Oh hey, guys! Welcome to Cosplay and Coffee. My name is Tiffani, and today I am going to show you guys how to build your own DIY home cosplay studio.
I have done approximately one professional cosplay photoshoot. And while it went well, I just couldn’t get over the need to know exactly what was going on behind the lens. Plus, I just felt extremely awkward.
If you don’t have a photographer to take your cosplay photos on the regular, or you simply want an idea of how to set up your own cosplay studio— congrats!
You’ve come to the right place.
There is no right way to set up or take your own cosplay photos. You can pick and choose from any of these tiers to get the setup that works for your skill level, budget, and space at home.
The following options are pretty much the trajectory that my own cosplay studio took. I started at Option 1 with just a phone and a mirror (which is still a method I use often) and ended with Option 3.
I’m not sure if or how I will upgrade my home cosplay setup, but if I do, you can find the updates here!
Option 1 – Beginner Home Cosplay Studio
You will need:
Cell phone camera
Some of my best performing Instagram photos are cosplay selfies. In fact, some (like this Dexter cosplay) were just taken in a mirror in my bathroom.
The Hermione cosplay photo on the left was taken in front of a window. The natural light gives my photo even lighting so that you can see all the detail in my makeup. Even the freckles.
The DSLR remote was cheap and became almost necessary. Before I would have to run back and forth from my camera to take every single picture.
You can see from my video why the stretchy fabric is the best for your cosplay backdrops. Essentially, it just means that you NEVER have to iron your fabric before taking photos. Just find a blank wall in your house, stretch out your colored fabric, and thumbtack it to the wall!
You can mix and match these products to form your own cosplay photo setup.
For example, you can use your iPhone but upgrade to a ring light. I have the larger ring light to fit my DSLR, but you can get the smaller/cheaper option if you’re only using your phone.
Option 3 – Advanced Equipment For Your Cosplay Photos
Just so you know, I am not a photography expert. At all. These are just the items I have purchased over the last 3 years. I’m still learning to use some of this equipment, but for the most part, the learning curve wasn’t too steep.
Now my home cosplay studio consists of my Canon T5i, a DSLR remote control, a ring light, 4 umbrella lights, a collapsable backdrop stand, and multiple interchangeable backdrops.
It may just be the most comfortable jacket that I own now.
As I say in the video, the materials used in this design just work together. Luca really knows what he’s doing.
The design as a whole has so many minute details and it is truly fascinating. I love the green accents, and I especially like the snakeskin detail on the inside of the jacket.
The grunge/weathered logo on the back makes this look like an authentic Southside Serpent jacket. Did Luca even really make this, or was it stolen off of the set of Riverdale? They’re both in Canada, after all!
So in short, here are my favorite things about this serpent jacket:
The material is lightweight and cooling, yet still keeps you warm
It’s colorful and playful with its design
The women’s Southside serpent jacket fits like a glove. I recommend ordering your normal size or maybe one up (I wear a S-M and got a Medium)
Versatile and can be used with a Jughead, Archie, or Betty Cooper outfit!
Cons of Women’s Southside Serpents Jacket
I wasn’t trying to be funny in the video when I said I couldn’t find many cons about this cosplay jacket. It’s truly a work of art.
That being said, I feel like some people might have an issue with the “worn” look. I don’t know why, especially if you’re looking to do a Riverdale cosplay, but to each his own.
There are two deep pockets (which have green accents on the inside; did you notice?), but the zippers are mainly for show.
And I guess one more thing that can be said about this jacket is that the Southside Serpent jacket design on this jacket is a bit different from the show. You can see my side my Betty Cooper cosplay side-by-side as a comparison.
However, that’s likely due to copyright issues. Other vendors who sell this jacket use the same altered design.
So sorry to burst your bubble but this Riverdale Serpent jacket is the real deal. If you want an easy closet cosplay and a nice faux leather jacket that you can wear on the daily, I truly recommend this jacket. It’s a bit pricer than other retailers, but it’s well worth it.
Cosplay has literally been a thing since masquerade balls in the 15th century. But in case you’re still wondering, “what is cosplay?” let me fill you in.
To be fair, I didn’t discover this community until 2015. Before that, I was just a normal human being– oblivious to the magic that was happening at comic-cons all around the world.
Many people have their own perceptions of the cosplay community. Some find it very strange while others are pretty neutral to the whole concept.
This community is full of fun, fantasy, and believe it or not… drama.
As a whole, we’re generally pretty welcoming to anyone who is interested in costume design. But some cosplayers have different definitions of what cosplay is and who is and isn’t accepted into the community. Some can be pretty territorial and downright harsh.
So let me just explain this whole cosplay concept from a relatively new insider’s point of view.
My first convention happened by accident. On the way to the airport (for my first ever airplane ride), we found out that there was going to be a Supernatural convention in Las Vegas… which was, coincidently, our destination.
Naturally, I convinced my sister to buy tickets on the spot. We eagerly joined the many Dean, Sam, and Castiels, fangirled at the live cast panels, and we even met Misha Collins (who plays Castiel). I didn’t need to ask what cosplay was because the concept seemed pretty understandable.
There were plenty of cosplayers roaming about the Supernatural convention, but I honestly barely paid any attention to them. The whole convention itself was pretty overwhelming and the energy was palpable enough that I couldn’t focus on anything other than my pure enjoyment.
Then my sister asked me to go to MegaCon Orlando with her in 2016. I hastily put together a Thor cosplay because I don’t need to be coerced into working with my hands. I crafted together my $10 costume and we headed out the next day.
And from that point forward, I was hooked.
What Is Cosplay?
Cosplay is a play on words for “costume play.” Most people know this.
What they don’t know is that there is no rulebook for cosplay. Cosplay, as I mentioned, has always been around. The whole masquerade era can now be considered a form of cosplay. Costume play itself gained traction in the ’80s and again in the 2000s, but now cosplay is slowly becoming a mainstream past time.
Different Types of Cosplays
There are unspoken “tiers” to cosplay as well. There are the novice cosplayers. That would have been me in my crafty Thor cosplay made out of craft foam and hot glue (still staple ingredients for any cosplayer, to be honest).
I’ve come across people in my real life who do think cosplay is a bit strange. And, admittedly, I’m always a little self-conscious about it.
That’s why I’m always so surprised when people tell me how cool they think it is. Everyone from my grandma to my childhood best friends will comment on the costumes they see me doing and tell me how much they enjoy seeing it.
Just this past Christmas, a relative (who I would instantly pinpoint as one of the people who would label cosplaying as “weird”) gushed over my character designs.
On the whole, it’s pretty close-minded to label cosplay as a “weird” past time or hobby. It’s true that it’s mostly older adults (25-35 years old) that are a part of this community. But that’s likely due to the fact that cosplaying can be expensive.
And while some people are insecure about the fact that adults are wearing costumes on a regular basis, most people are pretty cool with it. Whether you know it or not.
I’ve always thought that if people are judging cosplayers for turning themselves into characters, why don’t they do the same for actors? They’re literally doing the exact same thing.
Likewise, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to sew and to manipulate foam to make armored cosplays. Do I think it’s strange that some people put the same amount of energy into their own hobbies, like working on cars, baking, or filming YouTube videos?
Of course not.
Should You Join the Cosplay Community?
Like I said at the beginning, this community is notoriously welcoming. Most people rave about each others’ costumes or ask for crafting advice. There’s something to be said about the unequivocal bond you make with someone who’s just as passionate about Supernatural or Iron Man as you are.
However, a word of caution: be leery of the gatekeepers and the internet trolls. Reddit (r/cosplaygirls), in particular, is full of nasty people who seemingly hate their life.
Unsolicited advice is also becoming an increasing problem (“great job! But you should have made your armor a little bit redder!”). And if you know anything about the Star Wars gatekeepers, you’ll know that nothing is ever good enough for these types of people. Especially when it comes to your cosplay.
But should you join? If you enjoy art, have a passion for literally any fandom (from anime to Disney), and you don’t mind burning yourself with a hot glue gun for the rest of your life– then welcome to the cosplay community!
I am so sorry if my tutorial seemed confusing at all. PLEASE DM me on Instagram if you have any questions. I’ll try to keep an eye out on the comments under the video as well. If I change the way I do my Supergirl hair routine at all, it will be updated in this blog!
Do you guys want me to do more cosplay transformation videos? But maybe actually do a transformation this time? I’m an amateur makeup-ist so don’t expect too much. I love learning new techniques though, so I guess if I end up creating a cosplay that I’m really proud of, I’ll share the makeup transformation!
Wondering where to get cosplay supplies? Honestly, there really is no limit on where you can shop.
Most cosplayers start by buying bits and pieces from thrift stores such as Goodwill. You can come up with really cool (and cheap) closet cosplays this way. You can find starter material that you can sew and alter (or use for mockups).
The next route you might take is eBay. I am a very impatient person, so I’m not too thrilled by the idea of buying a wig and waiting a month to gauge the quality.
However, 99% of the time, cosplayers tell me that they have huge and inexpensive success shopping here, so I still recommend it!
Then you can purchase full cosplays at some great online cosplay shops or, if you’re like me, you can become an almost exclusive Amazon shopper.
To help you get started, I’m going to walk you through everything I have in my personal cosplay desk. I have two YouTube videos on my cosplay craft room, so you can get more of a visual over there.
This list is exclusively for cosplay materials that you will probably need at your own cosplay desk. If there is anything else I’m forgetting or that you recommend, please feel free to leave us suggestions in the comments below!
Shop My Cosplay Materials!
Here are links to where I get all of my cosplay supplies!
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To give you an idea of what I think you should buy first, I’m going to list my favorites in order. The top items are what you should get first, followed by the more advanced options.
Patterns: My favorites are the Simplicity which frequently go on sale at Joann’s!
Fabric: Almost all of my material has been purchased from Joann’s. I have purchased material from Wal-Mart but your options are slim there, and it’s usually not the highest quality material.
However, I do find their little squares of fabric to come in handy, so I’ll stock up on those from time to time!
I haven’t found any place cheaper than Joann’s, although I know that other cosplayers have found local shops to have more options. If you have a great tip on where to buy cosplay fabrics, please let us know!
Rotary Sewing Cutting Set
Adjustable Dress Form
Hip Curve Ruler
Styling Design Ruler
Starter Cosplay Tools:
A good pair of scissors (for cosplay supplies only)
Glue Gun and Glue Sticks (or 5)
Box Cutter and/or X-Acto Knife
Wood Burner or Soldering Iron
There are a TON of things you can have at your cosplay workspace. I also recommend getting your hands on some of Kamui Cosplay’s patterns! They will save you so much time and it’s an easy way to learn foam smithing!
What cosplay supplies do you have in your craft room?