Anatomy of a Cosplay: League of Legends Nurse Akali by Azellius

Nurse Akali Side by Side

A lot of us quietly admire the amazing costumes that show up at comic and gaming conventions throughout the year from our Tumblr dashboards, but rarely do we get a chance to sit down with a cosplayer and ask the important questions... How long did it take you to make that armor? Is that bow functional? How much time and money do you put into your costumes? To save you the trouble of hunting down the answers, we bring them to you every week in Anatomy of a Cosplay.

Whether you've jumped on the MOBA train or not, at this point it is pretty likely that you've at least heard of League of Legends. The competitive multiplayer game is consistently one of the most streamed and watched games on Twitch and the professional tournaments pay out loads of cash-money to the top players. In addition to all that, its giant list of playable characters is amazing cosplay bait. The incredibly talented Azellius is a LoL enthusiast and one of her most recent projects brings one of the fighters out of the arena and into the convention circuit...

P3:  What’s the name of the costume and where did you debut it? 

Azellius: The cosplay is of the Nurse Akali character skin from the game League of Legends, and I debuted it at Megacon 2014.

P3: What inspired this project and what kind of planning went into the costume?

Azellius: When I originally decided on the champion/skin combination it was a tribute to my boyfriend who mained Nurse Akali at the time. Video games was one of the first things that we bonded over when we met and it still brings us together almost 4 years later. Playing League of Legends is no exception, and our conversations become interesting when saying “Do you have time for a quick one?” means an ARAM… This cosplay was by far the most last-minute project I’ve done; I made it the week of the con and finished it in the hotel room (not a recommended strategy, by the way). I had another costume I had been working on for a while, and I didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of a project that I had already invested so much in so I decided to revise another costume I had done a while back. The term “revise” quickly turned into “remake completely from the ground up”. One of the best things about making League of Legends characters, though, is the awesome availability of 3D models to work from; it makes reference materials a breeze when you can look at them from any angle you want!

P3: What was the hardest piece to pull off?

Azellius: Definitely the kamas; the idea I had in mind was to make them out of EVA foam which would be both cheap and fast… that, however, did not work out the way I envisioned. Once fully cut, dremeled, and assembled they had more wiggle than a rap song -- it was like trying to appear threatening while waving a pool noodle around.

P3: How’d you get it work?

Azellius: After realizing how floppy they were even with layered EVA foam, I went to plan B and started covering them with Worbla to give them more backbone which worked fantastically. The surface of Worbla can be troublesome though, and they both needed a few layers of wood glue and sanding to make them smooth enough to paint. I finished the painting marathon at 6 AM in the hotel room the morning of the con.

P3: How long did this costume take you to put together? 

Azellius: The Nurse Akali cosplay was also my biggest cosplay marathon to date -- the whole thing was 5 days from start to finish, and there was at least one 48 hour period where I slept a total of 8 hours.

P3: How difficult was it in comparison to your other projects?

Azellius: The time constraints of this cosplay made it more difficult than previous projects, and additionally adding the stress of it being my first time sewing an entire outfit from start to finish. I was ready to have an Office Space moment with that sewing machine by the end of it! I think the most technically challenging piece I’ve done was the staff for my Popstar Lux cosplay, every time I thought I had that beast figured out something wouldn’t work the way I thought it should. The hardest cosplay I’ve ever had to wear was definitely my Diablo 3 Demon Hunter, I’ve nearly passed out in it twice and have learned to only wear it during cool climates. My next challenge is getting LED lights into resin cast gems though, so I’m sure I’ll have some stories by the end of that!

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter

P3: How much of a financial investment was this project? 

Azellius: I think the entire thing ran me about $200. The most expensive part was the Worbla to cover the kamas, everything else I managed to get at some sort of discount.

P3: Did you find any creative workarounds to lower the cost? 

Azellius: Pro tip: If you haven’t already, you should download the app for JoAnns. You can get a pretty hefty discount on almost every purchase you make. Signing up for the text service also gets you some pretty awesome deals!

P3: What project are you working on next and when do you plan to debut it?

Azellius: I just debuted my Popstar League of Legends group cosplay (based off of the artist Loiza’s concept skin art) at Tampa Bay Comic Con. It was super fun to be a part of a group of fun and talented girls this time around, and I did all of the armor and weapons construction for the group. My next big plan is to finally finish Tempest Janna in time for Megacon 2015 -- wish me luck!

(Check out 1,000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas: A Showcase of Creative Characters from Anime, Manga, Video Games, Movies, Comics, and More (1000 Series) for more cosplay ideas.)

P3: Where can our readers find and follow your work?

AzelliusMy Facebook page is definitely the easiest way to keep up with what I’m doing at any given point. 

P3: What advice or words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring cosplayer?

Azellius: My best advice is to start with a relatively small project. More complex cosplays can easily become massive financial and time investments that become very intimidating if you’re just starting out. The more things you try to take on, the more things you’ll want to change or redo once you’ve improved applicable skills and knowledge. Picking simple cosplays at the beginning which are easily attainable will give a sense of pride and confidence to continue learning new skills and continue creating increasingly complex cosplays.

Discovering things that will have to be done differently as you’re building a costume is inevitable, but you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration with some good planning and forethought. Acquire as many good reference pictures as you can (before you EVER come at anything with scissors) and put them all over your walls so you’re constantly looking at them, give yourself enough time, and never be afraid to ask for help (this includes commissioning items you lack skillsets for at present WHILE learning the skills you need to do it yourself in the future). Make sketches of each self-contained piece (i.e. a staff or jacket) and label it with what you plan on using for materials; it will make shopping lists easier and helps avoid wasted materials.

My cosplay spirit animal is Kamui Cosplay, she has a dedication to teaching people that I applaud and admire. The information that can be gleaned from her collection of books and Youtube channel is outstanding and I highly recommend checking them out. Aside from that, Google is your friend. I’ve also learned a surprising amount from the moms and dads of my friends as well, often they’re eager to have the younger generation asking to learn a skillset they have and would love to teach you. It never hurts to ask!

As with any labor of love there are bound to be some blood sweat and tears, but in general if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Its all about taking a passion you have for something and sharing that passion through the art you’re creating. That attachment to a character/series/etc will show in the work you do, and make the process of getting to the final product that much more enjoyable.

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Special thanks to Anna for taking the time to chat with us and give us a look under the hood of her process. Hopefully she comes back for another installment when the Tempest Janna cosplay is finished. 

As usual, all cosplay photos are featured thanks to the dedicated photographers (such as Photosnxs, J.W. Hendricks Photography, Adrian Goetz) and the cosplayers who are kind enough to share with us. If you have a cosplay you would like to have considered for an upcoming Anatomy of a Cosplay feature, let us know in the comments or email us at p3outrider@gmail.com

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Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.

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