Costume Critique - Sheriff Monkey as Link
One of my patreon rewards, upon request, is a costume critique. One of my goals as a costume maker is to share with others what I have learned. We have so much to learn from each other and that said, I never would have learned as much as I have so far if it were not for the guidance and advice of others. Knowing you're on the right track is also very important when it comes to learning, so I also want to discuss all the positive things about the following build.
The costume we are going to be looking at today is one by costume maker Sheriff Monkey. I happen to know Sheriff is quite a big fan of the Zelda series since I see him in my chat on Twitch nearly every day. It's only fitting that this costume be of Link from Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
I'd first like to point out how accurate to the source material the color choices are. Everything is so bold and vibrant and there really is a cheerful reaction when I see this sort of costume. Aside from the aesthetics of the costume, it's always refreshing to see someone cosplay from a source material they are passionate about. I personally lost track of that passion that helped get me started in costume making and I plan on getting that back. Seeing costumes like this help inspire me to touch base with what got me started to begin with. Let's get into individual pieces and talk about craftsmanship.
Let's start with the fabric choices themselves. I love the colors and it really shows how close to the reference Sheriff was trying to get. If I were to offer a bit of advice on fabric choice, to take your costume to the next level I would suggest diving deeper into texture. Flat fabrics like this lose detail in photos and don't translate to the outside world as well as in the 2d world. I personally like to think of the time period of the source material, or whichever time period resembles it the most. Zelda reminds me most of the medieval style with the swords, shields and tunics. Even though it's a costume, it should still look like each piece serves a purpose. Unlike Sci-Fi costumes, a medieval style shouldn't look too polished, especially in the case of this character. Think of all the traveling and fighting Link is doing in all different weather and environments.
1. Try using some more textured fabrics. Textured fabrics will look more realistic in the real world and won't get as lost in photos.
2. Try adding shading to your fabric to give it even more depth. This will make it look more worn and believable as the real thing. You can even go a step further and weather the fabric with dirt, dust or ripping.
Fabric painting! Fabric painting is a pretty challenging thing to do. It's especially hard to get really sharp, clean edges with the correct opacity. In these reference photos from Sheriffs work, I'm seeing a lot of good things. A lot of these edges are very sharp and it's all pretty opaque. At this point it's only going to be a matter of being a little more patient and refining. Sheriff is definitely on the right track with fabric painting.
Boot covers and pouches are probably some of the hardest things to pull off. There are quite a few boot cover tutorials out there so maybe I should think of making one for a basic pouch like this one Sheriff made. Faux leather is one of my favorite materials to work win but it can be challenging. Faux leather doesn't stretch and is generally pretty thick. When it comes to the shoe covers, pattern the boot with plastic wrap and duct tape, cut yourself free and then section off the parts. Once sectioned off, trace the parts to paper and add your seam allowance. Next is what I like to call "Pin City" because you'll be connecting the curved parts with a lot of pins. Just take your time and let your sewing machine get through it.
Pouches are tricky because of how small they can be. Sheriff is definitely on the right track with this pouch, it just needs a bit more refining now. Pattern the pouch beforehand and you'll see how many measurements match up. Once its all sewn together, pinch those edges and sew them down to avoid the pouch looking so bubbly.
Armor! I actually really love the shapes of these bracers. They're nice and bold and have a good shape. Let's talk about detailing now. I personally avoid using the texture from a glue gun to create details. Maybe try to layer some 2mm foam to get some height and shape. With a sharp knife you can even get some really thin outline details that will stick up in a more consistent way than hot glue.
The surface looks to be well primed for paint here as well which is super important when it comes to your final result. Paint will avoid getting soaked into the foam as you paint and you'll have a nice smooth texture. Priming your armor pieces is vital and Sheriff seems to have done a really thorough job.
Again I really love the bold colors being used on this cosplay but let's push it a little further. Shading and weathering can bring so much life to a costume. For example, using a black to shade the lower corners and edges of the dark blue would bring the detail out even more. Photos do flatten work so it's important to counteract that with our shading. Highlighting too can add definition to edges and higher up pieces of detailing. Don't be afraid to be bolder.
This is a super interesting piece. It goes across the chest and over the shoulder. Characters often have very strange elements to their design. These can often be a challenge to those of us who make costumes. We need to figure out the puzzle and how to make it work on an actual human body.
Sheriff did a really good job patterning this and it looks to me like it sits really comfortably on his body. Again when it comes to craftsmanship its still a matter of refining the different elements of the build. This is a place each costume maker reaches throughout their journey and it's really a great milestone to have gotten to. Cleaning up those edges to really have a seamless look will improve the final result. Try cutting wider strips of faux leather and folding the edges inward to have a thicker more detailed look and to avoid those fraying edges.
Sheriff I hope you enjoyed the critique and agree with my advice. The work is really getting there and like I said, is at the point where refining is the next step. Patience is one of the things for me personally that was hardest to learn when it came to crafting. I was so excited to finish piece after piece that I would cut corners or decide against certain choices. Remember guys, it's not a race. Never con crunch and always be proud of what you have achieved. Strive to be better next time and learn from previous costumes. Happy building!