How to Find Pose References for Cosplay Photoshoots

Photoshoots are one of the most exciting parts of cosplay but they can also be intimidating. Even still I find it challenging to pose in front of the camera and can feel a bit lost. This is where pose references come in. Many characters have signature moves that really bring the character to life. Reference images are also great for communicating with a photographer who may not be familiar with the series you are cosplaying from.

To gather pose references first start with the source material. Promotional artwork, box art, and character data sheets are great places begin. Look at how your character is posing. If a particular pose is repeatedly used it may become a character’s “signature pose.” These poses are great references as they instantly make the viewer think of that particular character.

(For Liliana we based this pose off the official artwork. Photo by Clouds Photography)

If there is no one particular pose that stands out, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Look through concept art, splash art, or in-game loading screens for pictures that catch the eye. Series-specific wikis are great for these kinds of images, as are self-made screenshots.

(This pose of Morrigan’s was based off of the character select menu. Photo by Clouds Photography)

But what if the source material is a pixel game or doesn’t have a lot of official art? Then it’s time to get a bit creative. Think back to pivotal points in the story or key items. Try to incorporate these into your poses. You can also sketch your own pose ideas to share with the photographer.

(Misao has very little art, so this shot emphasizes one of the key items in the game: the baseball bat. Photo by Clouds Photography)

NOTE: Fanart is another place to get pose ideas from, but use caution. Be sure to get proper permission, if possible, and credit the original artist.

Lastly, think of your feelings. In what particular moment did that character trigger an emotional response from you? Is there a scene that is unforgettable? These particular instances can make great references. You can either recreate the moment directly or craft an image inspired by it.

(My dream photoshoot is recreating this scene from the beginning of Unlimited Blade Works. Even if I only get one photo, if it is this, I would be happy.)

I hope you found this article helpful! If you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments below!

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Want to learn more about cosplay sewing? Check out my e-book: (currently available in Kindle format, though can be read on other devices through the free Kindle app).

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