENT source for how to learn how to make complex headdresses and "armor" pieces for costumes. I've attempted to make costumes before (with mixed success) and I learned a lot from your instructable about different materials that I wasn't even aware of. Great job on this one!
If a beginning costumer tried to make this, I would feel compelled to pay for their psychiatric care, lol. But yes, I hope that it is of use to people! If nothing else, it's proof "it can be done", I suppose! Thanks :)
Wow.. There are so many useful techniques outlined in this article, I could get information from this for OTHER costumes, even!

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More by houseofdarkly:Sew felt Adventure Time Finn & Jake ornaments Make your own Giant Decorative Bow - easily! Mystic Lord costume: horns, armor, silk painting + more (oh my) 
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