Cosplay 101: What Character?

November 1, 2020

I often get asked “What character do I choose?” when it comes to a first cosplay. This is really an individual question. I don’t suggest putting the money, time, and resources into building a cosplay of a character you don’t like, or don’t want to play as. It really comes down to why are you cosplaying. If you’re doing it for you and to have fun only, then do your favorite character! I would suggest starting with something easy. I have seen people jump into the deep end and do something very difficult to start out with. Cosplay can be quite in depth and costly depending on how involved and accurate you want your costume to be, and may discourage beginners if they bite off too much on their first try. A friend of mine has spent over $10,000 putting together a screen accurate Boba Fett, and it is an impressive project but a substantial investment too! 

Choosing a genre can help. If you choose Star Wars for example, there are Star Wars Costuming groups around to help you! is one of the most well known. The 501st Legion has costume reference libraries that tell you all of the Star Wars bad guys costume requirements to make a screen accurate costume. is where to go for the Star Wars good guys! is the perfect place to go for Ghostbuster parts and references to make a perfect Ghostbuster. With a little research, you can find a group for almost anything out there. There are also Cosplay Facebook groups with cosplayers willing to help new costumers.

If you’re making a cosplay to do charity events or public appearances, I would suggest your favorite well known character. If you choose an obscure character, people may not recognize who you’re portraying. Sometimes that can be fun if you’re doing it just for fun, but if you’re doing it for a charity, or for a public appearance, it needs to be a character that children or your audience will know without having to ask.

Now you’ve decided on your favorite character… let’s say Spider-Man! At that point, narrow further and ask who is your favorite Spider-Man? Stan Lee and Steve Ditko original version? Todd McFarlane version with the big eyes? One of the movie Spider-Men? For most of these, you can find examples you can buy. The more expensive, generally speaking the better quality. Some suits you can buy will fall apart after the first use. Sometimes these suits can be reinforced and upgraded before wearing it out. I also suggest you think about real world  necessities when buying a suit. For example, I bought aquashoes for $10 and sewed them to the bottom of the feet of my Spider-Man Far From Home suit so I could walk around without burning my feet or tearing my suit up. Some people use shoe goo to glue soles to the bottoms of the feet of their Spidey suits. If you want to make your own suit, there are usually plenty of tutorials online to help you with the process. I highly suggest YouTube tutorials to at least get an idea or several ideas on how to accomplish what you’re looking for. Just always remember, Cosplay stands for Costume Play, and play should be fun!

This article is part of a continuing series by Greg Burrow. Greg is a Dragon’s Lair employee from Austin and is involved in multiple cosplay groups as well as a regular volunteer at local charities. Keep an eye out for more of his advice, tips and tricks on cosplay in future newsletter articles!