How (and why) to Cosplay as Your Original Character

why original characters are great cosplays

Sometimes when you cosplay, you don’t want to be stuck following the design of another person’s character. Maybe you’ve created your own cool character that you want to bring to life, or perhaps you just want to be more creative while constructing your costume. 

When you cosplay as your own original character (OC), you don’t have to worry about costume accuracy. You can make the design as comfortable or elaborate as you want. It’s a chance to give yourself total creative freedom in the design and construction of the cosplay.

There are certainly disadvantages to cosplaying as an original character as well. For example, if you like getting attention on the convention floor, an OC might be ignored simply because no one will recognize the character. 

Lord of the Rings original character
Many people will choose to create their own character within a world that already exists. This is an OC dwarf created to be apart of Tolkein’s Middle Earth.

What is an OC cosplay?

The traditional definition of an OC cosplay is an entirely unique character that you created. This would typically be from your own original story or an avatar that you use to represent yourself. These are both excellent ways to approach cosplaying an original character, but the idea of an OC has expanded in recent decades.

With the recent rise in popularity of D&D and other role-playing games, many people are now creating their own characters for their adventures. After spending so much time with your character in-game, it’s not surprising that you’d want to take the time to design a costume and cosplay your character.

Another way that the concept of an OC is being challenged is by creating a character within a known world. For example, you may create your own character to live in Middle Earth of Lord of the Rings, designing the race and clothing based on what we know from the books and movies. I’ve seen OC cosplays of characters from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Spiderman (from Into the Spider-verse), Avatar the Last Airbender, and even My Little Pony.

I also love the idea of designing gijinka characters to cosplay. This is when you take a non-human character and create a costume based on their design. It’s most popular with Pokemon, but I’ve also seen gijinkas of chocobos from Final Fantasy and other source material with non-human characters. Some of the most creative and complex cosplays I’ve seen have actually been from people who made their own Pokemon gijinka cosplays.

Is it okay to cosplay as an OC at an anime convention?

Whether you are at an anime, comic, or gaming convention, there is nothing wrong with cosplaying your OC. Cons are full of different types of costumes worn by people with all skill levels in creating them.

There are certainly a small group of people out there who dislike the idea of OC cosplays, but I wouldn’t worry about them too much. I’ve really only seen a few comments like these online and have never seen (or even heard of) anyone being harassed or shamed for wearing an OC cosplay at a convention. Ignore the haters, and do what you want to do for your next cosplay.

sorcerer cosplay
You can create an OC cosplay based on your D&D character, likes this beautiful sorceress.

The advantages of cosplaying an OC

Original characters can actually be a lot of fun to design and wear. While they are not the most common type of costume you will see at conventions, OC costumes do have some advantages for people who want to use a little more skill or creativity in their costumes.

1. You don’t need to worry about accuracy

One of the best parts about OC cosplays is that there is no need to accurately portray a character when creating your design. All those little details that you would meticulously add to a standard character cosplay can be totally ignored. You can get shoes that are comfortable, work with whatever color fabric you can get, and change your design on a whim. Overall, there is a lot more freedom in creating your character and bringing them to life.

2. You can use whatever materials you want

You also don’t need to be held back by the type of material you choose to use. You can play to your strengths and create a cosplay based on the skills that you have. If you’re great with a needle and thread, you can create an elaborate costume out of fabric. If you love making props, use those skills to enhance your cosplay. Whatever type of skill you have or want to learn can be used in creating your costume. 

3. Your costume can be as comfortable or elaborate as you want

Most of the time, characters in anime and movies are created with little thought to the comfort of the costume. As you try to recreate it for a day at the convention, you realize that it is heavy or even painful to wear by the end of the day. 

By making your own character, you can plan for this kind of setback. Wear shoes that won’t be killing your feet by the end of the day, and design loose or tight clothing depending on your preferences. You can also plan your costume for the weather at the convention. If it will be a winter convention, design something with layers, while a summer convention can be a much breezier design.

4. Use your creativity

The part I love best about OC cosplays is the amount of pure creativity that goes into the design. While many people start cosplaying because of their love of the characters they are portraying, I know many of us continue because of the amount of satisfaction we get from creating a costume from scratch. By designing a costume from start to finish, it gives us an opportunity for complete creative freedom.

Lucario pokemon gijinka
Pokemon gijinka costumes are a lot of fun to create. What’s even better is that even though it’s your original design, many people will still recognize the character.

The disadvantages of cosplaying an OC

As much as I love the concept of creating original characters to cosplay, it’s not for everyone. You may prefer to spend time with the characters you love from movies and games, and you’re less interested in the costume creation aspect. If you decide to create your own character, you also want to be prepared for some setbacks you might experience in creating the costume and at the convention.

1. Few people will ask for photos

Unless your costume is highly elaborate, you are not likely to be asked for photos at a convention. If you want pictures of your outfit, you’ll have to set up a photo shoot with a photographer or a friend. The exception here is gijinka cosplays. Many gijinka costumes can be recognized from their original source material, so people may still ask for your photograph.

2. You might be mistaken for other characters

If you are the type of person to get a little upset if someone misidentifies your character, make sure you prepare yourself for convention day. If no one knows who you are, you’ll start to hear random guesses that might not look anything like the character you wanted to create. This is especially common if you make a character within a known universe. If you dress up as an OC firebender, you will likely be mistaken for pretty much any character in the series.

3. You won’t have specific tutorials for creating your character

When you are making a costume of a popular character, you can often find tutorials and advice (from forums and youtube videos) from people who have cosplayed the character before you. When creating your own character, you’re striking out on your own and won’t have access to these kinds of resources.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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