Using Cosplay Tutorials

May 9, 2011

This is an interesting article to write. Many people use tutorials, and many people write tutorials but not everyone knows how to use them to their advantage. This guide is to help with that, especially for people who aren’t experienced and aren’t sure if the result would be good. This guide is to help you learn how to find tutorials, and get the most out of them!

Types of Tutorials:

Guide / Article – These are usually in-depth and heavy on text, but can include images as well. These are usually to inform the reader, and can provide a lot of information or are based on personal opinion or experience.

General Tutorial – Almost always a series of images and text, giving you step by step information on how to create something.

WIPs (Work in Progress)- These are aimed at someone who already has an idea of what they are doing. Usually it is not explaining how to do what is shown but is showing the process. If there is progress being shown and information on how to achieve it, then it is generally counted as a tutorial. If it goes into a lot of detail then it is more likely a guide or an article.

Video – These are great for beginners. Video actually covers a range of tutorials, but I am specifically referencing those that show in real-time, possibly with some fast forwarding, how to create the end result.

Other – I can’t really think of something that fits this section right now, but if it doesn’t fit in the above then it will likely go here.

Searching for Tutorials

Lets jump right into it. You have a project, you aren’t sure how to take it on, you want some tutorials to help you! In this example we will say it is a Sora (Kingdom Hearts) wig that you are looking to style.

Wow them spikes. So first off you are probably going to hit up google (and hopefully http://www.cosplaytutorial.com ) for some Sora wig tutorials. Like these:

For some characters you’ll find a lot of tutorials, but for other characters you won’t. Even some really popular characters don’t have a lot of tutorials out there specifically for them. So when you search for tutorials, you need to think outside the box a little bit. What is Sora’s hair style? Spikes. So expand your seach to include that too:

The first one has nothing to do with the Sora wig, I included it to show that not all the tutorials you come across are going to be useful. Can you still find use out of them? Possibly for product suggestions, or ideas for another project, but Sora doesn’t have use for those crazy spikes! You’ll need to use your own discretion to determine if the tutorials you come across work for your project.

The other two, although for a different character, are pretty useful. The spikes are similar, and while the exact tutorial is not for Sora, you can translate some of the techniques over to your own wig styling.

Another thing to look for, and these likely won’t pop up while searching “tutorial”, are WIPs. WIPs are good for those who are experienced, but if you are a newbie and working from several tutorials then WIPs are also good since you can combine your knowledge from other tutorials and compare results with the WIP.

So searching for tutorials are pretty easy. Find tutorials for your character, find similar tutorials that could work for your character, look for some WIPs to help you along. It is also good to search on multiple websites. Check cosplay tutorial,
do a search on google, do a search on deviantart, do a search on cosplay.com, do a search on youtube. Look around until you have a couple of tutorials to work from.

Narrowing them down

So you have a ton of tutorials, how do you narrow them down to ones that are good?

So as you can see we are using Hollow masks for this example, since there are a ton of tutorials out there for them.

The first thing I suggest, and I do this regularily when screening the tutorials to post up on cosplay tutorial, is to look at the finished product, if there is a picture of it. While a poor finished product could be a lack of skill by the creator or just a bad day, it is usually an indicator of a bad tutorial. If suggest checking out the “good tutorial, poor results” section below for an expansion on this.


So you see the fancy final product but that is not always a sign of a good tutorial (lol). The next thing I would advise is checking the supply list. This tells you what you need, and will likely tell you if this is within your budget and skillset, and it hints at the quality. Does it look fancy? Yeah! But do you have a dremel, a vacuformer, 300 lbs of plaster and a screw? Well maybe you do, but I certainly don’t.

So it looks good, the supply list includes materials you can use, what next? Read through the tutorial, derp! Tutorials work best when you have a couple similar tutorials, you read through them all and take tips from them. Even if you end up following only one of the tutorials, the others can give you hints and tips to better work with the material or help if you are having issues. Sometimes a tutorial will be great for making the object (ex. a good mask making tutorial) but another tutorial will help with other parts (fitting it to the face properly, or adding a string).

And lastly, ask questions! People who write these tutorials did so to help others. They are most likely willing to be assaulted by questions about it. If you don’t quite get something then ask!

Common sense

Use common sense when looking at or using tutorials!

One example, which I won’t link to here, is using acrylic paint to color your eyelashes. Yes, there is a tutorial for this and while the creator probably has not experienced any bad side effects with it, this thread does mention some of the issues with it. The thread I linked to also lists many alternatives, which are made for that purpose, which are safer for your eyes.

Good tutorial, poor results.

I debated showing a tutorial for this one, but I decided I should to show what I mean. So I give you this pokeball tutorial, which really doesn’t have poor results but can show what I mean.

What I mean by good tutorial, poor results, is that the tutorial is essentially not a bad tutorial. It explains well, it has pictures, the result is pretty okay – but it certainly could be improved. The benefit of using tutorials, is that you can learn from other people’s mistakes, or improve upon their works. They already did a lot of the trial and error for you!

For example, if you do decide to use styrofoam balls to make a pokeball with the above method you might notice that it takes many layers of modge podge to fill the holes and smooth the surface. In the closeup shot you can see that the texture of the styrofoam is still visible which may not be the look you are going for. So, while the tutorial is not bad you can certainly improve upon it yourself by doing more layers, use a different primer or a more smoothe base material. You might even go further to create raised details, or color the velcro.

Another example is this keyblade tutorial. While the work is really nice, a critiquer mentioned that it looks rough – and it does. Simply sanding the surface after doing the woodwork would improve the look and provide a nicer surface once complete. If you were to follow that tutorial, you may choose to sand to improve the look of your final product.

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