Regardless of whether you decide to make it, have it made, or buy it, cosplaying requires a lot of work, as it will require you to spend a lot of time researching and assembling it. Then, after finishing it, you will still need to add the details, such as the hairstyle and makeup. It would also be recommended that you think of some poses and know how to get into character. However, despite all the work, cosplaying is fun and will be worth the effort.
Part 1 of 4: Planning the cosplay
Step 1. Determine who you want to base the cosplay on
The character you choose should be one with whom you identify or that is similar to you. You should also keep in mind that this character does not need to be of the same race, build, or gender, since anyone can cosplay. In the same way, it is not necessary that you make a cosplay based on anime or anything of Japanese origin, since it is possible to make cosplays based on characters from movies, television series or even western animations (for example, from Disney).
However, if this is your first time cosplaying, you may want the character you choose to have a simpler design
Step 2. Get reference images
However, keep in mind that these should not be just any images but rather should be of the specific version of the character that you will be disguising yourself as. In many cases, the characters have more than one outfit or their outfits change slightly between each movie. For example, Iron Man's body suit changes slightly in each of the Iron Man and The Avengers films, just as Batman wears a different design in each of his films.
This may not be possible with fan arts, in which case you should get the best quality image of the art you want to base your cosplay on
Step 3. Establish the amount of money and effort you want to put into cosplay
For your cosplay to look great, you don't have to spend a lot of money, although you should be prepared to spend a great deal of time on it if you want a cheap cosplay to look great. In some cases, cosplays will involve more than sewing, such as casting certain parts in resin or making foam armor.
You can make your cosplay more elaborate the more time you have in advance of the event. Instead, you should consider something simpler in case the event takes place the following weekend
Step 4. Design your own cosplay if you want to be more original
You could choose a version of the character on which you are going to base the cosplay that is a faithful reproduction of what is seen on screen. Another option is to give it a unique twist, like making a historically faithful version of a Disney princess or a steampunk version of a character. You could even make a hybrid version of two costumes, like a Sailor Scout-style version of a Pokémon.
- For inspiration, look at images from other people's cosplays or fan art.
- In case you choose to base your cosplay on fan art, the polite thing to do is ask the artist for permission.
Step 5. Plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to finish the cosplay
Even when you choose to buy the cosplay, you will need to take into account the time it will take to make it (if you will be commissioning it to someone else) and ship it. If you choose to make the cosplay yourself, it is a good idea to give yourself extra time to correct mistakes (if any).
You will need more time to develop the cosplay the more difficult it is and the more details it has
Part 2 of 4: Making or Buying the Cosplay
Step 1. Make a list of everything you need
In this list, you should include each piece of the entire outfit, down to the belt, gloves, and shoes, as well as items such as a wig (if you will be wearing one), makeup, and necessary underwear. In case you are going to make the cosplay, you should take note of all the materials that you will need for each piece. For instance:
- White blouse: white cotton, white thread, white buttons.
- Green skirt: twill or wool fabric for dark green suit, same color yarn, zipper, hook fastening.
- Etc: brown loafers, white knee-high stockings, nude-colored bra.
Step 2. Sew the cosplay using patterns
These can be found at fabric stores or you can make them yourself. In case you opt for the sewing patterns, you should bear in mind that you will have to modify them according to the character and your figure. In many cases, the patterns also include a list of recommended types of fabric, which you should consider.
- You may need to change the shape of the hem or sleeves in the pattern.
- In case the shape of the pattern is correct, but this is not the case for the length, you will need to add or remove it.
- Feel free to change the neck shape to suit your cosplay.
Step 3. Don't be ashamed or afraid to buy parts for your cosplay
You don't have to do everything from scratch. If the cosplay includes an everyday item, it will be easier for you if you just buy it. For example, for a cosplay based on Kagome from the Inuyasha manga, it will be much cheaper, easier and faster if you buy a pair of knee high stockings than if you do them on your own.
Step 4. Consider purchasing a piece and modifying it to suit your cosplay
In some cases, an item you find may be the correct shape but not the color, and in others, an item you find may be the correct color but be too long. You could get the part that is almost correct and then modify it instead of making a new part entirely. For instance:
- You can dye something that is the correct shape but not the color.
- You can cut something that has sleeves or is too long. However, don't forget to hem it (if necessary).
- You can paint a pair of boots to match the cosplay, or you can make boot covers.
Step 5. Do your research when buying or ordering a cosplay
Nothing guarantees that the cosplay will look very good, especially if you buy it in a cosplay store. It may be of excellent or mediocre quality. The most important thing is to research the company or person who is selling the cosplay to you or who you are ordering it to to make sure it is trustworthy.
Step 6. Remember the props and accessories
These can really take your cosplay a step further, although they are not absolutely necessary. With a prop piece, you could come up with more creative poses, and accessories can help make your cosplay look more realistic. Props and accessories can also be crafted, purchased, or had to be made, as you would with the rest of the cosplay.
- In many animated movies, the designs are simple. For example, if you're basing your cosplay on a Disney princess, you could add a few jewelry or hair extensions.
- To find out what is allowed and what is not, you can read the convention's rules for props.
Part 3 of 4: Combing your hair and makeup
Step 1. Plan how you will look
You should think about how the character's hairstyle and makeup would look in real life, as you would with the costume. Will you be able to use your own hair or will it be necessary to wear a wig? With makeup you will look better in photos, but do you want to have an anime look or a realistic one? Take a moment to consider what kind of look you want.
Step 2. Use your own hair in case you have no problem cutting or coloring it
In case your hair is almost suitable for the character, but not enough, feel free to straighten it, curl it, or put in extensions. If you are more daring, you could even dye your hair or cut it in a way that is more appropriate for the character. However, you should only do this if you really like that style, as you will need to wear it for several months.
Step 3. Use a good quality wig in case you don't want to do anything to your real hair
For the best look, you can buy a good quality wig from a reputable wig or costume store instead of a cheap wig from a Halloween or party supply store. You can also go for a wig with a front fastening cap if you want the cosplay to look even more realistic.
- Underneath your wig, put a hair net, making sure it is nude or the same color as the wig.
- Hold the wig in place with bobby pins. Make sure they are the same color as the wig.
- Tuck your hair under the wig so that it doesn't stick out from under it.
Step 4. Comb your hair or wig
Regardless of whether you wear a wig or your own hair, you will need to style your hair. For the most part, the wigs do not resemble the hair of the character in question, so your hair may need to be trimmed. In some cases, you may need to straighten or curl the wig, as well as comb it (or style your hair) to the correct style and then set it with hairspray.
- Shape your hair with hairspray and styling wax.
- If you are styling the wig, you can buy a styrofoam wig head.
- You should not use curling irons or hair straighteners on a wig. Instead, you should use the hot water curling or straightening methods.
Step 5. Make up, even if you are a man or you are going to cosplay a male character as a woman
In cosplays, makeup is important as it makes the skin look more even and photogenic. For most characters, you will need a natural look using a basic foundation, neutral colored eyeshadow, and eyeliner. For a cosplay of a female character, you can apply mascara or false eyelashes. Then you can use lipstick and blush or liner to spice up your character.
- With eyeliner, you can make your face look more masculine or feminine.
- Lipstick will benefit even male characters. To do this, you must use a neutral color.
- While you can use eyeshadow in a different color, you should only do so if it is appropriate for the character and costume.
Part 4 of 4: Putting cosplay into action
Step 1. Practice putting on the cosplay before the big event
To do this, you must also apply makeup, put on the wig, put on and take off contact lenses, etc. In case there is something that is not comfortable or does not fit you, you should take some time to fix it. Please take care that the cosplay is comfortable and durable.
If contact lenses are causing you problems, you should skip them. If you keep your contact lenses in for the entire convention, you will give yourself a serious infection
Step 2. Get into character
While you don't need to act like the character, you can if you want to. However, for this it would be advisable that you think of some poses. At conventions, people like to photograph other people's cosplays, so it is very likely that someone wants to photograph yours.
Step 3. Respect the limits of others
If you see someone with a cosplay based on the same anime or the same series, there is nothing wrong with you starting to act like the character, although you should keep in mind that not everyone will want to play along. If he is, you should apologize and leave him alone instead of harassing him or forcing him to play along.
Step 4. Make an effort not to take everything too seriously
The goal of cosplay is to make it fun. Don't compare yourself to others and instead take pride in what you've done. Get together with your friends or make new friends. If you are shy, you could attend some discussions, meetings, or other events. You can do a lot of things at a convention while in costume.
If you do like to compete, you could participate in the cosplay contest or the masked ball (there will be one of these events at almost every convention)
Step 5. Remember that cosplay is not synonymous with consent
Speak up if someone is making you uncomfortable and report it to security personnel or the convention operations center. In case someone is harassing you and no one is near the security personnel or the operations center, you can ask for help. Keep in mind that this is unusual for conventions but it does happen anyway and your safety is very important.
- Keep alert. You should not go to empty or lonely places with people you do not know.
- Especially if you go out at night, you should stay with a friend or someone you trust.
- Maintain hygiene. Use deodorant. In case you are staying overnight at the convention, you should take a bath or shower at least once a day.
- Remember to rest when cosplaying instead of working like a mule. You may end up cosplaying but may not be able to enjoy the event due to being very tired.
- Don't forget to eat, drink water, and sleep while at the convention.
- Make sure to use lightweight props. After a while, even the lightest piece of prop will start to look heavy to you.
- You can consider sourcing the fabric from an item of clothing you already own if you can't get it any other way.
- Consider the possibility that your outfit is inspired by a character. True fans will recognize who you are.
- You don't need to make a cosplay based on a character of the same gender. You can also do it based on a character of the opposite gender, which is known as crossplay.
- In case you are staying overnight at the convention, you should bring a cosplay repair kit with you and have various items with which you can repair the cosplay.
- If your cosplay breaks at the convention, you can check to see if there is a cosplay repair station or cosplay room.
- Cosplay is not synonymous with consent. You must respect others and do not hesitate to report the harassment.
- If someone wants to photograph you, it's okay to say no. However, you should do it with courtesy.
- Avoid procrastination or leaving everything to the last minute.