AGeekyGal’s Cosplay Guide: How to Cosplay for Beginners

AGeekyGal’s Cosplay Guide: How to Cosplay for Beginners

To date, I’ve successfully completed four cosplays. One of these was bought from AliExpress (ALO Asuna Yuuki or otherwise known as Undine Asuna), the other three were closet cosplays from fan art of Asuna from Sword Art Online and the 9th Doctor that I created with what I had in my closet or was bought relatively cheap. I’m no expert so take these steps as you like to make them fit your needs. If this is your first time cosplaying, I recommend reading this quick post. If this is your first convention, I’d recommend checking out this post as well!

 

Where do I start?

Pick a Convention and Date OR Deadline

First things first: plan the convention you’re going to attend in your cosplay. You don’t have to actually go to a convention in your cosplay but usually cosplayers will give themselves deadlines on a cosplay that they want to premiere at a certain convention. This step is totally up to you, but it would give you motivation to complete your cosplay if you have a set deadline.

Do a quick Google search to find any conventions near you. You can also check out Facebook groups in your city that may post convention information. What are the dates? How much time would you have to get your cosplay together? How much would it cost for the badge, the hotel stay, food, and spending money? Write all this information down as it’ll help you make your decision. Take into account the time of year that your schedule is open as well as appropriate clothing for the weather.

Give yourself plenty of time!

Pick a Character

Cosplayers pick characters for any number of reasons. They can be your favorite character, one you look like, one you can relate to, one that your friends are doing a group cosplay of, one you just like how they look, etc. You don’t even HAVE to have a reason for the character you picked. It’s all about fun, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

The one thing you should take into account when picking a character is your skill. Can you sew? If not, and you’re not willing to spend a pretty penny for a complex, detailed commission, it might be best to pick a different character. Start simple, especially if this is your first cosplay!

For the sake of an example, let’s say I picked Starfire fromΒ  Picolo-kun’s drawing. This is most likely something I could not buy. I could, however, get it commissioned from a reputable commissioner. Another option would be making it myself if I have the time, money, and skill. The last option would be a “closet cosplay” in which I may have some of the pieces and can buy the rest at a store.

On the flip side, let’s say I picked Megara from Hercules (shout out to Nippy13 for this image). This cosplay is definitely something I could buy already made or get commissioned. I could also make it myself. This cosplay may not be a good candidate for the closet cosplay strategy.

Research

References

Gather as many reference images that you can. Look around on Google and Pinterest. Try to find turnarounds of your character so you can see the front, side, and back of the character. Most likely, you can even find cosplayers who have already done this cosplay and can look at their progress pictures.

Research every piece of your cosplay. That includes from the wig to the contacts down to the shoes. This not only helps you figure out exactly what you need, but how much you’re looking at spending. Use this opportunity to search thrift stores, online stores, Amazon, other cosplayers’ pages who have done the same cosplay, and reach out to commissioners for a quote. If you can sew, look for fabrics and patterns.

Cost Breakdown

I’ll break this step down into the two cosplays I used as examples to let you see how I approach it as I have almost zero sewing ability. If you can sew, and can sew well, you have more opportunities to save!

For Starfire per the artwork: We know Starfire has flaming red hair (Nina SILKY in Scarlet: $35). She has green eyes (ColourVue 3 Tones Green: $19.90). She is wearing a Letterman’s jacket (Letterman Jacket via Amazon: $28.90) with Robin’s signature R on it (R logo: $6) with a striped shirt (Striped Ribbed Tee: $9.90), jean shorts (Cuffed High-waisted Denim Shorts: $17.90) and a messenger bag (Casual Laptop Bag: $19.61) with graphics (UFO: $5.49 and Trees: $9.95) and lettering (I WANT TO BELIEVE: $5). She has a tattoo on her left thigh of a UFO and some stars (Get in Loser: $14). We can’t see her shoes so we’ll say she’s wearing sneakers (Canvas Sneakers: $10).

Potential Total: $181.65*

For Megara per the movie Hercules: She has big, curly, auburn/brown hair swooped into a ponytail with a red band (Custom Wig: $120). She has purple eyes (Princess Pinky Cloudy Violet: $28.90). She wears a Greek inspired lavender and dark purple dress with two swirly tokens at the straps (Costume: $158.30). She wears brown gladiator style sandals (Knee High Gladiator Sandals: $16.99).

Potential Total: $324.19*

*Not including taxes, shipping costs, make up, etc.! Disclaimer that of course you might already have some/most of these items in your closet or can make this, or you don’t wear contacts or wigs for whatever reason so these cost estimates do not take these kind of things into account!

Set a Budget

How much do you want to spend?

Now that you have researched the cosplay and have a cost breakdown, does it fit within how much you would like to spend? Where can you save? Where can you cut costs? This step may require more research depending on where your budget is and the cost of the cosplay you’ve already researched.

To reference back to my examples…

For Starfire, let’s say we want to ideally stay at $80: We need the correct wig and I did not find anyone selling this wig as pre-owned so I have to purchase new (Nina SILKY in Scarlet: $35).Β  She has green eyes but I don’t like contacts so we will cut the contacts. She is wearing a Letterman’s jacket and I found a similar jacket at the thrift store for $10;Β  Robin’s signature R (R logo: $6). Striped shirt (I own a striped shirt that will work). Jean shorts (I also own jean shorts that will work). A messenger bag (I found one at the same thrift store for $5 that needed some cleaning) with graphics that I will hand paint with fabric paint costing $10. She has a tattoo on her left thigh of a UFO and some stars (Get in Loser: $14). We can’t see her shoes so we’ll say she’s wearing sneakers (I own a pair of sneakers that will work).

Potential Total: $80*

For Megara, let’s say we have a healthy $200 budget: She has big, curly, auburn/brown hair swooped into a ponytail with a red band (I can get this pre-owned on Facebook in a cosplay group for $80). She has purple eyes but I don’t like contacts so we will save money by not purchasing those. She wears a Greek inspired lavender and dark purple dress with two swirly tokens at the straps that we happily get commissioned for $100. She wears brown gladiator style sandals (Knee High Gladiator Sandals: $16.99).

Potential Total: $196.99*

And Then?

Details

Wig: Take the time to style the wig and make sure it fits comfortably on your head. Most wigs have clasps that allow you to take it out or take it in depending on the size of your head. You can also take your wig to a stylist for cutting if you’re afraid to cut the bangs yourself. Here’s a YouTube video for how to cut a wig’s bangs. Check out more of Arda’s tutorials to find out more.

Make-up: If you aren’t sure how to do make up or are still a beginner, check out this tutorial for a natural, basic cosplay look. Here’s another you can try if the first one wasn’t what you were looking for. If you’re experienced with every day make up, check out this tutorial to take it up a notch.

Contacts: I do not wear contacts myself, but Elite Cosplay did a wonderful post on them. If you are thinking of purchasing contacts, check out Pinky Paradise or Honey Color. Just make sure to see your eye doctor first!

Shoes: Nothing is worse than standing and walking in terrible shoes all day in your amazing cosplay. Pick out comfortable base shoes if you’re DIY’ing your character’s footwear. Buy insoles, arch supports, or heel grips for flats, boots, and heels.

Bras: Make sure you are wearing the right size bra. The right size bra can give you the support and look you’re going for. For bra sizing and other tips, check out this link from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust. FFFB is a great blogger and model for any and all bra related things.

Chest Binders: Please, please, please be safe using chest binders! I’m not familiar with these myself, but I’ve taken the time to do some research for you. Zeus Pro was kind enough to break down chest binders, do’s and don’t, and where to buy them. Here is a great list of methods from cosplay.com. Please feel free to keep researching until you find what you are looking for! Be safe in whichever method you choose.

Shape-wear/Corsets: If you need or want shape-wear for your cosplay, do your research, try it on, make sure you are comfortable, and can breathe. Safety first! I’m plugging another FFFB link because she is just that amazing. Some brands for you to look into: SPANX, LipoInABox, Maidenform, Rosie Red Corsetry, Vollers Corsets, and What Katie Did. Take your time with picking out a good corset or comfortable shape-wear.

Dance Belts: Wearing Spiderman, Superman, or another suit wearing character? Get a dance belt. It’s one of the number one things male cosplayers recommend. There’s even a complete guide to them.

Thigh Bands: Chub rub? Thigh chafing? There’s a solution (and I’m wearing them right now!) called Bandalettes. These are a gift from God. That’s right. I said it. You can find several designs and colors on their website. I recommend the unisex style as lace has a way of tearing on me.

Dance Tights: The secret to smooth legs under any cosplay? Dance tights. I actually asked a cosplayer myself how her legs looked so magnificent in a cosplay and she let me in on the secret. She wears Capezio under most of her “leggy” cosplays, but you can find other brands and sites to buy a few packs for all your show-stopping-leg needs.

Props: Check your convention’s guidelines before you start on any prop. These rules are in place for a reason, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time on a prop that won’t be allowed into the convention. If you make your own props, choose lightweight materials. You can find several tutorials to make just about any kind of prop.

Posing

Referring back to your research, pay attention to your character’s mannerisms and how they carry themselves. Pick two to three different poses to use for photos at the convention. Pay attention to models and look at posing guides to help. Try out poses in a full length mirror to find your angles and what would translate best in a photograph.You want to bring this character to life so try your best!

Test

Now that you have all your pieces for your cosplay, try it all on and do a test run! Go all out and properly style your wig, apply make up, and put on all the pieces of clothing. How does it look? How do you feel? Are you comfortable? Is it too tight, too loose, too hot, too cool? Your cosplay make take some tweaking to get just right. Now you’re so close to the finish line!

Take some test photos and selfies to double-check your wig and make up. Natural light is best! Also check your cosplay for any undone stitches, loose threads, wrinkles, etc that might need to be addressed before its big debut! Ask a friend for help with pictures and looking over your cosplay.

Finally!

Last Minute Essentials

  • Sewing Kit
  • Scissors
  • Duct Tape
  • Glue
  • Safety Pins
  • First Aid Kit

Cosplay!

Now that it’s all done, it’s time to go out there and cosplay! It doesn’t have to be at a convention or a show. It can be in your backyard or a friend’s house. Cosplay is about you and about how it makes you feel. Hopefully this guide helped you along the way to making your first/beginner’s cosplay!

 

Special Mentions: Header image by http://www.DMacstudios.com; Starfire art by picolo-kun.deviantart.com; Megara art by nippy13.deviantart.com; Arda Wigs; Pinky Paradise Contact Lenses; MangoSirene; Night Eyes Cosplay; Iwasaka Miyuki; Elite Cosplay; Honey Color Contact Lenses; Firecloak Cosplay; Fuller Figure Fuller Bust; Zeus Pro; Cosplay.com

 

First Time Cosplaying: What to Expect

First Time Cosplaying: What to Expect

First Time Cosplaying What to ExpectAnime Weekend Atlanta 2015 (AWA) was an absolute blast this year and probably one of the best conventions I’ve gone to. It’s in Atlanta, Georgia and spans over 4 days – Thursday through Sunday usually in mid-September. If you’re in this neck of the woods, I highly recommend going! It’s freaking huge compared to Kami-Con (Birmingham, AL) and Momo-Con (Atlanta, GA). There’s a ton of panels, popular cosplayers, and so much more at AWA.

This convention was different for me in many ways compared to Kami-Con and Momo-Con. The biggest way was that I was going to cosplay one of my favorite characters for the first time ever. I was excited and nervous about the whole thing, but I was ready. My boyfriend and I had been preparing the week before by getting our wigs in order (brushing, de-tangling, and styling) when I realized how much fun I was having. I didn’t need to be scared anymore about what people would think, because this new hobby was incredibly fun and relaxing.

So what should you expect when you cosplay for the first time at a convention?

  1. Being called by your character’s name. This actually caught me off guard. I don’t know why, because I even did it at conventions. Alec and I were in full cosplay looking at the Artist Alley booths when I was approached by another cosplayer and a guy running the Crunchyroll Live booth. He called me Miss Asuna, and I didn’t even answer him the first time! Talk about embarrassing. After I realized he was talking to me, he and another Kirito wanted Alec and I to join them on the Crunchyroll carpet to participate in their Live Feed. It was pretty exciting for me to step up to the camera and see dozens of messages scrolling across the screen proclaiming my character’s name and how cute I was.
  2. Seeing other people dressed as your character. I was very surprised to see only one other “blue” Asuna (SAO Mother Rosario: Asuna). Some people tend to take offense that they’re not the one dressed as a certain character at a convention. Instead of feeling like you’re just part of a crowd, use it to start a conversation! You already have something in common! Plus you could get some pretty funny photo opportunities.
  3. Getting asked for a photo. I have to admit, this was one of the happiest moments I’ve had at a convention. One sweet lady stopped Alec and I, and said she had been looking everywhere for us; would we please take a picture with her. It gives you an instant ego boost to be asked for a picture. Be aware though that even if you don’t get asked for a photo, plenty of people are snapping photos of you without asking, simply because they’re shy, you look busy, or they’re busy trying to keep up with friends as they walk through the convention. There were lots of people I wanted photos of but circumstances prevented me from asking them. Instead, we’d snap a photo as we were going by, or jump in while someone else was taking a photo. While this may not be correct cosplay etiquette, it happens.
  4. Working on your cosplay at the last minute. While I didn’t exactly “work” on mine, I did find a pair of elf ears to finish off my cosplay the day before I had planned on wearing it. Alec also opted out of wearing his wig because it was uncomfortable. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and that’s okay. Keep an emergency cosplay kit handy, double check your checklist before you leave the house, and remember it’s all for fun.
  5. Getting compliments. This was something else I wasn’t particularly expecting. I didn’t sew my costume; I bought it from China and asked my grandmother to alter it. It was too small across the chest and hips, but she managed to make it wearable and comfortable. I had always admired those that could sew their own costumes, but I haven’t learned how to yet. After having heard a lot of bad things from the cosplay community about those that buy their costumes, I hadn’t expected anyone to stop me to tell me how great and awesome my cosplay was, but that is exactly what happened.

Have anything to add for our first time cosplayers?

Leave a comment below for our readers!

A Geeky Gal’s Fan Convention Guide: General Tips

A Geeky Gal’s Fan Convention Guide: General Tips

Fan Convention Guide General Tips.jpgMy wonderful boyfriend and I will be attending Anime Weekend Atlanta 2015 in September. This isn’t our first convention (it’s actually my third together with him), but it is the first one we’ll be cosplaying at! Needless to say, we are both excited and have been planning like crazy. The purpose of this post is to pass on our wisdom and tips to make the most of your experience at your first convention, whether you cosplay or not.

Before the con:

  1. SAVE. SAVE. SAVE. Save all the things! (Mostly money.) This money is for the badges to get into the convention, hotel stay, costume(s), food, travel expenses, and of course to buy things at the convention. Give yourself a healthy budget for all these things.
  2. Buy/make your costume if you plan to cosplay at the convention. It’s best to allow time for shipping, altering, and any unexpected issues you might run into as you create your costume. You need to order your costume a few months in advance, or you may have been working on this epic costume for 6 months already so this step is way too late in the game for you. For example, my boyfriend and I are buying our costumes. The seller I’m purchasing from has a timeline of 23 days for processing and shipping or your money back. This may taking longer than the initial 23 days, BUT we have about 3 months until the convention. This is plenty of time for the costumes to come in and get altered. Stay tuned for this cosplay post!
  3. Scope out the convention’s website for when passes will be on sale, it’s time, location, rules and hotels they recommend nearby. Keep a notebook to write down all information including addresses, prices, email addresses, and phone numbers. Please follow all of their rules! They are in place for a good reason!
  4. Buy your badges! The sooner the better. Most conventions will have an “early bird special” online for so long before the badges go to regular price. This is a chance to SAVE. You can buy on their website for awhile before you’ll only be able to buy your badges at the door. Sometimes the website will offer to mail your badges to you for a fee. This will save you time from standing in line to get your badges when you arrive (which you might be doing for an hour or two depending on how large the convention is). Save time versus save money. I chose to save time this go around. This way we can go straight into the convention to grab photos and check out everything that’s going on.
  5. Book your hotel room(s). I usually check out the hotel the convention is taking place at first. See what deals you can find here. The sooner, the better because these rooms book up fast due to convenience (and you also save on driving to the convention since you’re already there!). Sometimes the convention’s website will also have deals for hotels nearby as well; check these out too. Then, do your own research.We found an awesome deal on a three-night stay in a nearby hotel within walking distance. Walking will save you gas if you can swing it. We walked to our second convention from the hotel, and it was super nice to do.
  6. Put together a meal plan. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Depending on where you’re staying, you may have the option to pre-make meals, pack them in a cooler and store them in your room in a fridge. Some hotels even feature a full kitchen so you could prepare your meals in your room. However, most hotels simply have a mini fridge or no fridge at all. This means you’ll likely be eating out for all of your meals. If you choose this option, make sure you budget for each meal every day you’ll be at the convention. Other ideas if your hotel room has a mini fridge: snacks that don’t have to be refrigerated, sandwich stuff (bread, lunch meat, convenience packages of condiments, peanut butter, etc.), milk, cereal, etc.
  7. Pack! Pack what you need and leave room for new toys and loot! Pack according to the weather; these conventions get hot, so it’s in between hot and cold, back to be cool while at the convention. Wear comfortable shoes; there’s a ton of walking!

During the con:

  1. Set up your hotel room upon arrival. This will save you so much time while cosplaying, shopping, making it to panels on time, and whatever else you have planned at the convention. What I mean by “setting up” your room is this: put your clothes in the closets/dressers provided, lay out costumes & wigs, put away all food, plug in chargers, and make sure cellphones, cameras, etc. are all fully charged. Basically, have the room ready to be lived in and slept in so you can enjoy the convention scene without searching through bags for a phone charger and hyperventilating when you can’t find it and your phone is at 1%, not that I did that…
  2. Pick up the itinerary; you’ll need it. This little brochure will have everything that is going on at the convention with times and locations. Plan accordingly! You can’t be in two or three places at once so pick all the cool things you want to see and set timers on your phone. Allow for ten minutes to get through crowds and finishing purchases. Or have a designated person keep an eye on the time to get your group to each panel/show/whatever!
  3. Keep hydrated! Keep bottles of water in a backpack to keep you and your friends from getting dehydrated and cranky.
  4. Keep a photo ID’s/money/valuables close by or to a minimum while out and about. Some panels will require a photo ID (but don’t forget you need it to pick up your badge the first day of the convention!), otherwise you should probably keep it back at the hotel room. Don’t bring any jewelry that has sentimental/monetary value with you to the convention. If you have to have it, leave it at the hotel room! If it gets lost or stolen, you may not ever see it again. As far as money goes, bring cash and allot yourself an amount per day and keep it on your person or secured in a backpack/purse that you keep with you at all times. Don’t bring your debit or credit cards. Most sellers in the artist alley and dealer’s room can’t take them anyway. Technology is starting to make small appearances in some of these transactions (iPads with card readers), better safe than sorry! Plus you may have really wanted that stuffed Pikachu, and the seller couldn’t take your card and you have to leave empty handed. Sad day.
  5. Keep yourself clean/deodorized. Being this is your first convention, you have not smelled the con-funk yet. But you will. On the first day. So shower daily, two or three times if you need to. Keep your cosplay and wig clean and smelling fresh. Keep some deodorant in your bag and reapply in the restrooms. I’m SO not kidding. Keep some mints on hand as well. You don’t want to meet awesome people, cosplayers, singers, and actors with smelly breath. You will see employees spraying Lysol after smelly con-goers to try to keep the con-funk down, but do your part and keep yourself clean and smelling good. On another note: don’t drown yourself in perfumes and colognes. This can be just as bad as con-funk!
  6. Bring sanitizer. On top of con-funk, you can also catch con-colds. That’s not fun for you or your group if someone winds up with a con-cold. Bring hand sanitizer and use it! A LOT. Some con-goers recommend Emergen-C tablets to keep sickness at bay.
  7. Respect everyone’s personal space. This is a long one to cover… Basically, try not to get into anyone’s bubble while in a line or in a panel. Sometimes it’s truly unavoidable and you have to be super close together in a crowd. Don’t try to squeeze past people to jump in front of a line; it’s rude and everyone will be giving you the stink-eye. Politely wait your turn, make conversation, play on your DS (with sound off), play on your phone (with sound off), or find something else to pre-occupy your time with annoying those around you who are also politely waiting.While taking pictures with other people, use common sense: don’t grope, pinch, or put your hand on anyone with expressed permission. This is unwanted interaction and sexual harassment. No one being in costume gives you the right to touch them.
  8. Take lots of pictures, but ask permission. While con-goers can be super sweet and nice, there are those that are downright appalling when it comes to being respectful of others. When taking pictures of cosplayers, just simply ask if you can get a photo of them or with them. If you’re taking a photo with someone, ask if you can put your arm around them, hold their hand, pose, or whatever it is that you want to do with them. Or just stand there beside them like I did haha! If they say no, respect that and move on. If you ever feel like you’re being harassed, inform one of the employees; they’ll have special arm bands and badges. You can’t miss them.
  9. Don’t buy all your stuff on day one. There’s always a huge sale on Sunday in the dealer’s room. Save some money here! Unless you NEED it, I would wait a little while on the item in question. Also, bring a list of must-have items to the convention to stay on budget.

After the con:

  1. Take time to pack all of your belongings. Make a checklist if you need to! You don’t want to forget anything.
  2. Put all new toys and loot in bags. You don’t want all your new things rolling around in the car so pack them away.
  3. Double check, triple check all of your things before leaving the hotel!
  4. Enjoy your new loot, photos and memories and prepare for next year, now that you are totally hooked on conventions!