December 31, 2016

arigatou, 2016

Lots of things happened in 2016, both positive and negative events came flooding to me but no matter what had occurred I'd like to be thankful for an amazing year. Here's a wordy post as I'd just like to reflect about things and write down some plans for the upcoming year.

Beginning of the year I started off with the second semester of my second year in college and it ended pretty fine for me. Nothing too exciting or bad happened. I guess things started pouring in during the second half of the year when my third year in college began. They may be things that I've mentioned in previous Life Lately posts, but I'm just skimming through them here, so if you want to read on the details you can check them out under that label.

The second half of the year I guess I got into a lot of problems dealing with people? It was around then that I saw some friendships don't last although people had been really nice to me. I feel blessed that I got to know them but sometimes I just can't seem to click or feel comfortable with them even after a long time. I feel bad for shying away from people (it feels like the problem is me) but I know that if I am not being myself while being around them, I don't think that sort of friendship would last. Whenever I meet someone new, initially I'll try to be nice and polite but after months of getting to know each other I can't still be putting on a mask and not be who I really am. I do try to be a little bit more of myself when I'm around them but their responses just doesn't feel right... so that's when I've learned to move on.

The next few months into my third year were really stressful for me. Mostly because I was so tired dealing with lecturers and classmates. I learned to stick to my own beliefs and to not be easily wavered. I learned that even if you try to share effort in working on a group project with people, when they do not take responsibility you have to take charge and make things work in the end because having a final outcome is the most important thing in the end. Work and friendships are separate things. (Though if they can work together that'll be the best)

And I guess through these tough times it made me to care lesser about what people think and just aim for things I care for. The second half of the semester especially, I feel that because I now care very less about getting good grades and pleasing people, it also affected my style and the artworks I produced. I actually love most of the things I managed to create during those few months, although some are not shared here yet because I can't, I really hope one day I can talk about them here.

Looking back at my New Year Resolutions last year, I'm really glad I checked everything off!

1. To travel to Japan in December
I just ticked this off few weeks ago and this is one of the best things that happened this year! This was my first visit to the Land of the Rising Sun. I mean I like it way before I visited it, but now that I've been there I really love it and I am motivated to work hard and go there again, and what if someday I can work there? :D That'll be really awesome!

2. To pick up Japanese again till at least N5
For my second resolution this year I put A LOT of effort into studying Japanese. I've tried picking up and dropping it previously but I guess since I've told myself that I'm going to do it plus I was going to visit Japan I finished self-studying N5 and N4. It wasn't easy self-studying a foreign language, but if you're interested and determined it's really possible. Though I don't have any official certification of me achieving N4, and I know there are some grammatical aspects and certain vocabularies which I still can't fully grasps yet, at least now I can understand most conversation and able to read text and manga easily.

Ah, the thing is that because I self-study so I don't follow the way classes teach, so partly how I learn is from watching videos, interviews and following Japanese accounts on Twitter and Instagram. The way it is presented is in a more casual form so I'm okay with casual conversations but I can't handle formal conversations. It's good in a way because I don't feel too awkward when I tried to speak Japanese during my trip plus I can understand some slangs or the 'trendy words' people use on social media because they are not taught in text books.

3. To finish off my Lux cosplay
I'm happy I finally ticked this off my list too! And would I cosplay another League of Legends character? Probably not hahaha! Lux is my favourite champ and I haven't been playing league as often nowadays so I can't catch up with all the new champs and updates anymore. But I'm happy this year I got to do cosplay again and I'm thinking of sewing new costumes for next year!

And because I'm really happy that I checked off my resolution list for 2016, I want to create another one for 2017~ Nothing major for the year though because they are more like to-do list for the upcoming year.

1. Graduate and find a job I'll enjoy
What else can be on top of my mind right now other than this lol. My final semester is starting soon and I just hope everything will go well so I'll be able to produce final year projects that I'll be proud of. Once that is done, another stage of my life will begin and honestly I have no idea how it will turn out yet, which is probably why I can't be certain to say what are my plans for the year. I'll just pray and hope that good things will be paved for me and hopefully I can find a job that I'll enjoy. Ok, though I have plans that one day I can work in Japan lol

2. Sew more clothes or costumes/Work on more crafting projects
I bought a sewing machine for myself this year and I'm happy I did that! I've been sewing some simple clothings and costumes for myself ever since, but I want to sew even more things for the coming year. I have a few of my personal projects that I wish to work on and of course I have some cosplay plans for this year too! I have only confirmed one cosplan so far which is Stocking Anarchy from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt but I'm thinking if I should sew a new costume and improve on my Konata cosplay. Konata is still my favourite character till today and I want to do a nice cosplay of her. ^^ Working on Lux's costume took a lot of effort but I learned a lot from making it so I hope to use the skills I've learned into these new costumes and hopefully learn more crafting skills for 2017 too!

3. Spend more time with my family
Since I'll be graduating soon, I actually plan to move back home, rest for a bit and enjoy my time with my family. These 3 years although I've been travelling back and forth to go home during holidays there's always this feeling of holiday countdown then I'll have to part with them. I really love them and would like to spend more time with them despite all the naggings I get when I go back lol. Every time I go back my parents tend to ask me to help out with lots of things, although I do get annoyed because I have things to do too, sometimes I feel like if I'm not there who else is there to help? I hope my brother can help out too but some things he does not understand yet since he's still really young. I hope he can learn to be more independent and be more open about his feelings too.

4. Cosplay Photoshoot
Ah yes, since I did a few shoots these past few months, I hope to be able to work with more cosplayers and be able to do more photoshoots! I am not the best at it yet but I want to improve, and hopefully I get more opportunity to do so. I'm introverted and shy and I'm very selective when it comes to meeting people online so often I don't get much connections with people. But I've been trying to make an effort to be a bit more outgoing and there are friends which are really nice and helping me out to get to know more people so I'm very grateful for that too. ^^

Thanks for reading up till here, Happy New Year and have a great year ahead!
December 27, 2016

Tokyo, Japan 2016 | Arrival & Airbnb

I finally checked off one of my bucket list!

I'm not gonna lie, I first got interest in Japan because of anime and manga but slowly I got more and more interested in its culture and fashion and I thought one day I must visit this place which I only have seen through images and videos. So I took the opportunity of turning 21st and requested a trip to Japan from my parents. If you're unfamiliar, 21st birthday is celebrated grandly around this region and most people usually throw huge parties for the occasion. Since I'm not into any social gatherings or parties, I wanted a much more fulfilling experience through traveling.

There are so many things I want to share about my trip so you can expect my blog being flooded with Japan related posts...until I run out of things to write. Honestly it still feels so surreal to me because it felt like a dream come true and at the same time a dream I just woke up from as soon as I reached home. (T_T) I really miss Japan so much, the moment when I was leaving I had tears around the rim of my eyes because I don't know when will be the next time for me to come back to this amazing place. But it also motivates me to work hard after graduation so I can come back again.

Arrival at Narita Airport. I bought my tickets through JAL but I only found out that I was flying with Malaysia Airlines when I was checking in. Turns out it was operated by Malaysia Airlines so even though my receipt printed a JAL flight number, I was flying with Malaysia Airlines. Was really flustered at the moment because of all the controversies around Malaysia Airlines and I prayed hard it won't crash or go missing lol ^^;

I took a midnight flight thinking I'll probably get some rest during the 6 hours journey, but 'lucky' me, the passenger beside me decided that reading midnight was the thing to do and working on his laptop was the best choice when everyone else had their lights turned off. Even if I try to tolerate the light, the loud tapping sound on his laptop annoyed me so much throughout the night. In the end I barely got 2 hours of sleep.

First thing I did as soon as I cleared the custom was to wash my face to look less dead. (:

After collecting my pocket wifi, I hurried to buy myself a Skyliner ticket to Nippori then to Shinjuku to meet my friend, Misato who guided me around most of the days during my trip in Japan. Skyliner might not be the cheapest option but it's really fast if you want to get to central Tokyo as soon as possible. My trip took approximately 45minutes and I was able to put on some light makeup and had breakfast during the journey.

Reached Nippori then got a ticket to Shinjuku. Please excuse my ugly fingers because this smart girl here decided to dye her hair before her flight that night without wearing gloves thus staining her hands for the next few days. :)

The place I stayed at was Soshigaya-Okura. I didn't know it was also known as the Ultraman Town until I got there, which I will talk about in future a post. ;) My airbnb host Ayano-san came to welcome me at the station then we walked together to her place. Once I put down my luggage, I continued doing the rest of my makeup because OMG everyone looks so dressed up here and I felt like I need to put some effort in looking good too hahaha!

This was taken outside Ayano-san's place.

Flowers in Japan are so beautiful! These were just wild flowers along the road but their colours are so pretty! I arrived at late autumn so the first half of my trip I could still see the red leaves everywhere but during the last few days everything turned bald hahaha!

When you're new to a place everything looks so interesting to you, even traffic signs. But really, Japan is such an amazing place to take photographs, I can easily whip out my camera or my phone and take a photo and it looks so beautiful!

This was my view every morning when I walk out of my place. I miss it so much!!!

Outside the train station. Can you see traces of Ultraman?

Soshigaya-Okura is slightly further from central Tokyo but it's a really quaint neighbourhood to stay at. I chose to stay here because it's nearer to Shinjuku which is around Shibuya and Harajuku which I ended up going back a few times. There's only local train here to Shinjuku but you can transfer onto an express train if you want to get there faster. Overall it only took roughly 30 minutes to get to Shinjuku.

I feel that it's important to plan your trip beforehand and know which area you're likely to frequent to plan where to stay. Transportation cost in Japan is quite expensive so the best way to save some yen is by planning your daily journey wisely, and walk from places to places if you can. For my trip since I was mostly in Tokyo I didn't get the Japan Rail Pass because the pass only saves you money if you're planning on long distance trip out of Tokyo to let's say Kyoto or Osaka.

My airbnb place. It was really nice staying at a Japanese house and experience how it's like living with locals. There's always a difference staying at someone's place versus staying at a hotel. I wished I had took more photos of it but I only took some to show my family back home while I was staying there...

With Al and Shohei.

With Al, Ayano and Shohei. Ayano and Shohei are my airbnb hosts and Al is their roommate. Ayano is an artist and photographer and Shohei, her brother is a bike messenger. Al is a painter who came to Tokyo from New York 2 years ago and her Japanese is so good!

When I booked my airbnb place Ayano told me about herself and turns out I've seen many of her works. So meeting her was kinda like a star struck moment since I really love some of her photographs! Knowing that I was staying at her place made me even more excited and she even gave me a printed collection of her works!!! I feel so blessed hahaha~~~

I was really awkward and shy to meet them but everyone was really nice and friendly and I'm glad that they are the first few people I meet here in Tokyo and I really hope to meet up with them if I happen to visit Tokyo again. We didn't talk much at first because I'm terrible at starting conversations plus I was always out from morning till late at night but the last few days I got to chat with them and share about different experiences and opinions. I'm also happy to meet people who are interested in arts because it's always hard for me to find people who understands and wants to talk about these things with me. Al even gave me this winter limited mochi ice cream to bring home and it was really good, thank you so much! (And I will remind myself to not feel bad about my awkwardness, Al! ^^ )

These photos were taken during my last night in Tokyo. Upcoming posts will be my adventures around Tokyo!
December 22, 2016

Comic Fiesta 2016

Comic Fiesta just happened over the weekend and it was pretty fun for me ^^ I have a few complaints regarding the heat and ventilation but overall I was happy that I got to meet old and new friends. This year I also cosplayed on Day 2 with my cousin so it felt a little different since I haven't cosplayed to a local event in ages! There isn't as much photos as I hope there would be because it was way too crowded for me to pull out my DSLR with 50mm lens and I decided not to bring my camera along on Day 2 because I had way too many things to bring so the second day photos are just selfies with my friends.

Smart Dolls are so beautiful as usual, and so expensive too....... They are releasing a short bob hairstyle one soon and from the pictures on twitter it looks so cute!

I was surprise because I didn't know Loiza was going to Comic Fiesta! When they came to AFA Singapore 2016 they only brought the artbooks and A3 prints so I didn't buy any. I usually prefer postcard size prints as they are easier to store. I got the Sona print! ^^

Doujin booths were swarmed with crowd so it was hard to take photos around there but this was a really beautiful illustration. The ventilation at the doujin and premium booth hall was so terrible this year. As soon as you walk in you will start sweating and everyone sweats so the whole hall is filled with body odor. During peak hours the doujin booths get so crowded that it felt suffocating to even walk around, that was how bad it was. I couldn't wait to get out of that hall once I was done looking through the booths.

Lots of figurines and plushies were sold at the event as well. I bought so much in Japan thus I'm kinda broke now so I didn't buy much this CF.

Managed to catch Kiba and her Code Geass team at the photography area. This is the only photo I took of the cosplayers at Comic Fiesta because it was too hot, crowded and the lighting wasn't really good indoors.

Day 2 I went in the afternoon with my cousins and her student. We all cosplayed as characters from League of Legends so it was really colouful and fitting to walk around together.

Since I'm done looking around on day 1, day 2 was just to meet my friends and walk around in cosplay. Ying Tze was really buy on both days but I'm glad I managed to say hi on second day. Chelses was having a booth too and it's been forever since I met her, so I'm happy to talk to her and take a selfie together. But really, since I'm usually away and studying in Singapore, I feel like I really need to ask my friends to hang out together and do some catch up haha! Also met Yoi who came all the way from Singapore for Comic Fiesta and her cousin Komori who's really cute!

Also got to say hi to Jin and Miguel and took a photo with them thanks to Chai! :D It's my first time meeting them and they're really nice!

Ahhh and I'm also really happy to meet Chai and Aian again this year! I wasn't able to attend Comic Fiesta last year but I still got to meet them but this year we were able to hang out after the event too. Chai did a mini shoot for me too, looking forward to the images~

On a side note, parts of my costume fell off before I got to the event so regrettably I didn't have all the pieces on. I need to fix them soon and perhaps so a proper photoshoot in the future? I'm still looking for photographers to collaborate. Then again, because some of them fell off, I was able to navigate around the event much more easily because those parts would've made me walk super slow and carefully. (I don't know how Lux goes to combat in full costume... or maybe because she's Star Guardian so she had special powers...?)

Left the event around 6pm and changed before I head back home, except that I couldn't remove the wig at the event because I glued the sides onto my face. It's my first time trying out that method and while it makes me look really good in photos it hurts to take it off lol. I used eyelash glue for this but imagine pulling a huge chunk of fiber off your face, it isn't a pleasant as you think it'd be. Moreover, as Star Guardian Lux wears a headband over her forehead so I got that on the entire time even when I was sweating like there's no tomorrow, my makeup pretty much melted off in that part. You can see a line just above my eyebrows where the headband rested.

I crafted this costume entirely by myself and if you're interested in reading the process, click here for part 1 and part 2. Hope you had fun reading this post and my Tokyo trip posts will be up next~
December 21, 2016

Star Guardian Lux cosplay WIP part 2

A few months back I wrote about my cosplay costume making process which you can read here. The first part was focused on sewing the costume and making the accessories, but this second part focuses on making the prop. I had been working on the prop back then but I decided to split it into another post because I want to talk through it from beginning to end. This is also my first time installing LED lights into my prop.

Here's my image reference. For my version I made it unexpectedly longer than the illustration's proportion to the person's height by half a feet, but overall I tried to stay as close to the design as possible.

I managed to find a clear acrylic star at Art Friend in Singapore in the exact size and shape I wanted. I chose to use a clear one because I wanted this part to glow up and the led light to shine through after I got them installed. You can always craft your own star out of acrylic sheets, refer to the previous post where I have talked about it.

I first cut out the rim of the star and the wings with a thin sheet of craft foam/ eva foam. Glueing foam is easy, just a hot glue gun would do. For the pattern of the wings, I sketched them out on paper then trace onto the foam so that it is the same size throughout. Notice how there's excess foam for the wings, I left excess on purpose so I can slowly figure out the angle of the wings and later trim them off to fit the sides of the acrylic star.

For the arch on the top I used 10mm foam and the bottom 'V' was crafted with 2 pieces of 5mm foam, reason to be explained later. As for the diamond at the bottom, they are made out of 2 10mm foam glued together.

Fold a piece of paper into half and sketch out the pattern of the arch. Sizing wise I always judge it by sight in relation to the proportions of each part. When cutting thick foam like this, be very sure that you are holding the blade straight. Any curve would cause it to look unbalance. Don't worry if there are little bumps, you can always use a sand paper to smooth it out. But by bumps I mean really minor issues, so try to get the shape right as you cut it out!

For the diamond shape, the 2 parts were cut diagonally at the edge then glued together. Try to get the angle the same to match them as perfectly as possible, and excess will be trimmed later on. The glue I used for this was contact glue instead of hot glue gun. I find that it works better to use contact glue if you plan to layer foam to create thickness.

As for the V part, although it wasn't the best decision to use foam to craft this, my prop still managed to stay together. This part holds the star to the handle so if you can have a stronger material, perhaps that would be a better choice.

For the handle I got a plastic water pipe that was 1m long, then cut out the middle part for the battery and switch to fit. For the installation of the LED, I got help with that because it needed to be soldered but it was just a simple circuit of strip light LED on 2 ends, switch and a 9V battery.

The LED lights were sticked facing inwards on the inner rim of the star so that light shines inwards. For the rim of the star I used 5mm foam, slowly cut them to fit and glue with hot glue gun.

So here's why I cut 2 5mm foam for the V shape. It is to fit the wires from the LED strip lighting down into the handle. I cut a valley on both sides of the foam, large enough to fit the wire but not too large or else the structure will be too weak to support the star structure above. Also, using the solder iron, I melted a hole at the bottom of the acrylic star and the diamond so the wire can fit through.

The 2 pieces were glued together with contact glue. The top and bottom where the V connects to the star and the diamond were also glued together using contact glue first, then hot glued around the edges to ensure that it will not fall off. Try to keep it as neat as possible. Everything should fit snugly.

Glueing the entire structure to the pipe I use lots of hot glue to make sure it sticks well. Just be generous here as it will be concealed later on.

For various thickness of the handle, I always like to buy the size according to the thinnest diameter or the entire thing. The thicker parts can be layered with foam. Slowly build up the thickness using various thickness of foam. To glue this part, here I did experiment a little, one side was glued with hot glue and the other was contact glue. Both method works, but I prefer to use contact glue as it provides a smoother finishing.

Before you get excited to spray paint, ALWAYS SEAL YOUR FOAM! Foam is like a sponge, if you don't seal it you will be wasting so much paint, time and effort to get the colours on. There are various methods to seal foam. I heard Mod Podge works very well but it's quite costly to buy a tub. For me I used the cheapest method which was using PVA or white glue, dilute it with a little water and paint 4-5 layers onto the foam. This method is pretty time consuming as you have to wait for each layer to dry off first before you can start on the next. I used a hair dryer to help me out.

Althouth I'm not the best at paint jobs, but for whatever I do, I always spray a layer of white first so that any colour would show up better later. Wrap up and spray by parts. Try spraying in thin layers so it dries quicker and also the colours would be more even and not dripping here and there. Only wrap and tape when the layer of paint has dried or you will end up ripping the paint off. If any mishaps happens, I usually will touch up with acrylic paint later.

And it's done! I know the battery part looks really funny but I am really looking for advice on how I can improve that. For the event I ended up wrapping it up with a white ribbon as my gloves are white too so it won't be very obvious when I hold on to it. I tried coming up with poses which lets me hides that part and showcase the nice looking parts haha!

I hope this was easy enough to understand the making process of my Star Guardian Lux's wand. I did a mini shoot with Chai at Comic Fiesta and will blog about both the shoot and the event soon. Thank you for reading and DEMACIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
December 20, 2016

AFA Singapore 2016

Hello I'm back to blogging! December has been really busy for me so far, and since I have a few days free right now I decided to sort out photos from AFA and Star Guardian Lux cosplay WIP part 2 which hopefully will be up tomorrow! I just went and came back from Tokyo last week and haven't got started on sorting over 1500 photos so that will probably take me a while. Lots of interesting contents lined up including product reviews, Life Lately post and also Comic Fiesta which just happened over the weekend. But first, back to AFA Singapore 2016.

It's my third year attending AFA Singapore and as always I really enjoy the event. This year was especially fun because I had my friend Angel tagging along with me and also I have some friends whom I was able to meet during the event. Events are all about meeting my friends and seeing their awesome cosplays! :D

As always, the first thing I do as soon as I got to the event for to hunt for the doujins!!! I saw this booth which was selling super cute League of Legends art and the Star Guardian Lux illustration instantly caught my eye. The artist was away when I got there, but I came back immediately as soon as she was back. Initially I only wanted to get a folder but when I saw the artbook I gave in lol :P You can check out her works on her page.

NHK Kawaii International was having a booth too and they had the time capsule event. It's started by Sebastian Masuda which is also the art director behind 6% Doki Doki and Kawaii Monster Cafe. I wrote my messsage to myself, decorated then sealed it up and toss it inside Domo-kun. The time capsule is to be opened 20 years later.....which by then I'll be 41 lol ^^;

Of course I had to take a picture with Sebastian Masuda-san! I love his artwork style and the crazy colours, elements and texture in his works.

While walking around I saw Real Akiba Boyz at one of the booths. I really enjoy their performance and have been following them on Youtube since I saw them last year and was able to briefly talk to their members about how much I enjoy their videos! I love their energy and how funny they are hahaha XD

REIKA-san!!! No matter how many times I've seen her, I still love her so much! Her cosplay skills are so good and she's really nice and funny too. It was really hard to take a picture of her as everyone else wanted to see her as much as I do so the stage area was crowded with all her fans.

This year they had a Sword Art Online exhibition. I enjoyed the first part of the series but the rest not so much... Though I really enjoy the exhibition style they had at the booth where they showed the storyboard illustrations, interactive games, costumes, figures and merchandise. At the entrance you have to 'log on' and inside it feels entirely like a separated space dedicated to SAO within the event.

Awesome figurine display as always!

Kero and Suppie plushies! I'm not sure how the new series of Cardcaptor Sakura would turn out but it's on my to watch list already. Anyone else is excited for the series too?

I didn't take much pictures of cosplayers this year as Angel and I were quite tired during the 2 days we went. Plus she came all the way to Singapore to visit me and to enjoy the event so I wanted to just spend time with my friend instead of going everywhere hunting for cosplayers to take photos of.

Despite telling myself not to buy too many stuff since I was travelling to Japan soon, I actually ended up with so many things lol ^^; Most of them are stickers because I really enjoy collecting them, the artbook and folder I got from the artist I mentioned above, RAB stickers given by the RAB themselves and some One Piece merchandises which I bought so that I can get the One Piece paper bag hahahahahaha

And that concludes my post on AFA Singapore 2016! It's a little short compared to previous years since I didn't take much photos and I only bought tickets for exhibition since there wasn't much programs in the stage schedule that interest me. Akiba Stage itself was really enjoyable to me already. I really like AFA's guest management as it's really easy for attendees to work around the schedule and be able to meet the guest in various spots around the event.