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Badass Together

Posted by Valerie Bourdeau

All month long, we're celebrating our cosplaying fans and showcasing the very best Deus Ex costumes. It's such a thrill for the whole team to see our virtual creations brought to life online and at conventions, we hope this will give you inspiration to dress up as your favorite characters, not just for Halloween but all year round.

We actually became aware of Tamara's costume very early on, as she was looking for reference materials. We checked in recently on her progress and were delighted to talk to her and her friend Michele about their creative process and see their finished version of Adam Jensen.

Who are you ladies?

Tamara: My name is Tamara Heagy and I'm from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. I currently serve as the Training & Membership Services Coordinator for the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. My free time is spent on more creative endeavors such as cosplay, sound design and even karaoke and acting. I am also the Secretary-Treasurer of the Network of Reading Otakus, an anime club out of Reading Pennsylvania. Most importantly I am one of the Co-Creators of ANImakeup a professional makeup design company geared toward cosplayers. You can see my personal projects on Deviant Art and

The Jensen project itself was a collaboration project with my friend Michele Mulkey under our company ANImakeup.

Michele: My name is Michele Mulkey and I've been a professional Special Effects Makeup Artist for film and television for the last 13 years. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania but have spent most of my professional career living in Los Angeles and New York City. I recently moved back to Pennsylvania to open Michele Mulkey FX Studio and now travel back and forth between New York and Los Angeles for my SFX Makeup jobs. In addition to still working in Film and Television, I am Co-Creator of ANImakeup with my friend and coworker Tamara Heagy.

How long have you been creating costumes?

Tamara: I have been creating costumes off and on since I was a teenager. My mother is a seamstress and she passed her knowledge to me at a very young age. I made simple costumes for myself for Star Trek Conventions, The PA Renaissance Fair and even for my High School Musical. I also worked in the costume shop for my local community college for a period of time when I was a student there.

My passion for Cosplay however didn't hit me until my mid twenties. I was a HUGE fan of the Jak and Daxter series and wanted to dress up as Ashelin Praxis. One year I finally got the nerve to design and make her racing uniform from Jak X. It turned out really well and I even earned an award for it at Otakon in 2007. I've been hooked ever since.

I saw you won an award. Can you tell us more about that?

Tamara: Four years ago I recreated the live action version of Ryuk from Death Note. It was a very detailed costume and I put a lot of time and effort into it. I won Best of Weekend at Otakon 2008. It was only the second cosplay contest I had ever entered and I was truly shocked that I did that well, especially with all of the talent that comes to Otakon. To date, I think the only other costume that even came close to the hours and detail is the Adam Jensen cosplay.

As I said above, the Deus Ex Project was a collaboration between me and Michele under ANImakeup. I did the costume construction and computer artwork for the tattoo and decals. Michele did the prosthetics (the hexagon scar, scar through his eye, glasses and hands.) I'm going to answer the questions from my experience with the costume build and Michele will answer the questions from her perspective as makeup artist.

I see you didn't model the costume yourself... Why did you choose to do this project?

Tamara: The model for this costume is actually my boyfriend, Ian Hettinger (yea, I get my own personal Adam Jensen!) Michele and I were looking for a project for 2012 and he had just finished playing Deus Ex and desperately wanted to cosplay Adam. After some discussion about what would need to be done, we decided to take the project on as our signature costume for the year.

How long did it take to complete the project?

Tamara: I started basic design ideas and fabric choices in September of last year and finished up the last bits of the flak vest in July. In total it took me just under 200 hours.

Michele: I started with the sculptures for the hands and glasses as well as the other prosthetics scars and hexagon scar around March. It took about 3 weeks to sculpt everything, working about 12 to 16 hours a day and another 1 to 2 weeks to run everything out of the molds and put them together for the finished pieces.

Tamara: For my part, the biggest steps were constructing the mock up for the jacket and pants. They went through SEVERAL drafts before getting them just right.

Finding the right material for the jacket was also a very difficult task. If money was no object, I would have used leather, but it was just too expensive. I had to find a synthetic substitute that cost less but also had the look and feel of leather. Eventually after a trip to the fabric district in Philadelphia, I found the perfect synthetic leather at 1/8 the cost of leather. It was a very lucky find.

Michele: One of the main steps for my part was the actual sculpting of the hands, glasses and prosthetics. It was not only the most time consuming, but also the most intricate part of the project from my point of view. Once the sculpting was finished, the next main step was finding a material that would be flexible enough to work for the hands and glasses. Tamara helped out with finding that since she had actually used a latex product before that was rigid enough to hold the shapes we needed but also flexible enough to move with the model once applied.

What was the hardest part of the build? Did you face any unexpected challenge?

Tamara: For me? The flak vest. This was the most difficult part of the costume because I had never made armor before. I used a product called sintra. It's a PVC foam that becomes malleable with heat and when molded to any form, will hold its shape once cool. Much to Ian's chagrin... he was the form. But as I told him, cosplay is pain. After a LOT of trial and error we got the shapes just right and I went on to the details like paint, rivets, decals, and even the ammo cases. Those silver and black ones don't exist in any store that sells tactical gear, not even catalogs that cater to law enforcement! I looked EVERYWHERE before giving in and making them myself.

Michele: Definitely Jensen's hands. Metal is one of the hardest things to sculpt realistically in the first place. But once everything was sculpted and molded, it was quite a challenge to piece them together on the gloves and make it look like one continuous piece.

Love that you used the actual logo on the forehead. What are your favorite little touches on the outfit?

Tamara: There are a few. The seams in the jacket, the stripes of fabric on the shoulders, the black grommets sandwiching a small piece of screen door screen. I'm not sure if you noticed, but I used the actual floral pattern from Jensen's jacket in the game (thank you guys for providing this to all us cosplayers by the way.) I was able to use that image to create and buy a yard of fabric from a fabric printing company.

My other favorites were the decals I made for his flak vest and the tattoo I made for his forehead. Although Eidos was very gracious in providing me close ups of the Tech 1 and Sarif Industry logos on Jensen, I wasn't able to use them as is, so I had to recreate both of them in Illustrator. I think I got pretty close.

Here's a costuming easter egg for you: you'll notice that there is some very teeny tiny text under the tattoo on his forehead. I didn't know what it said so I used Jensen's character description from your website.

Michele: I really admired all the detailed work Tamara put into the costume itself... Just amazing work! And her work with the decals was awesome. I personally enjoyed doing all the small details on the hands and especially the details with the prosthetic hexagon scar and the glasses.

What makes you most proud with this costume?

Tamara: So many things. Overall, I think it turned out very nicely. I really pushed myself on this one and really stepped up my tailoring skills. Mens clothing is hard to do. The coat alone had almost 30 pattern pieces and it fits Ian like a glove. His pants have 6 functional pockets. Aside from my Ryuk costume, this has to be the most detailed costume I have ever made.

Michele: I was proud of everything we created, but Jensen's glasses were the one aspect I was most proud of creating. I really loved how they turned out! The fact that I made them as prosthetics and they could actually be glued to the face without any external support, just like they appear in Deus Ex, made the final look truly amazing... At Otakon, people kept asking "How are those staying on?" It was great!

How did your model like his costume?

Tamara: Ian loved it. He felt so bad ass. We got stopped for pictures over and over again at Otakon. Eventually this costume will be featured in an interview on Crunchyroll's live show.

What tips or advice would you give aspiring Deus Ex cosplayers?

Tamara: Take your time to plan it out and be prepared to spend a lot of time and money on it to do the costume justice. If you do, you will be very happy with your results.

Michele: I totally agree with Tamara on this 100%! To do a realistic Deus Ex cosplay, you absolutely have to be willing to put in the time and money. This is not a cosplay that can be rushed by any means. From start to finish, we spent the better part of a year putting together Adam Jensen, but the end result was well worth our effort!

What's your next big cosplay project?

Tamara: Well, in the long run, we eventually want to turn me into Able Nightroad from Trinity Blood. It's a very detailed project that could take much more time and money than even the Jensen project, so we are taking our time on that one. In short term, we are considering Karako Koshio from Deadman Wonderland among others. As for a personal project, I eventually want to make Megan Reed's outfit so Ian and I can walk the halls of gaming conventions being bad ass together.

As for future events, we plan to attend more anime/gaming conventions on the East coast to reprise our panel ANImakeup: Professional Makeup for Cosplayers as well as sell our prosthetics in the Artists Alleys. We also hope to debut a brand new panel at Otakon 2013.


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