original design cosplay cover

How to Design an Original Cosplay

When you’re looking to create a cosplay, there’s not always a design that you’re in love with, an outfit that you really like, or a look that you adore. There might not be just the right cosplay you want to make. So what do you do?

One solution is to just give up, and never cosplay again! But who wants that, right? Another option (and, in my opinion, the better one) is to design your own cosplay! Whether you’re designing a costume or character from scratch, or redesigning a character or costume that already exists, you can always just create an original design cosplay. But where do you even start? How can you design a new cosplay?

I’ve designed and crafted many of my own original design cosplays, and in this blog post, I’ll be giving you lots of tips and tricks to help you design your very own cosplays. So let’s get started!

Types of original design cosplays

First off, let’s go over the different types of original design cosplays. The first kind is one that you completely make up — maybe it’s an OC, your Dungeons and Dragons character, or a Ren Faire character you want to create. It’s just from your imagination, and there’s not a ton of ‘official’ source material to fall back on. An example of this is my D&D character, Azalea, whom I brought to life in a quick costest.

The second kind is a redesign, where you take an existing character, and redesign their outfit or appearance. Whether it’s gender-bent, an AU, or just a variation on their costume, it’s taking a character that already exists, and changing it to fit your liking. An example of this is my Bill Cipher cosplay — he was already a character who existed, I just created a new design for my own costume.

While there are many other variations of original design characters, those are the two main categories: Completely original designs, and redesigns. Almost all original design cosplays fall somewhere on that scale.

Gathering inspiration

Now that we’ve gotten a better idea of the two variations, let’s get into actually designing your new cosplay! One of the first steps is idea gathering. In order to bring a character to life, you need to have a good idea of who they are. Think about your character, what they like, what they might wear, what kind of setting you want to place them in. 

Creating a Pinterest board based around the character you want to create an original design for is also a great idea. It can help you narrow down your ideas, bringing it all together. Find original pictures of the character, cosplays of it that you like, and other pictures that look like the idea you want to bring to life. Here’s a link to an idea board I made for my original faun character — she was inspired by fauns, the different seasons, and woodland sprits. Creating a Pinterest board for her really helped me narrow down the design I wanted to make!

Designing the cosplay

Once you gave a good idea of the design you want to create, whether through ideas and brainstorming, creating a Pinterest board, or some other method, it’s time to actually design the cosplay. I really like to sketch out my designs, but that’s just a personal preference! You can absolutely just make it up as you go.

For my drawings, I usually start out with some really rough sketches, just trying to get all my ideas down. From there, I pick what elements from each drawing I like, then combined them all into one final design, making it a little bit nicer and more finished. Sometimes I can pin down a design I really like right away, and other times it takes a few tries. Here’s the final design I created for my Suicune cosplay, compared to one of the earlier sketches. Big difference! But, again, you don’t have to draw it if you don’t want to! For a lot of my original design cosplays, I simply make it up as I go.

When designing a cosplay, I’ve found it helpful to think a lot about the character themselves, and the world I’m designing them to fit into. For instance, for my original design Wonder Woman cosplay, I included a lot of Greek writing in the detailing of the armor, since Wonder Woman is based on Greek mythology. I also took a lot of inspiration for her armor from her mother’s. When designing your cosplay, there’s a lot of little easter eggs like these you can put in!

Creating your original design cosplay

Now that you’ve found a design that you like, it’s time to actually start making the cosplay! You can either stick strictly with what you’ve put down on paper, or you can change things up as you go. That’s one of the great things about original-design cosplays — you can do anything you want! For my Lady Loki cosplay, I started with a great sketch that I liked, and stuck pretty closely. But there were still a couple things I changed as I went along — the jewelry, the gloves, the cape. The design I had originally made didn’t quite work out in real life, and so I changed some things to fit what I liked better! 

Do what works for you!

As you go along making the cosplay, you may find some things work perfectly, while other aspects you might want to change. And that’s totally okay! Do whatever works for you. There’s not just one formula or strategy you have to stick to when designing and making your original design cosplay.

I hope you found this walkthrough helpful in designing your own cosplay! I’m currently in the process of writing a full ebook on designing original cosplays, and if you want to stay up-to-date on the release for that, you can join my email list below! You’ll gain a lot of cool perks, and be one of the first to know when it’s ready. Hope to see you there!

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