“How can I improve my cosplay?”

Before we begin, I want to start off by saying that this is NOT a cosplay shaming post! Not at all. A friendly reminder that cosplay is subjective, so what’s considered good or bad can vary between people. So take this post as a guideline and not a scientific paper! This post is for you guys that want to make your lovely cosplays look even better. Because let’s face it; not everyone look flawless or as good as the professionals on day 1. Even the pros like Kamui Cosplay had to start somewhere!

If you just want to cosplay for fun, then skip this post. But if you want to know how to make your cosplays look even more awesome and better, then this post is definitely for you. We will talk about 10 easy ways to on how can I improve my cosplay.

1. Using good materials for your cosplay

duct tape (how can I improve my cosplay)
Use duct tape sparingly! Image by kerttu from Pixabay.

You get what you pay for! Put it simply, using higher quality materials for your costume will make it looks so much better. For example, Worbla is perfect for armored costumes because it’s sturdy and looks really good when finished!

While you can use any materials to make a costume, some materials are better than others. For instance, polyester doesn’t look good on costumes; it ends up looking awkwardly shiny and tacky. And while cardboard is a budget-friendly material, it’s hard to pull off making it look good.

Also, the biggest reason why a cosplay can turn out bad is because of the use of cheap materials.

Some of these materials include:

•             Cardboard that’s not well-hidden

•             Duct tape

•             Plastic tape

•             Garbage bag

•             Styrofoam

It’s not that you can’t use these materials. In a pinch, they’re really good materials to save you money. But either you want to conceal these materials as much as you want, or only use them sparingly. Because either they are not too sturdy for costumes, or they just do not look aesthetically pleasing at all. Like who wants to see a costume bound together by a bunch of duct tape? Cardboard isn’t really good for looking like powerful armor. And garbage bags… let’s not get started there.

Here are some good cosplay materials to use:

  • Spandex: very flexible, resistant to liquids such as water and it dries easily
  • EVA Foam: Almost as good as Worbla for armor but much more affordable and certainly better than cardboard!
  • Cotton: Cotton is just good for everything

I like this article about which materials are great for cosplay:

On the other hand, here are some not-so-great materials for cosplay:

Satin – in general, satin is great for regular clothing. But it tends to look bad on cosplays. And it’s very difficult to use on cosplay. So try to stay away from using satin on your costumes if possible.

Polyester – I know that polyester is great for keeping you warm in the winter! But it doesn’t look too good on cosplays because it’s so shiny and kind of bland-looking. That’s the kind of stuff that Halloween stores tend to use. So avoid polyester!

Tablecloth – works great for keeping your dinner table clean. Not so good for looking great in cosplay!

So make sure you use the right materials for your cosplay!

2. Adding cosplay makeup to your arsenal

Having cosplay makeup will make your overall presentation look so much better in photos and in person! It can do things such as hide blemishes, accentuate your jawline (a good thing) and of course make you look pretty! I have an entire guide on how to do cosplay makeup from start to finish. But if you’re not comfortable wearing makeup, then don’t worry about this step.

Cosplay makeup brings the finishing touches to your look, and your character to life. Just like prop making, sewing, or photo editing; cosplay makeup is an important part of the process that comes with practice and experimenting. Remember to give yourself plenty of time, use reference photos, and plan ahead! Whether you’re going to a con or self-shooting in your backyard, your cosplay makeup skills can be an important part of your costume.

3. Finding the right photographer

Notice how I said the right photographer and not necessarily the best photographer. I think it’s important to find a photographer who fits your style and makes you feel good and comfortable during a photoshoot. While doing your part in making your cosplay awesome is important, having a good photographer will make a huge difference on how can I improve my cosplay.

So my suggestion is doing photoshoots with various photographers and finding one that fits the style you like and makes you look best. Choosing the right photographer for you is an easy way to how can I improve my cosplay.

Here are some quick tips on improving your cosplay photoshoot:

  • Grooming (Be sure to do stuff like shave and cut your nails the day before so you’ll look as good/clean the next day)
  • If you haven’t worn your cosplay for a while, be sure to iron it and clean it so it looks fresh and brand new.
  • Any considerable of wig styling should be done now, so you don’t waste time doing so at the photoshoot
  • If possible, put on your costume at home and see how you look in the mirror. If you see something is off, now is the perfect time fix it up.
  • Download reference photos and practice posing – You don’t want to head into a photoshoot and hope you can “wing it.” Think of at least 3 different poses you can do for your photographer. I personally believe less than 5% of all the photos taking during a photoshoot will be excellent quality (e.g. if 100 photos are taken, fewer than 5 will be 10/10, or even 9/10). Therefore, doing different poses will increase your odds of landing that “perfect” photo!

If you want a complete guide on how to navigate a photoshoot as a cosplayer, check out this guide.

(Note that I am not bashing newbie photographers. If anything, it’s great to shoot with them as well, because both of you guys will get practice. The photographer will get practice working with a cosplayer, and you as a cosplayer will get practice with posing in a costume. And generally speaking, newer photographers will cost less to shoot or even be free (i.e. TFP). So it’s a win-win for both!)

4. Attention to detail

The detailing on this Ningguang cosplay is so good! Cosplayer: ekkokia.

This is a big one! I’ve debated in the past about whether cosplay needs to be accurate or not. Doing an original cosplay is one thing and that’s totally fine and awesome. But if you were trying to make your costume look as accurate to the character and you’re way off target, then it’s considered a bad cosplay.

Sure, you can technically cosplay L from Death Note by wearing by having black hair, a white t-shirt and light blue jeans, but it doesn’t mean it’ll be good. If you do a few simple things to spice up your L cosplay such as: wearing the eyeliner to accentuate his eyebrows, styling and gelling your hair to look like his, and carrying around a lollipop, you’ll look MUCH better!

Put simply, if you try a little harder and do a few simple and easy things to look far more accurate, not only will your costume NOT be a bad cosplay, it’ll be an awesome one instead! The best taste test I would say is look in the mirror with your costumer on and ask, “Would I ask for a photo of my costume if I saw myself at a convention?” If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go!

5. Making sure the cosplay is the right size for you

Having a cosplay that’s too small or too big for you won’t look too good. If you get the right size for you body, you’ll look much better! Cosplayer: slash.cos. Photo by jensliam.photography.

This is another quick and easy way to how can I improve my cosplay.

Just like with regular clothing and fashion, how the clothing fits on you is very important. If the costume is too big or too small, it’s not going to look good on you. On top of that, almost all cosplay stores will NOT accept a refund or exchange if you order the wrong size. So make sure you get the right size by measuring yourself and recording your body statistics!

 As mentioned before, if you’re going to buy a costume, I would purchase one from a reputable store. While eBay and Taobao can save you tons of money, you can also end up with a wig or costume that’s really bad quality. Go with the websites I listed here, and you’re more likely to end up with an awesome costume!

6. Learning from other Cosplayers

Even though her Lola Bunny cosplay is fairly simple, there’s a lot of nuance in why this photo is awesome (e.g. posing, makeup, facial expression, basketball prop, wig). Learning from other cosplayers will help you as well! Cosplayer: gaby_cosplay. Photo taken by edgarddaherphoto.

One of the best ways to improve your cosplays is by simply observing how the professionals and popular cosplayers do it. Just like with any hobby or sport, if you want to be better, you have to learn from others that are currently better than you at it. So the next time you’re scrolling through social media or watching cosplay music videos, slow down and observe your favorite cosplayers:

  • How are they posing? Are they leaning a certain way to accentuate their best features?
  • Look at their costume. What makes it stand out and make it look nice? (e.g. embroidery, prop, something original they added)
  • Watch cosplay tutorials and see how they sewed or crafted their cosplay

7. Making sure the wig is properly styled and fitted

A good wig makes a huge difference!

The cosplay wig is one of the most important items of your cosplay. Essentially, it could make or break your overall presentation. If a wig isn’t properly styled or fitted, it’ll drag down your cosplay. There are a lot of ways to make your wigs look amazing; check out my guide if you want to learn all the tricks (link).

But the two easiest things you can with your wigs to improve your cosplay. The first is to make sure all your real hair is hidden inside the wig. If you have your real hair showing with a wig on, it makes your cosplay look less professional. So use that wig cap to hold that hair inside.  

The second is to simply have some sort of styling done on the wig. Even if your character has a plain and flat hairstyle, you don’t want your wig to look like it came out of the product bag. Add some hairspray and gel to give a better look!  

8. Giving yourself lots of time  

Shield Hero cosplay
Attending a con early helps you get your cosplay ready, just like with my Naofumi cosplay!

What?! Time management can help improve my cosplay?  

Absolutely!

This might sound silly, but hear me out. By giving yourself more time to prepare your cosplay, whether that’s making the costume or putting it on during a con, you’ll definitely have a better chance of looking better.

Having plenty of time to perfectly put on your costume, wig and makeup, you’ll be looking real good.  

On the flip side; one time I had to rush getting my cosplay on because we had an issue finding the photographer. Because I didn’t have time to prepare, oh boy it showed in the photos!  

So even small things like this can make a HUGE difference with how your cosplay looks.  

9. Adding props and accessories to your cosplay

We can agree that my Marth cosplay is a lot cooler with the Falchion sword!

When I first obtained my Marth cosplay, it was decent on its own. But when I commissioned his legendary sword and added it with me to conventions, it made my cosplay stand out a lot more!

So if your character carries a weapon or a cool-looking accessory, you should consider making that on top of your cosplay. It’ll definitely improve your look!  

10. Having fun!

You can’t spell cosplay without “play!”

If you’re looking nervous and tense in your cosplay, it’ll definitely show in the photos. Don’t forget that we cosplay to have fun. So while yes, you want to do well in the Masquerade and have great photos during your photoshoot, regardless of the outcome, you’re gonna have fun with your friends!

Summary

To summarize, here are the 10 ways on how can I improve my cosplay:

  1. Using good materials for your cosplay
  2. Adding cosplay makeup to your arsenal
  3. Finding the right photographer
  4. Attention to detail
  5. Making sure the cosplay is the right size
  6. Learning from other cosplayers
  7. Making sure the wig is properly styled and fitted
  8. Giving yourself lots of time
  9. Adding props and accessories to your cosplay
  10. Having fun!

And there you have it; 5 easy ways on how can I improve my cosplay! Are you always looking up to your game when it comes to cosplay? Let me know in the comments below!