Conventions Pt 1: Planning

Since the subject of conventions entails a large amount of information, I’ve decided to split this topic into two separate posts. To begin, I’ll discuss the planning process that needs to be put into attending conventions. This post will cover:

  • Finding a Convention
  • Registering
  • Housing options (if necessary)

Finding a Convention

My partner and I discovered our first convention through an online friend, actually. I was talking with said friend through a Skype chat in which she announced her excitement over possibly attending a convention called Anime Detour. Since my partner and I were inexperienced in finding conventions close to home, this was the first one we ever attended; it was a 5 1/2 – 6 hour drive.

After that, though, we found better means of discovering conventions that were closer. A convention we just recently started attending is Anime Milwaukee–about 20-30 minutes away from home. Much better drive, by far.

A website that’s helpful to look at for conventions specifically in the United States is AnimeCons.com. That’s a good place to start if you’re looking for a convention that is near your home.

Registering

In order to attend a convention, you need to be registered. You will often be required to wear a badge around the convention to ensure that you’re allowed to be there–especially in particular rooms and places to shop.

The best thing to do is to register ahead of time. While conventions often offer registration upon showing up, pre-registration will make the process a lot easier and is usually convenient in guaranteeing you a pass (only a certain amount of people are allowed to avoid overcrowding).

Most conventions will have websites that offer pre-registration. All that you need to do is look at the guidelines and follow the steps to get your badge. Based off of our experience, you will most likely have to pick up the badge at the convention, but it’s a lot quicker (usually) than going through the entire registration process on-site.

Hotels

Obviously, when my friend and I drove 6 hours to reach our destination, we had a hotel to stay in. Our first year, we stayed in the hotel the convention was taking place in–which was very convenient since all we had to do was go down a few stories to be in the swarm of cosplayers, but it also had its downsides.

When you’re going to a convention that is far from home where you will need to have a place to stay, there are several options to consider. You need to book rooms ahead of time before they fill up (especially if you’re staying in the hotel the convention is in). One of the things my partner and I always considered was price. The hotel where the convention took place cost more than other options.

Plus, it was nice being in a hotel down the street from the convention since it was usually less crowded and not nearly as noisy. You just need to be aware that people staying in other hotels are usually normal people who aren’t attending that convention. So, if you waltz through the hotel lobby in your cosplay, you’re likely to get some pretty odd looks.

What to bring?

Some common items to bring:

  • Money/Wallet — Conventions usually have places to buy merchandise. Trust me. You’ll want money to spend.
  • ID — This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s always nice to have your ID on you anywhere you go. At some conventions, they may require it when you pick up your badge.
  • Camera — You’ll probably want to take pictures. I mean, there are a bunch of people walking around wearing ridiculously cool outfits. Bring something that can take pictures.
  • Snacks — Debatable. Conventions will often have food places either in the building or down the street. If you don’t want to use money on more than merchandise, though, it might be a good idea to bring some food.
  • Purse — Or some sort of bag to carry around. Even when you’re dressed up, you’ll want something that can carry your camera/phone/etc. Usually something small but efficient works. Sometimes you get lucky with a character who carries around a bag, so it works out perfectly.
  • Cosplay — If you’re cosplaying, you might want to bring that with you. Wigs, costumes, accessories, etc. It’s also sometimes a good idea to bring some small sewing kit in case your costume rips at some point under all the stress.

What’s next?

In my next post, I will discuss what factors go into actually attending a convention: convention etiquette, events/things to do, etc.

Next time: Conventions Part 2: At the Con

 

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Photography

For cosplayers who want to take photos to show off their hard work, there are three main and fairly obvious options.

  • Take your own photos
  • Get a friend/family member to take photos
  • Pay a professional photographer

Fortunately for me and my cosplaying partner, we have a friend who very nearly qualifies as a professional photographer and doesn’t require us to pay her for taking beautiful pictures and editing them to perfection. Not everyone is as lucky as us, however.

Photoshoots

Whether you have someone taking your pictures for you or not, the process to go through with photoshoots is usually similar in all situations. For self-photography (selfies!) you will have to take the extra step of setting up a timer on the camera, but beyond that, there isn’t much that’s different.

Setting

This varies depending on your characters, and it may oftentimes be hard to find the proper scenery. For our Black Butler cosplay where I am Ciel Phantomhive and my friend is Alois Trancy, we had our photographer take pictures of us both inside and outside. Since these characters live in the Victorian era, though, we had to make sure all inside shots didn’t have random technology in the background that wouldn’t exist.

Ciel and Alois

Here we are “napping” on the ugly striped couch

We chose to take pictures in a room of the house that has an old, ugly couch that might be convincing enough for the time period. Realizing the rest of my house wouldn’t work well with the characters, we took the rest of the pictures outside.

Characters like Ash Ketchum and Gary Oak would benefit from the outdoors–seeing that they’re Pokemon trainers and are on the road traveling more than anything else. For that cosplay, my partner, our photographer, and I went out to a park and walked along the trails, finding good photo opportunities along the way (while simultaneously getting disgruntled looks from passersby). Just remember that you’ll likely get a few upturned noses if you take pictures out in public. But don’t worry. As long as you aren’t trespassing on private property, you have as much of a right to be there as the “normal” people do.

Taking Photos

It’s always smart to have some ideas in mind before you start taking photos, especially if you have a photographer. You don’t want to make them stand there and wait on you to decide what to do, so plan ahead. In our case, we usually came up with vague ideas and ended up improvising along the way (I need to learn to take my own advice).

If you don’t have a photographer, every picture will clearly have to be planned. You’ll need to set up the camera at the right height and angle, put on a timer, and make a pose that might take several tries to get to the perfection you desire. With a photographer, though, things may be a little different.

Axel and Roxas

Our photographer took this photo of us without us even knowing

You’ll obviously have to plan photos here and there, but your photographer might end up taking things into his or her own hands (as ours often does). As you’re walking around your setting, your photographer may take photos at random. And those sometimes turn out looking better since you’re acting (considerably) normal rather than intentionally posing for something.

Sometimes, your best bet is to act out your character during your photoshoot. That way, even if you haven’t planned a photo, you might get some good shots just being that character.

Editing

Axel and Roxas

An example of the effects our photographer will sometimes put on our photos.

My partner and I are even luckier in the fact that our photographer both takes our photos and edits them for us. She’ll sometimes add nice effects with the color or brightness of the picture before sending them over to us, and that makes our job a lot easier when it comes to uploading them to the internet.

If you’re taking your own photos or have a photographer that won’t be including any effects (like a family member who is unwillingly dragged into taking pictures for you), you can either add effects or just leave the photos as they are. Effects aren’t necessary, but they oftentimes make the photo crisper and more professional.

A program that works well with editing photos is Photoshop. It can be an expensive program to purchase, but will be well worth your time if you’re serious about your cosplaying photography.

In conclusion…

Just like everything else in cosplay, photography is both an art and meant to be fun. Whether or not you are taking your own photos or have someone taking them for you, there should be some planning. But don’t let extensive planning turn your photoshoot into a stiff, formal event.

Let loose, by yourself (or your character, in this case), and smile!

Next time: Conventions Part 1: Planning

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Creating videos for the web

Or maybe not “for the web,” but 9/10 times people will make videos they want to share with their friends, at the very least.

And if you want to be making videos that are entertaining enough to hold the interest of your audience, you’re going to need to know how to make these videos.

My cosplaying partner and I definitely are no experts in this field. As I’ve already stated several times, we’re still learners and are constantly doing what we can to improve. I can give you a few pointers from our experience, though.

The two “types” of videos we make with our cosplay are:

  • Comedic spoofs
  • Music videos

Spoofs

I prefer making these videos while my partner enjoys the artistry of music videos. But spoofs usually involve making fun of the characters you’re cosplaying. I find the most entertaining aspect of these videos to be the humorous situations that arise while still remaining as in-character as possible.

Length

As far as the length for these videos go, a good limit is 10 minutes. Unless you’re YouTube famous and have a massive following where your subscribers don’t mind spending half an hour on one video, you’ll have more luck with shorter clips to begin with.

That’ll give people a taste of what you’re made of and help convince them of whether or not they want to stick with you.

Content

The subject of these videos is up to you, really. What situation would be the funniest to put your character(s) in? Something as simple as baking can lead to funny content. Just dress up in your costume, set up a camera in the kitchen, and film yourself baking something while acting like your character: as pointless as it seems, tasks that don’t seem funny at all in your life can turn into humorous videos while acting out a character.

This is our most recent upload that involves two characters from Pokemon (Ash and Gary) baking coconut macaroons:

Most of the time, my partner and I improvise. We come up with a faint idea of what we want to do and adlib it from the moment we press the “record” button on the camera. Sometimes, if you’re just beginning, you might need more of a script, but just remember to have fun with it and not worry too much about formality.

It is meant to be a spoof, after all.

Editing for the Web

Since you want to keep these videos considerably short, you’ll likely have a lot of content to edit out when you get around to. Especially with videos like the example above where the task takes a lot longer than 10 minutes.

I usually watch through the entire thing once it’s loaded on my computer (I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8.0 to edit videos; though Windows Movie Maker will work for simple things) and end up cutting out lots of unneeded clips. Find the funny scenes in the video and keep those.

If the video is still too long, go through and eliminate even more of it, but just be sure it still flows smoothly enough that it’s not confusing for the viewer.

Music Videos

These videos can either be a bit more serious and emotional or funny depending on what song and idea you’re going with. Since my partner and I like to cosplay characters we see in relationships together, our music videos usually have some sort of romantic tone to them (whether it be really cheesy, sad, or humorous).

Length

The length is usually somewhere under 5 minutes because not many songs last longer than that. Even then, we don’t always use the full song in our videos since sometimes there isn’t enough content to fit into the entire song.

Content

As I already said, the content really depends on what you want to do. Do you want to make a video depicting something tragic with a sad song? Then make sure you use those dramatic “staring off into the middle distance” shots and maybe a few tears (fake or real) within it. Do you want to make a funny video? Well, then do some funny things with your character.

These videos are meant to be creative. There really aren’t many tips to give other than to think outside of the box and remember that music videos usually involve doing seemingly stupid stuff that will look awesome once it’s put with music in the actual finished product.

Editing for the Web

Music videos become more of a task to edit than spoofs. Viewers usually like seeing nice effects like dramatic zooms (in or out), “artistic” black and white shots, masking, etc. It might not be possible to have these effects if you don’t have an expensive movie-editing program, but don’t fret.

As long as you make a video that has clips matching nicely with the beat and/or words of the song, it’ll still be enjoyable.

Here’s one of our “funny” music videos with barely any sign of effects since they weren’t necessary:

And one of our more serious videos that has some added effects here and there:

In conclusion…

Making videos isn’t really something that has that many rules. It’s all up to you and your creativity, and don’t be afraid to take some risks along the way–something you think is dumb might be the funniest thing in the world to the rest of YouTube.

And just have fun with it!

Next time: Photography

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Just a little makeup…

One thing cosplayers might not consider right away is makeup.

If the character you’re cosplaying looks “ordinary” enough, that’s probably the last thing you think of. But then you come across some characters whose makeup stands out at you, you need to realize that it probably stands out to a bunch of other people, too.

And if you’re being the character, that makeup needs to stand out on you.

The “Ordinary” Look

In some cases, there isn’t much you need to do to change your look. You’ve got your wig and your costume. Unless the character has very distinct cheekbones that you need to shade in on your own face, you might be good with doing what you usually do.

Girls who already wear makeup might just continue wearing their usual look. Girls who don’t wear makeup will continue not wearing makeup. Boys will just stay as they are, presumably.

Depending on what you’re doing with your cosplay (going to conventions, taking pictures, filming), you might want to wear more or less.

Crossplay

Crossplay is a form of cosplay that often requires makeup. Since it refers to girls dressing up as boy characters and vice versa, cosplayers need to change their appearance to look more like the opposite gender.

There are videos across the internet that help cosplayers with this since it takes a lot of practice. Some of the videos I’ve looked at specifically are:

Obviously, the only videos I’ve looked at are for makeup transitions from female to male since–if it wasn’t already obvious–I’m a girl.

Funnily enough, the boys I’ve cosplayed so far haven’t been too terribly “manly.” I’ve cosplayed two boys who are around 10 years old, so they’d still have the baby face, and Axel doesn’t have a particularly manly face since he’s from a video game where everyone looks pretty.

The only character I plan on using this crossplay makeup for is Mako from Legend of Korra (my upcoming cosplay). I’ve already done one test run that turned out looking like this:

Mako Makeup

I got less serious by the time I had taken a bunch of pictures…

Mako

The famous shark fin eyebrows. Courtesy of fanpop.com.

I very obviously have some improving to do, but I came to this product using the first tutorial listed above. And because of Mako’s logic-defying eyebrows, I had to add little sharkfins to my eyebrows to match his character (an example of when makeup becomes a bit abnormal).

 

In conclusion…

I don’t have a lot of personal experience with intense makeup since most of my characters don’t have much going on with their face (they aren’t blue-skinned or have massive cheekbones or wear a bucketful of makeup). My main advice is to look up tutorials specific to the makeup you’re aiming for.

Those always help me the most.

And remember that you just need to practice to get it down!

Next time: Making videos

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Dressed for Success: The costume

So, once you’ve got your wig all set, you’re going to need your character’s proper attire unless you intend on walking around in that character’s undergarments. Which might be exactly what some cosplayers do, I suppose–depending on the character. It’s all preference.

What you have to decide is if you want to make the costume yourself or go about buying one.

Sewing

I’ll be honest here; I have never sewn my own costume before. Guilty as charged. I’ve basically accepted the fact that I lack both the talent and patience to do that.

I do, however, have a lovely friend who enjoys sewing outfits. Based off of what I’ve learned of her process, the best you can do is find a template that matches your character’s outfit and branch off of that template–especially if you’re a beginner. Even though my friend is very talented and has made several dresses, she still buys templates to use.

"THE PIRATE FAIRY"It’s better to have something to go off of than to start from scratch and end up wasting a lot of fabric when you mess up. Better to be safe than sorry.

That talented friend of mine is actually sewing me an outfit for Zarina the Pirate Fairy. I’m still a child at heart who loves Disney movies; I had to cosplay a Disney character at some point. Can’t wait to see the finished product when my friend has the time to complete it.

 

Purchasing

This goes right down my alley. All of my previous outfits for my cosplays have been bought off of online stores. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have a character with “regular” clothing you can go out to any store to buy. Most cases, though, the characters you’ll be cosplaying will have trademark outfits you’ll have to find specially made.

Some online places I trust are as follows:

Beyond those sites, though, good places to look are Amazon and eBay. The first thing I usually do is search some variation of “-character- cosplay outfit” in Google (or Bing, but it’s not Google so it shouldn’t be used) and figure out where to go from there.

As long as the seller has a good rating, you’re usually pretty safe with the end result.

Which outfit to choose

Now, more times than not, the outfit you need will be available under more than one seller–and it will likely look different, too. The first thing I personally look for is the price. I obviously don’t want to be buying some bad quality outfit, but being a college student makes me hyper-aware of my spending.

I try to find a costume under a seller with good ratings while also falling under my budget. Sometimes that doesn’t go too well; the better costumes will usually cost more. You just need to figure out how much you’re willing to spend on this hobby.

If I know the character I’ll be cosplaying requires purchasing an expensive outfit, I usually spend a few months “saving up” for the outfit and try my hardest not to cosplay a new character for another year or so.

Because spreading out purchases always makes us feel like we’re paying less, doesn’t it?

In conclusion…

Just like everything else in cosplaying, your means of acquiring the proper attire is up to you. If you’re into sewing, then knock yourself out–go ahead and make your outfit. Flaunt your talent to the world.

As far as buying the costume, the process is much like buying a wig. You have to be conscious of your spending habits and the quality of the product you’re buying. You won’t have the wool pulled over your eyes as long as you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

Next time: Makeup

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Wigs, wigs, wigs

It’s probably the most astonishing thing in the world for you to march up to your mother and proudly announce, “I need to go buy a wig!” But trust me: eventually she’ll understand. There might just be a flurry of questions to begin with.

Unfortunately, we normal humans don’t have the ability to snap our fingers and change our hairstyle. Sometimes cosplayers get lucky and can use their own hair for the character they’re cosplaying as, but that’s not usually the case–especially when you plan on cosplaying a wide variety of characters with a wide variety of appearances.

I find buying wigs to be the first thing to do once you’ve decided on a character. The outfit is obviously a necessity, but if you have the wig, you can already start doing things with your cosplay. You can basically already be that character–just lacking the proper attire (which can bring up some humorous excuses for your character: he/she ruined his/her clothes in the laundry, his/her friend stole his/her clothes, etc).

So, with that, I’ll carry you through the steps of having a decent wig for your cosplay.

Purchasing

Please, please do not go out to a party supplies and/or Halloween store to get a wig. Don’t. Just because they have wigs does not mean you should be buying them for a quality costume. Those are for Halloween costumes; you aren’t going to find high-quality wigs there.

I learned this the hard way. The wig might be a lot cheaper, but it’s cheaper for a reason. Don’t, for a single moment, consider buying one of those wigs. Not only do they look terrible, but they aren’t as easy to maintain.

The best thing to do is purchase wigs off the internet. Now, internet shopping may seem a bit daunting since you never know exactly what you’re getting, but as long as you buy from a reliable source, you’ll usually be pleased with what you get.

How to find the perfect wig

The first thing I usually do is literally type into Google, “-character- cosplay wig.” So, if I’m cosplaying Axel from Kingdom Hearts, I’d type in “Axel cosplay wig.”

That sometimes brings you some nice results of pre-styled wigs that only require your purchase before they’re ready to wear. Or, it’ll take you to some forums of other cosplayers discussing how to go about styling a wig for that character.

If you can’t find anything for the character, then you can just start searching for generic wigs. If the character has long brown hair, then search that. If they have short black hair, search that. You’ll come across plenty of Amazon and eBay stores that are reliable (check their ratings!) and might have what you’re looking for.

These sites have great wigs if you need some place to start:

  • Arda Wigs — I once got a free wig from them because they accidentally sent me the wrong one! Two wigs for the price of one: BONUS.
  • CosplayAnimeWigs — I’ve never bought from them, but I’ve only heard good things.

Styling

Sometimes, you get lucky and don’t have to do any work on the wig. If you buy a pre-styled wig, it’s all set for you and you might only have to fix little things here and there that got messed up in the shipping process.

If you buy a “base” wig that doesn’t fit your character precisely, you’ll have some cutting and possibly some gelling to do.

My Axel wig before I styled it. It's appropriately named a "Punky wig"

My Axel wig before I styled it. It’s appropriately named a “Punky wig”

First of all, you’ll want a wig head to put the wig on–not only for the styling process, but for a place to keep it when you aren’t wearing it. These can be found in several stores. I buy mine at a beauty store (a place called Sally’s Beauty Supply). Depending on where you live, though, that could differ.

There’s one important thing you need to be conscious of when you’re styling a wig: the wig head is not the same size as your head.

The wig will look different on the head than it will on you. This makes things a bit trickier; the best method is to go back and forth between styling it and trying it on to make sure it looks okay. You just have to be ready for tedious work.

Trimming things

If all you have to do is give it a trim, the process is a bit easier. You should see how the wig looks on you, decide what places need trimming, then cut it once it’s back on the wig head (and make sure you pin it down, too, so it doesn’t slide off).

You also need to be sure to have the proper scissors. Don’t use just plain ol’ scissors you’d use to cut paper snowflakes with. There are scissors specifically for hair. Treat your wig as you’d treat your own hair and use the proper tools.

It’s better to cut too little than too much. I try to be careful not to chop off a lot at once when I’m trimming. Even though it feels like a waste of time, the best you can do with cutting a wig is continue seeing how it looks on you in between each section you’re cutting.

Gelling it up

The crazy gravity-defying, fiery hair of Axel. Pic courtesy of kingdomhearts.wikia.com

The crazy gravity-defying, fiery hair of Axel. Pic courtesy of kingdomhearts.wikia.com

Some characters you decide to cosplay will have a bit “crazier” hair: hair that defies logic. But, as cosplayers, we need to find the proper means of making the illogical hair a reality.

If you need to use gel or hairspray in order to keep hair in place (spikes, cowlicks, etc), a good product to use is Got2Be. I used Got2Be gel on my Axel wig, and my cosplaying partner used both gel and hairspray on some of her spiky wigs. It’s strong. Durable.

But pretty damn permanent unless you wash the wig out completely, so be aware of that.

A lot of people have their own ways of going about styling a wig, but an effective way that worked well for my Axel wig was figuring out what spikes I wanted where ahead of time. I went through the entire head of hair and put ponytails around the clumps I wanted to be spiked.

So, I threw some ponytails in the desired spots, tossed the wig onto my head to see how it looked and voila!

WIP

Who cares if I look like a dweeb. The finished product will be awesome.

And not only do the ponytailed clumps of hair signify where the spikes will go, but they’ll keep the hair you aren’t gelling out of the way. While you’re dealing with one spike, hair from the others won’t be weaseling its way in and making a mess of everything.

See? Told you it would look awesome

See? Told you it would look awesome.

Once you have it all gelled and are pleased with it, you need to let it dry before trying it on. Remember that it will look different on the head than it does on you, so don’t be too surprised if the appearance isn’t exactly as you expected when you get to put it on (another reason why the ponytails are good to use: you can somewhat get an idea of what the wig looks like if you try it on with the ponytails indicating spikes).

If you are displeased with how it looks, you can always wash the wig out and try it again (unfortunate, but it happens). There are little things that can be fixed, however. I managed to separate one of the spikes by putting some water on it to activate the gel.

It’s really all about how picky you are.

In Conclusion…

Buying and preparing a wig is always a good idea for the first step in getting your cosplay together. It’s up to you whether or not you want to buy something pre-styled or style it yourself.

And always remember that practice makes perfect. It could take you a few times to get the hang of it, but don’t worry: you’ll get there.

Next time: Costumes

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Which character?

Sometimes one of the hardest things with cosplaying is choosing a character you love enough to want to dress up as. A lot of us cosplayers are equally passionate about certain characters and fandoms, so the problem might stem from choosing which character to cosplay first.

There are some factors that play into making this decision:

  • Cost
  • Difficulty
  • Popularity
  • Use

Cost

Cost will always play a part in this hobby. I’m going to be bluntly honest in saying that cosplay is expensive. There are ways to lessen the cost, but no matter what you do, you’ll always have to keep money in mind. You’ll need to be aware of just how much you’re willing to spend.

And if you’re tight on expenses, you might want to cosplay a character whose outfit will cost the least.

Difficulty

How difficult is it going to be to get your costume together? Are you making it entirely from scratch? Are you buying it? Do you need to style a wig a certain way? You should be considering how much work you’ll be putting into it. If you’re a beginner, you should obviously start with something simple and slowly work up to something more complex.

Especially when you consider the amount of money you’ll be spending along with the extra work on your part.

Popularity

Some cosplayers decide who they want to cosplay based on the popularity of that fandom at the time. So, if a cosplayer is juggling between two options, they might go with one option simply because that character is more popular at that moment and will get more attention if the cosplayer goes public with it.

This shouldn’t be the determiner, however. Cosplayers need to dress up as a character they love, so a cosplayer shouldn’t feel forced to cosplay someone simply because that character is popular. What I’m saying is if you’re debating between two characters and one happens to be more popular than the other, that might be a better choice to go with if you want attention for it (once you’ve already factored in costs and whatnot).

If you’re cosplaying for yourself and attention means nothing to you, then popularity won’t really play a part.

Use

The title is vague, but I’m referring to what you’re doing with your cosplay. I already covered what cosplayers do in my previous entry and why they cosplay in my entry before that, so what you need to consider is what you personally are doing with your cosplay.

Are you cosplaying with the main desire of wanting to have something to sew? Then look for a character who wears an outfit you think you’d have fun making.

Are you cosplaying to take photos? Figure out which character you love but also think you look the best as.

Are you cosplaying to make videos? Consider which character you think you’ll most accurately represent personalty-wise (and appearance-wise, too).

Yukiko and Chie

Cosplay in which I dressed up as a character from a fandom that I’m not too passionate about, but agreed to do it since I was cosplaying with my friend.

Are you cosplaying for conventions? Then decide what’s going on at the convention in regards to what is popular and who else is going to be there. Or, if you’re going to the convention with a friend or two and you all like at least one fandom collectively, plan to have each of you dress up as a character from that fandom.

My cosplaying partner and I tend to dress up as characters we “ship” together (meaning characters we see in a romantic relationship together). But that’s just our preference and we’ve been branching off of that recently to explore our own interests.

In Conclusion…

Choosing a character may be difficult in some cases, but the feeling of resolve is always welcomed as soon as you have it figure out. And once you know who you’ll be dressing up as, the process of getting the costume together begins.

Next time: Wigs

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What can we do with cosplay?

So you want to cosplay. You want to dress up as a beloved character you’ve been watching or playing or reading a book about. Fantastic, but what do you plan on doing with that cosplay?

Three main things cosplayers do with their outfits are as follows:

  • Photography
  • Videos
  • Conventions

Photography

This is especially for those that put a lot of hard work into their cosplays and want some quality photos to flaunt it just a bit. Photography can mean anything from silly, unprofessional snapshots to full-blown, studio works that cosplayers are willing to pay for. A cosplayer may take pictures in the comfort of their own home or venture out into the world looking for the precise setting that best fits the character they’re cosplaying.

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Photo taken by Allie Mangan, a close friend and brilliant photographer, of myself and my friend during a photoshoot in the winter

As far as who takes the photos, that depends on your available resources. My cosplaying partner and I are lucky to have a very good photographer as a close friend who willingly takes our photos (most of the time), but if you aren’t as lucky, you’ll either have to learn to take your own using a timer, find an “unexperienced” friend to do it for you, or pay for a professional.

It all depends on your preference, really. And whether or not you post them on the internet for the world to enjoy is up to you. My friend and I use our deviantART account to post the pictures our photographer takes.

Videos

Those of us that like the acting part of cosplaying sometimes go as far as making videos. They can be serious videos (usually dramatic music videos) or funny spoofs–both of which are successful if you do them correctly.

Videos allow cosplayers to get more into their character. Even if the video is meant to be funny, the cosplayer will still remain “in character” well enough to accentuate the humor of whatever the video’s about.

To see videos I’ve made with my friend, check out our YouTube channel (don’t get your expectations too high in the clouds since we’re still working out some kinks here and there).

I’ll be discussing videos more in-depth in a later post where I will explain the qualities of good videos and how to go about making them.

Conventions

It always comes back to conventions. Always. When you go to a convention, you have the luxury of taking photos and acting out your character all in one place. You can prance around an annoy people as one character, brood in a corner as another, pose for snapshots when people excitedly run up to you and ask for a picture. It’s all there.

And, as stated in my previous entry, the social aspect is all a part of that. Cosplayers meet other cosplayers at conventions–they meet people with shared interests and make friends that may or may not live close-by.

If you like taking pictures or getting pictures taken of you, acting out your character, and meeting new people, conventions are the perfect place to be.

To sum things up…

There are plenty of things to do once you have your costume made and ready to go. And while some of these activities won’t appeal to everyone, there will always be something you’ll find enjoyable.

Making the outfit is only the beginning.

Next time: How to choose a character to cosplay.

 

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Why do we cosplay?

To get this blog started, let’s begin with the question of “why?” Why do we cosplay? What do we gain from it? Why do we even consider dressing up as someone we’re not and waltzing around? Anyone who may be viewing this page probably already has a good idea of why they personally do it, but there’s usually a general consensus amongst cosplayers.

Plus, I’m sure a lot of us can benefit from having some reasons to give the parents who may look at us as if we’ve gone insane. My mom can’t be the only one who made a face the moment I mentioned buying a wig.

So, why?

There are a few broad reasons:

  • Artistic creativity
  • Theatre-esque desire
  • Social attributes

Artistic Creativity

Cosplay sometimes means making everything from scratch. While not all cosplayers do this, there are several who labor through sewing an entire outfit, styling a wig, and applying detailed make-up. To these people, that’s enjoyable.

They may have had all of these skills before deciding to cosplay and finally found a reason to put their talent to use.

Personally, I buy my outfits from various websites since I am no seamstress. One of my closest friends who isn’t a cosplayer is an excellent seamstress, however, so I’ve recently roped her into helping with some of my cosplays (yes, she had a choice; I didn’t make her help against her will).

While I may not be one of those people who gets a rush out of making the outfits, there are definitely those out there that live and breathe it.

Theatre-esque Desire

When you dress up as a character, you become that character. The instant you are wearing their attire and see your new self in the mirror, you transform into that character. You take on their personality. Their character traits. All of who they are. And, depending on who you are, this is the most thrilling part.

Cosplayers who enjoy the acting part of cosplay usually have the most fun engaging in activities that let them do so. They may make videos, go to conventions, and go out in public just to get involved in live action role play (larp).

This is one of the qualities I have the most fun with. While I sometimes enjoy styling wigs or applying make-up (it usually depends on my mood), I get the biggest thrill out of acting like the character. And that’s what started it all with me and my best friend; we wanted to make videos.

There’s something incredibly exhilarating about becoming someone else.

Social Attributes

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Yours truly pictured on the left next to a man dressed as a character from the same video game series. My best friend on the right. Taken at Anime Detour (MN) in 2014.

Conventions. Comic book conventions. Anime conventions. Conventions. Cosplayers can go to conventions dressed as a beloved character, run into someone else cosplaying a character they like, and voila! Friendship.

People form relationships through this hobby.

The topic of conventions, however, will be covered in more detail in a later post.

 

 

In Conclusion…

Everyone has a different reason for why they get involved in this hobby. All of these reasons might all mix together for some people. Others may only enjoy one aspect here and there. Whatever it is, we’re all in this together (no High School Musical reference intended).

Not everyone’s going to think you’re crazy when you walk down the street in a ridiculous outfit.

Next time: What can we do with cosplay?

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Obligatory Greetings

Post 1 photoIf—by some unfortunate event—you have stumbled across this blog, then welcome! My name is Samantha, and I hope I’ll be able to hold your interest for just a wee bit.

As the title suggests, this blog can be considered an unofficial guide to the art of cosplay. I’ll be modest and say I’m no grand master of this hobby (I’m still very much a novice myself), but this will, with any luck, be more to your advantage than anything else.

I’m as eager to learn as you are.

To clear things up right off the bat, this blog will not involve tutorials. I’ll give pointers on certain aspects of cosplay, but you won’t find any step-by-step procedures.

Some good sites for tutorials:

  • Arda (for wigs)
  • CosplayTutorial (for costumes—though this site also has some nice wig tutorials, too)

Those sites are helpful for those who plan on making their costumes from scratch, which is an option I’ll get into in a later post.

Readers can benefit from this blog whether they’re new to cosplay or have been cosplaying for as long as they can remember. I’ll be discussing aspects of cosplay based on my own experience—the 3 years of it. There are plenty of things I wished I had known back during my first attempt. Hopefully any of you beginners out there can benefit from my failure.

I’ll give you a rundown of what to do and what not to do in certain situations. You might be lucky enough to read some humorous little anecdotes here and there.

For now, check out the deviantART account and YouTube channel I share with my best friend and cosplaying partner. That might give you an idea of approximately how experienced I am with this hobby.

Next time: Why do we cosplay?

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