Cosplay, short for “costume play,” is a fun and exciting way for fans to bring their favourite characters to life from anime, movies, video games, and popular culture.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Disney princesses, Sailor Moon, or iconic characters like Mickey Mouse and Scooby-Doo, cosplay offers an immersive experience that allows you to step into the shoes of your beloved characters.
This year, the cosplay summer edition is coming to Ireland on 12th & 13 August, at The Convention Centre Dublin with several Cosplay costume contests and interesting panels due to take place.
In this ultimate guide to cosplay for beginners, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
Let’s dive into the enchanting world of costume play, from choosing your first cosplay and crafting your costume to making new friends within the cosplay community from all over the world.
Table of contents
- Choose a character you love
- Gather reference images and fan art
- What is closet cosplay?
- Cosplay costumes and elaborate ideas
- Cosplay makeup and special effects
- Join a cosplay group or attend conventions
Choose a character you love
The first step in cosplay for beginners is to choose a character you love.
The key is to pick a character that resonates with you and that you feel excited to bring to life.
Gather reference images and fan art
Once you’ve chosen your character, gather reference images and fan art to study their entire costume from different angles.
Having a clear visual representation of your character’s costume is crucial for recreating it accurately. You can find reference images on the internet or from official artwork related to the character.
Study YouTube, Instagram and TikTok videos of creators who have created their own version of the character.
It will be easier to find outfits to cosplay as a popular character like Harley Quinn or Super Mario characters.
However, don’t be afraid to choose some obscure characters or bring a new costume that’s never been seen at comic conventions before!
What is closet cosplay?
Closet cosplay means creating a costume using your own everyday clothing and accessories to create a recognisable version of a character, instead of buying or making your own costume.
For beginners, it’s often recommended to start with simple costumes or closet cosplay.
It’s an excellent way to dip your toes into the world of cosplay without investing too much time or money initially.
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t still buy a part of the costume. For example, complementing your floor-length cloak or dress with simple accessories like a long auburn wig and latex elf ears could easily transform you into a medieval elven princess!
Cosplay costumes and elaborate ideas
As your cosplay journey progresses, you’ll find yourself drawn to more intricate and ambitious costume ideas.
The world of cosplay offers a plethora of options to explore, from embodying a fierce Roman warrior princess with flowing gowns and battle-ready armour to becoming the mischievous and unpredictable Harley Quinn, complete with her signature baseball bat.
If you seek a touch of vintage glamour, a 1920s flapper costume will transport you back to the roaring jazz age with fringe dresses and feathered headbands.
For those with a taste for the eerie and fantastical, transforming into a ghostly pirate with tattered clothes and haunting makeup or donning the infamous black and white ensemble of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians promises to make a memorable impact.
The cosplay possibilities are boundless, allowing you to express your creativity and passion for characters in the most elaborate and imaginative ways.
Cosplay makeup and special effects
Cosplay isn’t just about the costume; makeup and special effects play a crucial role in bringing your character to life.
Whether you’re transforming into a mystical creature, a battle-worn warrior, or a fantastical being, these tools will help you achieve astonishing results.
Add a touch of realism to your cosplay with fake blood, making your costume more authentic and attention-grabbing.
Embrace the power of makeup and special effects, and you’ll be amazed at how they elevate your cosplay game to new heights.
Check out our resident makeup expert, Orlagh Gilsenan’s Insta feed for some inspiration!
If you’re feeling extra ambitions, why not take on the challenge of creating a DIY Demogorgon headgear that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression!
Check out this captivating video tutorial to guide you through the process and unleash your creativity.
With a bit of determination and the right materials, you can bring this iconic Stranger Things character to life and showcase your craftsmanship in the most awe-inspiring way!
What is the best cosplay makeup?
Some of our top cosplay makeup brands include:
When buying makeup for cosplay events, look for long-lasting and smudge-resistant options, especially if you’ll be wearing the cosplay for an extended period or during conventions.
- Contouring and Highlighting: Emphasise the character’s facial structure by contouring and highlighting. Use darker shades to create shadows and define certain areas and lighter shades to bring attention to specific features.
- Eyebrows: Your eyebrows play a significant role in transforming your appearance. Use eyebrow makeup to alter their shape and colour to match the character’s look.
- Eye Makeup: Focus on the character’s eye shape, eyeliner style, and eyeshadow colors. False eyelashes can also enhance the eyes and make them appear larger or more dramatic.
- Face Painting and Special Effects: If your character requires face painting or special effects (e.g., scars, wounds, or fantasy elements), practice these techniques beforehand to perfect the desired look.
- Lips: Choose lip colours that match the character’s appearance. Lip liners can help create precise lines, and long-wear lip products can ensure your makeup stays intact.
- Practice and Test: Before the event or convention, practice your makeup look several times to gain confidence and refine your technique. Take photos in different lighting conditions to see how it appears on camera.
- Bring Touch-up Supplies: Pack a small touch-up kit with essential makeup items, such as concealer, powder, and lipstick, to maintain your look throughout the day.
- Seal Your Makeup: Use setting spray or powder to lock your makeup in place and minimize smudging or fading, especially if you anticipate being in warm or humid conditions.
- Makeup Removal: After the event, ensure you thoroughly remove your makeup using a gentle makeup remover and cleanse your face to take care of your skin.
Join a cosplay group or attend conventions
Cosplay in Ireland has became very popular in recent years. Check out some of these groups if you need help getting started:
Cosplaying with friends or joining a cosplay group can be really fun. You can learn new skills, share cosplay ideas, and enjoy cosplaying together, making the whole process even more enjoyable.
Attending conventions is an excellent way to meet fellow cosplayers and immerse yourself in the cosplay community.
Don’t forget to share your creations on social media platforms to connect with other enthusiasts and gain inspiration from other people’s cosplays!
One of the most exciting things at conventions can be costume contests where you can compete with others for the best outfit.
There will often be prizes available, so it’s well worth entering the competitions to showcase your elaborate costume and cosplay makeup.
Even if there are no prizes, it’s great to be recognised for your artistic creativity and skills.
Check the Ts and Cs of your convention as there may be requirements for the costume to be a certain percent handmade or thrifted.
Still have questions on how to start your Cosplay journey? Read our FAQs below.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get started in cosplay?
Getting started in cosplay is a thrilling journey that begins with choosing your favourite character and want to embody.
To begin, think about your favourite characters from anime, movies, video games, or any other pop culture sources.
Once you have your character in mind, gather reference images and fan art to better understand their costume details.
Who should I cosplay?
The beauty of cosplay is that you can be anyone you want! The character you choose to cosplay should be someone you genuinely love and are excited to portray.
Whether it’s a heroic figure, a beloved princess, or an iconic villain, the key is to have a connection with the character you plan to bring to life.
Are there rules to cosplay?
Cosplay is a form of self-expression and creativity, and there are no strict rules to follow. However, it’s essential to be respectful of other cosplayers, creators, and the characters you’re cosplaying.
Avoid offensive portrayals and remember that cosplaying is all about having fun and celebrating your passion for the characters you admire.
Do’s and don’ts of cosplay
- Be respectful and supportive of other cosplayers
- Showcase your creativity and unique take on the character
- Embrace body positivity and portray characters you identify with
- Attend conventions and cosplay events to meet other enthusiasts and showcase your costumes
- Experiment with different materials and techniques to improve your skills
- If you’d like to take a photo of a person in costume, make sure to ask their permission
- Don’t engage in any behaviour that could be considered offensive or harmful
- Avoid copying or imitating another cosplayer’s work without permission
- Don’t let negative comments deter you from cosplaying
- Don’t take photos of others if they haven’t consented or if they don’t know
How to make a cosplay costume for beginners:
For beginners, starting with a simple costume or closet cosplay is a great way to get started.
Utilise everyday clothing and accessories to create a recognisable version of your character.
As you gain confidence, you can learn new skills like sewing and crafting to create more elaborate costumes.
How to make cosplay props:
Cosplay props are an essential part of bringing a character to life.
They can be made from various materials such as foam, wood, or thermoplastics. Many online tutorials and resources are available to help you learn prop-making techniques.
Naturally, lots of cosplayers like to make a prop weapon to complete their outfit – just remember, safety first when working with materials and tools.
Is it OK for a girl to cosplay as a boy?
Absolutely! Cosplay knows no gender boundaries. Whether you’re a girl cosplaying as a male character or vice versa, what matters most is your passion for the character and your dedication to bringing them to life.
Is cosplay an expensive hobby?
The cost of cosplay can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the costume and props.
The more experienced cosplayers will often invest in expensive materials to really take their outfits to the next level.
As with any hobby, its fans are a diverse group of people with diverse levels of interest in. As we’ve seen with closet cosplay, it’s not even essential to buy costumes!
Cosplay can be as budget-friendly or as elaborate as you choose. For beginners, starting with inexpensive materials is recommended.
As you gain more experience, you can invest in higher-quality materials and tools.
This is just one of the reasons why we love it!
How to cosplay at a convention:
Cosplaying at a convention can be an unforgettable experience. Make sure to check the convention’s rules and guidelines regarding props and costumes.
Plan your cosplay well in advance and ensure it’s comfortable to wear for an extended period.
Take breaks to rest and hydrate, and most importantly, have fun interacting with other cosplayers and attendees.
Remember to bring safety pins in case of an emergency with your costume!
Where to get cosplay wigs:
Cosplay wigs are readily available at Funplace. Look for wigs that match the character’s hairstyle and colour.
Cosplay for beginners can be a thrilling journey of self-expression, creativity, and making new friends who share similar interests.
Funplace, the ultimate costume shop, has all the products you need to bring your favorite characters to life.
Remember, cosplay is not just about the final look; it’s about the joy of creating, portraying a character you love, and celebrating your passion for popular culture.
So, gather your reference images, choose your character, and start cosplaying – the cosplay world awaits your unique contribution!