Cosplay - dressing up as anime, manga, game and film characters - is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.  Every Expo, convention and anime event sees growing hordes of people don ninja headbands and shinigami cloaks, and the cosplay competitions at the London Expo have gotten so busy you now have to pre-book your entry!  It's easy to get catch the cosplay bug, and if you have then Ami-Chan has some tips to get you started.

Ami-Chan is an experienced cosplayer and her multi-part guide will take you through the overall dos and don'ts of cosplay.

It is important when you consider what cosplay to make that you think about it from a number of different angles.

1. What characters would I like to cosplay as?  And how hard would it be to make a costume of the chosen character?

It is important to think about the level of difficulty of the costume.  If you are beginner to cosplay or have little clothes making experience you may consider making outfits that involve adapting clothing bought from normal shops.  This will help limit the amount of sewing involved.  Another easy beginners cosplay is a school uniform as you there are a lot of guides online showing and explaining how to make them.

An alternative that you may wish to consider is to buy your cosplay from eBay.  However, note that you are limited to the costumes available and the character that you may wish to cosplay

may not be available.  My best tip here is if you are determined to buy try and find a seller who will make a costume specific to your size requirements instead of the standard sizes of small, medium and large, you will be far happier with the result.  A final tip here is be aware of the time restrictions, it can often take 4 - 6 weeks for you to receive your costume so if you are going to do this don't order a week before the event!

2. Does the character chosen suit your body shape?

Unfortunately we are all not the perfect anime shape, and this limits the choice of outfits a cosplayer can wear.  At the end of the day it is important to wear a costume that you feel comfortable in.  For example if you don't have a flat stomach would you feel comfortable wearing a costume of a character who has a bare midriff?  It is best to make a cosplay which flatters your best features so if you like your legs you could chose an outfit where your legs are on show.

However, if you are determined to make a cosplay in which your features do not exactly match the character you are cosplaying, there are compromises that can be made to make it better.  For example take the previous example of the outfit with the bare midriff, you could simply make a top which is longer in length so that your stomach is not on show.

3. How much will the cosplay cost?

It is important that you work out how much a cosplay will cost to make, especially if you are on budget.  If it works out too expensive you may wish to decide on making a different cosplay.

4. What are the hair requirements of the character?

It may sound like a strange thing to consider, but it is important to consider the feasibility of this.  Many anime characters have crazy hairstyles that are simply not possible to make in reality.

It may be possible that your current hair could be right or could be styled into the anime character that you wish to cosplay as.  If this is the case, you could practice beforehand so that the style is perfect on the day.  You may consider to use colour hair spray to style your hair, however be warned you will need lots of it and it does have a tendency to rub off onto your clothes or others.  Another alternative is temporary hair dye, as you can buy wash-in and wash-out dyes for as little as two pounds.

If styling your own hair is not a possibility then a wig will be needed.  The advantage of this is that you can buy them in so many different styles and colours.  This can often increase the cost of cosplay significantly as most decent wigs cost, with postage and packaging, 15 plus.  Some eBay sellers sell wigs which are specifically made for particular anime characters which are useful but expect to pay a premium on these.

In some cases you may consider that if the hairstyle is too complex or expensive that another cosplay maybe better.