5 Major Tips on Completing Large Cosplay Projects

cosplay build rules

Pro-Tips from Pro Cosplayers

I asked all the major cosplayers in my life what their top 3 tips are for tackling large or complex projects. These are the answers I got from just about every response, mixing and matching these resoundingly popular answers all from them.  This list was compiled from cosplayers of all genders, fandoms, sizes, shapes, and experience levels. If it’s one thing the cosplay community can barely do – it’s agree on something. So, that should tell you something about these five major tenets of preparing!

Plan Your Cosplay:

    1. Make a checklist. Make a checklist for your checklist. Break the large parts into smaller, manageable “bites”. Eating an elephant is done one mouthful at a time. You should try to have a list of all the things you need to do to accomplish your build. Make a list of materials and cross those off as you acquire them. Make a list of everything you have to make and cross off as you go. Having a visual list of your progress can also be super motivating because the more you get done, the more you can cross off, and the closer you’ll be to finishing!
    2. Use tutorials – Someone out there has tried to do what you are doing, or something similar that you can make your own.
    3. Use Google – Learn how to use proper search parameters with word and phrase exclusion, specifying important search parts, and all the other micro options Google has in place for more specific and tailored results.
    4. Ask experienced builders: Contact professionals and research extensively. Know a foamsmith? They might know how foam bonds and what not to use or that if it’s a humid day, your craft foam will curl. Never be afraid to ask craftspeople you respect and admire. If they have time, they will most often answer and be very helpful.
    5. Do not deviate from your plan unless flaws arise; then make a new plan, don’t give up. No plan survives first contact, but they’re nice guidelines.
    6. Do your materials research, so you don’t waste time and money. Make sure you are not breaking out a new, expensive material like a thermoplastic without testing it beforehand. In the middle of an important build is a bad time to learn the basics of a new material.

Set a Budget:

        1. BEFORE buying anything, fully figure out your budget. If the materials you want to work with cost $300 and your budget is $200, that means it will probably actually be $350 because there are always unforeseen nickel-and-dime expenses that show up. So, you will need to find a cheaper material, find better sales OR save up money longer.
        2. Budget accordingly and know your materials ahead of time. Big projects are usually much more expensive than simpler cosplays. You can make a huge project out of cheap materials, but make sure you have enough or more than enough of those materials before you even start.

Clean Your Space:

  1. You will save yourself 10,000 hours of corrective work by cleaning your space and having it be a clean room for nothing else. Don’t do it on your kitchen floor, ffs. Ash and I built 200 lb stalactites on-site for a music festival, and we created a clean room with tarps and tent poles.
  2. Keep your tools, materials, paints, etc… organized. You don’t want to spend half your time looking for stuff.
  3. Why: Having to move it around can cause you to lose parts or damage unfinished things.


Start Early:

      1. Start way before you think you need to. Life happens, and you can’t always plan for that. Start early, and work as much as you can to accommodate for things happening somewhere down the road.
      2. Build time into your build schedule to rest. Burn-out and frustration with lack of help with large projects, plus working under the pressure of a short or looming deadline is a recipe for failure. Make sure you leave yourself space to be able to put your build down and come back to it refreshed or with new ideas.

Remember, Eventually, You’re Going to Have to Pee.

    1. Trying to recreate things from 2D or 3D into 4D, it’s easy to forget HOW something can be worn in real life. Think about snaps, zippers, buckles, pockets, and even things like movement, sitting, and getting in and out of it. There’s a reason WoW armor clips itself in-game, it’s hard to actually move around in it!
    2. Think it through to the end. Think about how you will move, how it will strap onto you, how you’re going to see, temperature, pockets, etc. Sacrificing accuracy for comfort and mobility is a great idea.
    3. Keep visibility and mobility in mind. Huge cosplays usually need 1 or 2 handlers, so if you’re designing something big but don’t have a handler, design it in such a way where if you need help you will be okay.
    4. Answer these important questions up front so you know how to start your build: How will you go to the bathroom? Where will your wallet go? Are you traveling with it? Etc.


Check out some cosplay tutorials from Word Of The Nerd:


Social Media logo PatreonFollow Word of the Nerd on

Social Media logo FacebookSocial Media logo TwitterSocial Media logo TumblrSocial Media logo InstagramSocial Media logo YouTubeSocial Media logo PinterestSocial Media logo Google Plus

Social Media logo Twitch

At the center of the nerd universe!

About the author


Alexis is the lead fabricator and designer for Shattered Stitch Cosplay, based out of Tennessee. She has been in the cosplay community over 10 years and is a familiar face at cons large and small all across the Southeast US.

Alexis is a consummate nerd with her genres of expertise and interest being concentrated in Marvel comics and World of Warcraft. Also on her interest list is Top Cow, Aspen, DarkHorse, and DC, as well as most all videogames with her personal concentration being PC gaming (Master Race).

Her costumes span everything from comics and fantasy books to live action, including: Final Fantasy, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Studio Ghibli, and Conan.

If you'd like to nerd cred check, step right up and give it a swing. You'll receive your consolation prize as you exit stage left.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

SuperHeroStuff - Shop Now!

Tweets From The Nerds!