The Phases of Cosplay 2: Research

We’ve got our idea and we’ve got our initial concept. Now comes the important part: research!

The Phases of Cosplay: Research

This is not a step to be glossed over or taken lightly. Just as you cannot begin to walk before beginning to crawl, research is a crucial step in cosplay planning. To put it simply, this is where the planning and preparation happens before actually investing any money into creating the cosplay.

First, I like to analyze the facets of the cosplay concept I’m working with. I begin to imagine how to execute it in real life. It becomes easier if you break the concept down into individual components. I consider what materials would work best for the body construction, and there may be more than one. It’s good to keep a few options available in case one doesn’t work out for a variety of reasons. Also the process needed to reach the desired finish, which can include paint, decals, hardware, and other details. If you’re recreating a character’s costume, you may be able to find other cosplayers and get some ideas based on their construction.

It’s also important to look into how to work with those materials. I’m always learning something new with every cosplay build, and it’s important to have that kind of drive for knowledge. There will be plenty of online tutorial sourcing and hours clocked in on YouTube to feed your brain. This will also prevent you from diving into something that turns out to be too daunting. And that’s okay! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the confidence to learn a certain skill. Even I get help with parts of my cosplays that I’m uncomfortable working with or that I can recognize that it’s not where my strength lies, both mentally and physically. There are plenty of talented people who you can commission pieces or even the entirety of your cosplay.

Finally, it’s good to estimate the budget required to create the cosplay. You don’t want to go broke over a project and it is possible to create amazing cosplays on a budget. But it’s also very easy to go overboard making a cosplay look as authentic as possible. It’s important to source out the best options for you and your budget on the materials you require. That might mean ordering from outside the city, or even outside the country. So be sure to allow yourself time for shipping. And if you require a commissioned piece, allow time for construction and possibly shipping for that as well. It’s also very important to not forget that the materials you buy specifically for the cosplay doesn’t just come together by itself. You may need to account for buying new tools or equipment, or even just replenishing your stock of glue gun sticks.

I hope you’re enjoying learning about these phases of cosplay. I’ll be breaking from this series for a short while to write about something different. When I return, we’ll be talking about the next Phase of Cosplay: Acquire. In this phase, I will also give a break down of the costs I incurred for one of my own cosplays and explain in more detail how commissions work and how they affect your budget.

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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