Start with Cosplay

Summer is almost around the corner, and this means beach trips and tanning sessions in the backyard for many. But if you’re anything like us, you have been waiting for this time of year patiently since, well, last year for an entirely different reason – Comic-Con.

The San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest entertainment convention in the world, followed by many other similar events scattered across countries. Comic-Con is the biggest event of the year not only for comic book enthusiasts but also for moviegoers with multi-genre panels teasing the hottest upcoming releases.

The event is also a haven for cosplayers. When the event is on in full steam at the San Diego convention center, it isn’t uncanny to see Ezio Auditore roaming the streets or Bruce Wayne enjoying a burger.

The entire neighborhood comes to life in a splash of color as our heroes step into the real world to inspire and amaze. And inspired we are to become them and bask in the attention that these cosplayers enjoy, pretending to be their favorite heroes or villains.

A lot of us are deterred often by unfounded misconceptions about what cosplay entails. We want to do it, but we assume that we don’t have what it takes. The only requirement of being a cosplayer is having a passion for cosplaying. With passion, everything else falls in place, and we are here to show you how.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to get started with cosplaying, clearing several baseless misconceptions along the way, let us go over the basics first. If you are a beginner, we understand that you just want to get to the meat of it, but all in good time. Let us start at the beginning.

Cosplay – What Is It?

The practice of cosplay comes from the birthplace of manga – Japan. The term itself is a combination of costume and play and is a loose translation of the original Japanese word kosupure. Although cosplay originated in Japan, the activity of designing and wearing costumes has been around in the US for ages. Just go out on October 31st and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

However, what we know as cosplaying today didn’t find its way to the US until the 90s. When anime gained popularity in the country and anime conventions started gaining popularity, along came cosplays, becoming a signature element of such conventions.

Cosplay may have come from fans dressings up like anime characters, but it has expanded into a multi-genre hobby. Fans now dress up as their favorite characters from all kinds of books, video games, television shows, movies, cartoons, and a lot more.

The word cosplay is both a verb and a noun. Confused? Consider these sentences: ‘I cosplay as Geralt of Rivia,’ or, ‘This is my Geralt of Rivia cosplay.’ Get the gist? To keep it simple for newbies, we’ll use the term cosplay when talking about the hobby and the term costume when talking about the pieces worn.

Are Cosplaying and Costuming the Same Thing?

As all cosplays involve costuming, the two may seem the same to many, and others might not even care if they are. But we do, and so does any cosplayer who invests their time and effort into the craft. So, what separates cosplay from dressing up in a costume you got for Halloween?

For many cosplayers, cosplaying is more than just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. In more recent years, it has even turned into a profession, with cosplayers being paid for modeling gigs and for crafting intricate costumes that bring specific characters to life.

Cosplayers take their craft seriously, dedicating time and effort to its production and perfection. A typical costume can sometimes take months of planning and preparation and still not be finished. Cosplayers dedicate the whole year to their hobby, slowly perfecting it for the big event.

A costume or the activity of costuming, on the other hand, is occasional. It also doesn’t receive the same kind of attention from the wearer. Yes, you may dedicate a few weeks or a month to plan your Halloween outfit, but as soon as Halloween passes, so does your excitement for the activity.

People also don’t tend to struggle as much to put together a Halloween costume. They would typically go to a costume shop or put together the pieces some time before the Halloween event. The ensemble goes into a box soon after, never to be seen again.

In essence, when it comes to the two, it is the attitude of the wearer that differs one practice from the other. Cosplayers like to dedicate more attention to their costume, customizing it not only to their body type but also to their vision of it.

Why Do We Cosplay?

This question is often personal, and you will get different answers from almost everyone you speak to. Some cosplayers like sewing and crafting, while some like recreating props. Others might like getting into a character and bringing their favorite character to life. Some just want to perfect an accurate recreation that will turn heads wherever they go.

Everyone cosplays for different reasons. Sometimes, these reasons overlap with those of others, while at other times, they can be deeply personal. Regardless of what brings you into cosplay, you will find yourself part of a community that shares your passion for creating realities that amaze and inspire.

How to Get Started with Cosplaying?

So, you have a passion for cosplaying but are too intimidated to start? Like any other project, cosplaying is only intimidating until you actually get on with it. Consider it as a series of small steps rather than fretting over the final costume and worrying about how you will get there.

Selecting a Costume

Selecting a Costume

If you want to get into cosplaying, the chances are that you already have a few characters in mind you want to cosplay as. Choosing a character is only the initial step in your cosplaying journey. The next step is more significant and will require great consideration.

Selecting a costume is the most essential step of your cosplay. Getting this wrong could mean a lot of wasted time, money, and effort if you start the project but find yourself unable to finish it with your current resources. Consider it this way – everyone wants a Batmobile, but not everyone can build one. You could, however, fashion an Impala to look like the Adam West Batmobile, the earliest live-action adaptation of the iconic car.

It is all about assessing your resources, considering what you are comfortable with, and planning a costume that reflects your personality as much as it reflects the character.

It is important to think about your costume practically. Ask yourself if you possess the relevant skills and resources to make the costume you are thinking of. You might really want to do a costume, but it might not be possible for you, and that’s okay. Think of alternatives.

A character often has more than one costume that they can be recognized by. The costume doesn’t have to be an exact replica either. As long as it retains the essence of the character and the character remains easily recognizable, it will work. For instance, Henry Cavill’s Superman lost the iconic undies, but he is still Superman.

Plan Your Costume

Plan Your Costume

The devil is in the details. Without planning, your cosplay will fall apart. We have already mentioned this. The cosplay may seem intimidating, but laying out a clear path for yourself to follow will make things easier. Before you know it, all these small steps would have led to a costume you are proud of.

Not everyone has a habit of planning and organizing tasks. Some people like to get on with it head-on and deal with issues as they come up. If you are one of these individuals, you might want to change your tactic when getting into cosplay. Planning is vital for various reasons.

Laying out a plan and timelines for your costume will not only give you a clear idea of how things will fall in place, but it will also tell you if you would be able to finish your piece in time. Nothing is more disappointing than spending months on a costume and not being able to finish it in time for the event.

Planning will help you decide not only what needs to be done but also when it needs to be done. Before you begin, plan everything down to the most seemingly unimportant detail. Where will you be sourcing the costume pieces from? How long will it take for you to receive them? Are there any items you need to import?

In addition to the what and when, planning will also answer the how. It will help you map out how you would be making specific pieces for the costume. Are the pieces you want available to purchase? Are they in your budget? Do you need to make them yourself? If so, what raw materials will you need?

Budget Your Costume

Budget Your Costume

This is also a part of planning, but we thought we’d give it a section of its own to signify its importance. It is easy to get carried away with spending the last of your savings on a costume. This becomes especially easy if you’re new to the hobby and the excitement levels are high.

However, you have to remember that unless you really are Bruce Wayne, you are not made of money and you have bills to pay. When you are planning your costume, consider your budget as well. You might not be able to buy everything at once, but you might be able to spread the purchases over several months.

By assessing how much each piece of costume will cost, including all the accessories that you are going to pair with it, you can buy smartly. Pair costlier purchases with less expensive accessories, so you are not straining your wallet during a particular month.


While various other smaller factors might come into play as you go along, they won’t become a hindrance if you have planned well and mapped out the details before beginning your project. The most challenging part of any project is deciding where to start.

By following our guide, we hope you’ll be able to get the ball rolling and be in a good momentum to tackle any issues that come your way, which they will. What all cosplayers should remember is not to let hindrances discourage you. Keep working on that costume, and things will fall into place.