After I decide on the costume I want to start working on, I delve into the internet, which can be scary, haha
I look for a few things:
- images of the costume I’m making
- other cosplayers’ work
- clips of whatever I’m making something from that includes the characters I’m looking for
In this case, I googled around for Fili stuff. So far, there aren’t many Fili and Kili cosplayers that I could find, so I’m kind of blazing trails here with what I’m about to make, haha There aren’t a lot of screen caps and clips though, unless you count the production logs that Peter Jackson made and released leading up to the premiere of The Hobbit.
This is slightly off-topic, but it needs to be said:
There’s a few reasons that I look for other cosplayers. First off, I want to see whats going on out there in the community with the particular costume I’m about to make.
We’re an awesome community filled with people who LOVE to share! We learn from each others’ mistakes and discoveries, and I encourage everyone else to do the same!
Why else would we share so much if we didn’t want people to know how we got to a certain point?
Another reason is I kind of want to see how many people have done the costume before. It doesn’t really make a difference to me, I just get curious. It’s a way of judging popularity of certain things, and how many of the same cosplayers I can kind of expect to see at my next convention.
You don’t need to size up other cosplayers on whether you think you can make a “better” costume or not. You’re cosplaying for YOU, don’t let others get you down that your costume isn’t exactly the same as theirs. Do what YOU LOVE and WANT to do. I think the best cosplayers are the ones that have fun and share their experiences with the rest of us. You can have an amazing costume, but the worst attitude in the world, and it will ruin the whole thing! Or you can have YOUR BEST costume and YOUR BEST attitude and people will LOVE you! Don’t be a jerk to other people in the community, everyone starts somewhere and no one really starts at the top, some people just move up quicker than others.
(that was slightly off topic, but it’s important)
In the case of Fili, I decided that I needed to go ahead and buy this book I was eyeballing, and to watch The Hobbit on my computer and take screen caps of my own. Taking screencaps takes a long time, rewinding and pausing and slow motioning until you get the PERFECT shot, haha
It’s not very often that I find screen caps or images already on the internet that give me all the information that I need. Especially for the Weeping Angel costume I made. I tracked down an episode of Doctor Who confidential that dealt with the episode, Blink, and screen capped the heck out of it to get reference on the backs of the angels and their hair.
So in preparation before even plotting out pieces and parts, you might have to spend hours just looking at things to get an idea of the whole picture of what you’re about to make.
I use a Mac, so I can screen cap movies and things using the built in app “Grab”. I’m unsure of what to use on other systems, but this works really well for me! Just google “how to screencap from _____(whatever movie player you use)” and you should be able to find instructions!
You should have a lot of reference photos ready to look at, whether you print them all out, or just print out a select few. I usually only print out 1 or 2 and look at them on my computer screen instead.
Sometimes, I’ll lighten things and mess with the reference photos in Photoshop in order to see details on part of the costume. I’m not the best teacher for photoshop, but I like to use Adjustment layers, so i’m not messing with the image itself.
Go to Image > Adjustment Layers > Levels (or curves, or contrast)
Each type of adjustment gives you different results. Just play around until you get whatever you’re looking for out of the image.
You can also sharpen the image in photoshop to get a little more detail out of it. I like using an unsharp mask, which is found under Filters > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Just drag the sliders around and watch the preview to see what you’re doing.
Reference photos are SUPER important! If you don’t have good reference, or if you don’t try very hard to get good reference, your final product may vary wildly from the source, or problems you have later on could have been prevented by noticing that what you’re having problems with doesn’t even exist at all in the costume! There are tons of ways to get references, whether you just do it yourself, or find magazines or books (mainly for popular live action things, sometimes anime). Just keep looking! time spent looking for costume references is just as important as any other part of the planning process!