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GREAT tips for GREAT cosplays Need help? Starting out? Look here first!

#1 User is offline   GLaDOS 

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 04:37 PM

I didn't see a thread specifically dedicated to overall advice on cosplaying (but then again, I didn't look very hard...) so I decided to compile a list of advice and tips to help YOU make the best costume you can. I've been making costumes and props since I was 11 years old, and have a lot of experience in stage work, costuming, and prop work. (Huzzah 4 years + of theater experience!) My father also has experience in prop work, and has been a cabinet maker for most of his life. He knows a thing or two also!

If you have any questions about making anything, please don't hesitate to PM me or comment here!

Some of these were relocated from my post on another topic. :) I hope I can get this pinned~!


- THE MOST EXPENSIVE FABRIC ISN'T ALWAYS THE BEST FABRIC TO USE. A lot of people make this common mistake, thinking that the more expensive a fabric is it's better for their purposes. Stop thinking like that. It isn't. Rarely, if ever. That's not to say you shouldn't spend a lot of money on your fabric. If it works for your costume, then wonderful. What I'm saying is just because it costs a frillion bucks, doesn't mean it's what you need!

- THE MORE YOU MAKE OF YOUR COSTUME YOURSELF, THE LESS EXPENSIVE IT WILL BE. You're paying for labor charges, and when you do it yourself your payment is the costume! If you're not confident in your skills, practice. :) And, if you're gonna commission someone, try and stay away from websites or ebay sellers that specialize in it. Stick to people you know, or people that you've heard do good work for a good price.

- DON'T BUY YOUR WIGS/PROPS FROM A COMPANY THAT SPECIALIZES IN SELLING WIGS OR PROPS. They will charge you more because they 'specialize' in it. I buy -all- my wigs from ebay and haven't paid more than 25 - 30 dollars for them including shipping and handling. As long as the wigs are made from kanekalon fiber you will be all set.

- THRIFT STORES ARE YOUR FRIEND. Don't be a priss and refuse to go to a second-hand store because you feel like it makes you a scrub. THRIFT STORES ARE GOLD MINES. If you do not find ONE thing for your costume, you will find another. Shoes, shirts to modify, bedsheets to use as a yard of fabric - you will pay up to 60% less for a bedsheet for fabric than you would a yard or so of fabric from a craft store. True story.

- SCULPEY IS AMAZING. Just sayin. So is that Crayola model magic stuff. It's lightweight and air dries. Need to shape something? Upholstry foam works awesomely also. If you're carrying this prop around, make sure it's not too heavy and adheres to the prop rules of ACen or the conventions you're attending.

- PROPS IN PIECES AREN'T TACKY. THEY'RE RULE-ABIDING AND CLEVER. If you have to make a prop that's in two pieces for it to follow prop limit rules, then don't worry about how it looks! I remember a few years ago a Sephiroth has a sword that was hinged and folded into two pieces that were 4 ft each. A Wolfwood had a cross that velcro'd together to be a full prop.

- COMFORT IS IMPORTANT. It is alright to sacrifice price for comfort. If WINDBREAKER material is the cheapest fabric out there do not buy it just because it's cheap. I know I'm contradicting my first statement a bit but comfort is important, especially if you're going to be walking around in the costume for 4+ hours.

- LEATHER STORES SELL SCRAPS OF LEATHER FOR CHEAP. If you're looking to make a belt, a gauntlet, shoulder palavers, shin guards, ANYTHING you need out of leather, keep in mind that local leather stores will sell leather scraps that you can use for these things for very inexpensive prices. Some places charge by the pound, some charge by surface area.

- METAL IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLICATE. If you need to make a sword out of wood, there is a way to make it look like a shiny, metal blade. First of all, you need to sand, smooth, and seal the wood. Second of all, there is a paint called 'TESTORS Buffable Model Masters Metallics' - this paint is a spray paint, and, like the name of it implies, it is a spray paint that you can buff to a metallic sheen. It's about 5 - 6 dollars depending on where you get it from.

- NEED SOMETHING TO LOOK LIKE A LIGHT? Paint it over with white first, then use a clear paint of the colour light you need over it. The white will bring out the colour and make it look like it's lit up. Of course, if you can afford a small LED light then by all means!

- NO ONE IS PERFECT. This is a really important rule. I understand some people are extremely anal and perfectionistic about their costumes, but if the character's costume is supposed to be LAVENDER and the only fabric colour you can find is LILAC MEADOWS, no one is going to notice. Having a small part of your costume differ from a character's is what makes the costume YOURS!

- NOT ALL FABRIC WILL TAKE TO DYE WELL. You can't dye everything. Before you buy something that's the wrong colour make sure it will take to dye. Cotton is bar-none the best fabric to try and dye as a heads-up.

Here are a few various websites, forums, and Ebay sellers I know of that are useful for costuming!

I Kick Shins - Hair extensions, wigs, hair clips, accessories for hair falls, dreads, goggles, rave-y items, you name it - it's here!

Avant Gauche - Lolita and goththic lolita dress and clothing pattern index

Zazzle - Zazzle is a place where you can put ANY image on ALMOST ANYTHING and buy it from the website - t-shirts are usually around 18 - 20 dollars!

Clockwork Couture - Steampunk and neo/Victorian tops, bottoms, shoes, hats, watches, goggles, baubles, thingamajigs, and many other awesome things!

Sockdreams - Socks, stockings, spats, leg warmers, thigh highs, arm warmers, gloves, garters, petticoats, AND MUCH MORE *_*





That's all I can think of, for now...! I'll keep adding things here as I think of them or as questions are asked/answered. :) Your own tips and input are appreciated!

Thank you and happy cosplaying!

This post has been edited by GLaDOS-tan: 29 June 2010 - 08:31 PM

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GREAT tips for GREAT cosplays thread!

#2 User is offline   this_chick25 

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 06:39 PM

I have to respectfully disagree with a few of your points:

Quote

THE MOST EXPENSIVE FABRIC ISN'T ALWAYS THE BEST FABRIC TO USE. A lot of people make this common mistake, thinking that the more expensive a fabric is it's better for their purposes. Stop thinking like that. It isn't. Rarely, if ever.

I would not so much say that this is entirely true or entirely false. I'd say "use the fabric that is best-suited to your needs for the cosplay." Sometimes you need denim, because it behaves a particular way, but other times you can substitute with a cotton fabric of a similar color, but sometimes you just have to go for that spectacular brocade because it's just perfect, and it'd save you a lot of time and money trying to reproduce that same effect with cheaper materials.

Quote

THE MORE YOU MAKE OF YOUR COSTUME YOURSELF, THE LESS EXPENSIVE IT WILL BE. People that take commissions for costumes will overcharge you because they know you can't make the costume yourself and don't know any better than to let them buy whatever they want for the materials and things like that. You're also paying for labor charges, and when you do it yourself your payment is the costume. And if you can't make it yourself, PRACTICE. That's the only way anyone gets better at anything!

DON'T BUY YOUR WIGS/PROPS FROM A COMPANY THAT SPECIALIZES IN SELLING WIGS OR PROPS. They will charge you more for the same reason. I buy -all- my wigs from ebay and haven't paid more than 25 - 30 dollars for them including shipping and handling. As long as the wigs are made from kanekalon fiber you will be all set.

Commissioners are not there just to rip off poor, unwitting cosplayers who can't make their own costumes. That's entirely unfair to them--it makes them sound predatory. Plenty of commissioners give their customers options on budget and materials. ...and of course you're paying for labor--commissioning is work! Anybody would want to get paid for working. But did you know that many small-time commissioners actually charge surprisingly little for labor? They usually don't make much in the way of profit.

There are also people who don't have the time available to make their own cosplays, or learn the skills involved in making certain costumes/props as well. Depending on skill level, it can also cost more in time and money to make a costume, depending on how much trial and error/experimenting/completely messing up and having to remake entire pieces or use different materials a person has to do. If a person knows s/he can spend only $30-50 on materials but no matter how much s/he tries for a whole year s/he can't make a prop or costume to his/her liking, but s/he can pay $75-100 for someone else to make it for him/her in a few weeks/months so it looks amazing and not waste a whole year, some people would rather hang out with their friends instead of banging their head against a wall in frustration.

Sure, making your own cosplay/prop is satisfying and can be cheaper, but not everyone can do it--or wants to. Cosplay can sometimes employ an astounding array of things you have to learn about, depending on whether you want to sew something like a dress or become something like a transforming dragon mech with moving wings and smoking nostrils. Even if they eventually can learn whatever skills are necessary to sew/build/sculpt/otherwise construct who or whatever they want to become (I personally have learned to solder, work with a ridiculous variety of plastics, and use a blowtorch), maybe they feel it isn't worth the time and trouble.

So TL;DR--Commissioners aren't evil villains out to take all your moneys. They are there to provide a service which, like many services, would not be marketable if other people weren't willing to pay for them.
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#3 User is offline   GLaDOS 

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 07:13 PM

It's impossible to tell what a costume is made out of by looking at animu screenshots, so why stress or spend money that you don't have to?

And, to point something out, most people that take commissions for costumes charge WELL over 75 - 100 dollars. They'll spend that much on materials and then ask another 100 for labor/shipping charges. That's what I'm talkin' about ^^;
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#4 User is offline   this_chick25 

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 08:01 PM

I really didn't state any of those numbers as a specific example--I was just throwing random numbers as an example and then marked up percentages.

However, since you're using the example of $100 labor/shipping charges--say an item (a... dress? a jacket/pants combo?) takes 10 hours to make, and costs them $15-$20 to ship (UPS/FedEx/Priority Mail). That means this person is making $8 - $8.50 an hour. That's not very much--I'd personally charge about that much (maybe $9), and I definitely make more at my day job. You also have to remember that you are paying for that particular allotment of time, their skill, the travel time, the research time, and the cost of packaging and shipping. If a commissioner is doing this in their free time and not as a business, odds are they are paying what you would pay if you were doing this on your own (no wholesale discounts).

Since it has been ages since I purchased a commissioned item, I just did a random price pull of three different cosplay dresses and the range appears to be $90-180 for the larger dresses, shipping about $8 - $60. This would logically factor in things like packaging costs, shipping speed, and the like. Honestly, I find the ones I looked at to be rather reasonably priced based on the level of detail, but if I paid $60 for shipping, I'd definitely expect my garment to arrive pretty darn fast and with the utmost care taken in packaging. And you always have the right to ask before you buy.
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#5 User is offline   GLaDOS 

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 08:15 PM

That's people using sense though, what I'm saying is a lot of people you'll commission off ebay or something will charge more because a lot of people don't ask about it. s:
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#6 User is offline   Millions_Knives 

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 12:54 AM

tips to figure out what fabric characters costume is made of

0:type
use
Ex.reference- common material (just suggestions)

1: known style or pattern
find out what costume is known to be made of in real life
Ex. cheerleader- answer
Ex. school uniform- answer

2: design
fabrics have common print styles such as textiles
Ex. large intricate patterns-textile
Ex. small repetitive pattern- plaid

3: weather
fabrics behave differently in different weather
Ex. heavy coat- heavy fabric
Ex. wet clothes- cotton

4:texture
lighting and concept art can show how more detail
Ex.hard suit- vinyl
Ex.fuzzy - fur

5: motion or weight
video is good for reviling how a fabric behaves
Ex. cell framing- polyester
Ex. rip patterns- broad cloth

6: mechanics
things like rigidness, stretchiness, sheen play a part in character likeness
Ex. light armor-pleather
Ex. body suit- lycra

7: character knowledge
sometimes they will just say what their clothes are made of and character bios have good info
Ex. robe of the fire rat- wool
Ex. leather outfit- leather

of coarse style and artistic interpretation play a part in choosing a material
such as jrock and loli
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#7 User is offline   GITS SAC Motoko 

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 06:01 PM

Everyone here commenting has really helped, and thanks for making this thread!!! I agree with TC25 about the commissioners, they have to make money somewhere, and it takes a lot of time. I can add a little something, department stores are really great to buy materials, like Kohl's or something. I went there for stuff for my Motoko costume and just had to alter it. DSW is GREAT for shoes, and their clearance racks are AMAZING...that's where I got my boots from, and they were 40% off!!!! :D
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#8 User is offline   LoveGaara 

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 05:33 PM

Wow thanx! This helps me a lot! I was tempted to go to a "specalizing" website for my costume. xD But now I really want to make it myself. These helped me a lot!
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Posted 16 August 2010 - 05:02 PM

This is great!! Lots of really good tips! Thanks so much! :)
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Posted 16 August 2010 - 08:22 PM

Can I just say... I love you all for this? :3
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Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:23 PM

If you are going to buy a commish or something pre-made on ebay ALWAYS ask the seller/company what the material is made out of. If it is something different than what they say, it breaks ebay policy and you could get your money back.
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#12 User is offline   fntmalchemist 

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 12:24 AM

View PostGLaDOS-tan, on 29 June 2010 - 04:37 PM, said:


- DON'T BUY YOUR WIGS/PROPS FROM A COMPANY THAT SPECIALIZES IN SELLING WIGS OR PROPS. They will charge you more because they 'specialize' in it. I buy -all- my wigs from ebay and haven't paid more than 25 - 30 dollars for them including shipping and handling. As long as the wigs are made from kanekalon fiber you will be all set.




As This_Chick went into earlier, i would agree that i don't find this statement accurate. focusing on the wig portion mostly, between myself and my 4 cosplaying friends, we've had about a 50% chance of getting wigs that match the description or picture provided off of ebay, be it "specialized" sellers or not, with good ratings and reviews none the less.

I prefer to go out to costume or theatrical stores to get my wigs, when something is in your hands, and you can see it for yourself, that's the only real way to tell it's value for me.
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#13 User is offline   GLaDOS 

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:49 AM

View Postfntmalchemist, on 19 August 2010 - 12:24 AM, said:

As This_Chick went into earlier, i would agree that i don't find this statement accurate. focusing on the wig portion mostly, between myself and my 4 cosplaying friends, we've had about a 50% chance of getting wigs that match the description or picture provided off of ebay, be it "specialized" sellers or not, with good ratings and reviews none the less.

I prefer to go out to costume or theatrical stores to get my wigs, when something is in your hands, and you can see it for yourself, that's the only real way to tell it's value for me.


When a seller sends you something that isn't as described, you return it, non? I personally have never had an issue. Costume shops rarely, if ever, have wigs made out of the stuff you really want a wig made out of for it to last for a good, long time!
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#14 User is offline   Demon Slayer 

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 01:27 AM

I have also heard that wigs from China/Hong Kong run a bit smaller than wigs you might get somewhere else. As someone with a larger head, that's kind of a big deal for me - I've gotten wigs that look great on wig heads, but then when I put them on, they're too small or sit funny/don't look like the picture. My Austria wig is a perfect example of this, it often creeps back from my hairline and some strands of my real hair come out. Amphigory and CosWorx have never let me down, and I'd rather pay slightly higher prices/wait a bit longer for it to show up knowing that I'll get something that will fit my stupid head.

As for costume shops, make sure you go to an ACTUAL shop, not just a Spirit Halloween or what have you. Fantasy Costumes(Milwaukee at Six Corners) has some pretty decent quality wigs. They have the cheaper, not as great quality stuff, but at the same time, they have actual meant-to-be-hair-replacement wigs. If you can manage it, you CAN get them for a substantial discount off the tag price (like, $80 off). Just state your budget and drop that it's for ACen, you might get lucky, as I did.
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#15 User is offline   chamgirl89 

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 01:42 PM

here are some more tips (mostly on posing and facial expressions) I remember someone posted this a while back and I just thought that I'd share it again ^^ http://behindinfinit...urnal/21030596/

This post has been edited by chamgirl89: 26 August 2010 - 01:43 PM

Tekosexual

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#16 User is offline   Millions_Knives 

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 09:03 AM

lol
i love that cham
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#17 User is offline   Mystline 

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 03:32 PM

This thread really helps, thank you.

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