Saturday, November 5, 2011

One or two stencils...

I asked Yoki to send me photos from the making process of our Ivy and Yoshimitsu costumes, so that I could refresh my memory before writing any construction posts I’ve been planning. While I went through them, I found myself huffing! Boy, what a workload we survived!

If I calculated correctly, our Soul Calibur III cosplay project required at least twenty different stencils for printed details. Only four were used on Ivy’s garments. The rest decorate Yoshimitsu’s pants, shirt, vest, head and also the flag or sashimono. For printing we used products from EMO-tuotanto. For the stencils we ended up using a clear plastic fabric, which you would use to make toilet bags. The stencil method has it limits, but we are pleased of what we were able to achieve with it.

Printing was actually one of the first things we started after I had finished patterning the garments. I think that drawing the stencils, cutting them and finally printing wouldn't have taken more than a week if we had worked continuously. Yoshimitsu's head part was actually done only five days before the debut of the costumes.

First little something about fabric printing: When you are printing with light color on a darker fabric, you need to have a opaque color which means a paste based covering color (peittoväri). When you are printing on light fabrics you will be using sheer colors (kuultoväri), which are mixed with emulsion base. Naturally the covering colors will set little stiffer than the emulsion based ones, because they are thicker in consistency. The colors we used are set with heat by ironing them, usually from the wrong side.

I'm not sure if the terms I'm using are the right ones, so if you see a obvious mistake here then please, feel free to correct me.

We started with Yoshimitsu's vest, which has different twirls and flower and leaf themes. We basically composed the print for the vest ourselves, but took some notes from the reference. It would have been almost impossible to make a exact copy with the given time. We just made sure that the flowers where on right places and then started to add the twirls. The color we used was ready mixed covering gold.

While Yoki worked on her vest, I moved to Ivy’s weird tailcoat corset. I started with the middle panels and then moved to the pink parts. The edges I printed using tape. First I had thought about sewing ribbon on the side, but then I ended up with printing because it would have looked bit confusing to have two different techniques in black in one garment. I mixed black pigment and base emulsion to strong, full color and added few extra drops because satin isn't really the most optimal fabric to print on.

Next I printed Yoshimitsu’s shirt and pants for which we had prepared five different stencils. One was a vine grid, two were flowers and the other two were leaves. I used the same stencils to print the base on the sashimono. For both of them I mixed covering and sheer colors in yellow to get slightly translucent outcome.

Yoki continued working on the sashimono by printing the crisscross pattern on the tentacle shape. She created the crisscross by making a stencil out of tape and printing with the same gold we used on the vest. Surprisingly, the gold ended up looking rather pale. This was because of the different fabrics; the vest was wool mix while the tentacles were synthetic. The colors we were using are meant to cotton and cotton mixes.

Yoki also drew the stencils for the squid head and the… stringy-parts. She printed them with gold with a tiny bit of yellow covering color to avoid the washed out result of the sashimono.

I don’t know does the hilt of Yoshimitsu’s sword count as printing project, but it was “painted” still. I made the figures by freehand with markers based on reference and under Yoki’s watchful eyes. Yoki embroidered the yellow parts after I was done.

That was all I had in mind about fabric printing on Yoshi and Ivy. Next I think I will move to the interesting pieces, like Yoshimitsu's squiddy waist tentacles and mask!


  1. You people are insane. And I mean this in a very positive way. Every time you post something about fabric printing, I drool. Buckets.

    Keep it up. You guys are an inspiration. Seriously.

  2. Thank you so much, Elina! Must be the first time we've been called insane AND inspirational. This we shall treasure.

  3. So your work is so great that it has inspired me to make my own Yoshimitsu costume. I'm not familiar with printing at all ie: stencils, paint types, application, ect. My email address is, if you could mail me with some info I would greatly appreciate it. Even the idea of having this for my self is exciting.