Cosplaying Guide: Tips and Tricks from the Experts
Battleborn’s headed to PAX East 2016 and we can’t wait to play with you! What blows us away every single time: the dedication of our community. Those who dissect every video or screenshot we release. Those who line up for a shot at saving the universe. And those looking to recreate the perfect Phoebe cosplay. Yes, our cosplayers are awesome.
Want to be a cosplay badass? Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for new ideas, here’s a few costuming tips from some experienced cosplayers!
- “Choose a character that you’re personally attached to…and consider things like design and how possible/impossible it would be to make said character. If this is your first costume, start small. Don't take on something too crazy and wind up overwhelming yourself on the first try. (That will come way later with bigger projects. Trust me!)”
- “One of my personal favorite first steps is seeking out and studying reference pictures. In some cases, it is very simple to find all of the reference you'll ever need (praise be to cosplay guides). However, it may take a week of scouring the internet, scrutinizing the source material frame by frame, or pulling character models from the game. While planning a costume, make a checklist of items to buy and items to make. This all helps me stay organized and focused on my goal, and usually makes a daunting project seem a little easier to tackle!”
- “Research, research, research! Materials are important – research your character and your materials to see what’s the best way to build something. There are many tutorials, build logs, theory crafting blogs, eBooks, etc. that can help you. If the character you’re creating is popular but has a complicated element, there’s a chance someone has built that weapon / sewn that blouse / made that wig before and will have made a tutorial! And remember, there are usually multiple paths to build the same thing! Foam is a fantastic, cheap material and can be used for many different types of things. Worbla, TranspArt, Friendly Plastic and Sintra PVC are all great thermoplastics that can be molded with heat.”
- “I have learned the hard way over and over again that most of the time nothing will be perfect your first go at it. You may have to remake a section two or three times and that is perfectly okay. You'll learn from it and it will become easier each time.”
Benedict’s feet in progress by Emily at Anarchy Forever Cosplay
Creating the Costume
- “If cosplaying and costume creation is something you want to do long-term, you need to invest in the proper tools and protection! Making armor and props means you'll need gloves, goggles, and a respirator at bare minimum for protection along the way.”
- “Don’t speed through things. That's how you get injuries and wind up slicing your hand open while cutting foam.”
Tools and Materials
- “I've made it this far with my trusty dremel, heat gun, soldering iron, and a chop saw, but I know my work would go much smoother with a wider variety of tools. Start with whatever you think you will use the most and expand from there when you can. Look to propmakers like Chinbeard, Volpin and BeerMoneyProps for what tools and equipment to begin using.”
- “When making things with EVA foam like armor, etc., make sure to always have sharp exacto knives nearby (foam dulls them super-fast too!), as well as a good heat gun for sealing your EVA before primer/plastidip/paint/whatever you're using.”
- “Regular hot glue doesn’t hold up very well in hot weather. Opt for stronger adhesives like high temp hot glue, Loctite, or contact cements if you know your costume will be exposed to warm temperatures or sweat.”
Mellka’s gauntlet in progress by Enasni Volz
Getting to work
- “This is a big one: Do not underestimate the time it will take to make your costume. Give yourself at least two extra weeks to finish. If you're creating armor, keep in mind that you'll have to sand, patch, prime, paint and coat it all. There will also be moments where you have to completely scrap what you've been working on and start over. With enough time allotted, it’s a small bump in the road, not a stressful ordeal.”
- “Measure twice, cut once. Always double-check your measurements so you don’t end up wasting material. If you can, craft a mock-up or practice version of whatever you’re making, so you can adjust before using final materials. Be sure to test-fit everything while you’re making it, both to ensure pieces fit together and for a super boost of motivation as you see your progress!"
- "On a budget? Look around and repurpose household items! Water bottles can become a gun magazine, backpack straps can become holsters, and mop handles can become staffs or swords!"
- "Similarly, patterning out strange shapes and making body doubles are super helpful and can help you make something that fits you perfectly. A body double can be made easily from plastic wrap, duct tape, and markers, and patterns can be drawn onto any kind of paper."
Mellka cosplay in progress by Kazzy
- Turn ‘mistakes’ into battle damage! Accidentally nicked a bit of a shield or a shoulder pauldron? Open up the cut a little bit and paint some dirt into it for the illusion of war-worn armor and battle damage. Weathering your armor/weapons with fake dirt, blood, rust, and grime is an instant way to make armored costumes look tougher.
- For finishing touches, seal your paint to help prevent chipping and cracking, and to provide a nice finish in photos. Another easy way to make your costume look cleaner: trim your threads and iron your seams.”
- “If you need to paint grime and dirt on a prop, I usually will use multiple colors to achieve the look I want. Black will help deepen crevices and dips while browns, reds, and yellows will give you varying dirt. If you have something painted with a shiny silver or chrome spray paint, a light blue will help dull the shine and give it an aged look.
- If something is giving you serious trouble and you don't know how to get it done, move onto another part of your project that you can work on. Taking time away will help ease your mind about it and you can revisit it afresh.”
Benedict’s face in progress by Sparrow’s Flight Cosplay
Attending a Convention
- “Take care of yourself! It’s easy to get caught up in the convention, running from place to place, and forget to eat and hydrate. This is really bad for you! It can be hard to find time to sit down and enjoy an entire, nutritious meal, so I like to pack healthy snacks. I usually toss a few fruit snacks, granola bars, and a bottle of water in my bag and try to remember to snack throughout the day.”
- “Bring a small bag of essentials and quick fixes. Safety pins, double sided tape, zip ties, and hair spray are great to have on hand in case something breaks. (….And don’t forget snacks!)”
- “Now this may not be your thing, but part of cosplaying to me is acting the part. To help with becoming the character, I'll spend a lot of my time surrounded by the source material. If it’s a character from a game, I'll listen to their lines on repeat and study their every movement, interaction, and bit of lore in game. This helps with gathering your reference pictures, understanding how the costume itself looks and behaves as the character moves, as well as figuring out how to pose for pictures.”
Enasni Volz as Mellka – Photo by Alexandra Lee
Anarchy Forever Cosplay – Emily
- Twitter: @Enasni
- (Mellka's gun and the sword on her glaive were constructed by Beer Money Props)
Sparrow’s Flight Cosplay – Sparrow
We can’t wait to see your awesome cosplay at PAX East 2016, so come by the booth – or give us a shout @Battleborn on Twitter so we can see your work!