Carbon’s Cosplay Corner: Time Management Pt. I – Drafting

"Con crunch", a term that's nearly synonymous with cosplay, but that doesn't mean you have to be up all night finishing a costume before you leave for a convention. Avoiding con crunch can be a difficult & daunting task, but with early planning, drafting and some scheduling, you can greatly reduce panic crafting.

Avoiding con crunch can be as simple as planning out the costume before you start and beginning a few months before a convention. To start this process, we'll be planning out each individual part of a costume and then deciding the order to make everything in. For this article, I'll be planning out the Valentine cosplay I made for Combo Breaker 2016 because I already have all of the reference material. Once I started writing, this article became much longer than I initially planned, so I'll be splitting it into 3 parts; general planning, fabric patterning and prop drafting.

Things you'll need
  1. Reference images
  2. Printer or drafting paper
  3. Pencil or pen
  4. Calendar or planning app (optional)

When planning a costume, it's best to start by drawing out everything the character is wearing. I'm unfortunately not very gifted when it comes to drawing people, so I start by tracing the outline of a girl. A quick Google search of "art reference" or "pose reference" will pull up a multitude of good bases for tracing. This is the reference photo I traced for my Val costume. If you have a heavily armored character, try using two or more bases, one for fabric components and one for your armor... and maybe even one for the back of the costume.

As you can see, my base isn't very precise or well done, it's just a rough sketch of a female form. Once you have a base down, start drawing your characters clothes on. This is a good time to take advantage of character reference sheets from development so you can have a better idea of how the character is supposed to look. Don't be afraid to make notes as you draw each component, they can help you draft everything up later. As you draw each item, be sure to list them next to your base. This will be the master list of everything you need to complete before the convention.

As with the base, my rough draft isn't very glamorous, but drawing out all the parts helps you visualize what you need to make for a costume. Now that I have a list of everything for the costume, I'm going to separate it into 4 sections; Purchase, Sew, Build & Alter. These 4 sections let you break everything down into more manageable sections so that you don't get overwhelmed by the workload you're about to take on.

  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Contact
  • Flats

For purchased items, I normally take a long time finding the most accurate and cheapest product. Ideally, you'll have at least a month to find these unaltered items, so don't worry if you can't find the perfect version for a good price right away. Purchased items are normally common looking clothes and shoes.

  • Choker
  • Dress
  • Leg wraps
  • Bag
  • Hat

Once I have my list of sewn items, I decide what I'm going to pattern myself and what I'll be purchasing patterns for. Simple items like the choker, leg wraps, bag and hat I patterned myself, but for more complex or form fitting items like the dress, I normally choose to alter a pattern.

  • Bone-saw
  • Small cross x 3
  • Large cross x 2
  • Eye-Patch
  • Name Tag

The planned items list is going to include everything that needs to be built primarily out of a material other than fabric. This will normally include all of my weapons, armor, and hats that have a foam base. For these, I either draft them myself or (if the character is popular enough) look for patterns that exist online.

  • Wig

Altered items are going to be everything that I purchase and then alter to better fit myself or the character. Sometimes when purchasing items online, you realize that they can jump into the alter category and that's just fine. I'll normally include wigs and specialty versions of basic clothing.

Now that you have everything listed and categorized, you're ready to move onto the drafting half of planning. We've run out of time for this article, so be sure to check back next month for part two, Patterning Fabric! Until then, be sure to keep crafting and don't forget to make some mistakes.

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