Photo by ~morgoththeone.
Build blog for the costume for the wolf goddess Amaterasu from Okami, built for and cosplayed by my Samoyed dog Dante. Originally posted at my more general blog.
Before I proceed, a few notes for anyone who wants to cosplay their dog:
- Only do this if the dog will enjoy it.
- Dante is exceptionally sociable. Many dogs are not, and may react adversely to being the center of attention. Some might get aggressive.
- Dante doesn’t care about things being on him, perhaps because he’s bred to be a sled dog. Many dogs don’t like to be encumbered. You can desensitize a dog to wearing things, but don’t just shove a costume on a dog that’s freaked out by it.
- Watch your dog’s body language in any unusual situation. Make sure they’re happy.
- Keep the health of your dog in mind.
- Don’t leave a costume on for long. This can cause overheating and can tangle fur or cause it to become ingrown.
- If it’s hot, provide water regularly, if it’s cold, don’t stay out for long, etc.
- Don’t expose a dog to unusual stimuli for long. This will cause anxiety, even if it’s fun.
- Don’t apply anything toxic to a dog. (We used food-coloring markers.)
Photo by ~octomobiki
- Be careful and use common sense.
- I do not recommend trying this with a cat.
Photo by ~cheebang
We have a Samoyed by the name of Dante. This is a breed that looks like small, fluffy, white wolf. We also occasionally cosplay. It was inevitable that we would come up with the idea of combining the two.
While planning our Otakon 2011 trip at the start of June, my wife semi-jokingly suggested bringing Dante. To our surprise, our roommates at the con were ecstatic at the idea. Since this was better for him than leaving him in a boarding place for five days, it was decided.
I then figured it would be a great time to do a costume for him. The Amaterasu costume was perfect. Not too complicated, not too heavy, and popular enough to be quite recognizeable.
I decided to do the wings, shield, flames, and paint. I did not do the clouds around the tail and paws. I couldn’t figure out a way to do either of those well without encumbring Dante’s movement or causing him discomfort. Given his general fluffiness, I thought that would be fine.
To attach everything, I decided to make a harness, and then anchor the costume parts to that. This way, it would be easy to put things on and take them off.
This is a balance between comfort and stability. I attached it to his neck, front legs, and stomach. The straps that attach to the legs hook to the main part with buckles, so they can be put on separately.
I then made a little saddle, using fur left over from my wife’s in-progress Felicia costume. It turned out that of all our fur remnants, that one matched Dante ridiculously well, to the point where several people asked how we managed to ‘shave’ him that well for the wings. The saddle is made out of fur just so if people catch glimpses of it, they can’t really tell it’s separate from him.
The main purpose of the saddle is to cushion his back so the shield and flames don’t rest directly on his spine, so it’s two pieces on either side of the center.
I first cut the wings out of foamie to get the shape right. I then took comparatively thick wire and bent it to follow the shape, and stapled it to the foamie (medieval, I know). This formed the base of the wings.
I then took the aforementioned Felicia fabric and cut out a pair of pieces for each wing, larger than the foamie cutout. I stitched them together halfway, inserted the foamie, then hand-sewed them shut the rest of the way. (I tried using the machine, and broke two needles on the wire. There’s just too much fur.)
At first, I was going to attach the wings to the leg parts of the harness, but after trying that, it became obious that this would be way too loose. Instead, I made the wings the leg parts of the harsess. So, they have a loop through which Dante’s front paws go, and the top buckles to the main body of the harness. These are hand-sewn on.
Finally, I did the swirling/cloud designs. I wanted to do this with thread, but that turned out impractical with the thickness of the two layers of fur + foamie. I ended up doing it with a sharpie, and am not entirely happy with the result, since when the fur moves, the lines get messy. I regret not stitching lines before putting the wings together, and am pondering redoing it.
I made the base of the shield out of pink insulation foam, on the general premise that lighter is better in this case. I cut the circle out with a small hand saw and sanded it on my table belt sander, then with sandpaper by hand.
I drew out the design based on a model (the only halfway decent reference I could find), then cut it out of 1/4″ foamie and glued it on with superglue. I primered the shield with spray primer before and after the application of the design (before to protect from glue, after to get ready for painting).
Around this point, I thought it would be a good idea to paint the back of the shield white, to make it blend in with Dante’s fur. So I sprayed it with flat white paint. This is one of those things that demonstrates just how amateur a cosplayer I am (several people have laughed at this). The spraypaint ate through the insulation foam, almost all the way to the front. :/ I painted over it with acrylic paint…
I decided early on to make the flames out of a foamie-wire-foamie sandwich (using 1/8″ foamie), so I could shape it in 3D. I went back and forth on what to use as a base. I started with a foamcore torus, but eventually switched to a foam disk. The wire is just embedded as deep into the disk as possible. The foam sandwich is sealed with superglue. The flames are cut out best as possible.
Somewhere around here, I painted the shield with green acrylic paint, and tried the whole thing on the dog. None of this is attached, but Dante was particularly tired out that day (we’d just come back from a dog park), so he was willing to hold still to verify everything was fine:
Painting the flames was a ton of fun. It turns out to be way easier than drawing a harness schematic.
I then glued the shield on. (Some paint touchup still to be done.)
Attaching the Divine Instrument
Finally, I needed to attach the harness and the divine instrument (shield + flames). I decided that magnets would be best, so I could snap the instrument on and off quickly as the situation dictated. I get magnets from kjmagnetis.com. I believe these are RC22CS-Ps.
I attached the magnets to the shield, then covered them with extra bits of foamie to fix them firmly in place and painted over those. (Yes, still using superglue.)
I then attached corresponding magnets to the saddle.
That just leaves the face paint. I looked it up, and there were two safe methods: food coloring and dye specifically tailored for dogs. I found food coloring markers that came in a variety of colors, so I ordered those.
Painting his muzzle was easy, because the fur is short. As the fur gets longer, though, it’s harder to draw clean lines. For the first outing, I just did his face, not his sides. The coloring smudges a lot when it’s wet, so be careful, but it’s pretty solid once dry.
And that’s it. It’s remarkably easy to put on – takes 5-10 minutes to do the face paint (and I’ve only done it once) and then 5 minutes to put on the costume, which is:
1) Put on collar and leash
2) Put on harness (two buckles – one around neck, one around stomach)
3) Slide wings over paws and attach to harness (two buckles – one on each wing)
4) Snap the divine instrument onto the harness (magnetic)
Photo by ~cheebang
Wall-clock time: 2 months
Build-time: ~19 hours
Beers consumed: ~2.
For other photos of Dante, friend him on facebook: facebook.com/dante.kogan.