Cosplay for Beginners: How to Make Your First Cosplay Costume

Rohan Mathew

So, you’ve been to your first convention, and you’ve gotten hooked. You’re ready to dive into the world of cosplay.

But not so fast: the process is more complex than you might think! If you’ve just recently decided to make your own cosplay, you may feel a bit overwhelmed at the idea of standing next to a costume from a veteran crafter.

But everyone has to start somewhere—so why not you? Follow these tips for cosplay for beginners, and you’ll be on the road to your first design in no time.

  1. Choose Your Cosplay Character

First things first: it’s time to choose your character. There are two spectrums you’ll need to think about as you narrow down your options.

Simplicity vs. Complexity

As a cosplay newbie, it may help to start out with a few of the more basic cosplay ideas. Some of the most iconic anime and video games wear simple clothes, meaning you might be able to pull together a cosplay with some basic thrift store finds and a little ingenuity. Even better, these ideas mean you won’t break the bank on special tools or equipment, and you won’t have to invest too much time.

However, if you love diving into crafty projects, you may have more fun with a character whose outfits include complex details and a little more elbow grease.

Recognizable Characters vs. Characters You Love

If you’ll be attending your first con in cosplay, you might also want to opt for a more recognizable character rather than one from a little-known source. Cosplaying as a popular character can earn you more attention and photos than choosing a background, niche character. You should also consider upcoming events, new media, and pop culture inspirations.

That said, it’s always more fun when you’re cosplaying a character you love! If you have your heart set on a certain niche character, you may get more enjoyment from putting time into a related cosplay than one for a popular character you aren’t interested in.

  1. Get Photos of Your Character

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, it’s time to find as many photos as you can. If the character wears complex outfits or has intricate details on parts of their clothes, you’ll need to find shots from different angles to piece together a full picture. This may involve screenshotting parts of a game, anime, or movie, but the time you spend to find reference material will be invaluable as you move forward.

You may also want to collect images of people cosplaying as your character. These pictures can be inspiring to look at, and they can also give you insight into the design choices each person made when recreating the look of your chosen character.

  1. Plan Your Cosplay Outfit

This can be the most overwhelming part of the process for a beginner. After all, how do you go from simple materials to a completed outfit?

If you’re not sure where to begin, online tutorials can be a great resource. Many characters inspire the creation of step-by-step blog posts and videos that explain how to recreate their outfit as a cosplay. You may need to mix and match different tutorials until you find the methods and materials you’re comfortable working with.

Even if you can’t find a tutorial that addresses your specific character, you’ll probably be able to find tutorials that help. If you need a special weapon as a prop, for example, you may be able to find a tutorial of a similar weapon creation process. If you’re looking for a special effect like lighted fabric, you may be able to find tutorials on using EL wire to create the effect you’re looking for.

While you should go into the planning phase with a keen awareness of your own skills, don’t be afraid to accept the challenge of your first cosplay!

One last note here: don’t be afraid to make the cosplay your own. While there’s definitely a space for faithful recreations of exact outfits, weapons, and makeup, it’s also interesting to add a little extra personality to your cosplay. Try modernizing a cosplay of an older character, adding details to a character with a bare-bones outfit, or tweaking the makeup to fit your own needs.

  1. Create Your Cosplay

When you’ve ironed out your plans, the real fun begins.

First, make a list of what you need based on the plans and tutorials you’ve collected. Don’t forget to consider things you already have around your house, as you may be able to use everything from cardboard to wooden dowels to soda cans. You’ll also need to get your hands on any special tools, like heat guns, bandsaws, or sewing machines.

Next, it’s time to get started with your assembly.

Work through your plan with care, and keep in mind that you’re only human. As a total beginner when it comes to cosplay outfits, you’ll paint the wrong side, cut a corner too short, or make other small errors that will throw off your look. Making your own costume isn’t easy, so expect little mistakes and frustrations, and know that your cosplay will be great if you can push through!

  1. Bring Your Cosplay to Life

So, you’ve finally finished your outfit. Congratulations!

Now that you’ve put a ton of hard work into your final look, it’s time to bring your character to life. Add finishing touches to your hair, put on (or hire someone to put on) your cosplay makeup, and get into character with accurate speech and mannerisms!

Showing off your final product with your fan community is part of the fun. Jump into your next con wearing your cosplay, post photos and videos on social media, or head over to a small gathering of fans. Once you get feedback and start conversations with other cosplay makers, you’ll be hooked on the creative process and ready to dive into your next project.

Enter the World of Cosplay for Beginners

Once you get into the world of cosplay, you’ll find that creating new designs and interacting with other fans can be addictive. These cosplay for beginners tips can help you start on the right foot, allowing you to make the most of your very first design. So what are you waiting for?

Looking for more helpful insights to get you off to a good start in life? Check out our other guides for more info!