Cosplay Column: The Basics of Cosplay
We love our cosplayers here at Arcade Sushi and we thought it would be a great idea to have them participate in special guest columns talking about the world of cosplay. Our first guest writer is Stella Chuu, who is ranked in the top 5 of our Hottest Cosplay Girls list. In this special Cosplay Column, Stella covers the basics of cosplay for beginners. It's a great read so enjoy!
THE BASICS OF COSPLAY by Stella Chuu
Now that you’ve seen all of the anime, played all the video games, and attended pretty much every convention, there is still one thing missing in your geek-ﬁlled life, that you’ve yet to have the guts to try. Cosplay. Here is your step by step guide to diving head ﬁrst into the world of costume make believe (lifeguards included).
Sounds boring I know, but can actually be quite fun. You get to read all about your favorite character and ﬁnd as many wonderful pictures as possible. You’ll be looking for production illustrations and others that detail the colors and trimmings. Always be thinking about the fabric you may want to use. Remember these characters aren’t really drawn to exist in real life, so use your imagination. You aren’t the only person working on this cosplay, there are forums and whole communities out there, ready and willing to aid you in your adventure.
You won’t be perfect at ﬁrst and that is totally ﬁne. If you’ve never sewn or built a prop in your life, consider taking classes or paying a friend to teach you. Taking a month of classes will actually save you time and money in the long run. You’ll learn the shortcuts, better techniques, and other helpful hints over time. Again, you have a community to support you. There are also many tutorial websites and video channels dedicated to helping newcomers learn crafting.
Buying your ﬁrst sewing machine or your ﬁrst power tool can be intimidating. Ask the internet for advice! Places like Reddit, Cosplay.com, Deviantart, and Facebook are great places to ask your fellow geeks for advice. Fair warning, don’t trust the people at Home Depot. They aren’t cosplayers and they will not understand why you need pvc pipes for making wings. Though, the reactions you will get from them are priceless. I recommend buying your tools from Amazon or Joann because their prices are always marked down. Don’t forget to use coupons!
Here are a few tools I recommend and though it sounds expensive, this is all stuff I recommend acquiring to begin your cosplay life:
- Sewing Machine - $100-$150 Singer or Brother machines are great for beginners.
- Fabric scissors - $30-$50 Lasts forever. Don’t forget to use a coupon.
- Notions: needles, thread, pins, measuring tape, fray check glue, ruler, cutting board, chalk, seam ripper.
- Power Drill - $30-$80
- Hot Glue Gun - $5-$20 Most useful tool in your kit. Buy industrial strength hot glue sticks.
- Dremel Tool and attachments - $40-$80 For sanding, cutting, and drawing details onto props
- Paint - Both spray paint and acrylic. Don’t forget brush care is important!
- Respirator - $15-$25 Don’t get sick! Wearing this will save you headaches.
- Heat Gun - $20-$50 Great for molding.
Spend extra time deciding what fabrics and materials you will be using. You don’t want to waste money or time on items you don’t need. Try sketching a mock up before you head to the store. You can even create a full mock up made of muslin or paper craft. Measure twice, cut once! Actually, measure three times to be safe. I can’t stress this enough. This step always ﬁnds itself to be necessary..
Wigs & Shoes
Buy your wigs from the internet! Your local wig shop will not have a two-toned purple curly wig with buns. eBay is my favorite place to buy character wigs. China has a huge cosplay market so companies can afford to make obscure styles. There are also many American cosplay shops that can provide great customer service and have free shipping. When it comes to shoes, break them in. New shoes are terribly uncomfortable to walk around in at a convention all day. Shoe inserts will save your feet! Also, learn about boot covers. You can turn those mary-janes into thigh high boots.
This is the hardest part of creating a cosplay. There will be many mistakes, swearing, crying, table ﬂipping, and rage quits. Give yourself ample time before a convention to ﬁnish your costume. Sewing and gluing with sleep deprivation is a terrible idea. One that I personally have experienced more than I’d like to admit. Give yourself enough time to make two versions of your costume. Remember that measure twice, cut once thing? That comes back here. Also, the practice thing, that makes a comeback.
Did you iron your costume? Is the duct tape well hidden? Is your wig brushed through and styled? There is more to cosplay than putting on a costume. I ﬁnd that makeup is the most important part of presentation. Both men and women should consider putting on some foundation and doing contouring. It will make you look ﬂawless and help sell the look. Fictional characters are always pristine but sadly real humans are not. Go to your local Sephora or MAC to seek advice on transforming yourself into the character. The Internet is helpful but you’ll need to get products that are designed for your face.
Feed, rest, and hydrate. A lot! We all make the mistake of overestimating our ability to wear a costume for many hours at a convention. There were many times I felt I may need to be carried back to my hotel room because of how exhausted I was from cosplaying. Also, be courteous and stand away from foot trafﬁc so your admirers don’t end up blocking hallways or escalators. Con-goers will thank you for this. Lastly and most importantly, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. If someone asks for a risqué photo or puts their hand on you the wrong way, you have the right to stand up for yourself and express your discomfort. Ask your friends to help you if you’re in distress.
If you have any speciﬁc questions about building your costume, surviving a con, or just a general fun question. E-mail me at email@example.com. Good luck!
Thanks for the awesome column Stella!
Look for more special guest cosplay columns in the near future. If you'd like to write a Cosplay Column, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org