Midwest Furfest (MFF) Is Under Way

#MidwestFurfest (#MFF) is in full swing in Rosemont, IL with lots of #fursuiters & #furries in attendance. Here are some video samples of the activities that have been shared online by a few of the attendees.

 

 

 

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Canon vs. Custom Costumes

It’s probably safe to say that there are probably more #cosplayers & #costumers wearing canon #costumes than custom costumes. But, what is means by canon versus custom costumes?

Canon Costumes

A canon costume is any cosplay or costume that precisely recreates an outfit worn by a character at a specific point of time within a story.

Modifications or variations are not permissible if the costume is intended to be canon.

This would include, for example, the recreation of all of the garments, head gear, footwear, armor and props worn and used by that character during a specific point in a story.

Bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for a single character to wear different attire at different points of a story’s timeline. Consequently, each of the different sets of attire worn by a particular character is, by itself, a distinct canon costume.

Canon Costume Examples: Leia from “Star Wars”

Let’s consider the various outfits worn by Princess (or General) Leia (as played by the late Carrie Fisher) in the 5 “Star Wars” movies in which she appeared, not including “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

1. In “Star War IV: A New Hope”, Leia primarily wears a silky white full-length gown with a silver belt and white boots. Her hair is iconically braided and rolled up on the sides of her head. But, in the final ceremony scene, she wears a more formal gown that has a lower neckline, a necklace and silver shoes.

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2. In “Star War V: The Empire Strikes Back”, Leia wears several more distinct outfits at different points within the movie’s timeline:

  • On Hoth, Leia wears a wintery white jump suit and jacket.
  • On Cloud City, she wears a brown gown with a long beige sweater. Her still-braided hair is worn more loosely than wrapped around the back of her head.
  • Her outfit changes again towards the end of the movie to a gown very similar to the one that she wore in “A New Hope”. Her hairstyle is also different.image1

Thus, in one movie, she’s wearing at least 3 different costumes.

3. In “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi”, Leia wears multiple outfits again, more than in either “A New Hope” or “Empire Strikes Back”.

  • In Leia’s opening appearance, she is disguised as a bounty hunter named Bosch.
  • Shortly thereafter, she is briefly enslaved by Jabba the Hutt, who forces her to wear the infamous “metal” bikini slave outfit.
  • After returning to a Rebel Alliance ship, she initially wears a lightly colored military-style outfit.
  • Then, as part of a group of guerrilla fighters on Endor, she dons green camouflaged outfit that includes a helmet & poncho.
  • She later wears a more relaxed beige outfit while talking with Luke before the movie’s final battle.
  • She then returns to her military style camouflage outfit as seen earlier for the battle.
  • At the end of the movie, she returns to wearing the more relaxed beige outfit.

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4. In “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens”, an older General Leia wears 2 different outfits: a vested military-style pant suit and a formal blue gown. The hairstyles with each outfit are also different.

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5. In “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi”, General Leia wears 3 different outfits:

  • First, an elegant gown with a jacket.
  • Then, a hospital gown.
  • Lastly, her elegant gown with a heavier jacket.

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So, if a cosplayer wants to cosplay Princess (or General) Leia, there are no less than 15 different costume choices from which to select from.

Now, if a cosplayer wants to do a variant of one of costumes worn by Princess or General Leia, that variant would no longer be a canon costume.

Custom Costumes

A custom costume is any cosplay or costume that is not a precise recreation of an outfit worn by an existing character of a particular story.

That being said, here’s a list of several different types of custom costumes.

A Customized Canon Character

When a cosplayer wants to cosplay a specific canon character from a franchise, but wants to alter the costume’s appearance while still being that character, it’s a custom costume. For this type of custom costume, the identify of the original canon character has to remain intact. Modifications that are common for this type of custom costume include the following:

  • Use of different colors that aren’t part of the original canon costume.
  • Colors from the canon costume applied differently than on the original canon costume.
  • Other variations in garments, makeup, hairstyles; etc. that don’t detract from the character’s identity.
The challenge for any cosplayer wearing this type of custom costume is to ensure that the customizations aren’t so severe that the identity of the original canon character is lost, which would reduce the visual impact of this type of custom costume.

Some examples are shown below, each of which is a variant of the iconic “Star Wars” character Darth Vader.

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A Customized Character Based upon a Canon Character Design

Some cosplayers enjoy creating new, custom characters based on existing canon characters. In this situation, the goal is a custom costume that bears some resemblance to the original canon character that inspired it, but is sufficiently different to be viewed as a unique character on its own. Modifications that are common in this type of custom costume include the following:

  • Use of different colors that aren’t part of the original canon costume.
  • Use of unique insignias or sigils not present on the original canon costume.
  • Other variations in garments, makeup, hairstyles; etc. that don’t completely eliminate the connection between the custom costume and the canon one that inspired it.

A common type of this type of custom costume are the myriad cosplayers who create custom Mandalorian merc costumes that are all based on the original canon characters of Boba Fett and Jango Fett from the “Star Wars” franchise. It’s also common for Halo cosplayers who create their own unique Spartan and ODST characters.

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Hybrids of Two or More Canon Costumes

Another interesting type of custom costume is a hybrid that combines two or more canon characters or a known brand with a canon character. To create a hybrid, a cosplayer typically does some of the following designs and applications:

  • Select one of the canon characters to be the primary base of the hybrid.
  • Apply the characteristics (such as colors, logos, sigils, etc.) of the other canon character(s) or brand with the base character.

Hybrids usually don’t incorporate colors or other things that are not part of the original character costumes (or brands) being combined as that would likely detract from the overall appearance of the resulting hybrid.

The most successful hybrid costumes are ones in which:

  • The identities of the original characters (or brands) remain completely recognizable in the combined form.
  • The combination of the original characters (or brands) is seamless.
  • The original characters (or brands) originate from different franchises.

Several examples of hybrid costumes are shown below.

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A Uniquely Designed Costume Inspired by a Generic Form

Some cosplayers like to create costumes and the characters that they represent after being inspired by a particular generic form. The form could be anything, but typically has multiple examples that share a common form, but are also unique unto themselves.

While this may sound similar to the creation of a custom character based upon an existing canon character, it is, but what makes this different is that the generic form isn’t specific to any one particular canon character. Instead, generic form is the basis for a  collection of similarly designed characters that aren’t necessarily from the same story or franchise.

The best example of this is fursuiters. Fursuiters are inspired by the generic form of anthropomorphic animal characters that have been used in multiple animated movies for different stories and by multiple franchises. When a fursuiter creates a character, the fursuiter typically follows the overall generic form for an anthropomorphic animal character, but the fursuiter has the freedom to base the character on any animal species, combination of multiple species, or create an entirely new fictitious species. The fursuiter also has complete freedom to use any combination of colors and patterns as part of the character’s overall appearance. Thus, each fursuit is uniquely created, but was inspired by the same generic form.

The fursuit parade from this year’s Antrocon is best example of this type of uniquely designed set of costumes.

Completely Original Costume Creations

The final type of custom costume that we’ll mention (and there are probably others) are completely original custom creations that are purely unique designs not based upon any particular form, existing characters or franchises.

Here, the cosplayer is free to do virtually anything since there are very few limitations on what the cosplayer can do.

A prime example of a completely unique costume costume is something that we shared a long time ago: a costume inspired by con-crud:

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One cosplayer who specializes in original custom designs is TwoHorndedCreations. He features a number of his original creations on his YouTube channel.

 

 

His creations are both beautiful and bizarre, but entirely original.

So What Is the Difference between Canon & Custom Costumes?

Simple: cosplayers who like to wear canon characters want to recreate an existing character while cosplayers who prefer to wear custom costumes want to be entirely unique within themselves even when their costumes are inspired by something else.

References

Fursuiting: How to Put on a Quadsuit

As we posted in a previous post about types of #fursuits, #quadsuits are rare. Not only do they cost a lot more than a typical plantigrade fursuit, they’re more difficult to wear and move around in. We wouldn’t recommend them for anyone with known back problems.

Two fursuiters (Rossy kitty and Maravilla Angel Dragon) who own quadsuits demonstrate how they get into the suits in separate YouTube videos, which we have shared below.

 

References

Fursuit Types, Styles & Logistics

When you encounter one or more #fursuiters or you are thinking about owning a #fursuit yourself, you may be unaware of the various types & styles of #fursuits that exist today, as well as the various logistics involved in buying, owning & wearing one.

The most important logistics that will be impacted are as follows:

  • Fursuit cost.
  • Time needed to make the fursuit.
  • The amount of maintenance the fursuit will need.
  • How much heat the fursuit will retain, which will the wearer.
  • Other aspects that affect how comfortable the fursuit is while wearing it.

As to describing the type and style of a fursuit, several basic factors are used:

  • How complete is the fursuit, or level of fursuit completion.
  • Common fursuit styles.
  • Leg styles.

Level of Fursuit Completion

Fursuiters use a set of terms to describe how “complete” a fursuit is. Essentially, this is another way of saying how much does the fursuit cover the person wearing it.

First, not all worn fursuits have the same level of completion. To make it easy to describe how complete a fursuit is, furries & fursuiters devised jargon terms that that explain how a complete a fursuit is.

💁‍♂️ The more complete a fursuit is, the more the fursuit covers the wearer’s body.

Fursuit Parts

To best explain how complete a fursuit is is by defining which parts the fursuit includes. The typical parts of a fursuit are generally described as follows:

  • Head: the part that generally completely covers the fursuiter’s head and neck.
  • Handpaws: essentially furry gloves (or mittens) designed to resemble an animal’s front paws, often including thin pads on the palm side (depending upon the species).
  • Feetpaws: essentially furry shoes that often go up & over the ankle with soles that often have pads matching the color of the pads used on the hand paws.
  • Tail: worn on the back of the fursuiter’s waist.
  • Bodysuit: typically covering the fursuiter’s legs, arms and torso. (Might be 2-piece.)

In the absence of a bodysuit, the following parts may be present instead:

  • Sleeves: typically covering the arms from the wrists upwards to above the elbows or all the way up to the shoulders.
  • Furry Pants: worn as pants.

Basic Fursuit Types

Using the various fursuit parts, here are the four main types of fursuits based on level of completion:

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Logistics of the Basic Fursuit Types

Now, the logistics of the four basic fursuit types can be shown in the next table:

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Essentially, the more body coverage, the more expensive the fursuit will be, the longer it will take to make, the more maintenance it will require and the hotter it will be to wear. Also, the more body coverage, the less comfortable it will be.

Common Fursuit Styles

Beyond the level of completion of a fursuit, there are various fursuit styles. Here, we will mention four common ones:

  • Toony: toony fursuits are probably the most common of all fursuits. They are cartoonish in appearance; hence, the nickname: toony. They are highly distinguishable due to their typically over-sized facial features (such as eyes, ears and muzzle), as well as big handpaws and exaggerated smiles. Also, they tend to be extremely colorful, using very bright colors not typically seen on real animals.
  • Realistic: far less common that toony suits and unlike them, realistic fursuits are far more anatomically correct with the goal being to create a more true animal appearance. To do this, none of the parts are exaggerated as with toony suits, including the coloring, which is far more likely to resemble the coloring of an actual animal.
  • Semi-Realistic: semi-realistic fursuits are a hybridization of toony and realistic fursuits. An example might be a very realistic wolf head that has oversized toony eyes.
  • Kemono: these are similar to toony suits, except that they are inspired by Japanese anime. A distinguishing feature of a kemono fursuit is that it typically has a much shorter muzzle than a regular toony suit.

Logistically, the biggest difference between the various styles is going to be cost. Toony fursuits are going to be least expensive overall. Realistic fursuits are more expensive due to the increased amount of work to create realistic animal markings, which may include air-brushing. Semi-realistic fursuits will likely be about the same price overall as a realistic one, but possibly be more expensive. In this group, kemono fursuits are the most expensive because there aren’t many makers that produce them.

Leg Styles

Leg style refers to the appearance of the legs. The two most common styles are as follows:

  • Plantigrade: plantigrade refers to a style of anatomy of the limbs used for walking; specifically, one where the soles of the feet are used to carry the weight. Humans, bears, and rabbits are some examples of animals that have plantigrade legs.
  • Digitigrade: digitigrade refers to a style of anatomy of the limbs used for walking; specifically, where the weight is placed on the digits and not on the heels. Felines, canines and most other mammals are digitigrade.

This diagram shows the difference between plantigrade and digitigrade legs:

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For fursuiting, to create a digitigrade appearance in the legs, additional padding is used in the front of the thighs, as well as the back of the shins. Logistically, this means that digitigrade legs are both more expensive and less comfortable than plantigrade legs.

⚠️ Fursuiters with digitigrade legs are more likely to waddle as they walk depending upon how much additional padding is in the legs to achieve the desired appearance.

Two far less common leg styles that we’ll mention here are the following:

  • Unguligrade: unguligrade refers to a style of anatomy of the walking limbs; specifically, where the animal stands and walks using the tips of its toes that have formed into hooves. Animals that are unguligrade include horses and deer.
  • Quadruped: as the name implies, this refers to a very small number of fursuiters who have created characters that walk on four legs. Quadruped fursuits are also called “quad suits” for short.

And, if you haven’t guessed it by now, logistically, both the unguligrade and quadruped legs are more costly than digitigrade legs. Also, both are far more uncomfortable; especially quadruped. As for cost, a quadruped suit may cost $6000. Unsurprisingly, they are rather rare.

Specialty Fursuits

An example of a “specialty fursuit” would be a “plush suit”, which is designed to make the wearer look like a stuffed animal. Naturally, these are much more expensive than typical fursuits due to the increased labor and materials required. Also, who ever wears one is going to become even hotter due to the additional padding to create the plush appearance. Plush suit handpaws don’t have fingers, which makes it incredibly difficult to use your hands to pick things up or do anything. Also, logistically speaking, it takes a lot longer for a maker to create a plush suit because much more time and labor is involved.

Acknowledgment

We want to thank Stormi Folf, who’s recent video about fursuit styles inspired this blog post. You can view his original video here:

References

Tips for Designing a Fursuit

For anyone who hasn’t designed a #fursuit before, here are some practical tips that you might want to consider.

Fur Colors

If you’re planning to use white fur, you might want to be careful about where you use it. Since white fur shows dirt more than any other color, you might want to avoid putting white on areas that are prone to being exposed to dirt, such as the feet, the butt or the bottom of the tail. All of these areas are more prone to getting dirty and white fur isn’t necessarily easy to clean. In other words, white fur can require higher maintenance to keep clean.

If you’re planning to use a lot of black fur, please bear in mind that suits that are mostly black tend to not show up well in photos or videos with other suits. Also, mostly black suits are hard to see overall in low light situations.

Complicated Designs

As many fursuits are based on artwork, color mixing and color fading that produce many shades aren’t easily done with sewing. When color fading or mixing is used on a fursuit, it’s usually achieved by airbrushing. While airbrushing can look great, not all fursuit makers use airbrushing. If they do offer airbrushing, it will add to the overall cost of the suit. Also, washing a fursuit can damage airbrushed paint, which means that after multiple washings, airbrushing may have to be redone.

If you’re considering symbols or other intricate designs to be sewn into the suit, please bear in mind that additional seams can weaken the fursuit. So you’d want to be careful about not placing intricate designs or symbols in areas that are going to stretch while wearing the suit. Also, additional sewing will also increase the price of a fursuit from a maker. It will also potentially increase the amount of maintenance that a suit needs.

Wings

Wings might look great, but they can be highly problematic on a fursuit. Not only do they add to the overall weight of the suit (which can make the suit more uncomfortable to wear), they can start to sag over time. Some fursuiters who incorporate wings make them removable so that they don’t have to wear them all the time. Wings add to the overall size of your character and greatly increase the likelihood of you bumping into things and people or people bumping into you. Wings also add to the amount of material that has to be shipped to conventions.

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Pocari Roo, who’s video inspired this article.

References

 

Some Cutting-Edge Fursuits

Just like any other form of #costuming & #cosplay, some #fursuiters are looking for ways to be on the cutting edge of the hobby by using electronics and details that require enormous amounts of hours to create. #Fursuiter Pocari Roo shared some of the #fursuits that she regards as being “insane” for how much effort these makers put into their amazing creations:

Here are fuller versions of those same fursuits:

“Beauty of the Bass” dancing at #Confuzzled:

“LED Dragon” at the 2017 #Antrocon:

“Gem Raptor” and mBlade at MCC in 2017:

Jex:

King Hyena:

References