How to make a cosplay accurate: Detailing!

I think this is probably the biggest problem of any cosplayer. How can you tell how big all of those details on your cosplay should be? How can you get them off the reference onto your cosplay?? And how do you even go about getting it accurate???

Today’s examples will be my Epilogue Syaoran, artwork Watanuki, Syaoran Li and Asch cosplays!

Depending on what the detail I’m trying to do is, I go about doing them in one of four ways. I’ll run through them one by one.

 Some detail designs can be really complex and if you’re like me, then I wouldn’t want to risk trying to draw them because it probably wouldn’t look anything like it does in the reference! So what can you do? Well, for my artwork Watanuki cosplay I used my trusty paper pattern! Now, this isn’t any old paper pattern. Because I want it accurate as possible I have directly ripped the design from the reference! You can’t get anymore accurate than the reference itself can you? 🙂 You can use any old image/photo editing software for this: Photoshop, GIMP (it’s free!) or even paint. All you got to do is isolate the part you’re wanting and make it bigger!

What’s that you say? What if I can’t see all of it? Never fear! This is where your image editing software comes in again. With my artwork Watanuki cosplay, for the arm detail you could only see half of it. (Well, you could see a whole one, but it wasn’t symmetrical due to it being a side-ish view) So all I did was take that half, copy/paste it and then flip it. Carefully put the two halves together and you have one whole!

A more unconventional method I do is actually measuring the detail on a reference. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s how I did all of the details on my Epilogue Syaoran cosplay. It’ll only really work though on details that are straight blocks (I think. I’ve never tried it on anything else), so bare that in mind.

I have the Japanese artbook that contains the Epilogue Syaoran artwork, so I assumed this is the actual “proper” size the image should be. One day I was trying to figure out how big to make all of the green parts and thought “What if I got my ruler, measured it and scaled it up?” And so I did! From the part I measured, the cape green parts were about 7mm. I like to keep to whole numbers so I scaled it up to 7cm, made a paper template and had a look to see how it looked. You know what: it looked spot-on! So to keep everything consistent I kept with the same scale. So the green on the collar was 2mm: ended up 2cm, bottom of the top was 5mm: ended up 5cm etc.

Following on from ripping a design/detail straight from the reference and depending on whether you have the right programs for it, you can copy/trace the design on the computer. I’ve only been doing this since I’ve been my on graphic design course because I acquired the right program: Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is very suited to this task because it is a vector-based program. This means it’s designed for drawing objects and then scaling them without losing any of the quality.

I personally like using this method since I can trace the design directly off a reference and then clean it up, remove any inconsistencies and then most importantly: I can make it perfectly symmetrical (if that’s what it should be!). I’ve used to this draw all of Syaoran Li’s details and for one of my future cosplays – Asch from Tales of the Abyss.

And finally, sometimes, when you can’t do any of these other options. You just gotta do some trial and error! This is where paper templates are your friends! (Yes, I know I like my paper templates, but I really do recommend them!) Never cut a template out of your real fabric if you don’t know if it might not be right. Get it right on paper first!! I have so many paper templates that I’ve now had to organise them in poly-pockets! My latest templates are for my Syaoran Li cosplay. So far I’ve got a big template for the hat (and all the details on it), the collar details and each of the designs I drew on Illustrator. These, as I said above, are trial and error in terms of how big you make them. I cut the hat down in size about 4 or 5 times before I was happy with it and I made 2 collar templates before I got the right one 🙂 So don’t panic if it’s not right the first time.

 And that’s it! I people would like, I could do a step-by-step tutorial on how to rip images directly from a reference. Just let me know!



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