Cosplayers are not the type to shy away from a challenge, and Lissandela is no exception. In her interview with Aetherflow Media, she recalls the trials and tribulations of her most recent FFXIV cosplay. We hope her retrospective on the process of creating her intricately regal Feo Ul wings inspires you to tackle your next big project, because no matter how tough the challenge, Lissandela’s beautiful cosplays show that, with a little experimenting and a lot of stubbornness, you can create whatever you set your mind to.
What drew you to cosplay this particular Astrologian relic gear and our favorite mischievous pixie king Feo Ul?
Lissandela: I’ve always had a soft spot for the astro gear since the first time I saw it in Heavensward. I am a sucker for cosmic themed items so it was just fate I guess. As for Feo Ul, I adore their character and their character design had everything I liked all in one package. It’s a shame they didn’t really use them more, but maybe that’s for the best.
What was a key skill or lesson you have learned from your previous work that informed how you approached these cosplays?
Lissandela: I will say that nothing prepared me for the massive undertaking that Feo Ul’s wings were. Astro was the first time I really sewed anything, so the skills I did learn from that did translate a little into Feo Ul’s dress.
As far as lessons learned, I learned a bunch: 1. Never sew in the middle of the night/when you are tired. (I cut a hole in the fabric meant for a sleeve at 2 am in the morning.), and 2. Always plan your set up accordingly. For Feo Ul, I made the wings first, not taking into account the skeleton/support I would need afterwards. I just made them assuming that my first plan would work and it very much did not (many tears were shed).
What are some of the materials you used in your costumes, and why did you choose them?
Lissandela: For astrologian, I used this really pretty royal blue (almost purple) looking satin. The best thing was that depending on the light it would look either blue/dark purple or black. I do plan to remake this dress, but I will not be using the same type of fabric again. The constant fraying even with speciality scissors was a pain.
I chose foam for Feo Ul’s wings, primarily because I’m very comfortable with the material, but mostly because I really couldn’t imagine making it a different way. Nowadays, I’ve seen various takes on the wings that I hadn’t really considered at the time due to [my] skill level. I also wanted to make something that stood out. I would do it all again just much smaller so I can fit through doors!
Are there any specific challenges or parts of the cosplay that you’re especially proud of?
Lissandela: I am very proud of all of my astro costume. It was my third [home]made costume and pretty difficult from a technical standpoint. I remember when I finished it and put it on for a test fit I actually cried because of how awesome it looked. I really felt beautiful in the dress.
I am especially proud of Feo Ul’s wings as well. They took so long to complete and for a while I thought I’d never finish them. It was my first time using an airbrush so a lot of the gradients on the wings were just happy little accidents.
Did you have to apply any new techniques that you hadn’t used before?
Lissandela: Most definitely yes. I mentioned it a little bit before but the Welkin set was my third costume ever. I was really just getting into cosplay and sewing so I really didn’t know anything, so everything was very new.
For Feo Ul, I experimented more with burning in details and airbrushing: something I never did before. Also I got an actual hands on experience with learning how to rig things up for wings, something I really never got to do on my own since I had someone helping me.
Feo Ul’s wings in particular are a huge undertaking, from figuring out the design to rigging and wearing them. Can you tell us about the process of bringing them to life, and what skills you learned from it that have carried into your work since then?
Lissandela: So Feo’s wings took about a month just to start up. I had to do a lot of screenshot taking from multiple angles, so basically looking for any scene that Feo was in and praying it was at a good angle for me to see. I drew out the wings by hand on some poster board, trying very carefully to replicate the more detailed parts of the design and put it to foam. Now, I hadn’t known back then that I could have made the pattern using Inkscape, which would have saved me so many hours and so much grief down the line. So fun fact, Feo Ul has close to thirty pairs of wings or rather wing pieces all combined into what you see in game. At some point I gave up trying to make all of that and settled for just twenty-four pieces.
For the most part it went okay until I started trying to rig it up to wear. I talked about it a little bit in the previous question, but the hardest lesson I had to learn in cosplay was making sure that I built the skeleton of whatever I’m rigging at the same time as the piece. The original plan was to have it mounted to door hinges that were also going to be mounted to a piece of wood that would serve as the back piece. The problem is that I made the wings entirely too thick, so it wasn’t lining up properly and I could not figure out how to make it work. I ended up having to consult a cosplay group about what to do and I eventually got it to work, but a lot of tears and frustration were had. So now I carry that lesson into everything I do that requires extra rigging or requires a core/skeleton in the middle.
Do you have a favorite memory of wearing your cosplays?
Lissandela: Both of my favorite memories involve the photoshoots for both costumes. I remember feeling so beautiful while taking photos for both.
Do you have any tips or advice for new cosplayers?
Lissandela: Oh man, always. The biggest thing I tell new cosplayers is to find their community. Not every community is as supportive or welcoming. Learn to establish boundaries. Know that it is okay to take your time on projects and to not feel pressured to put out content faster than you can handle. Burnout is real and it will have you feeling low.
Everyone had to start out somewhere. We all didn’t start out making beautiful creations at first, for some of us it took years and lots and lots of practice. You too can be a giant fairy with big butterfly wings, you just gotta go for it and know that it’s okay to be afraid and even doubt sometimes, but it will turn out all right.
Any future FFXIV cosplay plans?
Lissandela: Possibly the astro class set for Endwalker. Other than that, we’ll see!
Tell us a bit about yourself in-game and how you got into FFXIV!
Lissandela: I, like many others, got roped into playing FFXIV by a friend and stayed long after they stopped playing. I’ve been playing since patch 2.5 of ARR. I’ve always loved the lore and the storytelling of the game. I started off as a scholar, went to Astro, red mage and then finally dancer. I will probably be picking up sage and reaper with the new expansion too.
You can find Lissandela in-game on Exodus (Primal) as Lucy Beoulve, or on Twitter and Instagram.