Laurel Lightfoot cosplay planning

Cosplay 101: How to Plan Out a Cosplay

Want to cosplay but don’t know where to begin? Now’s a great time to learn how to plan out a cosplay. With many if not all conventions cancelled, there’s time to learn.

Here’s how I tackle cosplay. This method always helps me figure out the steps and materials I’ll need to get started. Example images in this article on how to plan out a cosplay will be for the Laurel Lightfoot aka “Elf Mom” from Disney’s Onward.

@MidnightPursona on Twitter shared selfies of her cosplay of Laurel Lightfoot

How to plan out a cosplay:

Pick a Character

A collage of images of Laurel Lightfoot from Disney's animated film "Onward"
Collage of Laurel Lightfoot in Disney’s “Onward”

I know this seems silly to mention, but there’s so much out there it can get overwhelming. My list has over 30+ characters that I’ve wanted to cosplay over the years. The main thing is pick characters you love. Don’t worry if they’re popular or not, over-hyped, older, or maybe not well-known. All that matters is that it’s a character you know and love. Trust me, there will be people in your fandom.  Next, you’ll want to go to good old and find some reference pictures. Try to find images from all angles of your character–close-ups, poses, fanart, and, hey, even other cosplayers. It’s nice to see other people’s versions of the character. It’s great inspiration.

Amazon Wishlist

Amazon Wishlist screenshot image for items needed for the Laurel Lightfoot cosplay
Example of an Amazon Wishlist for items needed for the Laurel Lightfoot cosplay / Screenshot credit: Melissa Joy/Geek Gals

I know this may seem strange to some. But for me, it really helps me plan out my pieces for a cosplay just by typing in different keywords for clothing items to see how I want to sculpt the character to fit me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to buy the pieces from Amazon per se… But it’s also a great backup just in case I can’t find the pieces anywhere else.


Plan out how much time you have to complete this cosplay. I suggest giving yourself a few months ahead of time in case you have a hard time finding pieces or creating. This also creates less stress and avoids the “Con Crunch” dread.

Go On the Hunt

A girl looks for specific clothing at a store
Searching for the right pieces needed for your cosplay can be a lot of fun! / Photo credit: Becca McHaffie/Unsplash

Here’s my favorite part! Although sometimes it can be tiring too, shopping! I like to call it “the hunt” because it really feels that way hunting for the pieces I need. I will go to all of my local thrift stores and consignment shops with my reference images to match as close as I can.

Consider Other Options Too

There is nothing wrong with buying a pre-made cosplay from a cosplay shop or even having it made by someone from Personally, I like thrifting and building mine since I’m not the greatest seamstress ever, but I can alter things alright.

Crafting Accessories

I love having a signature item that I carry around at cons. I feel like it makes me stand out just a little bit more, even though it can be a hassle to have to carry around all day. When crafting items, craft foam and modeling clay are my usual go-to sculpting materials. You can use paint to make your prop look authentic.  Don’t think of the regular Crafting stores as the only places you have to go to get these materials. I find foam mats at my local hardware store and it’s much cheaper there for a four pack of floor mat than it would be to buy a sheet of crafting foam at Joann Fabrics. They even sell the floor mats at Five Below in the workout section. The only downside to this is they usually have texture to them so you’ll need to sand it smooth.

Ready to Cosplay?

I hope this little how-to on my planning process helps give you all some inspiration and motivation to make your own cosplays. To those with their own style of planning and prepping, let me know what you like to do. It’s always nice to have others’ perspectives on the planning process. Good luck and make something you love!

Read more of Melissa Joy’s articles.

Sign up to get news, announcements, and other fun stuff straight to your inbox.

Featured image credit: Disney

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s