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The Phases of Cosplay 1: Conception

Amaterasu costume concept.

With C4 and BaseLAN 29 less than nine weeks away, it’s time for me to kickstart the process of adding some new cosplay projects to my permanent roster.

As I’m trying to develop my identity in the evolving world of cosplay, I’m at a stage where it’s important for me to release new, high-quality costumes so that I can improve my skills and wow people enough to be memorable. I not only cosplay for myself and my love of the craft, but for the fans of cosplay and of the characters I portray.

While I sit in front of my computer, watching countless YouTube tutorials and stockpiling an endless supply of reference photos, I had a thought. What exactly is my process on creating a new cosplay? What steps do I consistently follow? I saw this as a great opportunity to chronologically track what phases my cosplays go through and what challenges I’m experiencing as they’re happening. As we lead up to C4 and BaseLAN 29, I will occasionally share with you some insight into how my cosplays are created, without spoiling the end result.

So, let’s start from the very beginning.

Phase 1: Conception


Amaterasu costume concept.


Just as a lot of ideas are created, it starts with a spark of inspiration. I was searching online for images one day, looking for something outside the box. I really love taking characters and re-imagining them, giving them new life while still being recognizable. So, I usually think of a character I want to do and how to alter it to make it more “me”. Sometimes the basic concept comes to me right away and sometimes I need to look at other people’s creative works, like fan art, to get the creative juices flowing.

It’s not easy for me to translate these thoughts onto paper as I’m not the best at drawing. Thankfully, I have a great artist on hand to help me visualize my concepts or help in the creation of the concepts themselves. As with a lot of mock ups, these concepts will go through alterations and tweaks throughout the entire process. Gravity, for example, is not always cooperative with some of the details of a design.

Unfortunately, a lot of ideas get to this point, seed themselves into a folder titled “Future Projects”, and never see the light of day. This can been a big struggle for a cosplayer. All this dreams for projects can pile up and become overwhelming. I’ve intentionally limited myself to 8 projects in my current folder because I know I will get them done. I normally have less than this, but with the series of 6 cosplays I’m planning to release over the next year, I needed to make an exception.

That concludes the first phase of my cosplay process. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or comments on this first phase.

Tune in next week for Phase 2: Research!

J. Tanooki is a Contributor for She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own. 

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