The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay

Finding a hobby within a hobby is always going to be one of those quintessential moments of harmony. As cosplay is a crafting hobby that can derive from many other themes, pop culture references or events, it is the Russian nesting doll equivalent of a hobby. 

Here at The HobbyKraze, we wanted to let you in on a crafting hobby that is continuously growing in popularity throughout younger people, influencers, and families. And, the best thing is that it is a hobby you can enjoy to whatever degree you see fit. Whether it’s putting on a mask, creating an elaborate hat or going full-out with the cosplay outfit and accent to the character.

And, as long as it is friendly to your audience (i.e. kid-friendly in an all-ages event), there’s no stopping your imagination. From your favourite superhero to the most adorable anime character. Or, even a family of game characters because there’s nothing to halt the oncoming Horde! 

So, check out all the terms and know-how you’ll need equipped to get noticed in the cosplay communities across the world:

  1. The World of Cosplay, Cons and Culture
  2. The Difference Between Cosplay and Costume
  3. Why You Should Take up Cosplay for Beginners
  4. The History of Cosplay
  5. How to Begin Choosing a Character to Cosplay
  6. The Cosplay Essentials and Tools for a Successful Characterisation
  7. Starting the Process of Beginner Cosplay Character Creation
  8. The Best Places in the UK to Show Off Your Beginner Cosplay Characters
  9. The Hobby Kraze’s Top Comic Con Cosplay Tips

Of course, as this is the ultimate beginner’s guide to cosplay, we’ll take you through every necessary step of character choosing, gluing, cutting, 3D printing, re-sizing, and more. But, for a more in-depth idea of each step in the cosplay outfit process, you should have a look at these ultimate guides our team here at The Hobby Kraze have written:

Once you’ve had a look at these hobbies, you will be more equipped with the cosplay essentials for your cosplaying hobby adventure. 

However, cosplay for beginners doesn’t have to involve creating your own outfit, making use of a sewing machine or grafting long hours accidentally super gluing your fingers together. While these may be the most common cosplay past-times prior to a comic con or popular culture event competition, your outfit can be anything. A custom-made suit built by a close friend or a makeshift get-up created with clothes you already have and pallets of face-paint.

The World of Cosplay, Cons and Culture

The World of Cosplay, Cons and Culture

Cosplay is an imaginative land of creatively minded individuals escaping the day-to-day by adding a little extra spice. And, by being a cosplayer, you’ll be stepping into the shoes of your favourite character, hero, villain, animal, robot, mythical creature, cartoon character, game skin and more. In fact, the idea being in cosplay is that there is no limit. You will have a ‘costume’ enhanced by enacting and ‘playing’ as the character. Hence the name cosplay; costume play. 

And, don’t feel like you have to be confined by characters, pop culture or gendered outfits; cosplay opens doors for all possibilities. There are many people who create their own characters within a ‘universe’. For example; furries, steam punk culture, World of Warcraft, Harry Potter, nostalgia, country culture, Dia de los Muertos, and more. 

The growth and popularity of cosplay has risen over the years where YouTubers, influencers and comic con events have emerged in corners across the world. Even if you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, there’s a good chance your local function rooms will hold a yearly comic con event to appreciate popular and wider culture.

And, with this height in recognition, the cosplaying past time has become a culture of its own. Like-minded individuals who celebrate and believe in the same things, emerge at spectacular conventions to share appreciation for the cultures they love.

So, it’s really a question of which beginner cosplay characters your outfit will pay tribute towards. Whether it’s your favourite DC superheroes, the LEGO® universe or the newest characters of Star Wars, this beginner’s guide to cosplay will have you dressed and ready in no time.

The Difference Between Cosplay and Costume

The Difference Between Cosplay and Costume

One of the biggest comic con cosplay tips The Hobby Kraze can give is to never say ‘costume’ when it comes to cosplay. This is because they are two very different things. First off, a costume has the impression of a one-night bonanza or Halloween event. In contrast, a cosplay is an all-season adaptation of a character; taking both their outfit and their characteristics to become them. 

Cosplay can be considered a lifestyle to those that hobby in it. To others, it can be a career or profession; for example, those that may use a steam punk cosplay outfit in order to man a travelling stall. Or, the 501st Legion.

As part of your cosplay essentials toolkit, you’ll need to know about the 501st Legion; they are a community of Storm Troopers who will always attend popular culture events across the UK in light of raising money for charity and raising awareness for Star Wars.

Notice how we said; ‘a community of Storm Troopers’, instead of; ‘a community of like-minded individuals wearing Storm Trooper costumes’. This is because, these people truly are Storm Troopers, especially to fans and young children.

If you’re heading to a party for a one-off night in a Dr Who outfit, you’re in a costume. Whereas, if you spent time creating your outfit and persona to wear at multiple events, having this dedication to a character makes you a cosplayer. And, there are so many wonderful benefits to it, too. 

Why You Should Take up Cosplay for Beginners

Why You Should Take up Cosplay for Beginners

Cosplay for beginners may always start as a lurking suspicion. Perhaps venturing into the world of Comic Cons for the first time in your usual attire and personality but walking out with new ideas on outfits and characters to become. Then, finding the right beginner cosplay characters you can begin to enjoy, play and act as.

Either way, once you go to a comic con event and bask in the atmosphere, there’s no escaping the pull. And, there’s no need to resist. Here at The Hobby Kraze, the team have written this beginner’s guide to cosplay because there really are only benefits to the hobby. While it may cost for entry to an event and some pocket change for outfit materials, it is you that brings the cosplay to life. And, it’s you who can reap the many benefits. Here’s a non-conclusive list of the joys cosplay can bring:

  • You get to use your creative streak
  • It merges many other hobbies into one such as 3D printing or sewing
  • You can showcase your designs and cosplay outfits
  • You can help raise money for charity
  • It helps you to use your free time leading up to an event
  • You can enter cosplay competitions
  • You can be any character in the world
  • There are no constrictions on gender
  • You can make your own outfit or buy it
  • Having a knowledgeable hobby can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s 
  • Keeping active with your mind and hands prevents arthritis
  • You can create a YouTube channel and earn money
  • You can travel as your character
  • You can create group cosplays with friends and family
  • There’s the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals
  • It provides a self-care activity
  • People will want to come up to you and take pictures
  • You can help make children very happy in characterisation
  • In attempts to become something, it sets reasonable goals
  • It can be very fun walking around with various props
  • Cosplay for beginners provides high levels of escapism
  • If you’re good at crafting, you can make and sell for others
  • You’ll be the best dressed at any birthday or Halloween event
  • Working towards goals improves organisation and time management skills
  • It can increase overall confidence
  • The act of cosplay can strive for body positivity
  • You’ll have a far more active social life
  • With documentarists at comic con events, you’ll be in a video
  • There’s a chance to get in the news with unique characteristics

The History of Cosplay

The History of Cosplay

Before we head into the realm of crafting capabilities with cosplay essentials, it may be worth looking at the history. And while this hobby has still seen a recent boom, it is an entirely recent hobby to have.

Actually, the history of cosplay is short and brief. With it being such a new concept (and, a concept visualised in a unique light by every cosplayer) there are no set tools, accessories, paddles, outfits, characters or terms that have developed over time to standardise the hobby. It really only boils down to the first person to cosplay, the coinage of the term and the snowball effect of joining in on cosplay for beginners.

So, the first person to ever cosplay was a woman named Myrtle Rebecca Douglas Smith Gray Nolan who attended a convention with her boyfriend. This convention was the 1st annual World Science Fiction Convention (now known as WorldCon) that took place in 1939 New York.

Here, she and her boyfriend dressed in futuristic attire consisting of a green cape and breeches with inspiration from the 1936 film; ‘Things to Come’. Since then, and with her name being so long, fans have created the name ‘morojo’ to commemorate her contribution to a bigger and brighter world for cosplayers.

Then, at the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, an attendee from Japanese studio ‘Hard’ participated in the hobby fun. His name was Nobuyuki Takahashi, and after viewing this culture of dressing as your favourite character, coined the term; “Kosupure”. A term now anglicised around the world as ‘cosplay’ to mean costume play. 

Since then, the hobby of dressing as beginner cosplay characters and creating cosplay essentials has grown exponentially across the world. With some conventions, such as London MCM Comic Con, seeing nearly 150,000 visitors each year.

As of 2020, WorldCon has opened its doors to visitors and cosplayers 78 times with the latest convention being held in New Zealand and the next due to take place in Washington D.C.

How to Begin Choosing a Character to Cosplay

How to Begin Choosing a Character to Cosplay

Now you know the history to one of the most fun and freeing hobby there is, you can begin to think about which beginner cosplay characters you’d like to portray. While you may already have an idea in your head for a person, theme, character or movie you’d like to cosplay, you may want to think about these three comic con cosplay tips before setting anything in the fabric:

Choose a Character you Love

To make the cosplaying day – or, days – as special, comfortable and easy-to-play as possible, you should choose a character you’d love to showcase. There’s no point in choosing a character because they have a cheap or easy outfit as you may regret it down the line. 

If you have the time, try to thrift the cosplay essentials to craft your outfit or grab some second-hand gadgets to complete the look. The same goes for choosing a character to play just because it is popular or because you know others will like to see it. 

Finding the character that suits you, will make your acting and playing all the more enjoyable. You’ll also be able to place more subconscious care into the crafting process which others will be able to see when it comes to convention day.

Choose a Character you Feel Comfortable to Play

Much like finding the character you love, it also needs to be a character whose skin you will feel comfortable in. For example; some cosplayers love to play Poison Ivy from the DC Comic universe, but others find it too revealing or thin for a day at a convention. Don’t forget; there are children at these events, so finding the right outfit should help make those around you feel comfortable, too.

Another one of our comic con cosplay tips to note from The Hobby Kraze team is that conventions will have photographers and videographers. Many press pass tickets are given to newspapers, magazines, documentarists, students and universities in order to grasp the concept and enjoyment of the day. Of course, you can choose to be a part of them, but it can be a safe option to always feel camera-ready.

Choose a Character Look-Alikes to Save with Beginner Cosplay Characters

Finally, while there is no obligation or hidden rule to always choose a character you look like, having doppelgänger beginner cosplay characters can help with time and cost.

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we have a few brand identity rules we like to live by. And, one of them is feeling comfortable in your own skin and never changing yourself for anyone apart from you or a doctor. And, with this, the team would like to reiterate that you should never feel as though you have to change in order to become a character to cosplay for beginners. Often, the best cosplaying efforts come about when personal and unique twists are added. So, even if you’re not the doppelgänger of your beginner cosplay characters, you should play them anyway.

That said, as this is the ultimate beginner’s guide to cosplay, we also like to help you save on spending when it is your first shot at any hobby. Whether its borrowing accessories, thrifting materials to make your own gear, or finding the character that you’d love to play while resembling you, it can help you enjoy your new cosplay hobby adventure.

But, of course, we understand that finding the right character to cosplay in a vast sea of options can be difficult, too. So, the team have used their mystical powers of deduction and comic con experience to create a list of most popular characters you could cosplay. Here’s some of the outfits you’ll see at a 2020 comic con in the UK and the US:

  • Harley Quinn
  • Lara Croft
  • Ghostbusters
  • Deadpool
  • Spiderman
  • Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Dr Who
  • Darth Vader
  • Storm Troopers
  • Steam Punk Characters
  • Stranger Thing’s Eleven
  • Overwatch’s Tracer
  • Jessica Rabbit
  • Poison Ivy
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Batman
  • Jack Skellington
  • GOT’s Khal Drogo
  • GOT’s Daenerys Targaryen 
  • Legend of Zelda’s Link
  • Cyber Punk Characters
  • Power Rangers
  • Death Note’s Ryuk
  • Sailor Moon
  • The Joker
  • Pokémon Characters
  • Harry Potter Characters
  • Halo’s Master Chief
  • Arrow
  • Hellboy
  • Wonder Woman
  • Mystique
  • The Mad Hatter
  • Xenomorph
  • Predator
  • Zoolander’s Mugatu
  • Pennywise
  • The Matrix’s Neo
  • Wolverine

The Cosplay Essentials and Tools for a Successful Characterisation

The Cosplay Essentials and Tools for a Successful Characterisation

If you do decide to try out your creative flair with some materials, tools and fabric, we wanted to guarantee you’re kitted out with the cosplay essentials to make sure the job is done right. Of course, we understand some cosplay outfits will need different materials to others and that some characters’ clothes don’t need the same level of sewing accuracy. Don’t feel as though you need every instrument just to make the perfect cosplay outfit, but we’ve included every tool, machine, and material you could possibly require for your adventure. After all, this is the ultimate beginner’s guide to cosplay. 

  • 3D Printer
  • Sewing Machine
  • Knitting Needles
  • X-Acto Blade
  • Cutting Board
  • Scissors
  • Iron-on Tape
  • Fabric Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Fabric Cut-Offs
  • Fabric Dye
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Overlocking Machine
  • Filament
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • EVA Foam
  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Stickers
  • Sandpaper
  • Rotary Tool
  • Face Paint
  • Make-Up
  • Face Mask
  • Boning
  • Undergarments
  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Clay
  • Silicone
  • Faux Fur
  • Dust Blower

Once you’ve got your toolkit sorted, you can begin to draw, print, cut, carve, mould, craft and paint your cosplay together. The best part about this crafting process is having the freedom and time to appreciate the hobby in the moment. And, you have the creative control to begin wherever you’d like (i.e. the boot, the helmet, the accessories, the gloves and so on) while building in your own time. 

With this in mind, another of our team’s top comic con cosplay tips is to not feel pressured about the convention time frame and enjoy crafting. If your cosplay outfit isn’t ready in time for a specific convention, turn up as yourself and have fun anyway. Then, you can arrive at the next convention dressed as your favourite character.

The Best Places in the UK to Show Off Your Beginner Cosplay Characters

The Best Places in the UK to Show Off Your Beginner Cosplay Characters

It wouldn’t be a beginner’s guide to cosplay if we didn’t provide you with a list of the top places to style and show off your beginner cosplay characters with your friends and family. And, whether it’s taking the train to the big conventions in London and Manchester or hunting out your local function suite, there’ll always be a comic con or popular culture event for you to attend. 

Luckily, the team here at The Hobby Kraze has a list of some of the events they’ve been to and can confirm they’re great!

  • London MCM Comic Con
  • Manchester MCM Comic Con
  • London Film and Comic Con
  • Wales Comic Con
  • Cardiff Anime and Gaming Con
  • Manchester Anime and Gaming Con
  • Covcon
  • Sunnycon Anime Expo
  • Glasgow MCM Comic Con
  • Film and Comic Con Sheffield
  • Walker Stalker Con
  • London Fan Fest
  • Birmingham MCM Comic Con
  • Yorkshire Cosplay Con
  • TFNation
  • Edinburgh Comic Con
  • Cardiff Independent Comic Expo
  • International Comic Expo
  • Norcon
  • Heroes and Villains Fan Fest
  • For the Love of Sci-Fi
  • Dublin Conic Con

On the other hand, if you are located across the pond, or fancy a flight to the states, America has some of the biggest and best comic cons in the world. Have a look at a few of the big names where you can find the best cosplayers, the biggest competitions and the most famous faces in a sea of creative individuals just like yourself;

  • San Diego Comic Con
  • BlizzCon
  • New York Comic Con
  • MegaCon
  • DragonCon
  • WonderCon
  • PAXPrime
  • Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo
  • WorldCon

The Hobby Kraze’s Top Comic Con Cosplay Tips

The Hobby Kraze’s Top Comic Con Cosplay Tips

And, now you have your cosplay outfit set, it’s time this ultimate beginner’s guide to cosplay talked about some tips of the trade before letting you loose in your new personality. Whether it’s thinking about wise choices to your outfit’s overall construction or just a tip from The Hobby Kraze team to make the most of your beginner cosplay characters, here’s 5 comic con cosplay tips for you to live by:

Don’t Listen in to Common Cosplay Myths

You may hear things going around outside communities or signs floating around the internet that read;

  • It is only for professionals
  • You have to be a seamstress
  • You have to be in shape and stay that way
  • Only young people can cosplay for beginners
  • It’s important to look like the character you’ll be playing
  • It will mean you spend lots of money
  • You have to make the cosplay outfit yourself
  • You can’t buy second-hand or pre-made cosplay essentials

All of these are fake. Cosplay is what you make of it. If you want to use a hot glue gun instead of a sewing machine, you can. If you want to be comfortable in your skin instead of in the constraints of the character, you can. If you want to buy your outfit, you can. And, there’s nothing to say that you can’t keep your cosplaying outfit on a budget.

However, one of the more important comic con cosplay tips from The Hobby Kraze team is that you can only enter cosplay competitions if you have made your clothing. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair to award a prize to someone who bought their outfit over someone who grafted and crafted for hours. 

Always Stay Kind and Never Compare Yourself to Others

At a comic con, you’ll inevitably find others sharing the same character or theme as you (unless you have a very niche taste for characters, or you’ve created your own personality). 

With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to remain impartial and never compare outfits. Thinking that someone else’s outfit is better will only ruin your day and – as you are a reading an article about cosplay for beginners – you may feel this way. Perfection and satisfaction will come with time. Plus, you never know if the other person believes your outfit is better, either. 

Another note here would be to make friends and banter with characters in the same genre. Often, visitors and non-cosplayers to popular culture conventions love to take pictures with groups of people dressed the same. For example; the 501st legion, a group of Spidermen or a steampunk family.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Tips

Cosplayers love to make new friends (because we’re all lovely people) and there’ll always be a space to share ideas and tips for cosplay outfits. For example, if you can’t figure out how to get a zip seam right, ask the online community or visit an event and ask a seasoned cosplaying pro. 

Choose Your Cosplaying Outfit and Dress Pattern Wisely 

When making your own cosplay character or buying an outfit from elsewhere, make sure you can incorporate secret compartments or themed bags to carry your EDC (everyday carry). Most EDC ‘s will consist of the usual items, but as a cosplayer, there’s a few more considerations. 

Have a look at an EDC list for the cosplayer from a team member at The Hobby Kraze:

  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Phone
  • Money
  • Keys
  • Face Mask
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Make-Up Remover 
  • Comb
  • Face Paint
  • Roll-Up Carry Bag
  • Roll-Up Waterproof
  • Car Keys
  • Entry Ticket
  • Camera

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re choosing or making your character; think about comfort and accessibility. Make sure you’ll be warm enough on cold days and cool enough on warm days. And, make sure your outfit incorporates easy access points for human business. E.g. eating, drinking and bathroom usage (it’s never fun to have to strip naked in the toilet because you chose to wear a one-piece).

Face and Body Paint Aren’t the Answer to All Cosplay for Beginners’ Qualms

The final consideration for choosing, crafting or designing your outfit is the face or body paint you’ll need. Not only does it take-up your day to get on, it’s important to know that even the waterproof brands will begin to degrade throughout the day. This is because smudges, sweat or accidentally bumping into another cosplayer will ruin the entire look in seconds.

You can help to combat this by using a mask, setting spray or considering a minimalist make-up look to your character. Otherwise, we suggest heading back to the drawing board. This can help make sure your Little Red Riding Hood outfit doesn’t turn into a “Why so serious?” make-up fail.


And, there you have it. The ultimate beginner’s guide to cosplay is finished but your adventure into cosplay, cons and culture has only just begun. So, now you know which character you’d like to dress as or build, you know how to get the look and you’ve found the best comic con to showcase your new persona, it’s time to let loose! 

Here at The Hobby Kraze, it’s the team’s aim to make sure you’re paired with the right hobby so you can enjoy it to its fullest. And, if you’ve found that cosplay for beginners is the hobby for you, then don’t forget to share your cosplay characters with us. We love to see new designs and a hobby-match gone right. Plus, we may even see you at the conventions! 

Apart from this, don’t forget to check out all the other fun, active, artistic and relaxing hobbies you could be enjoying today by searching through our ultimate beginner’s guides.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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