Us cosplayers can be pretty crafty and creative, but it would be unfair to claim we’re all 100% responsible to everything we’ve ever created. There’s always a tutorial or a late-night eureka moment inspired by a “How It’s Made” documentary that helps us along, not to mention all the hours spent trying things out and failing until you finally get the results you want.
This is why it often seems pretty unfair to demand other cosplayers to tell you, in detail, how they’ve made their costumes - it’s never a simple, straight-forward process that goes directly from A to B to C, but rather a great big hot mess of alphabet soup, that was probably left on the kitchen counter for too long and has already gone soggy and stale, which is why it’s now hard to make out all the letters. Wow, what a metaphor!
Starting on a new costume can be daunting, especially if you haven’t cosplayed all that much, so I figured I’d make a brief list of what I like to call
Every Cosplayer’s Best Friends
Google (and the search function on any social media website ever)
It may seem tired and unhelpful to tell someone to “just google it” but trust me, you really should start out by just googling it. Typing “[character name] cosplay tutorial” (or even replacing “tutorial” with “work in progress”) in the Google search bar is pretty likely to give you some useful results.
Also, the tags on Tumblr are fab. The search function is a bit of a mess now, but if you just check out #cosplay tutorial or #cosplay help, I can assure you you’ll find quite a few interesting and useful things. And even if the tutorials aren’t specifically of the costume you’re working on, they might offer tips and crafting ideas that could be applicable.
This is technically already covered in the previous bit, but does deserve a mention of its own. Because YouTube is a tutorial goldmine, especially when it comes to makeup, as well as a whole lot of prop and costume tips. It might take a while to comb through all the search results to find what you’re looking for, but like I said before, even if the tutorial isn’t exactly what you need, it might give you an idea on how to proceed.
Trial and Error
There’s a saying in Finnish about how no one is a smith at birth, which essentially suggests that no one is naturally good at anything. Everything takes practise, and with practise comes the beautiful combination of trial and error.
New techniques or materials may not work out perfectly on the first go, but the second try might already result in something a lot better. Trying, failing and learning from your mistakes is a pretty good way to go - not only in cosplay but also life in general.
Obeserving and asking help from others is a great way to learn new tricks and techniques, but especially with questions, it’s usually better to go for more specific rather than less. Asking “how did you make your costume” results in the above mentioned alphabet soup visual to cross through the mental scenery of whoever it is you’re asking this from, but “what materials and techniques did you use for your boots” is already a much more specific question, and a whole lot easier to answer.
It should be noted that other cosplayers don’t actually owe anyone the details of their crafting process, so don’t be upset if someone tells you they’d rather not say, or don’t have the time or energy to type up their process. Sure, it can be a bit upsetting, and maybe sounds like they’re guarding what they must think are national secrets, but you can always try asking someone else.
And then, of course, there are all the thousands and thousands of discussion groups all over the interwebs, as well as real-life hobby groups and whatnot, where people will probably share their knowledge and tips and tricks. So if you ever feel like you are completely alone with your project and that no one has ever done anything like it? Stop it immediately and hit Google.