Orphea - Heroes of the Storm
Costume Made By: Henchmen Studios and Commissioned by Blizzard for the debut of Orphea at BlizzCon 2018
Costume Made in : September - October 2018
Official Orphea Cosplay BlizzCon 2018 Behind the Scenes Video by Henchmen Studios
This costume write-up has been a challenge to tackle because there was so much involved in the creation of Orphea and the experience of coming in for fittings and then actually getting into costume and being at BlizzCon 2018. The whole journey began back in mid-August. I was contacted by someone within Henchmen Studios who I had known for a number of years from the Cosplay community. I was told a project might be coming up in early November for Henchmen Studios and would I be interested in participating as a model. The details were vague. I just knew it would involve a costume, travel and the dates were November 1st - 4th. This conversation came out of the blue so I really had no idea what was going to be involved, but after considering it for a few minutes, I figured why not. The Studio needed some photos of me and they also needed to know my height. I'm a very short girl and from the sounds of the request and knowing it involved some sort of modelling, I kind of thought I was out because of my shortness. Little did I know that my shortness was one of the key reasons I was offered this opportunity. XD I thought I was being added to a list of potential model options for the gig to beef up the proposal. I didn't realize that I was being suggested all on my own. (^^);;
By the end of August, I hadn't heard anything more about it and Fan Expo was coming up so I sort of put the whole thing to the back of my mind. Just a few days after Fan Expo, I was contacted by Henchmen Studios and they let me know that the project was actually going ahead. I was able to go in the next day to sign the NDA and that's when I got to meet the Hechmen crew and see some reference images of the character. I discovered the project was for Heroes of the Storm and I was introduced to Orphea who was going to have a big debut at BlizzCon 2018 at the beginning of November. Henchmen Studios had 3D printed a cute little model of the character and you could see the outfit had a tremendous level of detail. I could see she had the giant relic on her back and the detail on it was stunning. It really called to me as a fan of a sort of dark aesthetic and Halloween. I really only got to see the t-pose model and some character facial references and that carried forward pretty much through the whole project. My first time seeing the character animated was the same as everyone else, when she debuted at BlizzCon.
At the first meeting I got to see the Studio (which as a costumer was an epic experience) and they took my general measurements. Over the next 2 months I was in and out of the studio about every week or two. It was such a cool experience watching the costume come together. On my second visit my torso was covered in plastic wrap and tape so they could build me a harness to act as a brace for the relic prop. That was an interesting experience. It took over an hour to cover me in 3 layers of tape but the harness was a key part of the costume to make wearing the relic on my back possible.
The person that did most of the sewing work on my costume was the ever talented and sweet Kiga (blackwatercosplay). She was also assisted by Gilly and Honey Saliva. They did an absolutely incredible job on bringing the character to life. I would come in one week and wear a muslin mock of a costume piece and a week or two later parts were totally finished. A costume like Orphea would have taken me months (more like years) to make. The skill level of the sewing team over at Henchmen Studios is out of this world! My favourite parts were definitely her super cute bow, the way the sides of the dress flared out, my gorgeous crown and the relic. It's hard for me to fully appreciate the relic because I was wearing it, but man, it's just a thing of beauty. Everyone at Henchmen Studios added their own talents to the creation of this costume. I know Kyle (double_edge_props) and Aaron (marriedmakers) did a lot of work on the relic and parts of the costume were painted by Maty (Zombie Meat Studio). One of the major goals of Henchmen Studios besides striving for accuracy, was making sure my comfort was considered. The relic was only 15lbs so it really wasn't too cumbersome. The big issue was that it was a little awkward and after a while the harness could feel a bit tight since it was stiff on my chest, but the team was super clever and modified a cello stand to work as a stand for the relic so I could sometimes pose beside it to give my back a break.
I mostly came in and tried on the muslin mock pieces of the costume. I actually didn't think I would get to fully see the whole Orphea costume before the convention, but I was asked to come in for a makeup test on October 24th and I got to try everything on including seeing how the relic would work. That was super cool! I was nervous about how the relic would sit on my back, but honestly, besides the feeling of pressure after a while, the whole costume was pretty comfy. Even the boots (which were flat boots with fabric boot covers) were incredibly comfortable. My feet never hurt on either day of the con. It was really awesome to see Orphea during the makeup test. Kevin (sir.mithril.daggers) did an amazing job blending together my own features with elements of the character design. When I was in full costume, Orphea, as this brand new character, really began to feel real.
Finally, after a rather rushed Halloween for me (making sure I didn't overwhelm myself too much with decorating as I had to put everything away before my trip the next day) it was time for BlizzCon. BlizzCon is a convention that I've heard about for years. I'm not actually much of a Blizzard gamer. I do know about and have seen Overwatch and when I was very young I used to play single player campaign mode of Starcraft (I think that just says something about my age). XD I was super excited to see the con because, based on photos, I knew it would be magical.
It was pretty amazing getting suited up into Orphea on Friday morning of BlizzCon. We had to meet up before 7AM to gain admittance to the con centre and it was pretty surreal coming up to the con centre with the iconic BlizzCon banner. It was especially intense seeing the huge throngs of people waiting to be let into the con. I met up with all four of the other models that Henchmen was presenting at the con. Only two of us had major NDAs, though. Henchmen also made a costume for the newest Overwatch hero, Ashe.
I had my makeup done first because the Heroes of the Storm team had wanted some changes done on the makeup to make sure it met their approval. It was a long process getting my makeup done. It probably took close to two hours, but Kevin did an incredible job and he was a total sweetheart with all the models. The look that I had for Orphea was something I really had to get used to. The makeup was quite intense with upper and lower lashes as well as overdrawn lipstick, but it really gave me a doll-like appearance, which was what the Blizzard team wanted for the character.
The costume itself had a chest harness that clips up on the sides, at the shoulders and between my legs to distribute the weight of the relic. After that it had a skirt with an attached shirt layer, which has the flared element of the skirt and then an over shirt that had to be buttoned and laced up. It's a bit of a process. The costume has pants, little boots and gloves. I wear pink contacts and an adorable crown, which I wear over a sweet white bob wig. A bob wig is pretty close to my regular hair style since that short hair look suits my small face. I love that the wig was trimmed to work for my small features. I thought it looked lovely. Finally, the relic had two bolts which match up with holes in the fabric of the shirt layers and meets slots in the harness. Sometimes it was easy and quick for the team members to line it up and other times it could be a bit finicky, but when the relic was on, it was show stopping.
It was super neat being at the Anaheim convention centre. Henchmen Studios had its own room where all the costumes were set up and we could get ready. They even brought us catered meals both days. It was amazing! It was nice to put some food in me since the show floor could be a bit stifling. I had wonderful handlers. My friend Gilly and Aaron from the team made sure to clear paths for me, got me from point A to point B, gave me water and helped take off or put on the relic as needed. I also got to meet Stephanie from the Heroes of the Storm team. She let me know about commitments like shoots and where I needed to be on the show floor and she often stayed with me. Stephanie, Aaron and Gilly were great as they answered a lot of questions people had about the character and the costume.
It was incredible being the Cosplay model for Orphea. All 4 of the Henchmen Studios models all crowded around a laptop when the opening ceremonies were happening and we were able to watch the exciting intros for Ashe and Orphea. It was my first time seeing Orphea in action and I actually almost cried. It was hard to fully appreciate the character until I could finally see her facing off against her dad, the Raven Lord. The reveal was badass and it was amazing to watch. Afterward, we headed to the show floor where I was escorted by Gilly and Aaron to the traditional BlizzCon Cosplay group photoshoot. For years I've seen photos and videos from the shoot so it was super surreal to actually be part of it.
In Orphea I got to have so many incredible experiences. I met with several members of the development team from Heroes of the Storm. Everyone on the team was so excited to see the costume because Orphea is the first original hero for Heroes of the Storm. She belongs totally to HoTS and I'm sure seeing her in person was probably a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It was always nice to see someone that had worked on the character because I feel attached to her now too and I'm happy that such a badass girl character is now going to headline a major Blizzard video game.
I did some photoshoots with official Blizzard photographers as well as the crew from Henchmen Studios. I also was filmed as part of the Orphea feature on the Heroes of the Storm stage on Saturday afternoon and the costume was filmed for a behind the scenes virtual ticket segment about Orphea. Some of the nicest experiences were just wandering the show floor. I mostly spent all my time at the Heroes of the Storm area in the con. It was super cool when the hero spotlight video for Orphea would play on the area screens. It really made everything real. Whenever I was set up anywhere it would literally be constant photos by con attendees for however long I could stick around. I'll definitely say I've never had that experience before in any of my costumes, but it was awesome to see such a strong and excited reaction to the character. A lot of people were confused by the costume appearing just minutes after the character was revealed. It was amazing to be a unique Cosplay at BlizzCon where Cosplayers have really stepped things up. I happily took selfies, short videos and hallway photos with people. It was an incredible experience.
Seeing photos post con from the show floor with the amazing blue and purple lighting has been incredible. The costume really popped especially with the wicked lighting within the relic. Attending BlizzCon for the first time and under the circumstances of being a VIP was almost beyond belief. I feel incredibly humbled and honoured to have been part of the debut promotion for Orphea. Her character has been an amazing accomplishment for the Heroes of the Storm team. I'm sure her status as an original character can only open more doors for the game to develop unique and interesting storylines in the future. It was wonderful working with Henchmen Studios. The whole team has a keen eye for detail and the experience and talent of the team allowed them to create a costume that's out of this world.
I'm going to miss portraying Orphea! When I took the costume off on Saturday night, it was bagged up and was taken to the Heroes of the Storm office. I know the relic, at least, will become a display piece at the office and I'm sure it'll serve as a great reminder of her fantastic debut at BlizzCon. I know I'll definitely carry the memories of wearing Orphea with me for a long time. It's totally the highlight of my Cosplay career and BlizzCon 2018 was an incredible journey for me. I'm not sure if I'll ever portray Orphea again, but I will definitely follow her and Heroes of the Storm in the future. Thanks again to Henchmen Studios, Blizzard and Heroes of the Storm for giving me this tremendous opportunity. It was a very rewarding and fun experience.
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
Gilly, Henchmen Studios, Martin Wong, John Jiao Photography, BTranPhotography, BlizzCon Cosplay Group Photo Photographer, Stephervescent, Married Makers, Mermaiddreamer26 & Theburninglegion