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Snoots' Guide to Cosplay Tags: cosplay

   You can find the Hall of Cosplay in the tunnels of Replicant City in high-sky ElvenSong on OSgrid.

    Cosplay is the art of dressing up as a favorite character (from just about any genre) and attending a science fiction / comic convention as that character.

    The costumes range from amazingly complex to just plain strange.   The Hall of Cosplay has over 250 photos of the best-of-the-best of Cosplay characters. Please feel free to visit the exhibit.  Is awesomesauce.

    But how is Cosplay done?  The following is a very brief beginner's guide of Cosplay methods to get one started.



    In cosplay there are several things to consider to make the convention fun:

    * First and foremost, consider physical necessities.  You have this awesome costume (or not so awesome, depending on your intent).  It took you months to create it, hours to put it on.  Now... how do you go to the bathroom, drink water or eat?  Keep physical necessities in mind.

    * Consider the cost of attending the convention in your overall calculations.  Shame to build a fantastic costume and not be able to attend a convention or three to show it off.

    * The costume is only part of it. The attitude and role play is equally important.

    * It's best to pick a part that fits you physically (not essential, but best). You can do this by either going with a match-- or an exact opposite (such as a girl playing an ogre, a guy playing Wonder Woman, or a small person playing a 40K Terminator).      It's usually either replication or satire that works.  But the wonderful thing about cosplay:  there are no rules.

    * You can cross genres if you're skillful. A steampunk Elf carrying a huge gun and and checking people out with a "stolen" sonic screwdriver can be a lot of fun. :D


    * Decide on whether you want a simple, "fun" costume (sometimes just a T-shirt and a hat) or an all-out, complex one.  Search the Internet for inspiration.  Read websites on "How to make a Cosplay Costume".  Look at YouTube.  there are hundreds or even thousands of sites telling you step by step how it's done, from simple to highly advanced.


    * Keep it comfortable. Be aware of the need for air flow, especially on the head. Wigs and hats will need ventilation.  Skullcaps are going to be very hot.

    Remember that conventions will range from hundreds to tens of thousands of people (the latest convention I attended had over 100,000 people attend in 3 days).   Each body literally generates the BTU of a small space heater (6000 to 8000 BTU).  This can make the environment very "chummy" very quickly.  If you have to, use battery-operated internal fans or neck-coolers to survive.

    * Keep the weight down. For example if playing an elf... you can carry a full-size solid-steel Elven sword (illegal at some conventions), or a realistic-looking plastic version.  Which is going to make your shoulders sore by the end of the day?

   Same with water and food.  You are going to need both water and food to keep your strength up.  Choose light-weight, high-calorie, high-nutrition versions.  You don't want to weigh your stomach down with expensive convention vendor food.

    * Be aware of size. It's difficult to navigate aisles in a wide petticoat-based dress or full-size Warhammer 40k armor.

    * When posing for a photo, rather than standing and smiling... try striking an appropriate-themed pose. For example with a Dr. Who outfit-- you can just stand there... or you can take a sonic screwdriver reading on someone posing with you, or offer a Jelly Baby to the photographer or someone nearby.

    A strange looking anime character can just stand there and look pretty-- or strike a pose that says, "THIS COSTUME ROCKS!"   Make the character live.   Be the character.  Themed poses are much more interesting for photos and may make the Internet.

    * You can spend almost nothing on a costume, or spend quite a bit (as in months of time and hundreds of dollars). Consider hobbies: most people spend quite a bit on their hobbies. A good costume usually requires either a lot of time and craft-- or monetary investment-- or both. It pays off in fun. Until one has cosplayed-- one hasn't really gotten into the spirit of a convention.

    * If you actually look like the character you'll get a lot more attention. One of the bonuses of my Doctor Who outfit was that I looked a bit like Tom Baker to start with. That helped pull off the overall appearance.  At one convention a large man with warts on his face... chose the part of an ogre, wearing burlap cloth.  People loved it.  Go with what you've got naturally!

    * Research the history of the character. People will make references and it helps to know what they're talking about.  Know your character's story through-and-through.  Study your character. Study the movements, facial expressions, make it your own.

    * It's neat to have something to give people who recognize  your costume, wear a great costume themseves, or for children dressed in costume. For me it was Jelly Babies. If you were an elf, you could have an Elven phrase printed on a nice little book marker and tell people it is guaranteed to protect them from Balrog attacks during the convention. It's humorous, cheap to have produced (computer / printer / scissors), and gives them a memento. You'll need a couple hundred such items (at least), so keep them small, lightweight and easy to produce. Most cosplayers don't offer such, so it will get you remembered and will give attendees a nice memento of the convention.  (There are Elvish translation websites on the Internet.)

    * Make sure any hat stays on your head without constantly falling off.

    * Beware long dress trains that people might step on.

    * Go all-out and enter the costume contest.  Register for such months ahead of time as many conventions run out of competition space.   Walk slowly across the stage, presenting to both audience and judges (who will usually be behind you).  Face the judges as well as the audience.  Address them directly and loudly enough the audience can hear (use a mike if necessary).  Avoid being ridiculous; have the character's mannerisms and spiel down pat. Practice, practice, practice.  Something fun / funny and even out-of-character is always remembered (think Hello Kitty with an AXE!).

    Costume contests are fun. Winning is icing on the cake-- and you never know what is going to strike the judge's fancy. Quite often it is more the presentation and attitude rather than the costume itself.

    That's about it. Just a few tips.  Be sure to visit the Hall of Cosplay and don't let the high-skill costumes intimidate you.  One of my favorites is a simple T-shirt that says, "Error 404-- Costume not found."





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