You’ve just seen the latest trailer for the newest blockbuster at Comic Con and a certain someone catches your eye. Your first thought may be: “I HAVE TO COSPLAY THAT CHARACTER!” But where do you start? How do you get to grips with an outfit and an entire ‘person’ that a costume designer has put together with mounds of money and time at their disposal? Well, at times it’s not easy and anyone getting involved in cosplay can tell you just that, but I am here to ease your minds, worries and stress!
This article is going to cover planning out your cosplay right from the beginning and budgeting your money so you’re not going to be surviving on instant noodles and tap water for months on end (It’s neither fun nor nutritional… ). Planning and budgeting can be something that you can get quite wrong when you first step into the world of cosplay, and there have been horror stories about people bankrupting themselves by spending way too much money on certain items. Fear not, that won’t happen to you, dear Arcadians! We won’t allow it!
First thing is first; you’ve found your character that you want to cosplay but how on earth are you ever going to recreate that awesome look? For the purposes of making this a little easier to explain, we’ll take a character that I myself will be cosplaying in the very near future. We’re going to look at how you can break down a character’s costume and how you can plan this out in order to be ready for the next con just around the corner.
Before we get too in depth with planning, I want to recommend a cosplayer’s best friend right now which is the app ‘Cosplanner’, available on both iPhone and Android. This little app, it cannot be stressed enough, is a lifesaver. Free to download, you can add in whatever character you want to cosplay, followed by the date you’re starting and the due date underneath. And, of course, there’s a little section there where you put in your budget for this cosplay (it’s also great for your budgeting concerns!).
Once you’ve got that first information in, you can then go about adding in your reference pictures and, while it’s free to put in 6 pictures at first, you will have to pay €0.99 if you want to be able to upload more. It’s worth it, believe me. And now for the most important part of this little planning app; you can input every single detail you need to bring this character to life. Take for example Harley Quinn from DC’s upcoming film, Suicide Squad. The first thing to plan for that would be your wig, as this can be the easiest thing to find when it comes to a character such as this one. As stated in previous articles, you can find fantastic wigs on Arda, Etsy and even eBay. With Harley, I’m going with a wig from Arda at €45.
When it comes to a character’s outfit, minus their wig, you need to break it down into sections. Try to do a quick search online to find what you can get already made, what is readily available and what you will need to possibly commission or make yourself. Some items are easier found than others, and some things, like Harley’s jacket, may have to be commissioned by a dressmaker if you can’t make it yourself.
Breaking things down in a list, like one you can make on Cosplanner, makes things seem easier and can even give you a better grasp at how long it may take to get this character off the ground. Once you’ve got an item, tick it off, and if you’re out and about doing some cosplay shopping, you can use this as your own checklist so you’re not buying something you don’t actually need (it happens to all of us!). One last thing on planning: always leave yourself enough time! Do not end up painting, or sewing or styling something an hour before the convention because otherwise you will lose your mind (and maybe a finger too).
Your budget is something that will differ from person to person and from cosplay to cosplay. There are certain characters that will cost a great deal more than others. For example, an armoured cosplay will cost a lot more due to the products that you may need, like worbla and glue guns, among other items. And then, of course, there are those that will cost almost nothing due to recycling older costumes, like wigs or even stuff from your own closet!
Cosplay can cost a lot, but please do not let it eat into your bank account because if you don’t keep an eye on your expenditure, that exact thing can happen and you’ll find yourself without a cent to your name.
The Cosplanner app can really help with this little concern. When inputting your budget, do a little research on the internet first and through your own wardrobe as well. Try to look at the most expensive pieces of your cosplay, like Harley’s jacket, or her shoes for example. Harley’s jacket has embroidered writing on the back and, if you’re commissioning this, then you’re going to have to put aside a little wad of cash to spend on this one singular item. So firstly, ask around. Get some quotes from different dress makers. If you think you can make it yourself then get some quotes on materials and add this up first.
With the app, you can add in each and every item with the price beside it. Add this up and you’ve got your primary budget concern; what this actual costume will cost.
Now, you can sit yourself down and find out exactly how much money you’re bringing in for the month, or for the week. Take each item by itself and take it week by week. Do not blow your entire budget in one sitting because that will sting. Count up how long you have in weeks until your next convention or photoshoot or whenever you want to debut this amazing new cosplay, and write down each item you need to purchase or make. If you’re making more money in one week, then (after your own personal expenditure is discounted) you can buy your most expensive thing in that week. If you’re commissioning something, ask your dressmaker if you can pay in instalments. Some dressmakers won’t allow this because they have to pay for the materials, but some won’t have a problem with it and that can also help with your budgeting.
Your main thing with budgeting is to make sure you’re not going to end up penniless by the end. You want to be able to eat when you get to your conventions, and if you’ve spent your food money on your left shoe… well, eating laces and heels doesn’t sound very appetising to us.