Cosplay is a crazy craft; cosplayers all begin somewhere and the question is where? How does someone start cosplaying comfortably? Who can cosplay? What are the etiquettes behind cosplay and what does a cosplayer need to know? Can someone with an unsteady hand become a cosplayer? Can someone who has never sewn-up a hole create stunning works of art? What do you need to get started? In a series of mini-guides, I hope to quell some of these questions and more.
GeekOut Media’s Cosplay Guide #1: Beginner Resources
I’ve been an avid fan of cosplay for ages and, whilst I’ve made some costumes, I’m certainly no expert. But I have been there, I have been at the start of cosplay and thought “Where are all the good books?” What skills was I going to need to know? What tools do I need? How much money am I going to have to spend on a costume? All of these questions came pouring into my head as I made my first costume.
My first costume was, I won’t lie, terrible. I tried to do a Zidane Tribal cosplay, but I had no guides to go by… So, I built something, which fell apart bit-by-bit on the first day of the convention. I didn’t care, I still did it and I had a blast – and it gave me the bug I needed to work on and improve my cosplays. But, my approach to it then was to look around for any resources I could find and try to work off that. Sadly, resources were hard to come by and I didn’t feel confident to jump right into a community group for it. I didn’t even know if I was going to enjoy myself!
Resources are hard to come by, but when you find them, hold onto them and remember them well. There are many websites out there that give individual bits of information which include, but are not limited to:
- How to make a specific prop
- How to make a specific costume piece
- How to sew
- How to use a Dremel
- How to use Worbla (A thermoplastic)
Some of the above examples are incredibly specific; namely the use of a Dremel and Worbla. Then you have specific prop guides, along with specific costume pieces. Whilst it’s great if you want to know just how to make, for example, a Sailor Moon Lunar Scepter – It’s not very good if you want to know how to make a scepter. Ultimately, there are lots of specific guides, but general guides are harder to come by – But they do exist!
There’s very few websites out there that deal specifically with “how to cosplay”, because of the nature of cosplay. Cosplay is comprised of two words: Costume, Play. The Play element comes from the getting into the character; the Costume, naturally, makes up the craft and the presentation of the character. It’s worth remembering that you do not have to role play your characters, so long as you’re having a good time.
With this in mind, it’s good to get grounded by learning some of the skills you’re going to need. Cosplay is something you can’t just get a guide on, as cosplay is different depending on the costume. Some costumes need great sewing skills; other costumes need excellent armour pieces. Whatever it is, it’s worth having a few websites and books that can help you begin your cosplay journey.
I’d recommend visiting the following websites for excellent resources. Please bear in mind that we are a UK based website, so some of our links will be less relevant to a worldwide audience (Although typically they will cater to non-UK audiences if you’re interested):
- Cosplay Tutorial – Cosplay Tutorial acts as an aggregate service, collecting different Cosplay guides and keeping them in one place. They are my go-to when I have a problem and I want to see if anyone else has done it. These guys have even featured articles I’ve done in the past… So it’s nice to know that someone out there finds what we do useful. They feature guides from pros and novices alike, so there’s something for everybodies skill level.
- Coscraft – More of a shop than a resource service, Coscraft do have guides and sell small sample packs for things such as their Cosplay foams. This can be especially useful if you want to try some foam before you commit to using that particular grade of foam. Furthermore, they sell sewing patterns, books, amazing wigs and wefts of hair and much more.
- Punished Props – These guys are incredible. If cosplay props are your thing, these guys will be important to get inspired by. They have free prop blueprints, as well as guides for people new to prop making. Their commitment to prop making has genuinely helped Cosplay in a big, big way. I’d recommend checking out their eBooks, at very least!
- BurdaStyle – This might be an odd one to include within a Cosplay Guide, but trust me here. BurdaStyle is one of the leading brands of sewing patterns, but their website is very much a community effort. There are excellent resources on sewing and you can build up a profile on their site and work on projects. It really doesn’t matter where you are, or what you’re making, if you’re sewing, they’ll help. They’re a great, lovely, open community.
There are also, now, a bunch of Cosplay Books, such as Cosplay Basics – A book that I reviewed some time ago when it was first published in 2015. Furthermore, Cosplay pros such as Svetlana Quindt, known as Kamui Cosplay, also often release eBooks to share their knowledge with the world. Go and check out their works.
That’s all for the very first issue of our Beginner’s Cosplay Guide, so I hope you found the contents useful. Let me know what you think – Did I cover a good base, or do you need to know more? Next week, I will be putting out issue 2, which will cover all of the tools you’re likely going to need, along with a rough estimate on costs. Do you have any resources you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.