This article is all about how to cosplay for beginners! Whether you’re brand new to the cosplay world, or you want some tips on how to get started, this post is for you.
In this article about how to cosplay for beginners, I literally take you from start to finish, how to do cosplaying. We’ll also take a look at some of the most common questions that you guys ask and I will answer them for you.
Without further ado…
1. How do I get started with cosplay?
This might seem like the hardest part when it comes how to cosplay for beginners. But in fact, this is probably the most exciting part! Before you begin, you get to decide who you want to cosplay. It doesn’t need to be complicated; just pick a few characters that you could see yourself cosplaying.
Is there a favorite character that you’d love to dress up as? Or if you’re a nice person in real life, would you like to dress up as someone evil? Or do you like being original and want to cosplay an original or creative character?
What I do is have a photo album of characters I’d like to cosplay in the future. This is a great way to save your future ideas, while also getting inspired and motivated to cosplay!
As for how to build and make your cosplay, there are lots of resources outside of my website where you can find helpful cosplay tutorials, including:
What if you don’t want to make the costume yourself? Well, that brings us to our next point…
2. Do I HAVE to make my own cosplay?
Not at all! It’s quite the common misconception that you need to make your own costume in order to cosplays, and that’s not true. Using myself for example, I don’t make my costumes as well. Sewing is a very difficult skill to learn, and if you don’t want to learn how to do It, then that’s totally fine.
There are many cosplayers (including the professional ones) that don’t make their cosplays; they buy them! There are so many reasons why it’s smart and effective to buy your own cosplay and sew one yourself. So you don’t have to worry about being a fraud or fake if you can’t make your own cosplays. Buying cosplays is totally normal! The only situation where you can’t buy a cosplay is for a masquerade. In that scenario, all costumes must be made by yourself.
3. Where can I buy cosplay?
(photo of infographic)
I made an entire guide on the best cosplay websites, so if you haven’t already, do check that out. But in general, I consider cosplay stores to be in 3 categories in terms of price:
- Budget (e.g. eBay, Taobao) – these websites have the cheapest cosplay options available. But the quality can be hit or miss.
- Mid tier (most cosplay websites) – most stores have costumes in the $100-$300 range and for the most part, they’re good quality.
- High price (e.g. Etsy, most independent cosplay commissioners) – you’ll get the highest quality cosplays from here, but it’ll also be the most expensive.
If you’re just starting out, I suggest going for a cheaper costume. It’s not worth shelling out so much money on your first cosplay without knowing exactly what you want. After wearing a costume for the first time, you’ll have a better ideas of what type of costumes you like or dislike. Maybe you don’t like wearing elaborate cosplays, and prefer to wear something casual? Or next time, you want to try something more challenging? TLDR: Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a Worbla cosplay if you end up not liking wearing armor after all.
If you’re new to cosplay and just starting out, I suggest spending no more than $100 USD on your first cosplay. Even if you don’t intend on making your own cosplay, there’s a bunch of nuance about costume-wearing that you’ll want to learn before spending large amounts of money on a costume.
For example, you’ll find cosplay pants are annoying and that you’re better wearing your own dress pants or shirt. So instead of forking out an extra $100 on an entire costume, you can save money by having your own shirt and pants, while only buying the specially made parts of a costume.
Also, avoid Halloween party stores for cosplay. Nothing wrong with Halloween stores but when it comes to cosplay, the quality is almost always inferior. Do yourself a favor and skip the Halloween stores, and stick to reputable cosplay websites.
4. What should my first cosplay be?
There are so many characters that you could cosplay… how to cosplay for beginners and how to choose?
Here are a few ideas on how to choose your first cosplay:
Which characters do you like? Are you into Avatar? Maybe you could cosplay as Katara or Korra! Are you into video games? Then you could do Tifa from Final Fantasy VII! Or do you love the comic book characters? Mary Jane Watson is a good first cosplay option.
Who do you most resemble? This is another way to figure out which character you should cosplay. Going for a character who looks a lot like you, not only makes things easier, but in terms of cosplay accuracy, it’s great as well. However, don’t feel like you need to only cosplay characters who look like you. After all, cosplaying is about fantasy. And part of that fantasy is about being able to do characters who are nothing like you!
Which characters are popular at the moment? Both beginner and experienced cosplayers choose characters who are popular. And why not? Not only will people at conventions have a better chance of recognizing you, but popular characters are great for social media, as those cosplays will get more attention. Yes, there is a stigma attached to doing popular characters; some see it as fame or clout chasing and not truly dressing up for the love of the fandom. But it’s really up to you, so don’t worry about it!
Some popular choices:
And of course, we can’t forget about…
5. What is the easiest cosplay?
Naturally, as a beginner you’ll want to start off with an easy cosplay. Something that you can wear and take off very easily, with minimal or no makeup skills required. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to spend too much money or work on a complex cosplay on your first try. Start small and easy, so you know what you want for future cosplays.
Anyways, for easy cosplay ideas, I got you covered!
I have a few articles with cosplay ideas for you that are easy:
6. What is the golden rule of cosplay?
I have a post about cosplay rules here, but here are the 3 most important rules when you’re cosplaying in my opinion:
“Cosplay is not consent”
This is one of the most important rules in the cosplay world. Just because someone is cosplaying, does not mean you can treat them differently. So if someone is doing a bikini cosplay, it doesn’t mean you can snap photos of them without asking for permission…or catcall them or start touching them. If someone is cosplaying with an elaborate outfit with an amazing prop, it doesn’t mean you can start touching their costume and playing with their prop weapon.
“You can cosplay whoever you want”
The truth is that you really CANNOT cosplay whoever you want. Well you can, but not without potentially pissing off or offending people. In other words, offensive cosplays are generally not allowed. This includes doing cosplays such as changing your skin color or cosplaying someone that’s disrespectful.
The saying, “You can cosplay whoever you want!” does come from a good place though. But you need to be careful, as some cosplays can be offensive to people. For example, it’s disrespectful to darken your skin for a cosplay, so don’t do that. Also, stay away from characters that perpetuate racial stereotypes. This is why you cannot cosplay whoever you want, and why this cosplay rule is FALSE.
“You have to be skinny in order to cosplay”
I feel like a lot of beginners and newcomers to cosplay believe cosplaying = have to be skinny first. Simply because we’re constantly bombarded with beautiful, skinny cosplay models all the time!
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with being a slim cosplayer and there are wonderful cosplayers that fit this category. But cosplayers come from a variety of different backgrounds and sizes, and you don’t have to be one specific body type in order to dress up. Whether you’re plus size or the opposite of a supermodel, don’t let that stop you from cosplaying.
Put it simply…ANYONE can cosplay.
These are 3 cosplay rules you should definitely know on how to cosplay for beginners!
7. How do I look as good as professional cosplayers?
Another important point on how to cosplay for beginners. One of the reasons why you might not want to cosplay…you feel like you can’t be as good as the professionals.
People don’t talk about this much, but it’s not fair to compare yourself and expect to compete/cosplay/attend conventions as frequently as a professional cosplayer. Why?
Because unlike some people who learned how to cosplay with no money, for professional cosplayers, it’s their job – not only do they spend hours upon hours making costumes like non-professionals do, but they’re also constantly posting on social media, marketing their content, selling prints, consistently doing photoshoots and looking damn near perfect in every photo. Since it’s their job they’re pouring more hours than non-professionals!
It’s like trying a new hobby or sport for the first time. Yes, you won’t be perfect on your first try, but that’s okay. While it’s totally cool to be inspired by professional cosplayers, you don’t need to be as good as the professionals, especially when you’re just starting out. The most important thing is that you’re having fun and enjoying yourself when cosplaying.
Which brings me to my next point…
8. How do I make my cosplay look good?
With that said, you can definitely do a few simple things to make your cosplay look better, such as:
Making sure the cosplay is the right size. 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!
Cosplay makeup. Doing 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.
Using the right materials to make a cosplay. While you can use any materials to make a costume, some materials are better than others. In general, 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.
Buying from reputable sellers. 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!
If you get these few steps right, your cosplay will look MUCH better!
9. Can a girl cosplay as a boy? (or vice versa)
Absolutely! This is one of the most important lessons on how to cosplay for beginners. Just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you can’t cosplay Deku from My Hero Academia. And just because you’re a guy, doesn’t mean you cannot cosplay Usagi from Sailor Moon. Gender fluidity is pretty much standard these days in the cosplay world, so don’t worry about not being able to cosplay a character because you’re not the same gender.
10. How do I get paid to cosplay?
There are a bunch of cosplayers today that either make money from cosplaying, or do cosplay for a living! Some of the methods to get paid to cosplay include: doing cosplay on Patreon, having your own YouTube channel, writing books about cosplay, selling cosplay prints, making cosplay for others…and OnlyFans (NSFW). No matter which method you do, it’s going to take commitment and effort to get paid. For example, if you want to start a Patreon or YouTube channel, you need to consistently be putting out content for your subscribers.
Here’s a great video by GinnyDi about being a paid professional cosplayer.
11. Why is cosplay so expensive?
I’m not going to sugarcoat this; cosplaying can definitely be expensive. If you’re consistently doing elaborate cosplays, it’s going to burn your wallet real fast! However, cosplay doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, there are a lot of people who are “poor” that cosplay! How? Opting for casual cosplays more often will save you a LOT of money. Selling off your old cosplays and buying used ones is a great way to obtain money for new cosplays; I call this CosSwapping. On top of that, cosplay stores always have sales and clearance items so you can buy cosplays at a fraction of their real value.
Check out some of these posts on how to save money on cosplay:
- How to afford cosplay
- Is cosplaying really that expensive?
- How to buy and sell used cosplays and save money!
12. How to look good in cosplay photos
So you want to look like a cosplay supermodel, even though you’re just learning how to cosplay for beginners? No problem! Looking good in cosplay photos does take some practice to get good at. But with a few techniques and knowledge at your disposal, you’ll be looking marvelous in no time. Some of these things include: practicing your poses based on your character, knowing which angles flatter you the most, using your hands to accentuate, using the right makeup for certain locations and surprisingly…just wearing a good cosplay.
For more details on how to look good in cosplay photos, check out my complete beginner’s guide on that.
13. What materials do I need to cosplay?
The materials you need to cosplay your character can vary. But in general, here are some of the materials and tools you definitely want to have when costume-making: scissors, sewing machine, needle and thread, foam (for armor), measuring tape, markers to trace your build and glue.
As for things you should carry with you during a convention, here are some things that will in handy if your cosplay happens to malfunction: bobby and safety pins, needle and thread, tape, wig cap and a comb!
14. Buy ahead of time to avoid con crunch
In general, the sooner you make or buy your cosplay, the better. That’s because if you plan on wearing your cosplay at a convention, you want to give yourself a lot of time beforehand to avoid con crunch. Shipping can get delayed. Maybe you’ll make mistakes with your costume that makes completion take longer. So give yourself at least a few months to get your cosplay ready for the big con!
15. Last but not least – You don’t have to do it alone
Last but not least on how to cosplay for beginners; just because you’re new to the cosplay scene, doesn’t mean you have to do things alone! Don’t be afraid to ask for help; there are no stupid questions because we all start somewhere. And if you are unable to make a cosplay part on your own, you can always get someone to help you out, even if you don’t know how to cosplay for beginners. We are called the cosplay COMMUNITY for a reason. 🙂
And there you have it; a complete guide on how to cosplay for beginners! I hope as a newbie to cosplay, I have answered all your questions. Did I get you excited to cosplay now? 🙂 If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I will answer them!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!