We often get talented prop makers being recommended but Sketch McDraw has to be one of our favourites. Not only is he a regular troll to the Food and Cosplay team but he is actually very talented. He’s also one of the few cosplayers that we know of who has been able to turn his passion for cosplaying and turn it into a career in the film industry. So we catch up with possibly one of the few cosplayers who has ever put London on Terror Alert and ask him a few questions.
What is your favourite food: Chicken Fajitas
When you put your costumes together which is you favourite part of the process? Why?
When it comes to creating a costume or a prop my favourite part of the process is the construction, I enjoy using multiple types of materials from fabric, wood, silicone and resins.
I also enjoy the challenge of trying to get my costumes and props as accurate to the original source material as possible.
You have collaborated a few times with people to make costumes, what is your favourite thing about working with other people on a costume or a prop?
Usually I work on stuff by myself but I do really enjoy collaborating with others, especially my friends. Collaborations are always fun as I enjoy watching others create and learning new skills from them as well as giving back by sharing my skills and knowledge.
Ultimately the most rewarding part is the end when we get to see all our own individual pieces placed together to create one whole piece.
You use a lot of methods with your props both in your studies and as your job as a professional prop maker, which methods would you recommend cosplays should try when making props? Why?
I suppose it depends on the project at hand that the person is attempting, but I’d say there are two processes I would recommend when it comes to prop making. The first method is ‘Fillering and Sanding, I have seen some wonderfully constructed props in my time that have been let down a little when the person hasn’t bothered to use wood or car body filler to hide the wood grain or any unseemly join lines on a piece that is meant to be smooth and flush. This was one of the first techniques I learned when I attended the prop making course at University, and its such a simple process but makes the world of difference to a prop. Especially when it comes to painting as it give you a nice smooth surface to paint onto and allows for more realistic finish on things such as sword based props and laser rifles as you don’t have a wooden texture showing through the paint etc.
The second process I would recommend having a go at is ‘Moulding & Casting’, now this can seem rather daunting at first but is actually quite an easy process once you have a basic understanding of what you are doing. This process allows you to take a piece you have made for example a Simple skull motif for a sword that is repeated several times down the body of the blade , and once moulded using a silicone you can then make several identical casts from that mould, saving you a lot of time in the long run from having to hand sculpt each skull individually and also giving you the option to use different types of resins such as clear cast resin with a coloured pigment mixed in so it looks like a red crystal skull etc.
If you dont mind me mentioning this, last year you were arrested in central London for doing a photoshoot involving an imitation gun. Have you found this has changed how you cosplay? What advice would you give to people about not having a run in with the law while in cosplay?
Yes that was a rather unfortunate misunderstanding that led to me being arrested during the photo shoot, a member of the public saw that I had a BB Gun in the bag whilst I was getting changed in the toilets and called the police. Even though the offending item had stayed in the bag the whole time the Police took me in for questioning. Needless to say sitting in a police cell for eight hours by myself wasn’t exactly how pictured spending my day.
As for how it has affected my cosplays, I’d say I’ve always been sensible when transporting props to and from conventions as I’ve always kept them wrapped up securely or kept in luggage bags so as to not cause any issues when taking public transport etc. But since the incident I haven’t worn my full Winter Soldier costume as it kinda has bad memories attached to it at the moment, though I’m planning on remaking most of it from scratch at some point so I’m sure that the negative associations from the incident wont be an issue.
My advice for cosplayers would be that if a photographer asks to do a location shoot with you, make sure that they have permission to to shoot at that location and that they have also notified the authorities about the planned photo shoot if you have any realistic looking props. Also if you’re not familiar with the location it may be worth doing a quick google search on the history of the location, that way you will know if your planned shoot is suitable for that area without causing potential distress to the general public. If I knew this beforehand none of the transpiring events would have happened.
What advice would you give to noob Sketch McDraw?
I would tell him to not be afraid to ask for advice when using materials or techniques that he may not have used before, such as electronics or wig styling. We all start somewhere, so don’t be scared to ask for help or let pride get in the way – in general the cosplay community is great place to learn and pass on new skills to others, you can also find some incredibly helpful tutorials in forums and on YouTube.