Cosplay Frequently Asked QuesionsThis section is to answer some of the more commonly asked questions in the world of cosplay, if you have a question you think should be here, or that you would like answered, feel free to send it to me using the contact page!
Bleaching and Dyeing
For dyeing synthetic fabrics I suggest reading through this page on disperse dye.
If you are unsure what the make-up of your fabric is you can find out with the burn test
Please note that many stores carry plano (0 power) lenses that are readily available, prescription lenses need to be made to match your eyesight and may take some time to be made or ordered. For example, a box of prescription blue lenses my boyfriend ordered from a glasses store took about half a week.
Another method that is commonly sugguested, though i don't reccomend it, is tape. Wrapping tape over your breasts, with or without a bra, acting like ace bandages to hold them down. The upside is that tape does not start to slip during the day. The downsides are that the tape can rip off skin, it is a one time use, and that there is no quick way out if you experience chest pains. If you do decide to do it this way, make sure to tape over ace bandages or a old shirt. Bring scissors to easily cut yourself out if needed, and practice before hand so you can learn your comfort zone.
And if you plan to crossplay often you might want to invest in a compression shirt.I have not used this method myself but I have read good things about them. A compression shirt is a tight spandex shirt that will push down on the breasts and hold them flat.
You might be thinking cosplay is something that happens during Halloween, and it does happen then, on a very large scale. However, people typically wear cosplay costumes outside of Halloween at events such as conventions (trade shows), photo shoots, group meet ups and events.
Another difference from Halloween is that cosplayers like to make all or part of their costumes themselves. Most cosplayers are amateur costumers, they don't have formal training, but they still can produce works that appear professional. A cosplayer who makes their costume can be skilled at wig styling, makeup, sewing and prop construction!
A con usually involves a dealers room, which is a giant marketplace with a variety of vendors and exhibitors that allow you to buy merchandise for a lowered price, pick up freebies, or try out their products. Beyond that, there are usually a collection of fan-run events such as costume photoshoots or get togethers. At the larger conventions there might be media showings, informative panels, dances, costume competitions, concerts, gaming competitions and a variety of other events.
Conventions can last one to four days and may require the purchase of a convention badge for entry.
Average cosplay, by my definition, is the kind that are generally found at cons, online or at costume stores. They range from $60-100+ (USD) and they are usually just part of the costume - the shoes, wig or accessories are not included.
Costumes you make yourself can be any range, depending on what you are making. My costumes were about $100-200 for the more simple ones and are about $300-500 for more complex ones.
Costumes from a commissioner will usually cost about $100 and up, since you are paying for the materials and the cost of them making the costume for you.
There is such thing as cosplay-lolita (and I am sure there are cosplay versions of the other styles), which is basically a lolita outfit that is worn while cosplaying a character from a series, or it can refer to a lolita that is wearing it like a costume (usally this means they are not following "proper" rules of lolita, or are wearing costume-ish accessories like cat ears)
It is always a good idea to research a style before you wear it.
First, plan ahead. Before wearing the costume make sure to have a shower, use deoderant with an anti-persparent (to help prevent sweating). Wear a thin shirt underneath the costume if possible, to keep the costume off your body.. however if the costume has many layers or is very warm then you may want to go without. Carry a stain remover pen to get rid of stains that may appear throughout the day and avoid activities that may make it dirty (like walking through mud).
You will want to take the costume off at night, so if you are staying at the con then you will probably want to bring an extra pair of clothes or PJs. This allows you to let the costume air out at night. If the costume isn't too bad then you can use a stain remover pen to remove any small stains, give the outfit a light cover of febreeze and then let it air out in front of a window. For more extensive problems, such as a very smelly or dirty costume, you can ask if the hotel has a washer and dryer available - some do. If not, you can spot wash a costume in the sink, or hand wash a costume in the tub. You can use the hairdryer provided to help speed up drying. If your costume is an absorbant material, it may take a long time to dry and would be better to spot wash.
For the next day, you will want to change anything you can, such as socks and underwear. Make sure to have another shower before wearing the costume and once again put on deoderant.
My answer is that you can never get too old for cosplay, just as you can't get too old for dressing up at halloween. As you age you may change your costume choices to fit your age, your skill level and your wallet but there is never an age where you just shouldn't do it anymore.
First, plan ahead. Before wearing the costume make sure to have a shower, use deodorant with an antiperspirant (to help prevent sweating). Wear a thin shirt underneath the costume if possible, to keep the costume off your body.. however if the costume has many layers or is very warm then you may want to go without. Carry a stain remover pen to get rid of stains that may appear throughout the day and avoid activities that may make it dirty (like walking through mud).
You will want to take the costume off at night, so if you are staying at the con then you will probably want to bring an extra pair of clothes or PJs. This allows you to let the costume air out at night. If the costume isn't too bad then you can use a stain remover pen to remove any small stains, give the outfit a light cover of Febreeze and then let it air out in front of a window. For more extensive problems, such as a very smelly or dirty costume, you can ask if the hotel has a washer and dryer available - some do. If not, you can spot wash a costume in the sink, or hand wash a costume in the tub. You can use the hairdryer provided to help speed up drying. If your costume is an absorbent material, it may take a long time to dry and would be better to spot wash.
For the next day, you will want to change anything you can, such as socks and underwear. Make sure to have another shower before wearing the costume and once again put on deodorant.
For example Medusa (left) is standing very stiff, so it's not very interesting. Sakura (right) is in an active pose so it is more interesting to look at.
Once you decide on several poses, practice them in front of a mirror. Some poses are unflattering, they can make you or the costume look weird. So look for ones that make you look good! Another way to test poses is to get a friend to photograph you in them. Try to avoid poses that majorly block the costume, for example being all scrunched up, since the costume is usually what you want to show off. If you are doing a photo shoot with many photos being taken, then it is okay to have shots that block the costume since there will be others that don't.
You can also decide poses on the spot by interacting with the environment. Is there a tree? You could climb it, lean against it, sit under it, hang off it, or hide behind it ... this goes especially well if you think about the character's personality.
This Posing Template is a fun way to learn and practice poses before a convention.
The easiest place to buy a costume is online, ebay offers a lot of cosplay shops with pre-made costumes, you can also find a lot of results on google for cosplay shops. Also check out our Where to Buy list for a variety of sellers!
If you are planning to buy online make sure to check out: Commissioners NOT to go to, The Commissioner Review Thread and Merchant Reviews.
You can also buy cosplays from some comic/anime stores or at conventions, and used costumes can be bought from cosplayers who are selling them.
- Start by collecting reference pictures of the character you want to cosplay
- Break down the costume to its' most basic parts (vest, shirt, pants, top hat)
- Decide if it would be within your skill to make the costume, alter existing pieces to make the costume, or buy the costume premade.
- If you decide to make it then choose a pattern, buy the materials and look for tutorials to help.
While some sites and ebay stores offer commissions, you can also ask for commissions in cosplay.com's marketplace
To get screenshots of the media you can:
- Take your own pictures if you own a copy of the media
- Search google image search
- If it is a show you can find clips of it on youtube and screenshot it.
- Search photobucket.com
From Disney World's FAQ
"Ensuring that the parks are family friendly is an important part of the Disney experience. In that spirit, we ask you to use your discretion and common sense. Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to:
- Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character
- Masks (unless you are dressing up for a particular event)
- Clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics
- Excessively torn clothing
- Clothing which, by nature, exposes excessive portions of the skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment Objectionable tattoos"
Please note that dressing up as a non-Disney character (ex. Sora from Kingdom Hearts, or even a random anime character) could possibly count as an adult costume that can be viewed as a representative of an actual Disney character. It would be up to Disney's staff to determine if your costume is acceptable or not.
And this exerpt is from Disneyland's FAQ:
"Only Guests ages 9 and under may wear costumes into the theme parks. Costumes should be child friendly, meaning they must be non-obstructive, non-offensive and nonviolent. The following are not permitted:"
But Disneyland's site mentions that there are exceptions where adults are allowed to wear costumes to certain costume events such as Mickey's Halloween Party.
If you would like to double check, particularly if you are attending a different version of Disney park, you can always call the park ahead of time to ask if wearing a costume would be okay.
Some general tips for improving photos of you:
- Wear makeup. Even if you are cosplaying a male you should have at least the minimum of makeup on. Foundation helps smooth the tone of your skin and cover pimples or scars. Mineral powder prevents shine in photos.
- Practice posing. Interesting poses help make you look good! If you stand stiff with the peace sign you aren't going to look as nice as if you get in character. If you practice in front of a mirror you can see what looks good and what looks bad so you can remember the good poses for the day of the con.
- Take better photos. Most "in-the-hallway" convention photos suck. Bright flash, red eye, poor quality image, weird angles, not a nice background (garbage can eww), people walking by, blurry, there is so much that you can't really control. Even if you don't have a professional photographer at your disposal you can get a good picture. Find a nice area and have a friend take some photos of you, check them out, adjust yourself or costume as needed, and then take some more. Choose the best ones to represent your costume.
- Use sand paper to wear down areas that would have a lot of wear, such as on the knees or elbows.
- Washing the piece several times to fade the color and soften the fabric.
- Fray edges where wear would occur (such as bottom of a long pantleg).
- Create stains with watered down paint, coffee or tea.
- Green acrylic paint that has been watered down and applied with a thin brush can mimic grass stain.
- A dark powder paint with a little water can be used to create dirt stains without using real dirt.
- Bleach can be used to remove colour and stains.
- Eyelash glue is used for attaching false eyelashes to the eyelid and can be used to attach lightweight pieces to the face.
- Spirit gum is a common skin glue which is commonly used to attach ears and other prosthetics. It works best in small amounts and suggests a remover to take it off.
- Pros-Aide / Pros-Aide II is used for putting appliances or other makeup components on the skin. Will work for latex, foam latex and gelatin prosthetics. Pros-Aide's suggested remover is Isopropyl Myristate. Pros-Aide II is more easily removed, All Pur is the suggested remover.
- Ben Nye Prosthetic Adhesive is good for latex appliances and clown noses. I requires Bond Off! Or a similar remover.
- Kryolan Medical Adhesive is a silicone-based adhesive for extremely sensitive skin. It requires Medical Adhesive remover to be taken off.
- Ben Nye Glitter Glue is a glue for rhinestones and sequins to be held firmly in place. It is washable with water.
- Stoppelpaste or Stipple wax is used to apply crepe hair to skin for a un-shaven,five o'clock shadow look or to stick on glitters. It is removable with soap and water.
You can buy these suits online to fit your measurements. They come in most colors and you can get them in vinyl or spandex. You can airbrush or paint over them to create a more realistic look with shading and highlights, or create designs such as tattoos. The biggest benefit is that they cover you evenly and you can wear the outfit multiple times without having to re-do makeup on the body.
Because they are hoodless you may have a visible neckline on the suit, and you will still have to color the face with paint.
It is also good to use a makeup sealer overtop of the makeup to give a protective layer over the makeup preventing it from rubbing off easily. Makeup sealer can be bought over the counter in most beauty stores. The one I have is a spray that dries quickly. If you need a quick fix I have heard that hairspray works as a substitute.
For better protection, particularly for full body makeup, I suggest using Liquid Latex Body Paint since it dries at room temperature and stays on for a long time but can be removed with soap and water. Though there are allergies to latex and you should always do a test patch if using the product for the first time. If it is still tacky after application baby powder can help prevent it from being sticky.
- People to cosplay with at a convention and hang out with
- Groups are more impressive , and more recognizable than individual costumes. This leads to more photos and more people recognizing who you are.
- Everyone in the group can help each other with the costumes, making for a better costume for everyone involved. For example: Those good with props can handle props, and someone who does great things with wigs can handle the wigs.
- Masquerade skits can be coordinated and practiced long before a convention, making for an interesting and well done performance
- Being in a group can give you more motivation to get your costumes done on time
If you are looking to join an existing group it is best to ask about it. Don't be sad if they aren't accepting new members, many cosplay groups are just a group of friends and they might not be looking to expand to include others.
If you don't have a group of friends who cosplay but are interested in being part of a cosplay group you can either join an existing one or make your own. My suggestion is to check out boards for conventions in your area and get to know people. (cosplay.com has country specific boards, and facebook usually has groups or event pages for conventions). There are usually people looking for other cosplayers to hang out with from the same series, or to participate in group photo shoots, or even participate in masquerade skits.
A cosplay group can be for just one con, or ongoing!
- Wood / wooden dowels
- Wonderflex/Plastic/ PVC pipe
- Foam -> craft, insulation, green or styrofoam
- Model Magic
To find out what your convention's guidelines are, check the convention's website for a weapon's policy. If a convention has a weapons check (a booth that makes sure props are con-acceptable, usually offering a prop tag or badge stamp or similar marking for an approved prop) then they will most likely have a list of what they will and will not allow.
If your con doesn't have a weapons policy on the website, or you are unsure if something will be allowed there should be contact information on the convention's website. If possible, contact someone who is in charge of the weapons check since they will be the most likely person to be able to answer your question! If your prop is particularly borderline (ex. very realistic looking gun) you may want to bring a printed copy of the approval with you to avoid any issues at the convention.
If your con doesn't have a weapons policy, contact information, or just doesn't have a website and you would like an idea if your prop is okay then you can try asking on a convention's forums (if they have a forum) or on a local cosplay board (Ex. cosplay.com's country specific forums). Previous attendees can offer their opinion based on past experiences with the weapons check and policies! Please note that while you can get some decent feedback, opinions from other con goers aren't necessarily what the policies actually are.
When in Doubt!
Avoid functional firearms, sharpened metal blade weapons, real explosives and anything that is illegal in your country.
In Public (Outside the con area)
Use discretion when in a public area. Realistic looking weapons (knives, guns) should be hidden if possible or sheathed. Also avoid swinging around your prop or playing with a medium/large prop in a crowded area. You don't want to scare someone who does not know that a convention is going on! This will also help prevent issues with security/police, and keep your prop from getting broken.
If you cannot find a sewing class, then ask around your family if anyone can help you sew or learn the basics. You could also look into getting a sewing book. I have heard sewing for dummies is a good book for learning, but you should look around and find one that suits your needs - you might want a book with more pictures and diagrams, or you might want something that is very descriptive.
To actueally start a project, you will probably want a Sewing Pattern which gives you instructions on how to sew what the pattern is for. When learning to sew it is good to start simple, start with things you can exactly find patterns for rather than needing to alter them. Avoid anything too big! Stuff like t-shirts for example are pretty easy, something like a vinyl bodysuit is much more challenging.
As for learning to sew in general, and learning to sew specific things, I sugguest looking for tutorials.Youtube and deviantart are great places for tutorials, but you can find a lot on google. I run a tutorial list here, under "tutorials", that is a giant list of hundereds of sewing and cosplay tutorials. I also have a twitter account Cosplay Tutorial that updates daily with new sewing and cosplay tutorials.
If you are not sure what the "real life" version of your costume might be made of you can look at sewing patterns. On the back there are fabric suggestions that can help you make your piece.
It also helps to have a general knowledge of fabrics . This is a list of fabrics that explains some of the fabric's characteristics which can be helpful for your search. This is a guide to fabric basics which can help you learn the differences between fabrics and make an educated choice.
How to Put on a Wigcap
Other products you can use on a wig are white school glue and tacky glue, they are good for antigravity spikes and usually cost less than hair glue. Both will wash out of wigs with warm water. Avoid super glue and epoxy glues since they generate heat and can hurt the wig, they also do not wash out. Additionally, you should avoid hot glue because it can melt fibers, it also will not come off the wig.
Though I am a wig shipper myself, I find that my costumes improved greatly after I started using wigs even if my hair was close before. There are many benefits to using a wig over your real hair! Here are some of the pros of using a wig:
- A wig can be styled weeks before a con allowing you to get it looking perfect with time to spare. Real hair usually has to be styled day of the convention. Any cutting and dyeing of real hair should be done week of the convention so it looks best, though dyeing should be done as close to the convention as possible to avoid fading.
- Real hair can look greasy very easily because of the oils from your scalp which is why it should be washed the day of the convention or the night before the convention. On the flip side it can also get really dry and frizzy which can make it hard to style properly. Wigs tend not to get greasy because a wig cap generally separates the wig from your actual head and hair.
- Wigs can be re-worn multiple times very easily. Once you are done with it you can sit it on a wig head and leave it be until you need it again. With regular hair you'll need to cut or dye your hair every time you want to wear the costume, assuming you don't regularly keep the character's hairstyle!
- Wigs allow you to have many different hairstyles in one weekend. Some cosplayers like to wear two, three or even more costumes at a convention. A wig allows them to jump between styles, lengths and colors with little effort.
- Some things you just don't want to do to your regular hair. Like dye it multiple colors when your workplace might not allow it. Wigs can be glued and caulked, spiked vertically , have various pieces attached right into the mesh. You can hot glue right on the wig, although fibers may melt!
- Wigs are easier to style overall, unless you have someone to help you style your own hair. Wigs allow you to have a 360 view of the head, meaning you can style the back and visibly see what you are doing. For antigravity spikes you can physically turn the wig upside down and leave it for a couple hours to dry.
When buying a wig that you plan to dye it is best to buy a white wig or a light blonde one since it will take the color the best. A secondary option is to choose a wig that is a lighter version of what you want to make: you could do navy blue on a light blue wig, or red on a pink red.
So rule of thumb, always start with a lighter wig and go darker!