Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cosplay 101: Planning and Budgeting a Costume

This week, Cosplay 101 is all about planning. It can seem a little daunting to begin cosplaying, but with the proper planning, it's easier to see how the costume will come together. For me, budgeting is directly related to planning, so I'll be discussing how I budget for costumes, too.

COSPLAY 101: Planning & Budgeting a Costume

Planning is Your Friend

I am an organization junkie, so planning out a cosplay comes naturally to me. If you're not, though, I still encourage you to give it a try! Planning is helpful for so many reasons. 

First of all, it can help you determine how the costume will come together. It would be awful to spend weeks on the costume then realize at the end that you can't finish a major piece in time for the con! Instead, planning helps you determine not only WHAT you need to do, but WHEN you need to do it. (Which company carries the wig you need? How long will it take you to get contacts in from Asia? How much time will it take to sculpt that prop?)

Planning is also useful for figuring out HOW you are going to make specific pieces. (Do you want to make your armor out of craft foam, or Worbla? Can you buy that item, or do you need to sew it yourself?)

Budgeting is Your Wallet's Friend

For me, planning goes hand-in-hand with budgeting. Since I am sadly not made of infinite supplies of money, I have to space out my cosplay so I'm not spending huge chunks of money at once. That may mean that one month I can buy a wig and supplies to style it, the next, fabric and materials for a garment, and the next, work on a prop. With a basic idea of how much each component will cost me, I can buy strategically to ensure that I don't strain my wallet. Planning my expenses, along with determining how long something will take to arrive or make, helps me plan WHEN I'll work on which piece of the costume.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of budgeting, but I find that it works well for me to keep cosplay balanced with the other parts of my life.

The Anatomy of a Costume

Okay, so we know the importance of planning and budgeting - but how do we actually do it? (Don't forget to select your character first!)

Cosplay 101: Planning & Budgeting a Costume
For more details on this costume, click here!
  1. Gather reference images and determine what pieces you will need. Even a simpler costume, like my Ramona costume here, has lots of pieces! Write down everything you will need.
  2. On your list, indicate: make, buy, or modify. In the case of Ramona, I was lucky to already have her boots and the shoelace I used for her necklace. I made her dress and star clip, and bought everything else.
  3. Research, research, research! This is where you will decide specifics. What material is best for your budget? Can you commission a tricky piece? How long will this method take versus that method? This is where I will scout for items I will need to purchase online, like wigs, contact lenses, and specific clothing pieces. You don't need to buy anything yet! This will just help you figure out exactly how much work you have ahead of you.
  4. Based on this information, decide what takes priority. Items that take longer to make or that ship from overseas usually take priority for me - that ensures that I get these pieces before my deadline. You might knock out all the easier stuff first, or go by how expensive things will be. It's all up to you!
  5. Take action! You're done with planning - now it's time to get to work!

How do you plan out your costumes?

This is only the way that I do it - I'm sure there are lots of great systems out there! (And pssst, later on I'm going to show you how I use Evernote for cosplaying.)

What is Cosplay?
Choosing a Character

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