Hello everyone and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! So, convention season is pretty much upon us for the summer since we have so many going on around this time such as BelleCon, Anime Apex, and MetroCon in Tampa and we had Omni Expo and KnightroKon not too long ago here in Orlando, almost forgot about Florida Anime Experience as well! Then of course Anime Festival Orlando, Nerd Fest, and MythiCon later on this summer in Orlando as well! Besides the guests, events, and panels that go on at these things there is always my favorite thing and that is cosplay!
Costume play or cosplay for short has been around for the longest time since the 1930s all thanks to an American who brought it to a science fiction show. I know you guys may think it came from Japan but it really started in America and then got the term coined by the Japanese people forty years later! As a cosplayer since 2005, I have seen so many cosplays from anime such as Naruto, Sailor Moon, Full Moon wo Sagashite also happened, and video games such as Street Fighter, Super Mario, and of course, now .hack is starting to appear! But one interesting thing about cosplay that brings on the more artistic flare is of course making original characters and it brings on a new dimension and can be easier for some! Trust me, it made it easier for me after hearing the description of Helba’s costume from .hack! So, what is my advice for creating characters? Here it is!
- Use Your Imagination! Like how ScyFy ays it best, “Imagine Greater!” Your imagination is pretty much the window when it comes to creating characters and the story behind them! Whether it is a monster or demon in Dungeons and Dragons or a wizard in Harry Potter, creating that character can be endless since there are so many elements and looks you can do for that character!
- Put It On Paper! As in drawing it or writing it! As a fan fiction writer myself, I tend to write down my characters since I can’t really draw anymore and have to rely on imagery from my own head and have help when it comes to searching for those parts, which I will get to later! Still, writing or drawing your characters could help you in creating that costume you want to do for a convention, especially if it has an interesting costume to go with it such as dresses or something else! Plus, it can help you plan out in how to piece together the costume and if need to, buy fabric or commission someone you trust in giving that design of the costume to have made or at least looking for what you need!
- When Basing Off Anime or Video Games, Research Different Elements While Designing! I didn’t realize this when I was designing my .hack costume until now! Why? Because when it comes to doing a costume based on anime, manga, or video game with original characters, researching the different elements of what different classes wear, what kind of patterns or designs that each costume may have, for instance a Pokemon trainer has the Pokeball symbol somewhere on their clothing to indicate who they are! Even though I did take that a step further with gym leaders, since it seems that they have a different Pokebaleaders on the other hand, I will talk about that later! Anyways, another example is when I was talking with the rest of the members of the .hack vs. Sword Art group, I found out that the characters on the .hack side tend to have the different element waves on their clothes to show what they are, even some of their body markings tend to have some of the shapes from them and looked up the wave symbol for thunder since I am doing the Twin Blade class with my character. Another thing I didn’t know was that I am doing a R2 version of my character since trenchcoats don’t appear until G. U. which makes it more interesting! So, researching the elements of costumes would help very greatly!
- If You’re In A Group And Need Help With Something, Don’t Be Afraid To Ask! Reason why I am saying this is that usually with cosplay groups it is always great to have members to help you in getting what you need for the costume if you’re doing your OC for a group thing! There are times when certain members do have information since they are familiar with the series a bit more or at least can link you to that site if it’s a Wiki or a DeviantArt page! Plus, it could also lead you to places where you can commission someone or get it off of different sites such as Cosplay Magic, EBay, or even Amazon! With my case, on the other hand, I tend to ask for costume descriptions to help me out when it comes to my designs!
- Give Yourself Enough Time To Gather Parts! I know I might rant about this problem in the future posts but like many cosplays, you need to have time to build it before the convention! Trust me, I am still waiting on my weapon props to be made! Anyways! When it comes to time, there are instances where you can’t find everything at one place, shipping may take a while, or you might want to wait on sale, but keep your timing in mind since conventions do come up on you pretty fast! I bet you’re wondering, even though I have school/work, when can I start doing this within the time frames of which convention? Well, with Spring conventions, like MegaCon and ChaotiCon, I would say start gathering parts around October! That can also go the same with Winter ones as well such as Holiday Matsuri, Evil Con, and Sands of Anime! Reason being is because you know Christmas shopping pretty much starts after Thanksgiving and shipping is pretty crazy during that time until the start of January. Why I say January? Well, did have a case in the past where MegaCon was in February and didn’t get the part I needed until after the con! So, October is your best bet when you have not only Halloween stores opened up but also everything will be shipped on time! Summer Conventions, such as BelleCon, Omni, Knightro, Metro, and so many others, I would say start around March or April, but best time is around Spring Break for anyone who is in school because midterms would be the week after usually and some people do take breaks to slack off and cosplay hunting is pretty good around that time because people are donating their old winter stuff if there coats or jackets to be needed! Plus, it gives enough time to ship wigs, make props, and etc. especially with May conventions since they come pretty quickly! So, March is your best bet if it’s in May, unless if you want to start in February if you have money left from a Winter convention! Not only that, it does give you time to re-design if need to or return anything to some stores if there is a return policy in place!
- When Comissioning Someone to Make Something, Do It Early As Possible and It’s Someone You Trust! Speaking of time, commissioning someone to make something is also a timely thing too! Like most people, there are times when costume makers do have jobs and time to time other commissions and the best way of knowing about this is by contacting them as early as possible! There is also times when they do go to conventions which it may help knowing what convention you want the costume made for that one if you are going to the same one as they are or going to a different one in a different state that may be happening at the same time or the week after. Plus, it would be nice to let them know you want it in time for it or just a week or two before so in case of shipping it will get there on time! Another thing is to trust the one you are commissioning with, as in you know that they will get the job done and if you know the person for a long time and familiar with their work then go with them. If they recommend someone for a job they can’t do, it may sound rude, but ask your friend that knows the person they are sending to you about their work. As in, ask if they get jobs done on time, how long do they sometimes take, do a lot of people like them if they heard anything about this person, etc. because it will help knowing who they are and the question is if you want to go back to them if need be.
- If Need To, Go To More Than One Thrift Store! Thrift stores are very handy when it comes to finding the easy parts and also do alterations to them when need be and there are times when they can be a pain because there are people that donate that are in different sizes or tend to sell items a little bit pricier than others or carry items that you can’t find at one and need to go somewhere else for, so I say go to more than one if you need to! You can find pretty interesting clothing at some places than others and can find it cheaper at others if you’re lucky. For instance, with my Pokemon Ranger costume, I was able to find a very nice red and black vest at a Salvation Army for around $5 and it was the only location that I know of that carries vests and told a friend of mine from school that this location sells vests since she needed one but she did go to it and found a different vest at this particular location! As said, you can find pretty awesome stuff at a certain location, what about size? Well, as most people know there are times when sizes are an issue and I tend to have that with my curvy and muscular figure! There are times when you can go to one store that you have to go a size or two up, unless it is a suit type costume for your character, girls go to the guys side since it is easier to fit in guys clothing than girls. When I did my Anri cosplay, I had to go with a guys’ suit jacket and casual shirt since most of the blouses for women were in tiny and petite sizes. And certain Plato’s Closets do carry the bigger sizes for girls if you need to do that, if you have one I mean or something similar to one. I was able to find back up dresses for Metro at the Plato’s Closet near Fashion Square and same with the Anri skirt and did help Tobi’s wife with it. If you can fit in the sizes at certain places that you’ve been before, go back to find that item since you would know they carry your size for a long time.
- When Altering Certain Items, Give It An Interesting Spin! Remembered how I talked about the gym leaders in Pokemon? Well, there are times when I either make a character for that series or any other ones, I tend to give a nice spin for the alterations. It kind of shows who you are if you want to add a patch to something or a certain accessory to it, such as a chain, which I am doing my .hack costume with the coat! Back to the Pokemon thing, I decided with my gym leader character, Ike, who takes over Vermillion in my time skip as the newest gym leader, I thought why not have thunder energy patches to show the element he trains and uses? It worked out nicely in the end despite being asked if I was Lt. Surge! Still, alterations to something can be a nice thing to make your costume pop and be unique at the same time and also tells the people what series you are from if they are familiar with it. If you’re not from a particular something and just want to do your solo thing, go ahead!
- Craft Stores Are Your Best Friends! I know craft stores can be a little crazy but they do carry the items you need such as foam for weapons, felt for patches, and now wig heads, the Michael’s near me carry those things apparently, still these places are awesome to go to if you don’t want to spend a lot on certain things to create a part or prop! Plus, you can find a bit more items here that you can’t find anywhere else or if places sell out of it. If a craft store doesn’t have it in stock, there is always online with their website since shipping tends to take 2-10 days!
- If Time Runs Out, Improv Is Not A Bad Thing! If you seen Heroes of Cosplay, you remembered how Yaya Han didn’t like how the two girls who did the Dungeons and Dragons cosplays improvised the horns. I watched it and saw that they couldn’t make the horns on time and had to rely on costume shop horns and paint them! There are times when time slips by and rip the rug from underneath your feet in building OC or regular cosplay and can’t make a piece on time! So, improving something is not a bad thing, yeah it may not be professional to many but we have to do what we need to on the seconds we have left or one day even if it means we have to spray a wig or paint a store bought sword or gun to do so! Or even use duct tape for armor!
Well, that is it for these tips! If you want to see more cosplay tips, just comment below! What is next for Nerdy Shique Universe? Not sure as of now, but MetroCon is riding on fast and can’t wait what 2014 will hold for me! Til next time!