I know this doesn’t apply to everyone and sometimes it’s just not possible, someone may not have the skill level or the tools to do it, but I like my cosplays to be as accurate as I can get them. It’s something that is important to me and will always continue to be. So I thought it would be nice to write a little series on how I achieve this! What’s that you say? “I’m not the same body shape/type/weight as X character?” That doesn’t matter; this is all about making it accurate for YOU!
I’m going to be using my Epilogue Syaoran cosplay as the main example for this tutorial today!
Firstly, you need to gather your references. I would suggest however that you have one master reference, as if in the case of CLAMP, your chosen cosplay won’t look the same in every image! The image above was my master reference as it showed off most of the costume. Although sometimes you’ll find that some details/whatever just don’t work. So for example: a detail may be an oval in one image (in say, your master reference) and a circle in another (in other artworks/in the manga/anime/the artist being inconsistent). You try to get the oval to work but it’s just not happening… but the circle does work! This is okay to do, what works in a drawing may not work in real life no matter how much you want it to! So don’t be afraid to mix and match which reference you use if you need to.
I also suggest that you look at what other cosplayers have done. What have they done with the cosplay? Do you like what they’ve done? Anything you don’t like? What would you do differently if you had made it? This infact can be your most valuable source as you can judge what works and what doesn’t on an actual person. I can give an example on this for the cosplay I’m currently making: Syaoran Li (battle outfit) from Cardcaptor Sakura. I looked at a lot of other cosplayers and the one thing I found that could make or break the cosplay for me was his hat. I found that some had made it too small or simply hadn’t got that curved shape to it. So this is something I will absolutely make sure I get right!
So you have all of your references and have had a look at other cosplayers. Time to start working this thing out! You first need to make (or modify if you’re not making from scratch) the base top and trousers. Look at the reference closely, how does it sit on Syaoran’s body? The top is pretty fitting (which is unusual for a male outfit) and the trousers also start out that way, but end up being a little baggy when it connects with the boots. The very bottom of the top ends (this means the green parts) just above the crotch, but under the waistband (as it cannot be seen) of the trousers. So somewhere in the middle of these two points. I recommend judging this end point on one of your own trousers, it’s easier that way I know there’s that notch at the bottom of the top, lets worry about that later. Get the overall size and fitting right first!
So here’s how my top looked at first. Urgh! Horrible! Lets fix this. It’s not remotely fitted and it’s too long. So I took it in at the sides, put a dart in the back and folded the bottom up to where it should be (that middle place between the crotch and trouser waistband)
TOP TIP: DO NOT. I repeat! DO. NOT. Cut ANYTHING until you are 100% happy with it. I always fold edges up/over (like I have with the bottom and sides of the top) and pin it there until I am happy with it. If you’re still unsure, just cut off a little bit at a time until it looks right. Because if you cut something off and you then decide you’ve cut off too much, it’ll be too late!!
There can also be the issue of what I call “floating details” that aren’t connected to the edge of the garment. In relation to Syaoran here, that would be the green detailing on the upper leg. Where on earth exactly does that go? Again we have a common point of reference here. The top of it is below the crotch, above the knee. So this is where it needs to go!
You need to judge where everything else goes this way for your cosplays. Where it is sat on his (or whoever you are cosplaying) body in accordance to yours. That way you can never fail! I know all this may be stating the obvious, but I think this is something that can be forgotten in the bigger scheme of things.
Next time: How to get accurate detailing!