Monday, March 07, 2016

Cosplay Pro Tips - Group Cosplays

 Group Cosplays.

They are always the talk of a convention when you see multiple people working together to create costumes from a movie/TV show/game/anime series and strolling around as one entity. What makes groups stand out are when they all take their strengths and expound upon them.

And being in a group is not easy. You not only have to focus on your costume, but the costumes of your teammates. From material choices, to patterns, designs, wigs, even if you should wear contacts: all of these aspects of a group can come under scrutiny to ensure your team is cohesive in all aspects of the costume. It can be double, triple, sometimes quintuple more work to create a team costume then it is to go solo.

Here are some tips I have gathered over the years on taking your group costumes to the next level:

- Don't join a group for the sake of being with a group. This should seem obvious, but you might be surprised how often I read on social media about people being unhappy with their cosplay because that's all that was left with the group. Pick a series you love, and a character that you want to be. Nothing is worse then being in a group when it's a franchise or a character you don't like. It means you are not going to have fun and a costume you won't want to wear again. Why waste your time and money on something you don't want to wear? Love your costumes!

- Know your group-mates. It's really easy to say "oh yeah I'll totally make this for the con!" and then back out just as fast a month before. It's the same reason why I tell people to not pick their best friend, if they're fully aware that said friend has a terrible work-ethic. Pick people that you know will contribute their fair share to the group. Pick people that you will have fun working with. Pick people that are drama-free. Pick people that will not leave their share until the last minute. Nothing can break apart a friendship faster then trying to make a cosplay group on the fly when you all have completely different work ethics.

- Select materials as a group and do not deviate! This is always one of the trickiest things when it comes to group cosplays: making sure everyone uses the same stuff. It's incredibly easy to tell in a group of Sailor Scouts or Love Live Idols when someone opts to use costume satin over poplin for their skirt, and throws off the look of the entire group. What makes a group cohesive is looking like you all belong together - you may use other colors, have a unique cut in your jacket, whatever. But if you're all using different materials, it can look mismatched. If it's a new material you've never worked with before, ask for help, look to Google, or check out the next tip.

- Use the same sewing/armor patterns. Like the previous tip, utilizing the same patterns helps enhance the cohesive look of your group. With Sailor Scouts, make sure all of your fuku's match. With Power Rangers, use the same jumpsuit pattern. Cohesion is important with groups.

- Exploit your strengths. If you are fantastic at wigs, consider taking on the wigs for your group and pass off pieces of your costume to someone else who is a stronger sewer. Crappy with props but your teammate is a master? Take off his/her work-load in wigs and give them your props. Teams are multi-faceted. And they can look awesome when everyone shares the workload. You may think this causes you to look lazy, but you're not. You're divvying up the work to highlight people's strengths. Thus you will all look that much cooler when the costumes are done! My past groups have worked so well because of this: typically I take on more of the wigs since I have an extensive history of manipulating them for crazy hairstyles. In turn, my group tackles more of the armor and props. And there's nothing wrong with this! You're all working together to create these costumes. You shouldn't limit yourself to just your costume.

- Give yourself time to finish the costumes. Failure is always an option. And Murphy likes to mess with cosplayers. A lot. Don't throw together a group a month before a convention. That's not enough time to compensate for problems that arise, nor is it time to get together, plan, buy materials, etc. Learn how your teammates work and develop a time-table that best represents your group. 3 months. 5 months. A year. Whatever! Time can make a world of difference.

-  If you can't finish your tasks or something comes up that won't allow you to wear your costume, tell your group immediately! There is nothing worse then having spent 6 months on a costume, thinking you are ready to go, and the day before the con you find out half your group can't make it. Now it's you and maybe 1 or 2 other people making up your group and your plans have crumbled. It sucks. What sucks even more is when people in your group knew they couldn't finish their costumes a month plus ago, and are only bringing it up now. With a month, you can find the time to change your tactics, find some more people to replace the roles, or work with your group to debut the costumes at another time. The last minute notices only create more animosity. So do yourself a favor, and save the headaches to come. If you can't make your costume, if you have to cancel, tell your group ASAP. Do not wait. People are incredibly understanding when life stuff comes up. They are even more understanding when you tell them sooner, rather then later.

Groups can be a lot of fun, as well as challenging. But keep these tips in mind to help you along as you prep for your next convention.

Happy cosplaying!

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