The below Cosplay FAQ document is inclusive of all 4 LeftField Media shows, including:

  • Awesome Con’s Cosplay Competition
  • Rose City Comic Con’s Cosplay Competition
  • Anime NYC’s Cosplay Masquerade
  • Anime Frontier’s Cosplay Masquerade

It was last updated 7/11/23. For questions and concerns, please reach out

About this page

It can be intimidating or at least confusing to apply for and compete in a Cosplay Competition or Masquerade, especially when different conventions have slightly different sets of rules or practices. Our hope is that this FAQ will provide transparency around how we select competitors, how our judges choose award winners, and what to expect when you’re competing in the  Awesome Con, Rose City Comic Con, Anime NYC, or Anime Frontier Contests/ Masquerades. This page is subject to change at any time, but we’ll do our best to highlight what’s changed when we change it.

General Costume Questions

What Can I Enter?

Costumes spanning the worlds of anime, manga, video games, musicals, books, and even comics and movies are all eligible for entry (original characters, too), but please note costumes must comply with our show’s cosplay and weapons policies.

Entry Types

There are two ways to compete…

  • CRAFTSMANSHIP – If competing for Craftsmanship, contestants will go on stage individually, exhibit two to three poses as our emcee reads the entrant’s costume description, and then exit. (Note: these entrants must attend prejudging and provide a build book in order to walk on stage and compete) Our comic shows–Awesome Con and Rose City Comic on–are Craftsmanship only and do not have a Performance category.)
  • PERFORMANCE – If competing with a Performance, contestants will go on stage, perform their skit, and then exit. (Note: Performance entries do not need to be part of Craftsmanship judging, but can should you want to. Only our anime conventions–Anime NYC and Anime Frontier–have a Performance category)

75% Rule

Any costume is eligible to compete on-stage in the Performance category, but only costumes that are at least 75% created by the competitor or competitor group are eligible to compete for Craftsmanship awards – with Craftsmanship prejudging taking place prior to the Masquerade. If you are taking part in Craftsmanship Judging, you will be given a time to check-in up to eight hours before the contest begins during which time our judges will meet with you to review your costume. During this time, they will ask you questions about how you made your cosplay. They reserve the right to exclude parts of your cosplay you did not make yourself.

Think about it this way: if the judges exclude all the parts you didn’t make, is there enough left for them to judge and give you an award for?

We know it’s hard to gauge 75% so here are some guardrails that might help you figure it out:

  • You can compete if you…
    • Made all a complex set of armor but purchased your sword.
    • Made your entire cosplay but commissioned your wig.
    • Bought a basic bodysuit but made considerable alterations and additions to it.
  • You should not compete if you…
    • Purchased your entire cosplay in a store or commissioned your cosplay.
    • Purchased the majority of your cosplay but made a prop for it.
    • Made the majority of your cosplay, but it’s not even close to finished by the time of the competition.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure just email us! We are happy to help figure out if your cosplay meets this requirement.

Walk-Ons (Without Competing)

We don’t accept walk-ons who aren’t competing in the craftsmanship contest. While we know how fun it is to strut your stuff on stage in a store-bought cosplay, this is a competition! We are working to build a contest environment that’s fun while challenging makers to be ambitious and performers to up their game. We also want to make sure the Masquerade is a spectacle for our attendees who come to cheer on and support our competitors every year. If you want to get up on stage in a store bought or commissioned cosplay, that’s fine, but you’ll need to enter in the Performance category and prepare a skit, dance, poem, or other performance type for at least 90 seconds.

Can I Wear Someone Else’s Costume? / Can I Use a Model?

If you are competing in only the Performance contest at one of our anime shows (Anime NYC or Anime Frontier), you may wear a store-bought or commissioned cosplay. You may, of course, also wear a cosplay you’ve made yourself.

If you are competing in the Craftsmanship contest, you are required to have made 75% of your cosplay. In our craftsmanship competition, the maker is the person being judged and awarded. While it’s customary for the maker to also be the wearer, if you don’t feel comfortable or are physically unable to wear your cosplay on stage, you are free to use a model. The maker must be present for prejudging and the stage competition in order to receive their award should they win one.

Understanding Competition Levels

The categories for our craftsmanship contest are:

  • Kids – Anyone between 11 and 15 years of age.
  • Beginner – Anyone who has never won a major costume contest award.
  • Intermediate – Anyone who has won between one to three major awards.
  • Advanced – Anyone who has won four or more major awards or anyone who works professionally in costuming, such as in theater, film, etc.

The number of awards listed above is more of a guideline to help you place yourself than a hard requirement. Entering your competition level should be determined by where you feel the most comfortable competing. That’s not to say where you think you stand the best chance of winning, but where you feel your cosplay would be healthy competition with other entrants. However, please enter the appropriate category for your skill level. If you are a very experienced cosplayer and enter the beginner category, that’s just bad sportsmanship. Judges are also empowered to upgrade or downgrade your competition level during prejudging.

For example, if this is your first time competing, you’ve been leatherworking for 10 years, and your cosplay is majority leatherwork, you might want to consider going up a level.


Sandbagging is against our Competitor Guidelines. This is a term you may have heard discussed in the cosplay community. Sandbagging is when someone re-enters a cosplay that has already won a major award such as Best in Show or a Runner Up award at a comparably sized or larger event OR when someone knowingly competes in a category below their actual skill level.

  • If your cosplay has previously won an award at a smaller event (such as a small local con) or won a minor award (such as a category or judges award) at a comparably sized or larger event, you can absolutely enter our competition without worry.
  • If you personally have won a major award but you are entering a different cosplay from the one you won with, that is completely fine.

If you want to check about a specific cosplay, email us!

Not every convention enforces this rule but we think it’s important to make space for new creations and new creators to have a spotlight and a chance to win. We want to encourage people to continue to make things. You are very welcome to wear an award winning costume to the convention and other attendees will definitely enjoy seeing it, but please don’t enter it into the cosplay competition.

Getting accepted to a contest

Questions we have historically asked on our Contest/Masquerade Application:

  • Costume Description Or Brief Synopsis of Your Performance
  • If you are competing for a Craftsmanship award (walk-on or performance) please provide links to any images of your cosplay.
  • If you are doing a performance, please share any links to recordings you have (up to 30 seconds of footage).

We base our entire decision on the application you submit to us. This means that the more details you submit via written information and, most importantly visuals, the more likely you are to be selected to compete. Consider a few things when submitting your application:

  1. A picture is worth 1000 words: visuals are the best key to helping us make a decision:
    1. Craftsmanship: Show us as much of your cosplay as you have made so far! The photos don’t need to be professional and the cosplay doesn’t need to be 100% finished. Though, the truth of the matter is: the closer you are to finishing, the more likely you are to be selected to compete. We are mainly seeking to understand the general quality of your work and if you will be done with your cosplay in time to compete with it.
    2. Performance: We are looking to see how exciting your performance will be for the audience and how well you hit your queues whether verbal or audio. If you’re not totally ready and polished with this year’s performance, still show us what you’ve got so far, but maybe also show us something you’ve done in the past. Showing us previous performances or even a quick 30 second cell phone video of you doing your planned routine is incredibly helpful. Without some kind of video, it’s hard for us to determine how successful you’ll be on stage.
  2. There’s a lot of content out there: We might not be totally familiar with what your cosplay is from, there’s a lot of great anime, manga, and games out there that we might not have gotten to yet so reference photos are always helpful to understand how well you’ve recreated the character IRL.
  3. Give us something to work with: If you only submit a few pictures of piles of fabrics, pictures of the pattern you plan to use, or a costume that’s not just incomplete but totally unstarted, you will not be chosen to compete.

Why didn’t I get selected to compete?

We know it’s always disappointing to apply to a contest and not get in, especially after months of hard work and dedication to your cosplay. There are many reasons why you were not selected to compete this year and while we can’t specifically get back to every applicant as to why, we hope this section will be useful to you. Please also note that we get about 4-5x the number of applications as we have spots in our contests, so we can’t pick everyone!

The main things to consider are:

  • How complete was your application?
    • Did you include really detailed creation photos? What about a complete shot of your cosplay?
  • Did you provide enough photos/videos for someone who doesn’t know anything about your cosplay to base their decision on?
  • Did you apply in the category appropriate to your skill level?

If we feel we didn’t get enough information from you, we’ll sometimes reach out before decisions are made to ask you for additional photos or video content. However, we’ll only do that if we don’t feel we have enough competitors to make a category feel and look competitive, so you’re better off providing as much as you can upfront. If you’re eager to get your application in early, consider linking us to a Google Drive or a Dropbox folder that you can continue to cram more photos or videos into up until the application deadline. We won’t review applications until after the deadline and there’s no advantage to applying early. Likewise, there’s no disadvantage to applying the day of the deadline.

Another thing to note: competing with us in the past doesn’t guarantee you a spot in future contests. Consider your application a blank slate every year.

I missed the deadline, can I still compete?

In order to be fair to everyone who applied in time, we do not accept applications once the online form has been closed. We know this is tough to hear, especially if you only found out about our competition after that date. That said, we highly encourage you to apply for next year! The form for the contest typically goes live a few months before the convention, so please check back periodically. We’ll also post on our social media channels, so following us there may also be helpful.

At some of our shows we do day-of applications on a first come, first served basis, which we will announce on social media and on the Cosplay Competition/Masquerade landing site.

All about Prejudging

The Purpose of Prejudging

Prejudging is a great opportunity to show the contest judges your hard work up close and in detail. Think of it as a sales pitch for your cosplay and your artistry. You typically have 3 full minutes one-on-one with a panel of judges to talk about your cosplay and answer questions they may have. Because they have your build book in advance, they will have in depth questions to ask you ready to go. Use your 3 minutes wisely and think about how you want to highlight the best parts of your cosplay.

Think about the following when creating your pitch:

  • What are you most proud of?
  • What techniques did you use?
  • What did you learn in the process?

If you can’t think of anything else, just explain how you made your cosplay top to bottom starting with your wig and ending with your shoes.

Remember, the judges likely won’t notice small details that didn’t come out quite how you wanted them to, so don’t highlight parts of your cosplay that you don’t like!

Moving Categories

Judges may take a look at your cosplay and realize that you might be competing in the wrong category. It’s not uncommon for judges to bump up your competition level if they feel your skill is incredibly competitive. An example of this may be someone who applied to compete at the beginner level but produced a cosplay at the intermediate level. In this instance, the judges may move you up. But don’t worry, they’ll only do this if it means you’re going to win an award in your new level.

Cosplay & Consent

In prejudging it’s not uncommon for cosplay judges to ask to touch your cosplay. This is because they are also cosplayers who are interested in craftsmanship and want to understand your cosplay inside and out. Please know that we take consent very seriously and never want you to feel uncomfortable. Our judges will always ask for your consent to touch your cosplay. They will never touch you–only your costume–and they will never ask to look at parts of your cosplay that cause you to reveal more of your body than you are comfortable with.

We fully recognize that not everyone is comfortable with having their clothing touched and so if you don’t want the judges to touch your cosplay, they will ask you to flip your seams over yourself or hold up a part of your costume up for them to look at up close, but without touching.

If there are any parts of your costume you don’t want the judges to investigate at all, they reserve the right to remove that portion of the costume from your score. We want to be fair to you and all of our contestants, so if you don’t want to demonstrate how part of your cosplay was made, it’s difficult for them to assign it a fair score.

Why Cosplay Prejudging is 3 Minutes

We know that 3 minutes is a pretty tough time-limit to describe a cosplay that may have taken you months, if not years, to create. The main reason the time-slots are 3 minutes long is simply time. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes outside of judges spending direct time with our competitors. Prejudging for 30+ competitors can take up to 5-6 hours, including time between each judging session for the judges to discuss your cosplay in detail and take notes, time between sessions for judges to pre-review your build book, and breaks for the judges so that they have the energy to approach every competitor with the same excitement and eye for detail.

To combat this, we print out pictures of all our competitors and take a long time reviewing build books after prejudging has ended so that our judges fully remember and give fair consideration to everyone they’ve met.

All about Build Books

If you’re not familiar with a build book or this may be your first time competing in craftsmanship, a build book is a tool for demonstrating your process for key elements of your cosplay. Think about what you would like the judges to remember after your brief prejudging session. In determining a contest winner, judges will often flip back through your build book to remember what they thought you did well.

You might thinking about including the following:

  • High resolution reference photos — Don’t assume that the judges are familiar with the character you’re cosplaying. Reference photos can help them determine how well you’ve interpreted the source material.
  • Pictures of the creation process — This can be crucial in the judging process. Judges really want to understand how you made something from A to Z. They are often impressed with how you problem-solved something drawn or animated into a physical object, not just the end result.
  • Short written bullet points about your process that are easy to read quickly— It’s great to share what you feel you learned as well as what techniques you think you really mastered.