You too can have an unreasonable collection of craft tools, supplies, and costumes!

I got asked by one of my lovely friends on tips on how to get started on cosplaying. Since comments on DeviantArt, nor notes on Tumblr aren’t searchable yet, and I have lost lots of good conversations on comments because I couldn’t remember which deviation did we have the conversation in, I figured to write here.

I still resort to these pre-building tactics, and I hope others find it useful too.

(Do you cosplay? Add tips below!)

1. Pick out characters you like.

Don’t worry about whether you can do it or not. Just pick them out. You’ll have so much more fun if you’re in a costume of a character you enjoy, than not.

I chose the word -like- specifically. Don’t worry about body type, skin color, or anything like that. The best costumers can make anything look amazing on anyone. It takes a particular level of design skill to accomplish it, but it is possible.

Do drawings of your characters. Even if you lack drawing skills, drawing them helps me try to remember all the pieces to an outfit. Get reference photos.

2. Go thrift store shopping.

You never know what you may find. Some skirt that you thought you would never find, might just be found at the thrift store for cheap! Or you may even need to change it a little, to match what you want.

3. Pick something that matches your skill level.

Are you a good thrift store hunter? Draw? Hair stylist? Hand sew? Knit? Use a sewing machine? Tie dye stuff? This is a very short of list of skills, but use your skills to your advantage.

There might be some armband with a design(Avatar: Legend of Korra’s titular character has an armband with a triangular pattern, for example) that I feel more comfortable sewing on, but you might be like “gimme some fabric paint, I can totally draw that. ”

I put this tip after thrift store hunting, because you may just find that piece you’re looking for.

4. Do you online research.

No, not just in reference photos, but has someone done the character you wanted to do? Read on how they do it.

I get the best advice from forums on how to do various stuff for the cheap and easily. Again, something that might look hard might turn out to be easy because someone on the web explained it. Or vice versa, a piece you thought may be the easiest, may end up being the hardest piece, and others who had done the costume will definitely share this information.

5. Try to learn something new  for every costume.

Whether it’s learning that you can wear wo/men’s clothing, or starting to hand sew, it’s fun to gain a new skill per costume. It’s also something great to say if you choose to compete your outfit, that you gained a new skill.

6. Act like the character. Check out the kind of poses and the kinds of facial expressions your character does.

If you go to a con, someone may ask you to take your picture. Practice what are the best poses for your character. It makes your costume 100% better if you have the pose, even if it’s not complete.

A smile can vary so wildly per character. Some have confident smiles, and others have small smiles. Learn to pick those out from your reference photos and practice.

Learn to act like the character. This is the play in cos-play. 🙂

I can’t stress this enough, but one of the most disappointing things for me is to see a beautiful costume that took months to make, but the actor just stands blandly when I ask for a photo. They were probably tired, but I urge you to be prepared and know what poses to do when asked for a photo.

7. Fun > perfection

I tend to be a perfectionist, but it’s so much better to have fun cosplaying with an imperfect costume, than having a perfect costume, but not act like the character.

If you’re wearing a ninja headband, and you tell me you’re Naruto, I’ll say “Hey, Naruto, how’s that ninja training coming along?”. That’s my philosophy.

As long as you have fun, that’s what matters.

You may need to sacrifice some accuracy to just make the outfit less pricy to make, or to make it look better on you, or to make the outfit more comfortable. Make those changes. Don’t be torn by accuracy here, because in the end of the day, you gotta rock that outfit.

I personally do a mix of inaccurate changes to outfits to either make outfits look better on me, or even as a shout-out to some aspect of the show or the series. And I won awards even with those changes.

Plus, secret: most people don’t notice details. 🙂

Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *