Step 3: Preparing for the event
Whether the event is something as important as a costume competition at a convention or as relatively insignificant as dressing up for a movie premiere, immersing yourself in the character is very rewarding. But like anything worth doing, becoming a character takes work and preparation.
When cosplaying an existing character, I find the research stage fairly straightforward. I recently attended an event as Roxy Richter from the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and in anticipation of becoming her for a night, I watched the movie about four times in the weeks leading up to the event. Doing so allowed me to study Roxy’s behavior, mannerisms, facial expressions and speech patterns. The smallest details – like whether she smiles with her teeth or close-lipped – make the portrayal of a character convincing (especially in pictures).
If your source material comes from a movie or show, taking lots of screencaps is a great idea. Artwork of characters often doesn’t show them from all angles, so taking a single screencap can save a lot of time, rather than trying to find the scene and pausing every time you need to know what the back of their shirt looks like.
Original interpretations of characters are more of a challenge, but you can have a lot of fun making up your own character traits. The key to any performance is consistency, and becoming a character through cosplay is no different than getting up on a stage to act. Whether it’s the way you walk, a reaction to other people, or a goofy tic, you need to decide how your character behaves well ahead of time, and practise. Practise, practise, practise. A good way to research for an original character is to watch videos of other cosplayers and pay close attention to those who emulate your ideas.
Lastly, posing for pictures is something a lot of cosplayers forget about. Find some classic poses (or make some up) and – I kid you not – stand in front of a mirror and pose until you’re happy with how you look. No matter how silly you feel in your home, you’ll feel much better when you end up with nice photos, rather than awkward, static, hands-at-your-sides pictures that don’t exhibit your character at all.
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.