Cosplay Dos and Don’ts - How to Make a Great Costume

Cosplay Dos and Don’ts - How to Make a Great Costume

Oct 03

Greetings, blog readers! I recently received a guest post submission from user aappolon04 over at MyBlogGuest. I thought her article was perfect because I’ve been wanting to add more cosplay stuff here on my blog for quite a while now.

Here goes:

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So, you want to do a cosplay, but you don’t want it to look like something your mother threw together the night before your local Con after you showed her a picture of the character and she had to ask you what that was?  Well, there are certain ways to go about cosplays that make them look authentic and believable.  No matter where you go to cosplay, you should keep these ideas in mind whether it’s in an exotic location or your own backyard. (Which, if you are interested in exotic vacations, you can see site for info)

You probably won’t like some of these suggestions because they limit you severely in some cases, but a few of them you probably haven’t thought of yet.  I’m here to cover a few.  The first thing I’m going to talk about is actually the most controversial, and the one I get the most flack from.

I’m a cosplayer myself, and though I don’t have a completely dark, African skin tone, I am not the paper white that most anime girls are portrayed as.  I have a natural, more than healthy tan, and because of that, I limit myself to only using characters that are dark skinned, either because they tan (ex. Gyaru) or because they have that skin color (ex. Urd from Ah! Megami-sama).  You will see what I mean in the picture to the left.  This cosplay costume looks like it is well put together, whether she made it or she bought it, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that it doesn’t look good either way, because she is the wrong color for it.  Take that quality, put it into an Anthy cosplay from Revolutionary Girl Utena, and it would probably be one of the best cosplays you’ve seen.

The other thing that I tend to get a lot of grief for is when I see people with the wrong body types for the cosplay they are trying to pull off. And no, I’m not talking about people who are overweight trying to cosplay anime characters that are not, (though I did see a remarkably ironic overweight cosplay of Ryoma from Prince of Tennis, which is a sports anime), I’m talking about tiny girls with no curves trying to cosplay Lulu from Final Fantasy X, or busty girls with all of the curves you can possibly have trying to cosplay Rei from Evangelion.  That’s not just for girls either – the guys have problems as well, and don’t act like you don’t.  Some skinny prepubescent boy trying to be Gutz from Berserk is not going to cut it the same way that someone who is ripped won’t really be able to pull off a believable Daisuke Niwa from D.N. Angel.  If you want the cosplay to be believable, then try and find someone who has a similar body type to yours, and it will be much better.  In the Sailor Venus cosplay above, she actually has the perfect body shape for her character, so well done for that.  The only reason it’s not believable is because of her dark skin, which isn’t anyone’s fault, but it would look like a top notch cosplay if she was lighter.

But anyway, now that we’ve gotten past those icky topics, which again, people gripe to me about all the time when I voice my opinions, let’s talk about the actual cosplay.  No matter what color or body type you are, you’ve decided you want to dress as Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist, or Eren from Shigeki no Kyojin.  How do you make the outfits look as good as they can?  Well, as you can see, the example above is a really great, spot on cosplay. However, just because you buy it from a store, doesn’t mean it will be accurate or well done – and that really is the biggest secret of all.  The more accurate you can make the small details of the outfit, the better the costume will look.  As you can see, to the right is a pretty poor example of a Wolverine cosplay from X-men – but the question is, why is it bad?  Well, if you compare the pictures, there are a lot of small details that are off.

For example, the boots don’t have flares, the shoulders aren’t blue, the mask doesn’t come to sharp points at the top, it curves, the whites of the eyes are too large, the shape of the shorts is wrong … the colors are right, and the cosplayer has claws, but that is really all it has going for him.  In contrast, something like the picture to the left, who is dressed as Gaara from Naruto.  The reason this cosplay looks good is because of the fine details, right down to the green eyes and the accurate writing of the Kanji tattooed on his forehead.  The only thing it is missing is the gourd he carries sand on his back in, and even without it you know by looking at this person that this is Gaara from Naruto Shippuden (presuming you know the series, of course).

But, even if you don’t know the series, you can see that the costume is well made, and time and effort was taken to get small details right like the sandals and the mesh shirt he wears underneath the over shirt.  Even if you don’t realize you are noticing little things like that, your eye will catch things about a character and will be able to tell a lot of attention was paid to small details.  The best thing to do for a good costume is to scour the internet or art books for pictures of who you want to cosplay in the outfit that you want to use.  The artist is going to draw the character consistently nine times out of ten, because it’s their character – so, if you have several different images that are official art from different angles, then you will be able to find the little details that really make the outfit look real.

The final thing you need to worry about to make a believable cosplay is your attitude.  About 60% of a cosplay is the actual quality of the costume, and 40% is how you act when you are the character.  You should be in character the entire time you cosplay, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing.  If you eat a slice of pizza for lunch, then you had better do it with a happy go lucky smile if you are Gon from HunterxHunter, or a brooding scowl if you are Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho.  It might not be something your cosplay character would do in their world, but if you are doing it, you can make it believable.  Many times I’ve seen people in costume doing things that totally blow my mind, because I never would have thought I’d see L from Death Note perched in a chair in the Artist’s Alley drawing, but there he was, holding the pencil with two fingers and lightly dragging it across the paper.  And if he wasn’t drawing a commission for a Mew Ichigo cosplayer from Tokyo Mew Mew, then let lightning strike me down!  Possibly one of the most meta things I’ve ever seen, but it was so convincing I had to double take.

The point is, if you follow these four simple rules, (resemblance, body type, details, and attitude), then you can’t have a bad cosplay.  Even if people don’t know what you are supposed to be, they can still recognize a good costume when they see it, and they will still mention it to you.  I dressed up as raptor Jesus one year with a latex head that took me days to make, and I have never had so many pictures taken and compliments given, and literally no one could guess what I was!  The moral is, if you want your cosplay to be believable, then make sure you pay attention to all the little things; there is a saying, the devil’s in the details, for a reason, and though it may be difficult, it will definitely pay off!

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