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Unread 03-08-2017, 06:45 PM   #1
shadowthief2
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Rules for Creating and Cosplaying OCs

So, I've been reading through this old thread regarding OC cosplay, and I decided to start putting together a list of rules for how to go about designing OC costumes and how to behave regarding them. I would like to preface this by saying that I don't have a great deal of experience cosplaying (I am currently working on my first ever costume, which happens to be an OC), nor is this any more than a way of compiling my thoughts on the matter, however I figured it might be worth sharing, if only to get others' opinions on. So, without further ado:

Rules on Creating and Cosplaying Original Characters

On Design and Construction
  • Character recognition is totally unimportant.
    • The only things that matter for an original character are the design and the quality of the costume.
    • Additionally, if the character belongs in an established universe, the universe itself is what is important, not the character. (see next)
  • When creating a character for an established universe, it must be immediately obvious that your character belongs in said universe.
    • Ideally, this should be through some element of the design, such as an emblem or established motif, however the context of the convention can apply as well.
      • For example: My character belongs in the RWBY universe, therefore the costume would be much more likely to be recognised at, say, RTX, than, say, Comic-Con (in theory).
    • Additionally, if the universe of origin is not immediately obvious, fans of said universe should at least be able to guess in a handful of tries, even if non-fans don't recognise it at all.
  • When actually constructing your costume, it must be obvious that you are wearing a costume.
    • This probably seems stupid, but it's especially important for original characters, since they lack any inherent recognisability. The purpose of the rule is largely to combat closet OCs.
    • The way I've come to think about this is fairly simple. Costume components can be sorted into four categories: Primary components, Secondary components, Accessories, and Props.
      • Primary components are the defining aspects of your costume. This would typically include coats, shoes, armour, hats, etc.
      • Secondary components are aspects of the costume that aren't intrinsically associated with the character/costume. These would be shirts, tank tops, pants, socks, etc.
        • There are some exceptions to this, however, such as if the component is actually a defining aspect of the costume (e.g. Luffy's three-quarter pants, or Tifa Lockhart's cropped tank top).
      • Accessories are just that. They are optional components that the character wears. Wearing them helps to sell the costume, however they aren't vital to the recognisability of the costume.
      • Props are the same, as accessories, in that they are optional elements that help sell the costume, however they are not necessary for the purposes of recognition.
      • The one main grey area to this system is wigs, which varies depending on the costume. For established characters, wigs are a primary component, while for OCs they would be accessories.
  • Actually take the time to think about how your character should look. Every aspect of how an established character looks is entirely deliberate, even the ones that appear “thrown together”. The best design is always design with a purpose.
    • It's important to note that the way a character looks is defined as much by how they think and act, as well as where they live (and their backstory, but one thing at a time), as by Rule of Cool (or any other applicable rule of artistic license).
      • e.g. Confident characters tend to dress very differently to shy characters, experienced martial artists dress differently to novices, people who live in warm climates dress differently to cold climates, etc.
  • Pay attention to detail. This is sometimes misinterpreted as “accuracy”, and it is to some degree, but from a design perspective is actually the minute details that actually sell the costume. They are tiny things like the engraving on the buttons or the style of earrings. Things you don't notice when they're there but are glaringly obvious when they aren't.
    • You can find this sort of thing everywhere in things that are well designed. Things like a cartoon of a timber sailing ship that's on fire and having the fire spread between the planks, instead of along them. Or the posters and decals decorating walls and floors in video games that you never pay attention to, but would make the world feel vastly less interesting if they were missing.

Continued...
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Unread 03-10-2017, 01:22 AM   #2
shadowthief2
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...Continued from above

On Writing Backstory
  • When writing backstory, it's important to write it like it's a narrative, not a recount of every little thing that happened to the character. Remember: it's called backSTORY.
    • The most important thing about backstory is that it defines how a character thinks and acts. What they had for breakfast this morning, or yesterday, or three years ago, isn't going to affect how they behave. The fact that they were almost hit by a car last week will.
  • It's also important to remember that no-one exists in isolation. The people around us influence how we behave as much as what happens to us, so it's important to write family and friends for your character, and be sure to characterise them as well.
    • This actually may serve a useful secondary purpose for some people, since creating friends for your original character gives you more original characters for your friends to cosplay as (if they want).
      • You can even have each of your friends give their own characterisation to these other characters, which can help to characterise yours in turn.
  • When creating for an established you need to make it clear how your character fits into the universe, generally in more ways than just existing there. Often, it can be useful to describe how your character fits in relation to the existing characters.
    • The easiest way to do this is to have them actually acknowledge the existing characters in the things they say, whether in backstory or actual role-playing.
      • For example: My RWBY OC occasionally refers to some of the main characters when explaining things to other characters. Such as mentioning a first-year girl who lost her arm (Yang) and another first-year who lost his partner (Jaun) at the Battle of Beacon, when explaining how tough real combat can be and why he doesn't participate in the Vytal Tournaments.
    • Tangential references are a much harder, though, perhaps, somewhat smoother way of integrating an OC into an existing universe. This really is much harder since it tends to involve the Degrees of Separation rule, wherein everyone is connected to everyone else by way of the people they know. For the ultimate example of this, I encourage you to look up the Tommy Westphall Universe fan theory (it's a lot to explain, but this video does a fairly good job of summarising it).
    • Also, be very careful with how you write interactions with established characters. It's one thing to have an OC interact with minor characters that don't get much screen time, but think carefully about how likely it would be for your character to actually interact with a major one.
      • You don't actually even need to have your character interact with major characters, in order to have them fit into an established universe. The best solution if your character must interact with established characters is to put them into situations where they would logically have to interact with them at some point.
  • The purpose of backstory is to define the character's personality. It's understandable to want to share it with people after spending countless hours writing a veritable encyclopaedia on their backstory, but it's also important to remember that backstory isn't for the audience, it's for YOU.
    • There is no story you will find anywhere that tells you every single little bit of backstory to the characters, because, simply put, you don't need it. What the story does tell you is there to explain why the character thinks and acts how they do, which is all you need to know.
    • Authors and creators, on the other hand, need to know so much more about their characters, so it's understandable that they would write so much more information that no-one else ever sees (except maybe their editor). You are the creator. You need to know all of the backstory. The people you share it with only need enough for context.

Continued...
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Unread 03-10-2017, 11:27 AM   #3
Shienra
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In my opinion there shouldn't be rules about cosplaying an original character c; (they also don't have to belong to a 'fandom'. Every book you read, every movie you watched and game you played has someone's OC in it, haha)
It's an original character that is completely owned by you, so you can do whatever you like.
I don't plan on cosplaying any of my OC's although they mean a lot to me, but no one should tell me how to draw, animate or write them either.
In my past, as 13-year old girl I made some 'crappy' OC's as well, but they brought me joy and I still kept a couple of them. You learn and/or your tastes change through time.

There are no rules on writing and character design, it's all up to you. There are guidelines to 'improve' storytelling and character design, but that's all up to the creator of said character. (and if they feel the need to do that. Lots of people use their OC's to express themselves in any way possible. You can't tell someone how to express themselves c; ).

It's okay to help people create OC's if they want to c:
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Unread 03-10-2017, 12:29 PM   #4
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I do understand writing a few personal guidelines for how YOU want to do an OC cosplay, but I'd also reconsider writing up and sharing cosplay rules of any kind before you've even completed a costume for yourself. Your views may change drastically after doing a few costumes--I know my views on cosplay have certainly changed over the years.
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Unread 03-10-2017, 01:45 PM   #5
ShinobiXikyu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sooyong View Post
I do understand writing a few personal guidelines for how YOU want to do an OC cosplay, but I'd also reconsider writing up and sharing cosplay rules of any kind before you've even completed a costume for yourself. Your views may change drastically after doing a few costumes--I know my views on cosplay have certainly changed over the years.
This. I've been doing OC and "regular" character cosplays for nearly a decade now, and my input is: Leave the so-called rules to those who have actually finished and worn an OC cosplay. And the rules are so-called because there really aren't any. You do an OC as YOU want to do it, not as anyone else says you should do it. That's why it's called an ORIGINAL character.
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Unread 03-10-2017, 03:22 PM   #6
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So, I get where people are coming from with regards to my experience, or lack thereof, but my intention was never to say that this is how it MUST be done. They are simply meant as guidelines based on how to avoid some of the issues I've read about while researching how to create OCs. I actually was going to post a third part, which included a bit more clarification at the end, but I'm not sure that I should now...

I would also like to point out that a lot of what I've put here is stuff I have learned from actually doing character design and writing backstory. I may not have been cosplaying for long, but I've been writing fiction and creating worlds and characters for eleven or twelve years. I've never done it professionally, but that's partly because I've never been happy with my creations.

So, yeah. I never meant for this to be anything definitive or a set of laws that must be followed or else. My only reason for sharing this list was to get other people's opinions on how to refine it into something that is actually useful. I apologise if I didn't make that immediately clear. Also, in hindsight, "Rules" may have been the wrong word to use. I think that I'll try to avoid using it in this context in future...
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Unread 03-10-2017, 05:37 PM   #7
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Those are not rules, those are recommendations, because you only put your own rules for yourself because they're your own creations after all.
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Unread 03-10-2017, 06:52 PM   #8
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Just to let you know there is an area for OC cosplay. I've done a lot of original cosplay. The sky is the limit, or beyond. You imagination controls what you do. Though uploading pictures and going to cons they have some rules about that. I don't think they'd let you go as Lady Godiva without a bodysuit.

Here is where the OC cosplay threads are http://www.cosplay.com/forumdisplay.php?f=186
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Unread 03-10-2017, 07:02 PM   #9
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What? No. Heck with these rules. Call them "design suggestions" or recommendations or guidelines or GTFO.

(Or, y'know, edit your shiz in order to avoid a lot of reflexive hackle-raising over what looks like you presuming a lot of authority where it is not needed or welcome. If you didn't mean that, great. But if you want anybody to look past your titles and actually read the advice you've been slaving over, EDIT YOUR SHIZ. )

EDIT 2: Actually, you know what, no. Still no. Heck with these rules/guidelines/suggestions/whatever, they're still bunk. Three posts in, and the first thing you want to say to people is DO YOUR HOBBY THIS WAY. I'm not down with that. I wouldn't be down with it if you had twelve thousand posts either, but at this point you are a complete stranger and might as well be some guy on a street corner yelling. Learn to not.
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Unread 03-10-2017, 08:05 PM   #10
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Pretty much what everyone has said. You can have rules for how you do OCs but don't impose it on others.

I have a crapton of OCs as I write novels(no publication yet but working on it!). Some wear modern clothes while others are more fanciful. I'll cosplay both types in a heartbeat. Also, writing/creating backstories does not equal cosplaying OCs. Also, I've been writing since I was 7 so I think my 18 years of writing can be worth something(I wouldn't normally bring it up but you did mention the years you've been writing...)

Heck, have you SEEN some series out there? I can list a few anime off of the top of my head that NEED backstory for their characters but don't give it(and yet might still get cosplayed anyway).
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Unread 03-10-2017, 08:23 PM   #11
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PFFT HA! Rules for an OC!? Are you freaking kidding me? Get out of here with this crap.
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Unread 03-10-2017, 10:30 PM   #12
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As most people here are saying, I can see these as guidelines for what /you/ want to do, or even tips for people who want their OCs to be generally accepted, but calling them "rules" is a failure of language at best and dictating how others do their hobbies at worst.


Though, I'm not really versed in the world of OCs -- I usually associate the term with characters that fans create for established universes, but some people here are talking about OCs for original works? while technically they would be original characters by using the literal definitions of the terms, wouldn't they just be characters at that point, and the purpose of calling an OC an "original character" is to distinguish them from established characters from the universe they are in? Is it just something that people say because OCs are often looked down upon, and they want to make OCs look better by saying that all characters are, technically, OCs (so, for example, Atticus Finch is Harper Lee's OC in this sense)? Am I just being too literal, or is my understanding of what makes something an "OC" incorrect?
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Unread 03-11-2017, 08:44 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by fabrickind View Post
Though, I'm not really versed in the world of OCs -- I usually associate the term with characters that fans create for established universes, but some people here are talking about OCs for original works? while technically they would be original characters by using the literal definitions of the terms, wouldn't they just be characters at that point, and the purpose of calling an OC an "original character" is to distinguish them from established characters from the universe they are in? Is it just something that people say because OCs are often looked down upon, and they want to make OCs look better by saying that all characters are, technically, OCs (so, for example, Atticus Finch is Harper Lee's OC in this sense)? Am I just being too literal, or is my understanding of what makes something an "OC" incorrect?
I think this falls under, "How do you define OC?" I define OC as an original character from anything. If you own it, it's your OC. I'm sure others define it much differently but that's how I look at it.
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Unread 03-15-2017, 06:23 AM   #14
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Just no. No one cares.

This was cringeworthy to read and I honestly couldn't even be bothered to read all of it. It goes way offtopic and just... please stop. There are no rules for cosplay.

OCs can be whatever the creator wants them to be and no one else should be there to dictate how to do it. OCs are the most personal characters and sure, you can use your ~rules~ yourself or whatnot (we all have our own standards, which is fine) but yeah, doing a formal longass list for other random internet cosplayers is ridiculous and unasked for.

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Unread 03-15-2017, 01:34 PM   #15
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Though, I'm not really versed in the world of OCs -- I usually associate the term with characters that fans create for established universes, but some people here are talking about OCs for original works? while technically they would be original characters by using the literal definitions of the terms, wouldn't they just be characters at that point, and the purpose of calling an OC an "original character" is to distinguish them from established characters from the universe they are in? Is it just something that people say because OCs are often looked down upon, and they want to make OCs look better by saying that all characters are, technically, OCs (so, for example, Atticus Finch is Harper Lee's OC in this sense)? Am I just being too literal, or is my understanding of what makes something an "OC" incorrect?
From what I normally see OC is a pretty catch-all term, but some people due to "fan character" or FC if they want to be specific that it's based on an existing IP. Of course many fandoms have their own words for fan characters so you don't see FC that often, you're more likely to see things like "fantroll" (Homestuck), "gemsona" (Steven Universe), etc.

But yeah people use OC to describe original characters from original worlds pretty often, too, or even characters without worlds that they just use as online personas or for roleplay.
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