Cosplay is all about escaping reality and living vicariously through valiant superheroes. Whether attending Comic Con, a local party or preparing for Halloween dressed as a favorite character, the key to getting the most realistic results is makeup, hair and the perfect costume.
The most professional looking cosplayers spend hours taking makeup application classes to learn how to turn themselves into the character on screen. Everything from silicon inserts to scar putty to prosthetics are used to create the overall look that captivates convention peers. If attending any of the nation’s most exciting cosplay conventions, start practicing the desired look early so that it is perfected in time for the event.
Some characters require prosthetics. To apply the prosthesis, wash the skin and apply an appropriate layer of adhesive specially designed for use with human skin. Allow the glue to dry until it becomes tacky. Line up the prosthetic and gently but firmly press it into the glue. Hold the piece in place until it becomes stable. Give the glue a chance to cure for a few minutes before building up any scar putty or makeup over the prosthesis.
Do not attach prosthetics with scar putty. The putty will warm up to body temperature, resulting in melting and detachment of the piece. High quality cosmetics adhesives are a much better option. If applying scar wax or putty, do so liberally. Adjustments will need to be made to the thickness of layers, so it is easier to start with a thick layer and sculpt the putty or wax from there. Remember that the texture does not have to be perfect.
Makeup goes a long way towards adding depth and giving the overall look that is desired. Ridges, wrinkles and more can be created with the use of good products and skilled application techniques. Learn about contouring and creating depth to get the best possible results at home.
Covering the Brows
If covering the eyebrows for a more professional look, do so using a washable glue stick. Layer glue, then cover with loose powder. Do another layer of glue and powder and yet another until there is no visible hair exposed. Cover the glue with foundation and powder to set up the base for drawn-on eyebrows.
Accentuating and Sculpting the Eyes
The eyes are probably the most important factor to achieving a look reminiscent of certain big-screen characters. Most characters use a very youthful look that reflects a lot of light. This application method is great for making the character look more wide-eyed, awake and mentally sharp. It also takes years off of the appearance of the eyes. Begin by lining the waterline on the lower eyelid with white eye liner. Add a shimmery white powder all the way around the eye, including the inner corners along the lash line and tear ducts.
If going for a very large eyed look, use a black or brown powder liner and draw a line about a quarter of an inch below the lower lash line beginning at the center of the pupil and sweep the line up at the corner of the eyes. For a more defined eye, apply eyeliner and then retrace lines with liquid liner after the rest of the eye makeup has been applied. Applying eyeliner is tricky, so learn as much as possible through makeup classes, video tutorials and good old-fashioned practice.
Many of the most popular cosplay characters have warm toned eye makeup. To get this look, apply a base coat of bronze eye shadow. Follow up in the creases with a deep purple or rose color. This will make the eyes appear to be deeper, more vibrant and interesting. Highlight the brow bone with a brilliant white shadow. Most cosplayers use blue or green undertones on the eyes to make them stand out more.
Sculpting the Cheekbones
Putty and wax is an excellent tool for creating cheekbones on those with relatively flat faces. Begin by adding a generous layer just in front of the ear. The wax should be blended into the ear and sculpted forward. Stop adding wax about where the outer corner of the eye lines up with the cheekbone. Going beyond this point is very rare for professionals who create this look. Smooth the putty into the face so that it blends into the skin naturally.
A Flawless Base
Cosplay makeup is only convincing if the base, or skin, appears to be flawless. Once the base is established, texture and color can be built up in layers.
Those with freckles will need a thick enough foundation to cover them and give a very even finish. Neutrogena and Clinique both offer hypoallergenic foundations that are great for cosplay, or choose a less expensive alternative, such as Elf or Rimmel foundation. The method of application is irrelevant, but many prefer to use fingers rather than brushes or sponges because fingers will not leave streaks in the foundation.
The foundation color chosen should be a good match for the individual’s skin tone. Many cosplayers do choose to go one or two shades lighter than their natural skin tone. As with any other type of makeup application, layering is important. Add light layers to build up the base, cover visible flaws and gain the smooth finish that is so vital to getting a convincing look.
If foundation isn’t giving the needed coverage, use a cream or liquid concealer. Begin by dabbing or smearing a line of concealer beginning below the cheekbones and swooping downward over the chin. Apply more concealer down the middle of the nose, around the nostrils and below the eyes. Extend the concealer outwards from the eyes towards the temples. Apply concealer to the center of the forehead where light is reflected most. Now, blend the concealer into the base without leaving any visible streaks. Patting the product may work best. Set the base with a light shade of pressed powder.
Highlights and Contouring
Once the foundation is applied, add a highlighter to the area under the eyes, the center of the nose and the center of the forehead. Shimmering loose powder can be used for highlighting, as can cream highlighters. Do not use concealer as a highlighter, as it tends to get very cakey.
Contouring powder is one of the most powerful tools for cosplayers. Choose a sculpting powder with no red undertones, meaning bronzer shouldn’t be used. One of the best untapped contouring tools is ashy brown eye shadow. The absence of red allows the wearer to contour the nose and cheekbones without making them look swollen.
Few characters have highly accentuated lips. Simple lipstick, liner and gloss are generally sufficient. Stick as close to character as possible while choosing colors. Many cosplayers choose to cover their lips with concealer before applying lipstick to get the longest lasting results, but that is up to personal preference.
If lips on the character are larger than the cosplayer’s, purchase lip plumper and use liberal amounts throughout the event. If this is not strong enough, use an adhesive and wax combination to build up fullness and give a more succulent look.
Rock the Convention
Investigate online to find photos of the character to be played. Watch as many tutorials as possible to develop a list of items that will be needed to create the look. Search for the best deals on supplies and be sure to get plenty of extra product for practicing the application. Learn professional makeup application tips and practice applying cosmetics until the most convincing and attractive look is perfected. Go to the convention and soak up all the attention gained by looking just like that one person from that one movie that everyone loves. Have fun!