Being a cosplayer these days is pretty brilliant. If you’re into crafting parts of your costumes, there are webpages upon webpages of tips and tutorials to help you build just about anything, from costumes, to props, to wig styling.
However, with such a large amount of resources it can also feel a bit intimidating and some people struggle with knowing where to start. So it is tempting to just post in your local cosplay group or message cosplayers on Tumblr/deviantART/etc asking for tutorials.
Here’s the thing with cosplayers. Mostly, we love helping other people. We’re all nerds in costume so it just feels really good helping somebody along the road to becoming their favourite character. HOWEVER, people generally become less willing when we get the feeling you’ve been too lazy to do a two minute Google search. We have lives and projects as well, we’re not just going to drop something for a question you can possibly answer quite easily on your own with a little application.
Mangosirene has posted a Cosplay Research video as part of her Cosplay 101 series, where she talks about the rule of three when it comes to searching for tutorials. More specifically “ask three, then me”. This states that three tutorial sources should be searched before a crafter approaches other cosplayers for help. Stating within the question that you have already looked at a few sources will help should you get to that stage, as it lets people know you have bothered to do some of the leg work.
But where to start with your search? Well, here are a few places I like to check out in my hunt for tutorials:
(Please note: this is a list suggesting where to go with help crafting your costumes, not buying)
1) CosplayTutorial.com – should be one of your first stops as it’s a terrific source of information and tutorials. Click their ‘tutorials list’ in the top bar (the drop-down menu is so long you may not actually get what you want on screen), then either go through the menu or use the ctl+f (cmd+f on mac) to bring up a search bar. Quite a lot of tutorials cater to a specific outfit or fandom but can be altered.
2. deviantART – lots of cosplayers and crafters on this website put up tutorials and sometimes share their patterns and stencils for free. Use the search bar on this website to track them down. You can help narrow things down by then selecting the following categories after your search: Resources & Stock Images -> Tutorials
3. Forum searches – there are various cosplay and costuming forums which have been active for several years and where it’s very likely that somebody has also asked a similar question to yours. Maybe somebody else even answered it! You can find out by using the search bar on forums. Three of the ones I’ve often used are:
– The RPF: stands for Replica Prop Forum. This website tends to cater more for ‘builds’ of armour and props but also has several threads for fabric-based costume pieces as well. Threads tend to be split into seperate boards for popular franchises (Marvel, DC, etc), and more general costume and prop making. So you’ll have to select whichever board best fits your question, then use the search function on there. For example, if you wanted to make a Batman utility belt, you’d head to the DC board.
– Cosplay.com: probably one of the largest cosplay profile and forum website out there and used by cosplayers from all over the world! This website has been going since about 2002 so chances are there’s something in there to help you out.
– Cosplay Island: this website may not be as general as others as it’s catered for cosplayers from the UK. Though as that’s where I’m from, I still tend to use it as a search option. Mostly because if I have to purchase anything, threads are likely to list UK sources.
4. Facebook group searches – this was a fun discovery for me. Facebook groups have a search option! So before posting to a cosplay group asking about tutorials, you can use the search bar to see if anybody else already did. The search bar tends to be on the right of the page, just underneath the cover photo.
5. Facebook group files – sometimes a cosplay group on Facebook will gather together useful links in it’s files section. Not every group will do this, but it’s handy to just click over to have a look. You never know, you might find just what you’re after! If groups have huge file section, such as at the Pepakura Library, utilise the ctl+f search shortcut (cmd+f on mac)
6. YouTube – I really love video tutorials, especially for things such as wig styling and make-up. Because you’re watching the person making the video actually doing the thing you want to do, so what you have to do is copy their movements.
7. Yahoo answers – a bit more of a stretch, I admit, but sometimes Google searches have brought me to this place. There are some odd questions on there but sometimes cosplay also asks odd questions. Maybe that’s why the two can sometimes cross paths.
8. Search engines – aka: Google it! Or Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Bing. Whatever search engine you use, it is often your number one source for seeking out tutorials. You won’t always get what you want right away. Sometimes the answers can differ depending on whether you use the word ‘cosplay’ in your search or not. But with enough practice you will develop a good Googe-fu (or Yahoo-fu or Bing-fu or whatever) which will set you on your way to that perfect cosplay tutorial for what you want.
I’m not saying you have to use ALL of these before approaching other cosplayers to ask. But the ‘ask three, then me’ rule is a good one to go by. For example, use a search engine. If nothing pops up on the first few pages, try Cosplay Tutorial. If that doesn’t have what you want, maybe someone did a video on YouTube. If still nothing, then it’s a good time to start asking other cosplayers directly. Though give MangoSirene’s research video a watch if you haven’t already, because there is such a thing as a good question and a bad question when it comes to asking about how to make cosplays.
Like I said, generally cosplayers love helping other cosplayers. But we don’t like being Google. Do a little of the work yourself first, then if you’re still stuck we’ll see what we can do to help.
I hope you find my suggestions helpful. Is there anywhere you especially like to search? Let me know! And happy searching. ❤