How to Cosplay

Cosplay is a performance art hobby in which people dress up like characters from pop culture.


Image from here.

Sounds weird, right? Kind of like an anytime, anywhere form of Halloween?

But it’s fun. The hobby has seen a huge increase in popularity since the 1990s, and has a lot of participants who utilize Patreon, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook to connect with fans. Cosplayers are often featured as models and can travel all over the world selling art, being featured as speakers at conventions, and doing photo shoots.

For a short introduction to the world of cosplay, I recommend Syfy’s “Heroes of Cosplay.” There’s also a variety of books and magazines about the world of cosplay.

But for short, it’s a fun opportunity to learn costuming and design, while also having fun showing your love for a favorite book, television show, movie, or video game. Here, I have a short list to help you get started on your own cosplay!

        1. Find a pop culture media that you love
          This can be a TV show, a movie, a video game, a book, or a character inspired by whatever inspires you! Some people do album art, comedians, and original character designs for cosplays.

          Netflix is always my go to for new shows and movies.

          Photo courtesy of


        2. Research your favorite character!
          Sites like wikis exist for most pop culture media, full of fan-collected information on characters, setting, costume design. Art books of popular movies, television shows, and comic books are also featured in most main chain book stores, and are full of information on the creation of setting, costuming, and character design. Some companies also release character designs that make it super easy for cosplayers to look at and design accordingly.

          Hiccup’s character design from the How to Train Your Dragon artbook.

          Photo courtesy of


        3. Analyze your skill level
          This is all personal! This step is important. Can you sew? Have you crafted before? Can you knit? Woodwork? Engineer?
          Crafting skills are important for cosplay and it is important to analyze your personal skill level to decide how much you can do on your own. Some cosplayers buy costumes made by other people, and some people make everything by hand!
          Sites like Etsy and Ebay make it easy to find costumes, weapons, and accessories to buy if you don’t think you can make things on your own! The internet is also an amazing source of information to help you learn to sew, craft, and design!
          Book series like “The Costume Making Guide” are great help for learning the aspects of cosplay!

          Analyze your personal skill level.

          Photo courtesy of Sewing Divas.


        4. Finance
          Analyze your personal finances. Can you afford materials? Figure out how much money you need for wigs, makeup, costume parts, cloth, crafting supplies. Or, in the case of buying a cosplay, make sure you finance correctly to afford all of the parts of your costume.
          Another part of financing is also tickets and lodging for any events you plan to wear your cosplay to!
          There’s an amazing free Android application called Cosplanner that helps you list the parts of individual cosplays including financing details and progress tracking.

          Some of my financing done in Cosplanner.

        5. Time Manage
          When do you plan to wear your cosplay? The hardest thing about cosplaying is the urge to procrastinate. It’s very easy to get threatened by your project and to leave it until the last minute.
          I personally recommend the use of a bullet journal. I use my bullet journal to track my work schedule, school schedule, and to organize which parts of my cosplay I need finished by when. This is an amazing bullet journal tutorial that I highly recommend.

          A bullet journal example page.

          Photo courtesy of bohoberry.

          Keep in mind that a bullet journal isn’t the only option. Research time managing techniques until you find one that works for you!

        6. Craft away!
          Start from the base and work up. This means start with the main costume and then move onto accessories and details. Detail work can be time consuming and you will get sucked into it, so it’s best to organize the base of the costume first.
          Either buy the main part of your costume or work on sewing it. Find a wig. Buy shoes.
          After getting the base organized, move onto props and weapons. Find the identifying traits of your character and work on these. Props are often the funnest and most threatening part of any cosplay, since it can make or break your character design.
          After getting your prop and weapon sorted out, go ahead and focus on the details. The details are what make your cosplay different from any other cosplay of that character. Detailing is very fun and feel free to put your own spin on the character design. Here’s where you fall in love with your costume.

          Cut outs for a sword design.

          Image from this video tutorial.


        7. Wear it and have fun!
          Wear your cosplay to an event or just for the heck of it. Wear it for school spirit week, a party, a convention, or a photoshoot. Own all your hard work!

Cosplay can give wake to a lot of new opportunities in the form of adventures, friends, and skills. My personal experience with cosplay has been amazing, and I hope these steps help you get started on yours as well.


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