This month's writeup is sponsored by Rose of Battle.

August 2021 Writeup: FINALLY, A COSPLAY THING! Theme: 12 Year Olds, Apparently

Hi, all!

I've finally broken ground on enough cosplay wips that I'm confident in sharing some of it with you. Drumroll, please!

I'm going to show you how I made Pai's boots with Angelus products! Painstakingly. Step by Step. Just to give you the authentic experience.

Now, this is a pretty basic tutorial that other cosplayers have done, but poor Pai had some extra steps. I bought a (very cheap) pair of dark brown boots online first and once they arrived, I cleaned them and prepped with Angelus preparer. You may already know this, but in case you don't, their preparer is essentially relabeled acetone. Let's say my nails recognized that immediately! You wouldn't need to buy the Angelus brand, but because I was saving my nail acetone for my nails, I bought it in a bundle with several brushes and a small selection of colors.

After cleaning off the boots, I laid down some masking tape to reduce the amount of accidents leaking onto the part of the sole I didn't want to paint. I still ended up with some fixes there but overall I was very happy with the results. Then, it was time for Flat White paint. Five to six layers, to be precise (depending on the area). The results were dramatic! As you can see from the photos, the early layers were relatively translucent. That's because they were slightly watered down so that brush strokes would be concealed a bit better. Over the next layers, I discovered it wasn't as necessary, and the layers got more opaque.

With the Flat White down, it was time to put down the base color. I took a gamble and ordered both Sand and Beige Taupe. The color of the fabric I had decided on was a pretty good match for Beige Taupe, so I went with that. I think this one also took something like six layers to completely cover each boot.

It was time to prepare the leaves. I was torn between trying to use vinyl (which probably wouldn't have stuck, and I needed dimension) and freehanding paint when I realized there was a third option: painting, but with a stencil. I don't follow any particular method for measuring cosplay elements religiously when it isn't a large prop, so basically, I found YouTube playthroughs of scenes where Pai was showing the side of her boots, screenshot them, blew them up and played with scale, printed them, and transferred that to a file folder to use as a stencil. Like, I wish I knew how to tell you how I eyeball these things, because I usually only need one adjustment and that was the case again here.

Because I wasn't sure how the stencil would recover from being used more than once and I knew the custom-mixed Beige Taupe + Brown paint would likely dry pretty quickly, I cut out four stencils with an exacto knife. I wasn't concerned about small differences because I'd have to outline everything in Brown and could make adjustments then. When utilizing the stencils to paint the custom color, there was no good way to stick down the stencil to the surface. Tape didn't work and I wasn't about to try anything that could compromise the surface outside of the stencil. I ended up pressing down with one hand while painting strokes inward from the edges in order to get the best results.

With the base of that down, I had to figure out a method to paint the thin lines on the model shoes. I'd had some good success with outlining my fingernails with a line made from a ball-point tool, so I thought it could work for this project as well. However, I quickly realized that the thin brush from my Angelus kit worked much better, even though I don't have the steadiest hand. Could I have made these lines straighter and more even in thickness? Probably, but they're good enough from 5 feet away, so I'm not too upset about it! All these boots needed then was a few extra corrections and a top coat of varnish.

The final touches were to add little gold buttons on the sides. I bought the buttons from everyone's favorite JoAnn, but they required a little filing down before they'd be flat enough to glue—'cause like hell am I going to try to puncture those shoes after I'd painted them! I found out that I'm much more confident at using my larger Dremel after practicing with my nail efile. It was a quick job to file away the plastic loop at the bottom and do some rough sanding on the center of the button back. Lastly, I glued the button to the shoe with epoxy (using PROPER gloves and a mask this time, y'all, try to be proud) and clamped it for 24 hours. I'm not sure if it's the best glue-varnish connection of all time, but I always have contact and barge cement if it doesn't end up holding for the length of a con test run.

Anyway, that's it! Minus taking off the tape. Okay, NOW that's it! I love the way the Angelus paint elevates the surface of these boots from looking cheap to looking almost like legitimate leather, and from what I hear, it's also great for not cracking or warping the paint during wear. I'm looking forward to wearing them with the rest of my outfit when it's done. I've already bought items to build the rest of Pai's accessories and I'm excited to share those with you as soon as I can.

Also, I won't give it away, but I'm using more of the Flat White on another pair of shoes right now and I'll be happy to do a writeup of those when they're done if they work out, too.


ON TO THE NAILS: Mizuki Okiura, AI: The Somnium Files

By the time this is posted, you'll already know about the announcement for the sequel to AI: The Somnium Files called nirvanA Initiative (which I have already preordered), in which it appears Mizuki has teamed up with Aiba to be the main protagonist. (We're calling amnesia, just, right out of the gate.) But the announcement came out during the few hours it took for me to do my nails, which I had already started and committed to doing Mizuki. My friends have joked that I "manifested it," to which I reply, "MANI-fested it, am I right?" They are unimpressed. I am escorted from the Olive Garden.


This was a symmetrical color set with red pinkies, yellow ring and middle fingers, and dark gray pointers and thumbs, but the decoration was different on each. I'd gone into the set thinking to myself, "let's keep it simple this time," but that, of course, ended with two thumbs full of encapsulated circles.

In order pinky to thumb on the left hand: Red base with shine varnish and two black rhinestones; yellow base with three holographic white stars; yellow base with black gel outline; matte gray; and gray base with bright yellow (they show up green) encapsulated circles built up in structured gel.

In order from thumb to pink on the right hand: The same encapsulated circles, but red, on a gray base; gray base with a large circle, medium circle, and small dot in silver holographic; yellow base with the same three circles from the pointer nail, but reverse order, and in red holographic; yellow base with a single black stripe painted in gel as well as a black gel dot that mimicks the black rhinestones on the other hand (it looks very Kill Bill, which is an awesome unintentional outcome); and a matte red.

Because I'm planning my Mizuki cosplay, I don't want to wax too poetically about her through this nail set. Her character, in conjunction with the Shoko cosplay I'm making, is going to play a role in my journey from healing from what built the foundation for my CPTSD. I've probably already mentioned that she's not a character archetype I would typically cosplay but I hope to channel her determination and ability to trust adults, lol. I'll be very interested to see what her character is like in the sequel, as Ali and I both postulated in our YFNT that it would be difficult to determine whether Mizuki endured lasting effects trauma following the [spoilers] in the first game unless we saw an older Mizuki. Well, now that we HAVE seen an older Mizuki, one who most likely has some kind of amnesia for the game mechanic of "you can play this without having to play the first one," I'm still not sure that we're going to be able to tell whether she was unaffected by the events in her formative years.

That's all she wrote, folks! If you have ideas for nail sets, I'm honestly eager to hear them, as I can do things with my nails that I might not choose to do for a cosplay. Let me know.

Thanks, wonderful patrons! As a token of my gratitude that you've waited so long for me to post cosplay content again, please enjoy this bonus picture of Abby, who is "helping" with muslin.

Photos by me.

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