Tl;Dr: Arkan made Nick Valentine's Cosplay and it lead him to quit his studies to follow his dream and redo it once more for the best! Scroll down for the pretty pictures!
Greetings everyone! Here we go for my Nick Valentine cosplay! We will still go like so: a small history for the cosplay, how individual parts were made, how I handled the makeup and also what was improved between each version! And the cool pictures and anecdotes of course! Let's go!
A bit of History
So this cosplay is what drove me away from my studies. I spent a lot of time on this one instead of my assignement. Plus not having an internet connection before 11 p.m did not helped my will to keep on but I disgress. THIS ONE gave my mind so much ideas on how to quit and where to aim for a successful business.
There are two versions -for now!- of this cosplay. The first one was rushed in 2 months between classes and life, starting on october 2016; and the second one was rushed over 4 months starting on august 2017 because I had no planning skills and having orders takes so much of your free time that convention is happening before you know it!
So what inspired me to make this cosplay anyway? Well first of all, Arcanum Order made a fantastic job on his, and I loved Nick Story so I had no choices to feel INSPIRED to make our beloved Detective! Plus I really like trench coats and learning how to use new material, latex being involved, so this was a match in heaven.
I have to tell you that in my early days I did not know how to make some things, so the hats, tie and button-shirt are bought and modyfied to match what I was looking for. Now I know how to make all of this though, so V3 is likely to happen and be branded 100% self made!
Way to start a build! The most stressfull part. I bought a pack of four on Amazon, but it had not arrived two days before the conventions. So I went to a store in a hurry, bought a tie for five time the price it should have costed (and my now favorite scarf so it's worth it in the end) and roughed it up with 40 grit sandpaper. The monday after the convention, the package arrived!
I still have all of them for outfits, though I do not like wearing ties in general. Hm.
This is the second easiest part of the build. I bought each from Amazon, gave them the color I wanted by soaking them in water and painted acylic all over them. The V1 was plain grey with a leather band accross so it did looked Okayish, but the V2 got a coat of black as well so it was nicer.
I remember being looking through SO MUCH OF THESE online, seriously, being a student limit your budget by so much.
This one was as easy as the hats. Went to a thrift store, bought an oversized button-shirt, got rid of the sleeves and weathered the hell out of it. Inside my bathroom, in my small shower space. And left it to dry hanging with cheap bath towels on the floor not to leave stains anywhere since it was drooling so much.
Fun fact: this bathroom was very small and contained heat, steam and humidity very well. It also had a smoke detector righ above the door on the outside, so whenever I took a shower I had to open and close repeatedly and quickly the door for about a minute to create air flow to cool the room so it did not triggered the alarm. Good times.
I went for a rain weathering look since Nick has no sweat as he likes to remind us. I think it looked good at that time but now I just see how reddish it was. But I did not changed it between the two versions as it is only underneath and adds a little more depth and color to every shots!
I sewn velkro to hold my trench coat in position as I gained some shoulder about a year later for the V2 and it was defenitely a great addition but not the best. I could not redo the Trench so it worked well as a temporary fix.
This had two versions and the first one got scrapped before it even had a chance to be finished! I wanted something that moved, so I redesigned everything, went to the shop, bought aluminium rod and electrical wire protection and a silver spraycan. Drilled holes everywhere, learned that hotglue does not like sticking metal together but CA Glue does, strapped all of these fingers on a piece of wood, applied my silver, buffed and weathered it and added/salvaged/glued elastic straps to get my arm to hold it. Be mindful if you use elastic straps. Think of your dimensions and to let blood flows through your body naturally like it is intended to!
The whole prop when strapped to your arm is always moving and making metallic noises and it is the best! The fingers are more of unique phalanxes each moving independently so it goes very well when you want to add some depth and details to a shot while holding something!
Sewing was not new to me, but learning how to make pattern and cleaner clothes was. I had a lot of fun and frustrating time making my first trench coat however! I loved every bit of it regardless of the difficulty!
I even went to buy my fabric in a small local shop where the seller made me a discount after exanging some words and seeing how passionate I was! If I had one happy and most striking memory from Tarbes, it has to be that one. The lady got past the closing hours just to learn everything about what I was doing and how I was managing the studies on the side (so if you've read: I didn't!), gave me so much advices on fabrics and directions on my trench pattern that you can believe me I listened carefully.
It was rushed under a few hours worth of work, and as you can see it was not that bad for a full cloth of this challenge! Mind you, I was nowhere near at the skills I am now and I still have a lot to learn!
The whole beige parts were machine sewn and the patches were also secured with a straigh seam along each sides. Then they were hand sewn to match the look of the game and Wasteland scavenged look. It is my favorite part of this specific trench. It was very soothing to do.
The weathering was rushed and I even burned some threads of my towels with the heatgun, but it was all worth it as it gave more wear and tear on the Trench's fabric. And once again, remind yourself what I said about the shower space and how I dried everything back then.
The buttons were sanded and coated with a thick layer of brown acrylic and sewn to the outfit.
This is the hardest part. I had no idea how to work with latex, so of course I went ahead and bought the best recommended Liquid Latex I could find on Amazon and a cheap foam head that looked about my size. Once they arrived, the bottle had way less than I thought (still 1L mind you) and the foam head was covered in thin glued black fabric not like advertised. But I went ahead with the build anyway!
With paper towels and latex I applied coats of what is the android skin, added a fan to cure the layers faster as latex cures through evaporation and not heat, and did this about six time. After that I went for the paint's layer: a 50-50 mix of latex and acrylic paint. It looked great so I took it out of the head.
The whole fabric thing came off with it so I had to coat the inside with more Latex. It was managable and good enough for a first version. I got some foam details and glued them with hotglue and latex. Then painted them silver and weathered the whole prosthesis. This first try taught me so much thing, I was ready for making a new version.
The second version involved a better foam head for reference, clay and a little bit of 3d printing! I took the foam head and shaped some clay to get a volume close to one being same as my own head. Then added extra thickness as I did not want to mold the whole thing but apply latex over this base. I made crevasses along the jaw lines and neck.
This version also covered my scalp and this was and remains my best addition yet! I layered much more latex strips and coat on this very one, removed it from the head, painted it a better matching tone to my makeup set and added black paint to the "void" areas. I printed a custom models of the jaw that I heat formed and glued to the prosthesis. I made holes through which they go through when going to the front of my face so it looks more realistic, it hides behind the fake skin layer if it makes senses! I added various wires going from top to bottom, behing the jaws and such for more details.
And I swear, I added one that bother me every time I see it and wear this prosthesis. It's some kind of washing machine wire. It has a metal frame that protects it and is flexible. So think of small bits of metal scrapping against you skin under a sealed prosthesis at each movement of you body and head. Each. Slight. Changes. It's a nightmare, but I did not remove it as I want to remind myself to watch out of such annoyance!
So I am no makeup professionnal. Not even an amateur back then. I learn with what other told me was good and then get names of products and what their uses are. For Nick though, I learned quite a lot on how to apply in thick, consistent and blended layers without caring about all of that.
What I used was Snazaroo body paint, eye crayon and lipstick. I'm playing with different tones and try to outline the parts like the skin frowning and cheeks with the crayon that I then blend as much and best as I can. Back then it was fun to not really care and go with the flow, but now I have so much more supplies to get a better job done that I really care for the best makeup!
The lipstick was fun to look for and grab. I can't remember what store I bought it from (I'll edit if it ever come to my mind) but I do remember feeling lost inside of this gigantic place! The sellers were very nice and looked everywhere for this specific grey mate and flat lipstick. And they found it! One, only one in the whole store that was with these particular traits. No other color than grey and no intend of ordering a new stock on top of that! The greatest catch a week before the convention! Had to be stuck on the shelves waiting to be picked up and ticked of the inventory! I still have it to this day and it's fun to remember!
The lenses were very easy on my eyes and I changed in between the two versions! I love the brand Linsenfinder for their unique and vibrant lenses, but I command you check with your doctor instead of following my preferences. Lenses can be bought here in France without prescriptions. Think of full sclera lenses ready to be bought at stands in convention for 40$ to 12 years old. Take care of your eyes, it's nice to see things and I know what I'm doing, but it comes with hundreds of hours worth of research and trips as a child to my eye doctor to know what works well and what's bad for you! Take care of yourself in general. Back to the build.
I sealed my eyebrows to cover them better with the body paint, and that was a fun time under the shower to take off. I learned that gluestick for the brows are great and also that prosthesis glue is a hell to take off. Had these for 3 days.
The second prosthesis was sealed with more layers if latex without any glue involved, all applied few hours before the convention! It's fun to wake up a 4 a.m to have yourself ready in time for the opening of the convention and get strange looks in the streets!
What I would improve
Definitely the prosthesis. The details, easiness of use, tone, size, material... I could go on and on. I know how to sculpt and make molds now so if I could take the time, I'll go for my third and final verion of my Nick Valentine Cosplay! Someday, I'm sure!
The Trench Coat was fun but oh so badly made. I have made good patterns for Caleb's Coat (we'll get to it in a few posts!) so I know I'll get a perfect Trench Coat! Adding pockets would be nice too!
The hand would be articulated. I have two working 3D Printers and the skills to make articulated things. You can bet I would make such adddition!
The pants back then were the same as my Ranger (see the previous article!) so I could make myself a nice pair of our own Widepockets Trouser for sure!
How was it like to be Nick Valentine for a few days?
The best. So much memories, so much fun, so much passionate people to talk to.
Had a conversation about techniques with a +60 years old man that worked on sculpting clay and making prosthesis his whole life, gave me advices on how to wear them and how to treat yourself nicely when having these on such long days.
Met a Zombie from the Walking Dead that rushed to me outside and asked for a picture, then scolded her boyfriend for not recognizing Nick Valentine "the best Character of the Fallout "(I'm not taking part in this debate!).
Met a man I see every TGS now that know me from this very cosplay and my NCR Ranger that ask how I'm doing, when we could photoshoot together in Fallout cosplays and all!
Had an awesome lady at a Star Wars booth that freaked out seing the lights reflected in my lenses and asked for pictures so nicely. Lovely person and conversation.
Had to cosplay with my best friend in his own NCR Ranger gear (improvised by ourselves back then!) and had the most memorable pictures in cosplay outside.
Had so much people stopping me aasking for pictures and a chat while moving from booth to booth at the convention.
Had my then girlfriend think "That's my man, right here!" and proudly say it out loud to her group of friend.
Had the funniest time in a store looking for food with yet again my best friend while fully cosplayed and talking casually to the cashier for crêpe supplies.
Every bit of sweat, dehydration, miles walked and eyeaches were worth it. This is in my top 3 cosplays.
I wore the first version of this cosplay once for a shoot at home and the edits were so great on the Fallout Internationnal Cosplay Group, someone made them for me for free because he liked it. Dear Sam Falco, thank you. You made my month back then and it still brings a huge smile on my face.
So that's it for this build, I believe! This lead to so many memories, I really like writting these! See you later for more! Have a wonderful day!
Additionnal Pictures of the second version picture are taken by Lescargographe at TGS2017, edits by Arkan.