Monday, August 15, 2016

How to "How to" cosplay

Let me begin by saying I am not a professional cosplayer.  That's not what this blog is about.  I will not show you tutorials on intricate and skillful works of art that you wear.  I have an "every man's" perspective on cosplay.  So, for the regular Joe, this is for you.

I have been asked many times over the years to help people get started with costumes.  Most people don't wear them on a regular basis. (I know, weird right?)  That overwhelming sense of not knowing where to start is intimidating.  So I have been thinking of how to condense the getting started of cosplay to take the fear out and start on the path.  That means its LIST TIME!!!!!

  • Figure out what you want to be
    • For some people this step is easy.  For others, the plethora of choices can be paralyzing.  So here's me sub-list (arrrgh):
      • How comfortable are you with your body?  (I'm a conservative, large, Christian woman so I will never dress in skin tight spandex but I've seen large, bearded men wear that look so...whatever works for you)
      • How close of a copy do you want to make?  Choosing a character that has some similarities to you gives you a natural base to build on but it isn't necessary. Don't forget to consider that the more intricate the costume, the more time and money it will probably take.
      • Do you love a specific character?  Some people dress as something because it's popular, some people dress as something because they grew up reading the comic/watching the cartoon and some people think long and hard about what is both obscure and recognizable so that they will be one of a few in 100's of thousands just so they get their picture taken a lot.  (If this is your thing then don't dress as the newest release movie, avoid joker and harley quinn and DO NOT dress as Deadpool....never dress as deadpool.)  You might even consider mashups.  This might be a stretch your first time out but look up taco belle cosplay or cookie monster storm trooper.  Gender bending a character or mashing it up with something clever or unusual can be awesome.  
      • Do you have the skills or the finances to accomplish the look to your satisfaction?  
        • You can use cardboard boxes if you want to, if you have the skills you can even make that look good, but it's one of many options.  Think about your expectations.  You will probably not be able to accomplish the look a professional has managed after a year or mores work, but you can produce something you're happy with.
      • Don't forget to think about comfort and access
        • Sure your character may wear 1.5" high stilettos but you will not last a con day in those.  Either prepare to have slippers to take a break in or face the consequences.  I once walked barefoot on a con floor most of the day because I didn't prepare.
        • Think about the comfort of your costume.  Corsets and bulky armor may look cool but practical they are not.  It takes a great deal of negotiation to sit in a panel in some costumes.  Don't forget that, at some point, you may need to use the are you going to get the necessaries free to use said receptacle?
        • Hard to see through visors, small breathing holes, bulky layers that add to heat and "wide load" costumes need to be viewed in light of the fact that you will be in a fairly restricted space with 150,000 of your closest friends.  You can still attempt those costumes but don't expect those to be the "see the con" days.  Plan plenty of water breaks, ventilation and rest.  Professional cosplayers do not spend the entire day of a con in their costume.  
  • How much do you want to spend?
    • Some costumes have very intricate pieces.  The easiest course is to buy what you need.  The funnest, and most frustrating, in my opinion is to make it.  That means anything from altering found objects from the thrift store to buying expensive professional materials to make it.  In the beginning it will also take practice which will inevitably cost precious time and materials.  Set a budget and give yourself plenty of time to troll multiple thrift stores and online prices.  
  • How much time do you have?
    • If you have given yourself a month or less...Don't set your expectations too high.  Remember this is just for fun.
    • If you have 6 months or more, don't waste it. Crafting a costume takes time.
  • Make a list of what you need
    • I always do a break down of the costume.  This helps me figure out what needs to be done so I don't get lost or overwhelmed.  List everything.  Socks, shoes/footwear, special undergarments, morph suits, capes, jewelry, wigs, crown/hat, sashes.  This forces you to focus on the tiny details and makes sure you aren't missing something vital at the last minute.
      • Figure out what the iconic things are about that character,  What do you have to have.  
      • Figure out which version you like the best (if it's a comic book character it's been through multiple costume changes in all likelihood) and then look at all the pieces you will need to construct, purchase or find.   
      • Look up photo references from as many angles as you can.  If you can find a tutorial then awesome but most people don't like giving away their secrets for free.
  • Choose a specific piece to start on
    • I always prioritize by what I need the most time to accomplish.  This usually means I'm learning a new skill or have to figure out how to accomplish a specific look.  Pinterest is where I start but YouTube also has a great collection of tutorials.  From them I figure out what that awesome cosplayer used and then look at the cost of the materials.  We don't spend a lot on our costumes but even we are getting more interest by the year in worbla and EVA foam.  (Don't freak out if you don't know what those are)
    • If you are starting off with special skills like 3D modeling or sewing, Great!  If you aren't, No Problem!  People who have a certain skill are likely to keep visiting that wheelhouse to work the problem whether it's the best solution or not.  Whether you have special skills or not, imagination and grace will be your biggest assets.
  • Be patient and work the problem
    • If you don't know what the word/material/skill is that someone has used...ask.  
      • Ask the internet, ask the speaker, ask a friend.  No one knows in the beginning.  Don't feel dumb or ignorant especially if it keeps you silent when the knowledge is there for the taking.  Every job/skill has a specific set of lingo and insider terms associated with it from janitor to president.  Don't let the lingo intimidate you.
    • Don't drown in the knowledge
      • There is no one way to make something. There is a lot of information out there.  Don't get discouraged.  Find the way that works for you and then give it a try.  I have learned more at the convention after my costume is built than I did making it.  Sometimes you won't know what to look for before you see it in person or sit in a costume/cosplay panel or stand next to someone in line.
    • Here is a short list of what I have found are the most common tools
      • Pepakura (This is a tool that lets you take a 3D file, flatten it on a piece of paper to print and then cut out and glue back together into a 3D shape.  This is my hubby's go to.  There are also free online resources for the 3D files. It's not a guarantee but it can still be useful even if you can't make your own 3D file.  This does have a learning curve)  
      • 3D Printing (Many libraries have 3D printers now.  As long as you have a 3D model, you can get 3D shapes printed for fairly cheep)
      • Worbla (these are plastic sheets that can be heated and molded into shape.  It is used a lot in armor)
      • EVA Foam (people mold, carve, shave and glue this high density foam into the coolest shapes.)
      • Found object (Not everyone has the ability to turn a toaster into a pulse rifle but people make some amazing stuff out of the weirdest things.  Just sayin'.)
      • Sewing (If you're making your own costume it is likely you will have to use a sewing machine.  If you can't, find a friend or hire a seamstress.  From body suits to intricate ball gowns, it is a skill that can not be overlooked)
 I hope that get's you started!  Ask away!  I can't wait to see what you make! 

No comments:

Post a Comment