How do I start cosplaying?

How do I start

Over the years of cosplaying, I’ve had many of my local friends or co-workers ask me: “How do I get started cosplaying?”All good things must have a start, and I feel like this definition of cosplay is a good one to define what it really is:

Cos·play

the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime.

Here’s a basic outline of what we will be going through step-by-step.

  • Choosing your character
  • Reference Images
  • Budget
  • Buying vs. Altering/Making
  • Enjoying & Tips

The first step seems simple, but it takes some time to figure out:

1. Choose your Character.

The first step can sometimes be the hardest. Choosing a character! If you’ve already done this step, then good for you. If not, then a good way to choose your character can be seen in “The Best Way to Choose a Cosplay” post. 

For this blog post, I chose the iconic Nintendo princess, Princess Peach.

princess_peach_month_nintendo_america
The Iconic Nintendo Goddess

2. Reference Images

For the second step, you’ll want to gather a plethora of reference images.

Reference images must-haves:

  • Full body
  • Side view
  • Back view
  • Details! Details! Details!
  • ….possible other outfits for simplicity sake.

I’ve gathered a lot of starting images, and sometimes you’re unable to find certain angles or details!

3. Budget

So you’ve chosen your character and gathered images. What’s next? Well, let’s decide exactly how much you can spend for this cosplay. You can decide what you want to invest a lot of money in something like a cat-suit for peach, or doing a mermaid cosplay for her? Maybe the most economical route would be to do her basketball uniform or golfing outfit? It’s fully up to you how you proceed!

Let’s add up some items you might want to look into for cosplaying canon Princess Peach:

Princess Peach Breakdown
Head & Body Breakdown of Items

I’ve broken down cosplaying Princess Peach into two sections: Head & Body. You can see the items you need (dress and wig) vs. the items you may not need (contacts and petticoat). This makes it simple, you can budget and see much you want to spend on each item whether you’re making or buying them.

In addition, it’s not like this budget is going to define your every move when making your cosplay; however, it’s certainly good to consider how much money you’re willing to put into it.

4. Buy or make?

If this is your first cosplay rodeo, you might want to consider buying unless you have sewing or styling skills. Don’t worry, in due time you will gain skills that help you improve your cosplaying experience (also YouTube tutorial are extremely helpful.)

Now, when choosing to buy or make a cosplay… you do not have to fully dedicate buying the entire costume or making the entire costume. Many cosplayers might buy certain parts but make the others.

Let’s start off with some items if you might buy your cosplay:

Head

Your first time buying wigs might be difficult, but there are some sites I recommend. If anything, attempt to buy your cosplay wigs or outfits within the same country because of shipping times!

Wigs: Epic Cosplay (general) or Arda Wigs (specialty). Both websites are USA based and high quality with short shipping times!

These are the two wig options I would choose between if I was going to cosplay Peach. Granted, with her wig having so much floof, I would put weft extensions into her wig and use a cutting method to make it curl properly or a flat iron on a low heat setting.

 

wig2
Arda Wigs Wig
Wig1
Epic Cosplay Wig

One of the struggles of cosplay is wig styling, as not all wigs come pre-styled to a specific character. Watching numerous tutorials online for your specific look or type of style is a good place to start! Also, a good hair cutting kit you can buy at Walmart with basic scissors.

It’s good to note here that those wigs are two entirely different colors. The Epic Cosplay one I picked out caters to more of a cartoon-ish Peach while the Arda Wigs one I picked out caters to more a realist look for Peach. Neither wig is wrong, but it’s all about how you want to express yourself.

Crown

Make: http://www.instructables.com/id/Fantasy-Crown/ I searched on google, “How to Make a Crown Prop” and you can view various techniques and items there.

Buy: http://www.bzanyparty.com/Catalog/ProductDetails.aspx?id=32801&category=0  I searched in Google Shopping “Princess Peach Crown” and came up with several results. The less popular your character, the less “buyable” items you’ll be able to purchase without making yourself.

Contacts

Not everyone is comfortable wearing contacts, but they are a growing trend in the cosplay community. Whatever is comfortable for you! If you’re interested, these are some good websites: HoneyColor, Pinky Paradise, YouKnowIt (UK based with worldwide shipping) and XtremeFX ($$$) are good places to start! All have different styles and prices.

Makeup and Jewelry

These can be found on tutorials online or be bought or made as well! Below is a make-up tutorial that is one of many for this character.

 

Body

Make or Buy? This is a harder question for the clothing. Sure, wigs can be bought and styled; however, the question of buying your cosplay vs. making it will be reliant on if you have access to a sewing machine or materials you need for armor.

You can always buy pieces of cosplay instead of the whole deal at once, making it unique.

My suggestion is to use both! Buying and aleration. Buying some pieces and making a few minor alterations, is the best plan to achieve a desired look if you’re a beginner.

Buying

Buying a cosplay can be time saving, but depending on your budget this may or may not be an option. Below is a picture link of Milanoo.com, a popular website for goods.

Tip: Be sure you’re looking at your size chart! A simple measure can save a custom fit or pre-made size order.

*Also, not many websites will include minor things like crowns, shoes, tights, or any jewelry. Keep this in mind while budgeting!

Princess Peach.png

Sewing or Alteration

You can either sew certain parts, sew from scratch, or buy one at a thrift shop or online and make your own edits.

If sewing from scratch, some editing to this pattern would be a good fit for princess peach:

Butterick.jpg

Shoes

There are some crazy shoes out there for cosplay! Depending on the cosplay you’ve chosen, sometimes sellers have the shoes you can purchase; however, this is not always the case (especially with series that are not popular or are older).

If you’re unable to buy your shoes, there are good items like boot covers that you can purchase or make! Also, buying shoes that are similar and editing them it ideal.

Ooh look, a handy tutorial for a popular character! Tutorials, tutorials, tutorials!

5. Enjoy

One of the best things after finishing a cosplay is to show it off. Go to a comic book, anime, or videogame convention and have fun! You can book photoshoots on local facebook forums and pay a little bit of money for some stunning photos of your hard work.

Photography Tip: Look at your previous reference images and study some of the poses that character is in. You will have an easier time if you get asked for a photo while walking around in your beautiful cosplay!

Here is an example of a Princess Peach cosplay that I love! It is a picture-link photo that will lead you the photographer, Golden-Rey Photography.

ax_2_by_golden_rey-d3ng6wz.jpg

However, I know many cosplayers that have not even stepped foot inside a convention. Some people decide to start ask blogs, YouTube channels, or take photos with their friends and participate and share their love for the characters and series that way. Be creative, but most of all… have fun!

Author Notes

Editor's note.png

It seems here that even though this tutorial is broadly detailed over a variety of different topics and subjects, it all comes down to tutorials. Whether they be picture tutorials or YouTube video ones, any tutorials or advice you can get helps with creation. Furthermore, it helps you with any first time projects you’re taking on. I cannot tell you how many times in my cosplay hobby that tutorials have saved my cosplay, everything from wig styling to boot covers.

Just remember that no matter what cosplay you decide on, that you can do it! I’m currently going to be attempting to do Cassandra from Dragon Age: Inquisition as my next summer project. I’m having to research heavily into advanced armor making and what materials I should use. It’s okay to start small… everyone starts somewhere!

We are all in this together. Feel free to contact me with any guidance or questions you may have!

 


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