How To Plan Your Cosplay Makeup

So recently I’ve come across a few comments where people weren’t quite sure how to do their cosplay makeup. I thought I’d do a quick post with some tips and tricks about how to plan out your cosplay makeup.

Do Your Research:

Just like when you’re planning your cosplay, get a ton of resource materials. If you are cosplaying as an anime character, get screenshots from different angles, if it’s from a comic book, look at different issues and different incarnations of the character, etc. Get lots of ideas.

Other great sources might include historical inspiration, or other cosplayers. Keep in mind you don’t always have to slavishly copy any one source. Right now you’re just gathering inspiration.

Planning:

Cosplay Makeup

Where are you going to wear the Cosplay?

If it’s for a photoshoot you need to take into consideration the camera flash, the fact that there might be closeups, and you don’t have to wear the makeup very long (plus you can easily touch it up between shots). Certain elements, like glitter, that might read well in real life, may not read as well on camera. Be sure to check with the photographer to see if they have any tips.

If you are wearing your cosplay to a convention all day your needs may be different. You may still need to accommodate for photos, but keep in mind that most will be more amateur shots, and taken from more of a distance. Also keep in mind that most convention lighting is unflattering fluorescent lighting, so you may need to brighten up your skin tone to avoid a sickly or pale look. Don’t forget that your makeup might need to last most of the day, possibly probably while sweating, and touch-ups would mean carrying makeup with you and finding a mirror. Use longer lasting products and set with Final Seal to keep touch-ups to a minimum.

Lastly, if you are planning on competing with your cosplay you will most likely be on stage, under harsh stage lighting. Be sure to go a little heavier on the makeup so that it will read well, even from further into the audience.

What sort of wigs/ headpieces/ etc will you be wearing?

Makeup relies a lot of hair color, so if you are planning on wearing a wig, be sure to adjust for your new coloring. What looks good on me as a brunette, may not look so good as a blonde or redhead. It’s a good idea to practice your makeup with the wig on to get an idea of the whole look.

Also, if you are wearing a headpiece you may need to make some accommodations for that. For example, my Lady Sif helmet causes my face to sort of “get lost” once I put it on, so I wore much stronger makeup to balance it out, so that the whole thing reads well together. Another example is my Batgirl cowl. Since it covers half my face I need to focus on making my eyes pop a bit more when I wear it.

What do you have on hand?

Don’t forget to take into account any makeup you have on hand before rushing out to buy more. You might be able to create a great look with things you already have in your makeup bag.

What are you willing and able to do?

This one should be kind of obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t plan out makeup with a cat eye if you don’t know how to do one (and don’t have time to learn). If you can’t stand wearing false lashes, then don’t plan on using them with your cosplay. How much time will you have to get ready? What resources will be available once you’re at the convention?

Character:

– Does your character have any defining features or characteristics? For example, Loki’s cheekbones, the Joker’s smile, or Katarina’s scar. Not all characters have such prominent features, but it’s important to note if your character does.

– How about personality traits? Is your character flirty? Maybe you give her extra long lashes. If they’re youthful, maybe rosy pink checks. If they’re harsh, maybe more sharp, angular features. See where I’m going with this? Word associations are also helpful. If your character is associated with light, you might incorporate some shimmer or glow.

– Stylistic elements. For instance, if you’re cosplaying as an elf from Lord of the Rings, you want to look naturally beautiful, using makeup to enhance your natural beauty. However, if you’re cosplaying as 50’s bombshell Catwoman, you might do makeup to the max with cat eyes and bright red lips!

– Color association. If your character is known for a particular color, you may want to incorporate that into your look, but don’t forget about secondary associations as well. For example, Harley Quinn is generally associated with black and red, but she’s also obsessed with the Joker, so you could make a case for incorporating some purple and green. Another way to pick colors is from your costume itself. Let’s say your costume had some purple trim, you might choose to play that up by bringing some purple onto the eyes.

Don’t forget to make it work for you!

Just because a character wears their makeup a certain way, or another cosplayer chose certain colors doesn’t mean that look will work for you. We all have different eyes shapes and skin tones, so don’t be afraid to play around until you find a look that is uniquely yours!


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