If you have been going to conventions for years, or even if you have just attended your first event, it’s a given that you will see a plethora of cosplayers with highly intricate and detailed costumes, huge weapons with flashing lights, and people in costume posing like they have been models for the best parts of their lives. You might feel slightly left out in your civilian clothing and want to join in, but don’t know where to start.
Well no need to worry, here are a few tips and tricks to get you started, or even to re-inspire some of you who have been wanting to get back into the cosplay community.
Choosing A Character To Cosplay
In most cases this is the most difficult step. In reality there are no rules on who (or what) you cosplay, as long as you’re happy with how the costume feels and how it looks. But in general there are usually some unwritten codes of conduct that do come with the selection of a character. The most common thing costumers do is list their favourite characters and see if there is anyone there who they feel they portray in emotion, mentality and looks. When picking a character take note of their personality, key poses, and general feel – make sure that you yourself can portray these through acting. In the end if you think you will have fun cosplaying a character, and you feel comfortable portraying them, then go for it!
Choosing A Character’s Outfit
Most characters, no matter what anime, movie, manga, game, TV or comic series they come from, will have one key and specific costume or outfit themselves – something fans will see and recognise instantly. If you are a beginner, start simple and work your way up the skill level of costumes – going as a “casual” cosplayer is not looked down upon. Buying your full costume online isn’t a bad thing either, or even picking an outfit based on modifying clothing that comes from your own wardrobe, or even from charity shops. Simple modifications can be a learning curve and will encourage you to grow both as a cosplayer, but also as a crafts person (it also becomes really handy when an odd job crops up within your home!). Hand sewing, painting onto ready made clothing, dying fabrics, or modifying household items to make your props – it’s a beginning, and you will learn over time.
Collecting References And Research
You can’t make a good cosplay from memory, so this step is pretty important, especially if it involves detailing and props, right down to getting the colours correct. Collate screenshots, concept art, even fanart online – it will help to make a folder, organising the pictures you’ve got. If you’re at a loss, a message to the original artists can sometimes help as well (from personal experience, I contacted Blizzard for my Deathknight Tauren costume and received a lot of official imagery to help me with my creation). Talking with fellow cosplayers as well can also help out a lot too; they might have a perfect image that you couldn’t find.
Planning How To Make Your Costume
Once you have your photos and costumes sorted you can now use these reference images to start planning out your costume. Go through each of the accessories and main components, like trousers, vest, t-shirts, tops, jackets, armour, shoes, and weapons. It can help to make a list to give an idea of what you need, sketching each individual piece from a front and back (and sometimes side) view. This step will also allow you to see what items you can buy and what items need to be handmade. At this point you can also start looking at any wigs, contact lenses or fake nails you may need – looking at the make-up or any face painting or special effects at this point is also a great way to keep ahead and on track with creating your character, as this is also a huge part of creating your costume and bringing your character to life.
Create a checklist, sketchbook, or even a folder where your reference images and sketches can be placed all together and easily at hand. Place a checklist at the beginning so you can mark off what you have completed as you go along. If your character is pretty easy and you can buy your base items from a charity shop, or from a high street store, then you can easy modify them and use this planning stage to note down what you want to modify. If you are making your costume from scratch, this is also a good point to research different patterns, materials, and even seams and stitching techniques.
Shopping For Materials
If you ever need help with materials just take your reference images to your chosen fabric store and ask an employee. If you are able to have a video on your phone, or able to explain what your character does, then the choosing of fabrics will be a lot easier. Thinking outside of the box is a huge factor when it comes to cosplay, from gardening equipment, cereal boxes, and cheap camping mats from Poundland – anything is usable!
Searching for tutorials online or on YouTube is also a key part of growing within the cosplay community. Being the tight-knit family we are, you are guaranteed to find exactly what pattern or tutorial that you want – or at least something similar that you can modify to your own needs. One website I do recommend is Cosplay Tutorial, which is continuously being updated with new techniques and materials – just don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you see a cosplayer who is wearing the costume you want to make, or something similar, just ask them. Showing interest in their costume not only makes them feel better about their creation, but will also inform you on how you can make your costume as well.
Take Your Time!
Once you feel you are ready, and you are wanting to take the plunge and start creating, just remember one key thing – take your time! Seriously, as a beginner the earlier you begin your research and creating, the better. If you take things slow then you can create a highly detailed costume with ease, but as soon as you begin to rush things, it can go wrong and you could find yourself wanting to remake those rushed parts. Cosplay needs to be fun, it was made to be fun, and made to show a universal love for fictional characters. Nothing is serious in the cosplay community, but drama does happen – just take the time to remember it’s all about having fun.
Cosplay Innovation is a new series of articles on MYMBuzz to introduce new materials, techniques and cosplayers to the cosplaying community. From costume creation, make-up techniques, useful shops in the UK and key websites – this series is here to lend a helping hand and to inspire new and old creators. If you have any questions or tips and tricks of your own that you would like answered or shared, then please feel free to send an email to Kpopkimi@hotmail.co.uk and it might be featured in a future article.