Cosplay is a relatively new, emerging art form. It combines fanatic, fanboy enthusiasm, unparalleled artistic ability, and indefatigable hard work. It is truly one of a kind. For anyone who isn't aware, "cosplay" in essence is simply dressing up and acting as a fictional character from any medium but generally comics, video games, and movies. This art form is not limited to just this though. The true heart of cosplay isn't the wearing, its the preparation in design and creation; the dedication to detail and craftsmanship.
Comic Conventions are chalk full of thousands of cosplayers ranging in skill sets, experience, interests, and popularity. The cosplays themselves can be a trash can with a plunger out the front all the way to a mechanical, light up, fully movable, yellow camaro that can stand on two legs. All cosplays are accepted and its a very open community, but how do you make yours stand out? In a sea full of Batmen, Mario Karters, Spartans, State Alchemists, and Dothraki, it's quite hard to make your very own cosplay stand above the rest. You're no professional. No Jessica Nigri. You have a full time job, have to catch up on Jessica Jones, sleep occasionally, and maybe even talk to your friends once in a while.
Well worry no longer! I'm going to give you 10 easy ways to make your cosplay not only stand out but be exceptional! It might be daunting for beginners to get into this racket-- and trust me, I am no cosplayer, just a list maker-- especially when you look around at all the superb creations around you. These are some simple ways to make your cosplay better and make it work for you.
Let's dive right in!
1) Make it Yourself (Don't go store bought)
This first step may fly in the face of everything I just said-- I'm aware. In a busy life, how can you make the cosplay yourself? You don't have sewing experience or a design degree. You haven't taken make up classes or engineering courses. Well, the truth is, Youtube is your greatest ally. Honestly, any questions you might have on the creation side of it can be found on Youtube. I've looked up my fair share of plaster demos and scar make up tutorials. If you start simple with a somewhat easy cosplay, you can learn the basic skills involved and be right on your way. Once you get one or two cosplays behind you and are feeling comfortable, that's when you go big and start truly experimenting.Trust me, the work you put in will be evident in the final product. Even if your design is flawed and you don't have the right materials for the job, your fellow cosplayers will see the amount of effort and appreciate your costume nonetheless.
You can spot a store bought or phoned in cosplay from a mile away.
2) Pick A Character That Compliments Your Body Type
Now, of course, these aren't rules. If you love a character and want to be them just for the sake of it, go for it! It's about you, not about what other's may think of the cosplay. But if you want to get a cosplay that really works well for you and transforms you into the character, I'd recommend evaluating your body type and finding a character you love who can match that. I'm a short man-- its the rough truth. Superman is my favorite character but standing at a measly 5'8", I don't think I could pull off his physique. However, Wolverine is also a love of mine and he's a much smaller character. That way I can do someone I love while working with the body that I have. Like I said, this doesn't always apply to everyone. I prefer the most accurate appearing, realistic rendition of the character but others just want to dress up for the love of it. That's great. Go for what you want in your cosplay.
3) Give an Original Spin to It
This is a technique employed by many cosplayers. Making it your own and giving it that little extra spice is one of the best ways to make your cosplay truly yours. Gender-bending is perhaps most popular trend recently which is taking a traditionally male/female character and swapping them into the opposite gender. Or perhaps you want to combine two popular characters into one cosplay like an Iron Man Eddard Stark or a Spiderpool. Putting a beloved character in a different time period or steam-punking them up is always a guaranteed way to get attention. My personal favorite is "medievalizing" characters. Just anyway that you can tweak the preconceived idea of the character is a great way to give it an original spin. You wanna be truly original? Do a character you created yourself!
4) Choose a Character You Love and Know A Lot About
It seems kind of obvious, but not everyone does this. Lots of people choose character who are popular or well known but not necessarily ones that they really love. The love and personal investment in the character will be displayed in your cosplay and will push you even harder to give it your all. I love the character "Fives" from Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. He intrigued me and I grew to care for him. As a result, I put endless hours and all of my love into forging ARC Trooper armor. If I didn't love the character then it would have show in sloppier workmanship or lack of detail. Knowing the most about your character will help you connect with the cosplay and, when at a Con, you will be able to move and talk like them thus adding another layer to the outfit. Just love what you do, basically.
5) Pay Attention to Detail
Detail can make or break a good cosplay. It's the little things that really make the difference in a cosplay that blends into the crowd or one that splits the crowd. The addition of fake nails or blue contacts; the engravings on a sword or period-accurate tailoring; these small things can add just a smidgen of flavor, making your cosplay that much more involving than other's of the same character. They don't have to be big things. Not every cosplay has to be Optimus Prime or a Big Daddy. Including the tiniest of details will make other adoring fans euphoric and passers-by impressed. Study your character-- every little thing about them-- and you will not only be dressed as them but in people's eyes, become them.
6) Cosplay With a Group
You know what's more impressive than one great cosplay? A dozen great cosplays all working off of each other to create the perfect picture opportunity. You might be thinking, "If I want to stand out, why would I surround myself with other people dressed similar to me?" The truth is, working in a group can make each cosplay become complimented by the others. One Dean Winchester may not be that cool even if you made it yourself, fit the body type, spun it a little, love the character, and got every detail right. But a Dean, Sam, Castiel, and Bobby will draw attention to the group and by extension, to the individual. A couple cosplay is also a great bet. Finding characters, from different genres even, that work well together is all you really need. Plus, you'll have more fun surrounded by your friends.
7) No Deadpool
We are about to get into my "No" section. These are characters I feel are overplayed, oversaturated, and worn out. With the release of the movie and all the hype following it, even more Deadpools than ever before will rise out of the ashes and strike the Con floors. I love Deadpool. He's a great character. I have nothing against those who want to dress up like him. But if you really want your cosplay to be unique and noticeable, stay away from the Merc with a Mouth. In every corner of every convention hall you will find dozens of Deadpools competing to see who is the most Deadpool-y. Needless to say, most people at the Cons have grown sick of this lovable yet overpopulated character.
8) No Boba Fett
I know, I know, I know. Blasphemy! Drag me out of town and stone me; how dare I even hint at the fact that we have too many Mandalorian cosplayers! Ok. You gotten over the shock? Can I move on? Terrific. Boba Fett is one of my favorite character in all of Star Wars lore. He's mysterious, ruthless, and lets face it, wickedly cool. This being said, the amount of times I've seen people dressed up as or a variation of this bounty hunter is baffling. It's insane. Almost every turn you take you see another Mandalorian hybrid. They're cool, don't get me wrong. I respect the Helsinki out of the people who put those together. But there are other characters out there; other interesting designs.
9) No. Harley. Quinn.
... I'm afraid of even continuing...
... I'll just give you guys a minute...
You ready? I'm sorry to put you through this. Harley Quinn may be the most popular character divided by the time she's been in the public eye ever. Her popularity and the unabashed and untamed fanaticism behind this character is mind boggling. People die for her. People connect with and love this character beyond any kind of understanding and logic. She has truly exploded in the public eye. I like her... a lot. I'm more of a Poison Ivy fan myself (redheads, am I right Matty?) but Harley Quinn is truly a masterful character... and an over done one. Her popularity has grown so quickly that it has smothered and suffocated everything in it's torrential downpour. She is the definition of a character who is over done. If you want to be novel, to be your own, I'd recommend steering clear of these three characters. But, as in all of this, do the cosplay you love and the way that you love it.
10) Enjoy Yourself, Honestly
This is cheesy, I'm aware. I feel like every final rule in elementary gym class is "Have Fun!" but honestly, that's what is most important. Ignore every other suggestion and tip because if you can't truly enjoy yourself and love what you're doing, stop doing it. The second cosplay and anything of the sort starts to become a chore, stop doing it. Stress will happen, trust me. I've broken or mis-painted so many of my costumes the day before that I think my hair has gone completely grey because of it. But I love creating and inhabiting these characters. Every part of the cosplay experience should be enjoyable. Even if you're sweating to death dressed as a Predator or slipping out of your Slave Leia costume (also on my "No" List), you should enjoy yourself.
I love characters. I love cosplay. I hope I imparted some of that love and interest to you today and, if you weren't already into cosplay, that I sparked something in you. The boundaries are limitless. The fun is bountiful. Trust me, once you really get into the trenches of cosplay and feel your hands creating fictional characters in the real world, all the work and hours on Youtube will be worth it. Cosplay is amazing, my friends. It's not just for the hardcore fan's or the "real fans" (Gosh I hate that term), it's for everyone. If you've ever wanted to inhabit a character or walk for a mile in some fictional shoes, cosplay is the way to.
I hope you enjoyed this and if you did, follow me here on Moviepilot for articles on whatever I'm feeling that day! If you've got tips and inside knowledge on cosplay or just want to chat, comment below! Also, if there are any cosplays you've done or are working on, put a picture below. I would love to see it.
**If you know who these cosplayers are, tell me below so I can credit them!
'Til next time!