Cosplay For Beginners 11 Tips
Good cosplay tips for beginners are hard to come by these days. So as an experienced cosplay photographer in Portland I'm going to give away my best advice for those of you wanting to dip your toes into the cosplay world. I've been shooting cosplay for years and have been featured in multiple publications, articles, and even on the news.
Every Comic-Con I've been to I always see beginner cosplayers. I can always tell the level of cosplay experience from someone by how worried they are about how they look. Some look great, others look..... awful if we're being honest. Ever wonder why some look amazing, while others look...... less than great?
In this article I break down how you can avoid common cosplay mistakes so you don't come off as a newb, look your best, and actually enjoy con to the max! Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
1. Don't get Intimidated
If you're only getting your inspiration from major cosplay sites or curated Instagram accounts like badasscosplay, it's easy to get intimidated by the amazing "Hollywood Quality" costumes people make especially when prosthetics are involved as shown below.
With many professional cosplayers, costumers end up helping them make those costumes via free collabs. Not everyone has the money, time, or skill to create massive works of art.
Now granted I don't typically photograph people in cheap Halloween costumes they got from Spirit Halloween but if you need a simple low budget costume to wear to Con, Spirit or Amazon works great, you'll still have a blast, and you'll still get compliments and photos taken :) However, if you want to spend a little bit more to get a better quality costume like the one shown below plus many more options I made a list of my top ten websites to get cosplay costumes and props.
2. Ask Questions
Whether you go to con as a participant or just a spectator never be afraid to talk to others at conventions. If you see someone who made an epic costume it's okay to approach them, compliment them, and ask them how they made it. I've been to many cons and never seen anyone that wasn't thrilled to talk about their costume, especially if they made it them selves. Most cosplayers are pumped to share some guidance. Take Downen Creative Studios for example. Beverly is always sharing tips on how she creates her epic costumes (as seen below) on her Instagram. Like I said before, cosplay is without a doubt one of the most welcoming communities you can join.
3. Do it for the right reasons
"Professional" Cosplayers are few and far between. Meaning, those who make a living from their cosplay. But they're out there. It's absolutely possible. Just look at cosplayers like, Myrtle Sarrosa, Marie-Claude Bourbonnais, Meagan Marie, Alodia Gosiengfiao, Linda Le, D-Piddy, Lisa Lou Who, Spiral Cats, or Yaya Han. Just keep in mind Professional cosplay is very competitive, and it's a community that takes its craft very seriously.
There's a lot of drama involving cosplayers these days, primarily because there are a lot of people who get into cosplay because they want to get rich, have millions of fans, and get endless attention. Like Jessica Nigri for example who has over 4 million followers on Instagram alone. The "business" of cosplay can get dirty. So never start cosplay with any goal other than having fun and expressing yourself. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for failure. People can always tell if you're not dressing as characters you actually like and only doing it for the money.
4. Choose the right character for your build
One of the most common questions from beginners is "who should I be?" I always tell them to choose a character/costume that would naturally complement their looks and build and obviously a character they connect with and like. Luckily, the nerd universe is filled with characters of every shape and size.
For example, someone who has a thin build would make a great spider man or black panther. As shown below.
Where as someone with a bulkier more muscular build would be better off as Batman, Thor, a Spartan, or Adam Hunter as shown below.
5. Know your skill level
When it comes to a custom costume, know your skill level. If you don't have the time or money to make props and accessories I suggest a full body suit like spider man. That's as easy as it gets. On the other hand, bigger, bulkier cosplay costumes can easily get torn, crushed, or dirty in transit. So, if you have a lot of gear, make sure that it can be packed easily.. Once again, this is why fully body spandex and cat suites are so popular among beginners as seen below.
6. Keep transit in mind
When making a custom costume keep transit to con in mind. How do you plan on getting to con? Uber, bus, walk, plane, or driving yourself? Larger or bulky pieces might need to be foldable or reduced in size in order to make it work. Armor, for example, should be able to be pulled apart into pieces so that it doesn't end up getting broken while in transit to your next con. Example below. Many newbies have learned this the hard way so please heed my warning.
7. Keep the season in mind
Some of my favorite cosplay costumes I've ever seen were massive creations involving bulky materials or thick costume material. At first I was envious until I learned they wanted to pass out from heat stroke after a few hours at con. Conventions tend to be very warm, you don't want to be the person who makes the mistake of wearing a thick heavy non breathable cosplay costume in the middle of summer. I don't care how epic it is, you'll hate wearing it.
8. Use the right face and body paint
Alot of cosplayers use face and body paint to complete their look and although it can look really good when they show up, I've seen far too many look like crap after a few hours in a warm convention center. When buying makeup for your face and body make sure it wont run or get streaky when you sweat. A great hack you can use to get out of full body paint is by using painted nylon stockings or a full body spandex suit as a base for your body, then all you have to do is paint your hands and face to match as seen below.
9. Don't be a creep
Obviously every con is full of beautiful people, some in more reveling costumes than others. But just because someone is showing more skin that doesn't give you or anyone the right to be inappropriate. Show everyone at con the same level of respect you'd show your family. You can admire and compliment but never touch a cosplayer unless requested to. Never cat call and if you have a photo taken with a cosplayer you should still avoid touching them.
10. Ask before taking photos
look, there are countless opportunities to take photos at con but it's always best practice to ask before taking a photo that way the cosplayer can strike a pose before you take the photo. There's nothing cosplayers hate more than random shitty photos online of themselves half dressed in costume on a break shoveling food in their face. As long as you ask they will always be happy and willing to strike a pose or take a photo with you.
11. Know your limits
If you are at a con in costume and someone snaps a photo of you half dressed on a break or you simply weren't ready for a photo don't hesitate to say "hey man, I'm glad you like the costume but I wasn't ready, can we retake it and I'll put the rest of my costume on and pose for you?"
And if someone is being inappropriate don't hesitate to say something to them and or security.
The best advice I can give you is stop worrying about what others think, Cons are extremely welcoming to all nerds at every level, just show your true self and have fun with it. :)
Author Lance Reis
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