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CosBlog # 80: Anya Stroud by Pixel Kitty

by Meagan Marie on Sep 27, 2012 at 09:00 AM

Natalie – also known as Pixel Kitty – and I have a common bond in that we both were inspired to cosplay as Anya when we first set eyes on GI’s Gears of War 3 cover. In a serendipitous turn of events, Natalie was hired as a Marketing Assistant at Epic Games not long afterwords, and as a result found the last bit of motivation she needed to knock the costume out of the park. 

Who: The Character
Anya Stroud of Gears of War 3. COG armored version.

Why: The Decision
When I first received a copy of the Gears of War 3 Game Informer cover I was immediately drawn to Anya's new tough yet feminine armored look.  The artists at Epic did a fantastic job creating female characters that actually look like they could take on the Locust, yet the armor was completely flattering to the female form.  I had put the thought of cosplaying Anya on the backburner until by a twist of fate, I ended up working at Epic Games on the Gears of War 3 project.  I fell in love with the game right away.  I was getting to play as Anya every day as well as work with the talented people who created Gears. I was sold -- I had to make this costume.

What: The Process
Including planning, the costume took about 3 months.  Two months of that was spent every day after work and every weekend at home working on the costume.  No time for anything except work and crafting.  It was like a second job. I used EVA foam for all of the armor parts.  It was my first time using it, so there was a lot of experimentation involved.  I did a lot of research mainly based on other foam costume creations, which was a huge help.  I used a Dremel tool and heat multi-tool to add the majority of the detail that you see in the foam, and then coated it with layers of Plasti-Dip to seal the foam.  After that there were many layers of primer, paint and then more detail paint (damage, grunge, etc.)  At the end I battle damaged it a bit by burning, scraping and carving into the finished pieces of armor.

I used strings of battery operated LED's behind pieces of cast resin to create the look of the lights on the armor.  There are countless bolts and other metal hardware that I glued into the foam for the metal details according to the reference artwork.  The pants I made out of real leather hide which was more difficult than it could have been using a standard fabric. I learned a great deal about working with leather during the process though.

Despite the ease of foam in comparison to using other armor materials, it was still challenging and time consuming.  The most difficult part was getting the patterns correct and applying all of the details.  The great thing about going through this process, was that along the way I had the opportunity to share my knowledge and progress in a series of blog entries on the Gears of War Community site so other COG hopefuls can learn from it and hopefully avoid some of my trial and error.

Where and When: The Debut
I originally debuted the costume at PAX East 2012.  As a result, the first photoshoot I had was there on location.  Epic held a panel at PAX East and that was the first time Mike Capps, Cliff Bleszinski and crew got to see the costume.  All the hard work really paid off when I got to help represent the company alongside the creators of the game. It was great being able to meet fans and other Gears cosplayers at PAX. I made some really awesome memories and met lot of new friends in the Gears community.

The costume has since been re-debuted at this year's Animazement and San Diego Comic Con with some upgrades to parts of the costume. I feel like this costume will always be "in progress" because I love it enough to constantly improve upon it when I find a way.  There are plans to eventually do another photoshoot of the costume in a more post-apocalyptic style setting with one of my favorite photographers to capture more of the Gears of War environment feel once we find the right location.

This costume is a huge labor of love for me and it meant so much to me to see it in action!  I can't wait to wear it again with even more armor upgrades. 

Links: The Cosplayer

The Gallery
Photography by Jayce Williams and Eurobeat Kasumi

Miss the past few CosBlogs? Check out the CosBlog Hub for a full archive of past costumes.