Posted on September 27 2015 by Kristen G. Rosario
Cosplaying is one the most dedicated art forms used in order to express a fan’s love for a series or genre. In order for someone to become an amazing cosplayer, they need dedication, time, and patience, but most importantly, heart. Cosplayer HylianJean shows us that if you follow all those rules properly, you can wind up with something truly amazing. She has gone on to bring Ocarina of Time’s subterranean lava dragon Volvagia to life and it took her nearly three and a half years to do so.
Before the concept of this costume even started, HylianJean would joke around with other cosplayers about doing it. It wasn’t until about eight months later that she decided that she actually wanted to do it. Working on it every few months, HylianJean considered this to be her biggest and most challenging cosplay yet. Like with most cosplays, the idea to create this costume came from her love of Volvagia. The reason not only stems from the fact that she has a love for dragons, but the Fire Temple boss fight against Volvagia is one her favorite parts to replay in Ocarina of Time. Now the quest was on to make this lava dragon come to life.
Her first step was to determine how the costume would be wearable considering the size of Volvagia. She needed to figure out the amount of people it would take to help move the costume around when completed. It wasn’t until January 2012 that she realized that half of the boss fight was with only the upper half of his body showing. She would not have to worry about the lower half of Volvagia’s body since his body stopped at the floor. HylianJean finally figured it out, but the creation process wouldn’t officially begin for another seven months.
In August 2012, HylianJean did a rough photoshop image of her body inside the space of Volvagia’s character art. According to her, this is how she begins building a creature costume because it’s a great way to get a look at how things will scale in real life. Thanks to the lava rocks at the base of her feet and even adding some length to the arms, it could actually stay pretty close to Volvagia’s size. Now that she got a rough size estimate of the costume out of the way she could finally get started…kind of. Because of other projects she was working on, it would take another ten months for her to begin building the costume.
December 2012 showed the process finally in motion as HylianJean began work on the dragon head and neck. Using a series of what she calls “cardboard vertebrae”, she was able to curve the dragon’s neck and make it a movable curve. Early tests on the vertebrae’s range of motion were good, so now it was onto Volvagia’s head.
The first big obstacle that HylianJean faced was the fact that there wasn’t a lot of reference of Volvagia that she could use to help create him. There were no good 3D models from either version of the game, so she improvised. Using multiple screen grabs of every possible angle and official images of Volvagia, she was able to help herself balance those features together to help design the head and the face of the dragon. After a couple of weeks of carving out the mask and working on the horns, she finally had something resembling Volvagia’s face. The next step would be the claws.
Using a combination of paper towel tubes, Model Magic, various elastics and springy mechanisms for the joints, HylianJean was able to create a large, detailed design of Volvagia’s claws. Thanks to the use of pull-strings running through little guides and loops, she was even able to successfully create joint rotation for the claws (close to a 180 degree range). You can see the WIP version of the claws in motion here in order to get a rough idea of how they function. HylianJean’s next steps were to create the scales and Vovalgia’s fire mane.
HylianJean would have the claws done by late August/early September 2013 before having to slow down production (not before getting some work done on the scales) on the costume again until December 2014. By then, she figured out that by combining upholstery foam, heavy poster board and two layers of stretch fabric, she could have the type of scales needed for the costume. For the mane, she decided to go with a yellow tulle airbrushed with an orange gradient that she later cut up into zigzags. She would later apply the mane to the head of the costume using sewing and a clear acrylic medium.
It wouldn’t be until five weeks out from PAX 2015 that the costume would finally be in the finishing stages. The next thing HylianJean had to do was build the rock base which she made the rocks out of a combination of cardboard and grey acoustic foam. Once she went through the process of that, the last steps needed were applying fabric skin and some last minute color touches here and there. With everything finally completed by the start of PAX, she was able to go enjoy the amazing work that she completed on it.
In the end though, this truly came out really amazing considering the work on it was so grueling. I think that the payoff was totally worth it. If you want to see and read the complete story on how she brought him to life, click the source link at the bottom of the page. What does everyone else thing about Volvagia coming to life? Have you ever had a grueling cosplay challenge? Let us know in the comments below!