FAQs for Getting Started in Cosplay
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FAQs for Getting Started in Cosplay

June 3, 2020, 1:38 a.m.

how to get started in cosplay

You’re getting ready for your first cosplay…sweet! If you’re like me, you’re probably excited but feeling a bit overwhelmed.

To make your first cosplay creation easier, I’m going to go through some of the FAQs and steps that I went through to prepare for my first cosplay.

How to Get Started in Cosplay

I have good friends that always go to DragonCon, a big cosplay convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

After a few years of listening to them talk about how much fun they had, my wife and I decided to jump in with both feet, which included joining in on their group costume.

My friends were reasonably good cosplayers by this point and so they helped me along in creating my first costumes.

Now I'd like to do the same for you. Here are the questions I asked and the process I walked through in getting started with cosplay for the first time.

FAQ #1 - Where Am I Going?

The first question you will likely ask is: “What am I going to go as!?” Great question! I recommend you save that for question #2.

The first thing you should figure out is WHERE you are going to wear your cosplay. Likely it will be a cosplay event or convention.

If this is the case, then you need to buy a ticket. These events tend to be very popular and many sell out - don’t let this be your fate!

If you’ve decided to go or are strongly considering it and have enough time to get ready for it, then buy a ticket and a hotel room for out of town events.

Rates for hotels during conventions can be very high, so don't be afraid to share a room. My wife and I shared a room with another couple and saved a lot.

My first cosplay
My first cosplay

FAQ #2 - Who am I going to cosplay?

Now on to the best part - choosing the character you want to dress up as for your cosplay!

This is why you said ‘Yes!’ to cosplay in the first place!

Cosplay is so versatile; the options are almost limitless! This multitude of options sometimes makes selecting just one a difficult and daunting task.

Here are some questions to ask if you need help narrowing down your options:

  • Is there an actor that people have always told you that you look like?
  • Is there a character that you’ve always wanted to act like?
  • Do you have a favorite TV show, movie, video game, comic, cartoon, anime, board game, or book?
  • Does your convention have a theme?
  • Are you going with a group of people who also dressing up?

When my wife and I attended DragonCon, we joined our friends' annual group costume, which narrowed down our costume selection.

Our group went as the Ravengers - a mashup between the Marvel Avengers characters and people attending a rave. I went as a raving Thor and my wife went as a raving Scarlet Witch

If you are going with friends, I highly recommend trying a group costume at least once. It's fun to walk around together.

There are a ton of options out there, so enjoy the creative process!

FAQ #3 - Is my cosplay comfortable?

Once you have your cosplay character narrowed down, then you want to think about the practicalities of actually wearing the costume at your event.

There are a lot of costumes that are amazing in theory but less practical for walking around in all day.

If you’re uncomfortable in your cosplay, then you aren’t going to enjoy your convention, no matter how amazing you look.

Ask yourself these questions about your cosplay:

  • How long will you be in your costume?
  • Will you be too hot or cold? Consider the weather and your event venue.
  • Can you sit and walk around?
  • Are you able to eat while wearing your costume?
  • Do you need help getting it on and off?

Thinking through some of these practical points will help guide you in making your costume and preparing for your convention.

Cosplay in progress
Cosplay in progress

FAQ #4 - How am I going to create my cosplay?

Once you’ve chosen the character that you want to cosplay, you need to figure out how you are going to put your cosplay together.

For a beginner especially, this is a critical question. You’ll want to do some research and determine what costume pieces you’ll need.

Questions to ask:

  • What costume pieces do you already have?
  • What pieces would be easy to buy?
  • What pieces do you need to make or build?

A planning and organizing site like My CosBuilder can be very helpful.

Using My CosBuilder you can:

  • List out each cosplay piece you need to buy or make
  • Save all the shopping links for the pieces you need to buy
  • Save reference images
  • Save tutorial links

Some people are really crafty and are ready to dive in to a long-haul project, and then there are other people who would rather just go buy a costume and call it done.

My wife and I were somewhere in the middle. We didn’t want to shell out buckets of money for a costume, and we like to be creative. But our time was limited. We chose to purchase our costume pieces as separates and create something entirely our own.

FAQ #5 - What skills do I have?

After you’ve figured out what items you want to make, you need to honestly assess if you have the necessary skills.

If not, then it’s time to learn!

Don’t be afraid to Google. There are so many tutorials online. Anything from sewing to cutting patterns to painting armor to building foam props.

Learning new skills is part of the fun - if you’ve given yourself enough time!

If your time is running short and your costume needs to be finished, learning a new skill is the last thing you want to worry about, which leads me to the next FAQ.

FAQ #6 - How much time do I have to prepare?

Try to give yourself plenty of time to work on your costume and set small goals along the way to help you get there.

The more elaborate the cosplay, the more time it’s going to take you.

It’s important to be realistic about how much time you have to commit to costume prep. Start with your event date and work backward to see how much time you have.

Trust me - things always take longer than you expect, especially if they involve learning a new skill.

Plan accordingly.

Don’t forget to allow for shipping times. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work on your cosplay only to realize you are missing a crucial component because it is still being shipped.

FAQ #7 - How should I plan for my cosplay convention?

What are you going to do once you actually get to your convention? (Other than show-off your cosplay of course)

You can just show up and figure things out once you get there – that works – but I have found it helpful to look up in advance who is going to be there and when.

Things to think about:

  • What speakers or events do you want to go to?
  • What do you want to see or do while you are there?
  • What are you going to do about meals?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • What vendors do you want to visit?

Developing a plan or a schedule may not seem like a lot of fun, but it could save you quite a bit of time, money, and hassle once you’re actually there and should help you enjoy the convention more.

Cosplay is such a unique and fun experience – I hope you enjoy your first cosplay just as much as we did!

Are you getting ready for your first cosplay convention?

Create your free My CosBuilder account today and get organized!

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