Cosplay is fun.

You create a costume from a favorite character or an obscure movie or TV show and go to a CONvention dressed as said character. The whole thing is very artistic and creative. You have to find as many references as you can for your chosen character, interact with others online who share your passion and ultimately, you create a costume that is as close to the original or that is YOUR interpretation of that character.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with heat printing. Well, a LOT! Many cosplayers make costumes that represent their favorite super heroes. These super heroes love to remind people who they are by slapping a big logo front and center on heir chest. What better way to reproduce those logos than with some form of heat printing?

Let’s pretend you are going to cosplay as The Greatest American Hero, Ralph Hinkley – or Ralph Hanley if you tuned in after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. You go out and buy your red body suit, make a cape, get your curly blonde wig in order and get ready to make the logo for the front of the outfit. You go online and see that there are literally hundreds of versions of the Greatest American Hero logo. Now what? You want a logo that’s accurate… by the way, you DON’T want a logo that’s accurate! The suit in the TV show was delivered by aliens to Ralph that when worn, gave him special powers. However, due to the alien’s lack of heat printing equipment, they made a really lame attempt at sewing a twill type material and the results looked like this:

Cosplay Greatest American Hero
Issue #1: The logo was obviously hand cut as the shapes are NOT symmetrical, #2: the logo is poorly sewn (notice the fraying) and #3: there isn’t a straight line to be found!

All of the images pictured here are actual screen-worn costumes. You can tell by looking at the fraying in the next image that they are all the same. All of the fraying matches from shot to shot.
Cosplay Greatest American Hero

now we can take one of those images into CorelDraw or Illustrator like our other Throwback Thursday images, straighten it out and make it look pretty darn identical.
Cosplay Greatest American Hero
This logo can be digitally printed on ColorPrint Easy for instance… it has the exact look and shapes as the original and mimics the fraying around the edges.

But let’s suppose that you don’t want it to look just like the screen worn outfit. You want to present what people remember of the character, the idealized version. We take all the lines, straighten them out, give them uniform contours, clean up the notches, remove the frayed material and voila! We end up with a cleaned up version of our favorite 80’s character.
Cosplay Greatest American Hero

Now this version of the logo can be cut in a heat transfer vinyl such as EasyWeed. The original design was a 3 color logo; red, white and black. Since we’re not sewing individual layers, we can recreate this using only 2 colors, white and black. We’ll cut the design so that the red of the shirt is showing through the design. This has several advantages.

  • It’s cheaper. You’re only paying for 2 colors instead of 3.
  • It’s lighter. 3 solid layers of material right in the middle of your chest is bulky and doesn’t move well.
  • It’s efficient. By making thin black outlines and having the red show through, you save a lot of bulk.
  • It matches! You get the benefit of the red in the logo matching the rest of shirt perfectly!

Cosplay Greatest American Hero

If you’re into cosplay or making costumes for your kids, give heat transfer vinyl or print and cut materials a try next time. For more great ideas on costumes, check out the half hour Halloween special we did in 2014.