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The Phases of Cosplay 5: Finishing and Detail Work

Home stretch, gang!

You’ve got something built, be proud. This is the easiest part to summarize and I’m so happy you’ve allowed me to share some of the highlights of a cosplayer’s journey. You’ve drafted up your idea. You’ve prepared yourself and learned some new skills. You’ve put in a lot of hard work, money and time into what you’ve created, but it’s not over yet.

You might be thinking “Why doesn’t this look exactly like what I had pictured?” Don’t fret. Now comes all the finer details and making it look like everything you had hoped. This is what separates the boys from the men, or… the girls from… you know what I’m getting at.

This is where it all begins to look authentic, and reference photos are a must. Pay attention to how the surface should look and really analyze the costume you’re making for all the minor details you might take for granted. Is there a pattern? A logo? Is there battle damage? Does it look dirty? Glossy? Metallic? Cel-shaded? Ideally, you’re trying to copy the character as a whole or elements of the character’s design, try to capture the overall look.

Really try your best to convey these details as best as you can, especially if you’re planning to enter your work into a competition. Remember that your cosplay will be seen up close by fans and judges and some attention to detail can go a long way. If your armor isn’t supposed to have sharp edges, take the time to sand them down. If your pants need to look like a comic book, take some paint or markers and transform them to looking like they popped right out of the pages. And if you’re planning to wear make up or style your hair, elaborate or subtle, make sure you do a trial run so you work out the kinks before the big day.

And, most importantly, have fun! Don’t fret if something breaks while you’re wearing it. It happens to the best of us and you can always fix it later. Better yet, bring a small bag with some emergency supplies. Regardless if things go smoothly or if you forgot how to plan for your inevitable bathroom breaks, people will love and appreciate your cosplay.

And here we reach our conclusion, folks! Thanks for joining me through these Phases of Cosplay. I hope you gained some insight into what exactly goes on in the weeks and months leading up to a new costume debut and why your cosplaying friends might seems so busy or frazzled before a convention.

As we approach C4 and Hallowe’en, throw me a comment here, on the AYB Facebook page, or on my Facebook page, if you have any specific cosplay-related questions and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can!

J Tanooki cosplays a Psycho from the Borderlands series.

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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