Introduction to Cosplay

Definition of Cosplay

Cosplay is defined by the English Dictionary as people who dress up as characters from fictional universes of various origin. These can include video games, movies, comics or anime.

Cosplay is a portmanteau for Costume Play and can be considered close to LARP (Live Action Role Play), but not exactly the same. In the case of LARP, the objective is to recreate characters and situations that these characters were in, playing out the actions of the represented characters. Most often the outfits and costumes are bought and the focus is not in the crafting.

Cosplay has the goal of impersonating a character in terms of looks, sounds and sometimes movements. A person who does this is referred to as a cosplayer. The costumes are usually self made. The sport of cosplay is spending countless hours, designing, planning, building and making the costumes to wear at occasions such as Comic Con and other gatherings.

A cosplay representation of the DC superhero Aqua-Man. Photo by Joey Nicotra on Unsplash

The Real Meaning of Cosplay and Why We Do It

Cosplay is so much more than putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else. As children, we learn about all these fictional characters and the stories that go with them. To a kid, it isn’t just a character. It is a friend, a person to look up to, and in their minds a very real person.

One person from a comic book or video game can be the foundation of a life. Why do we need to give that up when we become adults? Why not be grateful that that person helped shape everything we have become in some way. Why not become that character and inspire other people too?

I cannot explain this with the passion I feel for it. So instead of ruining your ideas with my lack of words, take it from someone who knows how to say it. This man is my inspiration to everything that is cosplay. (Thank you W, for introducing me to this). I give you, the famous Adam Savage.

Different Types of Cosplay

Video Game Cosplay

Video games are now larger than ever. Not only kids play these video games anymore. The focus of most video game companies these days are adults. Games can be like movies or books, where these is a compelling narrative, but with games, you get to make the choices. Other games can be competitive in nature, where friends or even complete strangers can compete against each other to show of their skill.

No matter the type of game, there are always unique characters involved. Characters that might mean a lot to a person who plays the game, or sometimes just a character that looks good. In any case, there is an opportunity to not only play as this character, but to become them. That is the whole point of video game cosplay. You pay tribute to someone that you spent hours and hours with, even though they may be fictional. You can bring them to life.

Anime Cosplay

Anime is by far the most popular topic for cosplayers. That is no surprise, since that’s where it all started. Anime is an animated representation of something called manga (like a Japanese comic book) and is in a Japanese art style. There is a massive community of people who watch anime, and the style is particularly fun to recreate if you are looking to do a cosplay about it.

Movie/Book Cosplay

If you have access to the internet in any form or way, you must know about at least one superhero movie. These are amazing for cosplay topics. Not only superheros, but anything you can find in the fantasy, science fiction or adventure genres.

There are numerous books or book series that have been adapted to films or television programs. Weather your costume is based on the book, or film adaptation, it’s always fun to make your favorite big screen/written characters come to life.

Comic Book Cosplay

The comic book section can almost be defined the same way as the movie section, except for the fact that these comics are where all the superhero movies come from. There are still many comic books that haven’t been made into movies, and as a nerd, we want to make these stories and characters known to the world.

Different Cosplay Materials

EVA Foam

If you are interested in making any form of armor or lightweight weapon, you cannot go wrong with EVA foam. It is my ultimate favorite thing to work with and is very easy to use. You do need specialized tools, although they aren’t too difficult to come by. You can manipulate foam to form almost anything you can think of, and can be painted to look like real metal armor. People won’t know the difference unless they feel it.

A full suit of armor made out of EVA foam. Photo taken from GES cosplay FB page

Different Types of Wood

Wood can be used for all types of accessories when it comes to cosplay. It is mostly used for weapon building though. Swords and axes are especially fun to make out of wood, and you don’t need to be a professional to do it. You only need a few of the right tools, and a lot of imagination. Apart from swords, you could make any weapon or accessory you can think up with all the different types of woods available to you.

A fully working shotgun built out of superwood.


Yes, sewing. It’s not just for housewives and tailors anymore. It is an invaluable skill if you want to make cosplay costumes come to life. Every part of an outfit, from head to toe could be made out of fabric. I know it sounds really obvious, but trust me, you have no idea the creations I’ve seen from a simple piece of cloth.

What you can do with fabrics in cosplay. Taken from GES cosplay Facebook page

Make-up and Special Effects

I know this is not a skill that everyone has, and can be really challenging if you are new to it. I can’t do make-up to save my life. But it is a good idea to either learn how to do it, or get people, and make contacts who can help you out with this.

Being able to do make-up and special effects will give you that edge when it comes to cosplay. It could be the key to making a costume come to life. Here is an example of the crazy things you can conjure up with a little imagination and the right skills.

An amazing Predator cosplay. Taken from GES Cosplay Facebook Page

More Detail About Materials

Don’t misunderstand me. These are definitely not all the materials you will ever use. In fact, you’ll probably start on your first one, and realize you need some other stuff too. This is list is just to make you aware of the basics, and the materials that you will work with most often.

This was just a small overview of what you can expect to use, there are more detailed posts about each one of these that you can take a look at.


Obviously, there is so much more to say about cosplay, but this is only meant to be a short summary. There will be many more articles that you can find here at Arcania Cosplay in the future to satisfy your needs for all things cosplay related.

If you feel like there is something important that I did not add to this article, please let me know, I would love to add it and make this as thorough as possible.

If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to leave them in the comments, or send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

I always look forward to hearing from you.


2 Replies to “Introduction to Cosplay”

  1. Wow this is fantastic! I’ve never done cosplay, but have been seriously considering it recently. I love working with my hands and have created an entire chainsaw hand like the one Ash from the Evil Dead had and it was a blast! I would love to read more to see where to go from here! Thanks!

    Christian Vogelgesang says:
    1. I would love to see this chainsaw hand! I love seeing what other people are coming up with.

      There will definitely be a lot more to read and explore if you stay tuned, I will also be sharing some of my own projects further along the line.

      Mel says:

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