Step 2: Designing your character
I am an enormous fan of original character design, whether it’s creating an entirely new character from my head, or taking inspiration from an existing character and adding my own flavour to the costume.
Original designs allow you to put your heart into a costume: You’re not making a carbon-copy of someone else’s work, but putting a piece of yourself into the character. This contributes to how aptly you can portray the character you’ve chosen, and how much you will enjoy getting into the skin of that character. After all, what better way to immerse yourself completely than by being able to think to yourself the entire time, “I designed this. I made this. This really is who I am.”
This past summer, for the third Ottawa Comic-Con, I made an original character design called Poison Peach, which was inspired by two existing characters and a piece of fan-art I found online. I decided doing a fusion of the sweet, innocent Princess Peach (Super Mario) and the seductive, cunning Poison Ivy (DC comics) would be a great opportunity to test my ability to become the character I made. Since Princess Peach has a very classic, recognizable look, and Poison Ivy has great variation in her character design, I will be the first to admit it was a challenge. In original design, there is absolutely an aspect of being recognizable, so that you have the chance to interact with others while in character. Bearing that in mind, I attempted to keep true to a few key traits of both Princess Peach and Poison Ivy, while putting my own little twists on everything to truly make it my own (for instance, instead of Peach’s trademark gem on the front of her dress, I put the gem on a choker necklace). Making personal choices like this at the design stage is the key to becoming the character you’ve chosen, or created.
A unique design of your own – whether totally new or an interpretation – creates a feeling of pride that can be channeled into the confidence required to take on your character’s persona.
P.S. None of this is to say that creating an exact copy of an existing costume cannot be a rewarding experience. My advice is simply that you create the most sincere and personal emotional connection to the character you’re cosplaying.
Alex is an aspiring author and second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin. She loves to edit manuscripts, make costumes and play video games. Alex finished her first novel last year during National Novel Writing Month and intends to write a second this coming November, despite working and going to school.