Cosplay 101 : First Steps

The first step after deciding why you want to cosplay, and what character you want to cosplay, is deciding how to accomplish the look you’re trying for. 

First is research! I LOVE this phase of cosplay. It might even be my favorite. Once you’ve decided to dive into a character, and you’ve decided which version of a character you’re doing, really research that version.  

Let’s look at Captain America – the First Avenger costume he wears at the end of the film. What makes that version of Captain America work for you? How accurate do you want to be? The version that I wear is about 80% film accurate. It doesn’t use the fabric they used in the movie since the herringbone pattern fabric they used in the movie was made specifically for them. Instead I decided to use duck cloth/canvas for mine since that is more accurate to World War II uniforms made at that time. I modified a pair of World War II combat boots to be movie accurate. I also did leatherwork to make accurate pouches and pistol holster. I got the right type of compass he used in the film, and printed out the Newspaper clipping/picture he had of Peggy Carter to put into the compass just like they did in the movie! This is still a costume I am slowly improving over time, so don’t hesitate to make something that works at the time, then improve it continually. To make my Captain America, I had the help of several friends. So don’t hesitate to get help when you need it! Not every bit has to be created from scratch by you alone. Sometimes it is so much more fun to work on costumes with your friends, or people who are interested in making costumes too. I suggest Cosplay nights where you get together with other cosplayers  and work on your individual projects together and separately. That way if you hit a snag, you can get help, or they can get help from you.

Ok, now you have your costume finished! You’ve tried it on, and look at yourself in the mirror. You’re happy with how you look. That’s great! Walk around in it. Sit down in it.  Crawl on the floor. Tie your shoes. Run around in it. Jump in it. Really test it out! Most  times there needs to be some adjustments, and you would much rather have a malfunction in the privacy of your home! I’ve had pants rip in the crotch in public – not fun! Once you’re sure your costume is going to hold up and not fall apart, or split somewhere, take pictures.

Take pictures of your front, back, both sides, and in an action pose. Really look at the photos. Sometimes you can see just from doing that where you might need to improve the costume. There are tricks to keeping shirts tucked in, keeping belts in certain places without  rotating around, etc. For some of these tricks, you can look up YouTube tutorials, or go to https://www.therpf.com/ which is a replica prop forum. This is a wonderful place full of people looking for answers, giving answers, and showing off their work. If you’re trying to  figure something out, it’s probably already been figured out and shared here first. Whether it’s costume research, or how to pull off a costume effect. 

Keep an eye out for our next article in this series, Cosplay 101 : Where do I Cosplay? And always remember, Cosplay stands for Costume Play, and play should be fun!

This article is part of a continuing series by Austin cosplayer and Dlair employee Greg Burrow.