A beginners guide to cosplay from the experts

Cosplaying is a creative and impressive outlet for fans to show love for their favorite characters. Here is a helpful guide to get you started.

Showing appreciation for one’s favorite media franchise is nothing new and has taken many different forms over the decades. One of the most popular forms is cosplay, or dressing up as a character from a franchise or series. Going to any local anime convention, one will see how prevalent this hobby has become over the years.

From beginners to simple cosplays made from things they found in their closets to elaborate, fully detailed masterpieces that creators spend months or even years preparing, even celebrities have their fun from time to time. For those interested in getting into cosplay, here is the history of the hobby and how to get started.

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What is cosplay?

Cosplay is a portmanteau of the words costume and game. While the hobby itself dates back to 1970s college students dressing up as manga and anime characters, the term would not be used to describe it until a June 1983 article by Nobuyuki Takahashi on my anime magazine. While dressing up in costumes is not unique to Japan, the idea of ​​cosplay itself has Japanese roots. According to, “[c]Osplay costumes actually grew out of costume conventions created at the first world science fiction convention in 1939.”

Once Takahashi’s article came out, the popularity of cosplay began to grow. This continued into the 1990s and 2000s as computers and Internet access became more common in the average home. Social media would push cosplay into mainstream awareness, with more and more people taking an interest in the hobby. Conventions everywhere were flooded with amateurs and professional cosplayers, with the latter even able to monetize their work and garnered sponsorship from specialty costume and accessory companies.

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How to start cosplaying

Starting the hobby can be as easy as pulling clothes out of a closet. There are many characters that use modern styles that can be replicated. For example, Luffy from One piece can be replicated by wearing a red button down shirt and cutoff jeans with a straw hat. His scar can be drawn with makeup. Even without a wig or black hair, her outfit is iconic enough for people to understand who the character is.

For those who don’t have time to create a costume but still want to get involved, Etsy is full of independent artists creating cosplays and accessories. There are also professional companies like SimCosplay that sell custom and standard costumes. EZCosplay and ProCosplay are other companies that provide similar services. For superhero spandex suits and the like, HerosTime offers customizable options, adding details like zippers and other features.

For those who like a more hands-on approach, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube and sites like SkillShare that can teach you how to build a cosplay from scratch. The cosplay subreddit provides a community for those interested in the hobby and looking for help, while the Replica Prop Forum has designated boards for costumes, props, modeling, and other topics within the community. There’s even a board where creators sell second-hand items.

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KamuiCosplay offers online tutorials and even has books published on cosplay. He also has a YouTube channel where he explains his process of creating several different cosplays and how to set up other parts like the LEDs. Kinpatsu Cosplay also provides tutorials on how to create different parts of a costume. From hats to swords to tails, they cover some of the most common items found in cosplay and how to create them. They both sell patterns, tutorials, and even prints on their websites. Most of the books and patterns are available for digital download, with the latter including videos explaining the creation process.

Makeup is an element of cosplay and an art form in itself that can transform one’s facial features, even resembling the graphic style of cosplay. borderlands or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are full of creators sharing tips and tricks for a variety of different styles and looks for a variety of skin tones. AnyaPanda has a YouTube channel that covers different styles of cosplay makeup, while Evansya Xo shares wig tutorials and reviews on her Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Fellow TikToker theyonndon also shares skills with an entire playlist on how to style natural hair to replicate anime hairstyles.

Cosplay is a hobby that anyone can get into without spending a dime or breaking the bank. For those who fall in love with it and want to become a professional model, costumer, or prop maker, there are plenty of ways to monetize the medium you love. Conventions are a great way to meet other cosplayers and show off the hard work that went into their chosen cosplays. Social networks also provide connections with other creators, whether they are casual hobbyists or professionals.

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