Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands’ Psycho

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Featured image thanks to Raito Photography

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in art and graphic design. Unfortunately, like most young men with big ideas and little practical skills, a career in the creative industry was simply not meant to be. I don’t at all feel hard done by. In recent years I’ve found myself a nice little position working 9-5 as a journalist. While it isn’t particularly glamorous, it pays the bills and outlets like Dusty Cartridge allow me to fill in the blanks with pet projects and feature writing.

But still, that youthful passion for drawing, painting and crafting has lingered. Until about a year ago, I had no idea how to channel that long dormant artistic sense. Creative writing? Yeah, that’s pretty fun but the odds of Big Tits Zombie Tropes 2: Electric Boogaloo (working title) becoming the next Harry Potter are pretty slim. So what else is there? Make an account on DeviantArt? I thought I was destined to wander the creative landscape in limbo. Then, on a complete and total whim, I decided to try my hand at cosplaying. And this was the result.

borderlands cosplay 2012 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

This was my costume at the 2012 EB Games Expo held in Sydney. I wore this costume for two of the three event days and had an absolutely blast! In all honesty, my time spent behind the LED-lit eyes of a Borderlands’ Psycho was some of the most fun I’ve ever had and, as pedestrian as my cosplay attempt was, I developed a serious taste for it. This taste has developed into a downright craving and since the EB Expo last year, I’ve been in contact with a number of crafters and costume enthusiasts across the globe. I’ve been busy, hard at work lining up new cosplay ideas and dropping my hard earned cash on bigger and better costumes.

In preparation for the upcoming event season here in Australia, when everyone will have cosplay on the brain, I wanted to use this space to detail some of my exploits and thoughts – like a little journal, as written by a novice. And what better place to start than a reprise of my 2012 Psycho outfit.

psycho2013 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

This was my costume for the 2013 Supanova held in Sydney. Eagle-eyed internet users among you will notice a few glaring differences right off the bat. Namely, I’m significantly buffer. Hold your comments of admiration, please. All jokes aside, the costume is significantly different. Between the two events, the only pieces of reused gear are the pants, boots, mask and bandages. Everything else was added, modified or cut entirely.

So here’s a breakdown of what I did this time around to bring this jittering Psycho to life.

The Mask

First and foremost is the mask. There’s no two ways about it, it’s THE most essential part of the entire costume – you’ve got get yourself a quality one. A crappy mask will bring the entire cosplay down. I bought mine via Etsy off a very talented and experienced crafter who goes by: NetherWolfeDesigns.

NetherWolfe makes the masks on demand and even has battle damaged and zombie variations. Custom paint jobs are also available. So if you’re after a pink bandit mask for your girlfriend, or one with a nice little drawing of Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony on the cheek (you loser), simply contact and request. All I needed to do to fit the mask properly to my head was add an extra loop to the leather straps (similar to the way you’d add a loop in a standard waist belt).

dustycartridge borderlandscosplay mask 0009 e1373840183903 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

The smoked lenses coupled with the LED lights do make it a little difficult to see at distance while you’re in the mask, so I advise you either bring a mate to usher you around during cosplay hours or walk with a bit of a slow swagger to mind your steps. For those interested in the technical specs: “the masks are cast in lightweight resin, with leather straps and have blue LED eyes behind smoked lenses. Each Mask is Cast from Smoothcast 300 series resin with riveted straps. The LEDs are powered by a single CR2032 watch battery and can be turned on or off via a small slide switch inside the mask.”

Sorted. All up, it cost about $180 dollars for the mask and shipping. (From the US to AUS) Feel free to shop around if that’s a bit pricy or you don’t quite like the NetherWolfe design. If you take one lesson from this entire article let it be this: get a high quality mask.

The Axe

This addition is somewhat superfluous in that it’s not 100% necessary. From my perspective, however, it was just too beautiful to pass up. This axe was, again, found via Etsy, but this time off a chap named Captainhask.

dustycartridge borderlandscosplay weapon 0016 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

It pretty much speaks for itself in terms of quality and style (both exceptional) but it is a little pricey. From first contact with the crafter to physically having it in my hand took about two weeks and set me back around $420 dollars. Couple of thoughts upon receiving the axe: it’s much bigger than I expected, much heavier than I expected and… pretty monochromatic. Everything about the axe is brown/rusty. Don’t get me wrong, that’s 100% accurate to the in-game character design, but I felt the blade needed a bit of extra zazz. Simple solution: spray paint it. I used some chrome spray paint (the same used on the knee and shin pads, detailed later), and gave it a light coat. Easy!

If you want to add some authentic flare to your costume, I can highly recommend both the axe but, the price tag means it’s not for everybody.

The Gloves

Nice and simple. A pair of leather driving gloves found on eBay. This particular pair was purchased through a company called SOUTHCOMBE. The variant is called ‘Men’s Unlined Leather Driving Glove’. Out of all the available styles on eBay (there are hundreds of them), I found these to be the closest to the real thing – but they are among the most expensive.

If you go with these gloves, keep in mind that SOUTHCOMBE is a British company, so you’re going to be paying in Great British Pounds and the conversion rate sucks. All in all you’re looking at about $60 for the gloves and shipping. Once I received them, I simply cut the thumb, index and ring finger covers off the right handed glove with a pair of kitchen scissors.

The Pants

Standard pair of orange pants (if you can call orange pants standard). I purchased these at a Glue store and, literally, had about ten different styles to choose from. There were that many orange pant variations in store, I was blown away. The only noteworthy part of the entire pants saga is in the fitting of the leather straps. In my original costume, from 2012, I had a series of black fabric belts tied around my legs. They did the job well enough but because they had nothing to secure them in place, they kept falling down while I moved about throughout the day.

dustycartridge borderlandscosplay pants 0010 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

This time I skirted that particular issue by having a number of belt loops sewn into the pants themselves (thanks, Nan). With the loops holding the belts up, I could keep the straps reasonably loose but maintain the effect of having them tightly secured around my leg. The pair of orange pants set me back about $30 dollars. As for the loops, my Nan had the material on hand to sew in the extra belt loops.

Should you not have a Nan handy to do the same for you, give it a crack yourself with a needle and thread or take your pants to a tailors/fabric alteration store. And seriously, those loops are a lifesaver – the falling straps annoyed the crap out of me the first time.

The Belts & Leather Straps

Again, nothing but a trip to my local Glue store to sort this one! I grabbed three similar looking leather belts and tied them around my legs using the improv belt loops. Once I had a rough idea of the length required, I marked both a point on the belt to add a hole for the buckle and the point at which the belt should end. You could simply continuously wrap the belt around until you run out of space, but I chose to cut it.

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Once that was done I cut the belts using my trusty pair of kitchen scissors then added the buckle holes by heating a kebab skewer over the stove and poking it through. Nice and simple! Plus the resulting smell of charred leather made my house smell like a tannery. Three random leather belts set me back $60 total.

Kneepad(s)

Because Psychos are a cobbled mess of parts and pieces, there are no hard and fast rules on style. As such, I took a few creative liberties with the knee and shin pads. The pads themselves were found and purchased via eBay.

There are hundreds of kneepad variations online but I chose these because of their tight fitting Velcro straps and hard plastic surface. Once the pads were delivered (took about two weeks for shipping), I gave the hard knee surface a quick gloss over with bright chrome spray paint (you can grab spray paint at any local hardware store, I purchased mine from Bunnings).

Be sure to shield the fabric part of the pad from the paint so it doesn’t smudge over. An hour or so later, I lightly sprayed over the chrome with a secondary, rusty-looking, colour. I also did this hap-hazardly to give the illusion of messiness. Once I was happy with the pattern, I left the pads to dry overnight and came back the next morning with a screw driver. Using the screw driver I scratched up the surface of the kneepads with deep parallel lines to make it look slightly more weathered. You only need one kneepad for the costume so I picked the one I liked the most and shelved the runner up. Pads and shipping cost about $20 and add another $20 odd for the paint.

Shin Pads

Some variations of the Psycho design don’t include shin pads, but I wanted to add them to the costume because of an interesting idea I had about how to craft and implement them. Much like the kneepads, I started by buying a pair of generic pads, only I didn’t use the internet this time because I couldn’t find one I liked. This particular pair was purchased at a big Rebel Sport – I chose them because of the raised design on the surface of the pad. For continuities sake, I sprayed both shin pads with the same chrome and rust colours found on the kneepads – so just repeat the steps above. Then I got a little creative.

dustycartridge borderlandscosplay shinpad05 0015 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

Using a standard battery-operated power drill, I drilled a number of pilot holes directly through the pad. Once I had a few holes of varying size, I screwed or simply slotted a number of bolts and screws into the pads. With some of the larger bolts, I then had to remove them and cut the protrusions down to size so they didn’t poke into my leg once the pad was firmly secured in place. After I had a nice selection of bolts firmly secured into both pads and filed/cut down to size, I lightly sprayed each with an additional coat of paint. Some chrome some rust, just to keep it nice and messy. Pads cost $15 dollars. The various screws and bolts were things I just had lying around in the shed.

The Bandages

Bought a pair of hand wraps typically used by boxers and MMA fighters (got mine from the same Rebel Sport mentioned above). They had a big black brand logo on them so I cut it off at the stitching using a razor blade. Wrap those suckers up your arm(s) as tightly as you like and secure it at the top with a pin on the underside. Good to go, $10.

Boots

Another easy one! Although tan boots might work a bit better – given the overall colour pallet of the psycho costume – I happened to have a pair of thick black work boots on hand. Nothing special, just a remnant from my time spent as a back dock storeman. As long as you’ve got a pair of boots/shoes that are sturdy and comfortable to prance in, you’re set. The length of the pants and the addition of the shin pads pretty much cover all but the tippy toes of the boots anyway (this pair was about $150 dollars but you shouldn’t need to go out and buy a pair of boots/shoes specially for the costume, so I won’t include their cost in the final tally).

Body Paint

A quintessential but somewhat problematic part of the costume (for those lacking in artistic talent), the paint helped give my Psycho a bit of pizazz! At first I looked for traditional body paint, the water-wash-off kind, but it wasn’t ideal – too smudgey or likely to sweat off/rub off. The solution was as simple as googling ‘cosplay body paint’. Although there isn’t a standard body paint you can simply buy, there is a way to mix a few paints together to create a vibrant, smudge proof, water proof, sweat proof paint that won’t flake off throughout the day.

It’s called PAX paint and is commonly used for full body cosplay work. I found out how to make via cosplay forums and YouTube.

dustycartridge borderlandscosplay bodypaint 0001 Creating a Cosplay: Borderlands Psycho

The process is as follows: mix any regular acrylic paint with a product called Pros-Aide No-Tack – a professional make-up effect product. Simple! However, it can only be removed with ‘Pros-Aide Remover.’ So make sure you order some of that to go with it. Unless you like being blue or red, or whatever colour. It doesn’t apply sticky, but I brushed myself down with baby powder afterwards just to make sure there was no residue or tackiness. Just from a practical standpoint, I had a friend apply the paint, but first she sketched the initial design on with some brown eyeliner.

The only complication I encountered with the paint process was actually in the shipping. Pros-Aide products are not widely sold in Australia. I had to buy them from an American website and the shipping cost was ridiculous. I managed to skirt that issue by sending it to a friend already within the US who then forwarded it on to me! Brilliant.

It’s about $60 for the paint/remover and shipping costs, then another $30 for the various brushes used in the application.

Total Cost

All up it came to $885, but keep in mind that about HALF of that total is comes from axe. And there you have it! Those were the steps taken and materials procured to bring a Borderlands 2 Psycho to life. Once you break it down into individual pieces, it’s really not all that intimidating. Provided you can get your hands on a solid mask, I think this cosplay is a fantastic place for newbies to start.

Questions and comments are more than welcome so leave a little something below or drop me a line on! A big thank you to Jessica Morris for the fantastic photography!

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