Cosplaying can look like hardcore dress up. Well…because that’s exactly what it is. Beyond the look of dressing up, many cosplayers invest so much time, money, blood, sweat, and tears into making some of or all of their cosplays.
A common feeling most self-taught and beginner cosplayers will feel is what I like to call “cosplay anxiety/procrastination.” Cosplay anxiety happens when a costume or prop looks so hard and overwhelming that you put off making it forever until you can’t anymore. I am very much a victim of this.
Tips to Conquer Cosplay Anxiety
I have come up with some tips that will help you overcome cosplay anxiety, and give you a solid start to what can be a fun and rewarding process.
Do your research
Once you got your ideal characters to cosplay, you should try to make a “character kit.” Character kits can be sketches of the character’s outfit, props, items, detailing, armor designs, etc. Most of the time you can google “(character’s name) cosplay tutorial” or just look up pictures of the cosplays for reference.
Tutorials will always be your best friend, and looking at someone else’s work can teach you what materials they used, what techniques did they use. It can also give you better ideas on how to go about making certain parts.
Research about materials you are interested in working with. A good example would be your thermoplastics, worbla. Worbla has become very popular, but it is very expensive. Look into all the possible materials that can give you the same results if not even better results for your type of project.
Finding cheaper and less of a high-maintainence material can eliminate some of that overwhelming fear of failing. Failing in cosplaying will happen, but with cheaper more accessible material, it’s no biggie. Also figuring out a material’s temperament before working with it prevents backtracking from blindly making mistakes. I’ve learned this from experience.
When you sew, always make or use pre-made patterns. When making armor, always make templates. Going by customized patterns and template measurements can help figure out how much material you will need without over or under buying.
It also helps from a psychological point. Let me explain, patterns and templates usually break down the full piece into smaller pieces. When you make the pieces focusing on a pattern shape out of context, it makes the task seem less overwhelming. It’s like that saying all our high school teachers would say, “How do you eat an elephant, piece by piece. Not all at once.” Something odd like that…
Especially with making armor, props, etc, always make a mock up version. Making template and putting it together to form a test run of the full product will give a good idea on if the templates will work or if there needs to be some changes. This process can seem just as overwhelming, but once you make the mock version of your items and get a good understanding of how to make your items, it’ll save so much time and frustration when you start making the actual thing.
Knowing people with the same skills or different skills than you can help SO much. I do not know how to sew. I’m actually planning on sewing my cosplays for next year (internal screaming). Having a friend or anyone that can help you with some advice, some techniques they use, and moral support really helps. Bouncing off ideas with another person can also help create multiple ways of going about making anything when you originally just had maybe one or two ways.
If you have little time to spare and you have over committed yourself, put your ambitious pride aside, and commission something. Commissioning is awesome because you get to support someone else’s amazing skill and pay them to make something customized just for you.
And if you have generous talented friends, they’ll have you just help pay for materials, or make certain things for free!
It can be super easy to get burned out or unmotivated. Especially when the cosplay anxiety hits. For example, when I was working on my Dragon Age Inquisitor staff, I put on all my Dragon Age soundtracks. It made get excited and the first cut into material went by in a flash and my staff was done in a day or so. Watching the tv shows, playing the video games, and watching the movies your characters are in will help make things seem more achievable. I think mostly because you start to get excited and you get in the mind set of “I want to be awesome like that NOW.”
Another thing that also helps me get super inspired is getting the small things to a cosplay done. Whether it’s doing a make up test or having my colored contacts arrive, it puts me in character mode and makes me want to complete the look.
Cosplay can be time consuming, overwhelming, and challenging as I’ve said before. These tips have helped me feel confident and at ease about tackling my overwhelming amount of cosplay projects, and I hope they do the same for you!
If you have any cosplay tips, experiences, or suggestions, share them in the comments below. I would love to hear them!