TIp: Foam can go a long way for achieving armor and metallic surfaces without having to deal with the weight of the materials. As always-- distressing and aging your costumes (even if it's just a little!) makes for a more 'real' seeming costume.
Tip: It's incredibly important to me that I have fun-- sometimes, that means silly costumes that turn some of my favorite things on my head. Don't be afraid to play with concepts-- especially for night time costumes at cons!
Tip: Finding pictures at cons can be hard and setting the time aside in a busy schedule can be difficult. The best photos can come from photographers in your local area on weekends and off days in locations that suit the characters you're wearing. There's often facebook groups dedicated to regional cosplay and more often than not, you can find photographers who are willing to meet up for a small fee, exchange for services, or Trade.
Tip: Never be afraid to learn new skills. I built the prop aspect of my Proton pack a year ago and am still teaching myself how to code Arduinos so that I can have the various effects that I want. Don't rush, and always be willing to learn from people!
Tip: Finding the right color fabric can be a pain, but finding the right pattern or texture can be next to impossible. For my Gordan Freeman undersuit we found the perfect pattern, but it was too light of a color. A bit of airbrushing fixed that right up!
Tip: When wearing armor, sometimes you can cheat on the base layers. My Loki undershirt is just a longsleeve tee that happened to be in the right color. Put some scalemail on top of it and no one knows you got it at the store.
Tip: Wig styling, makeup, sewing, armor... mastering every element of a cosplay can really complete the whole look! Don't be afraid to challenge yourself! You might specialize in one of these elements, but a judge for a contest will be more impressed with someone who's a master of all trades instead of just one.
Tip: Original interpretations of characters let's your artistic side flow! Challenging yourself to incorporate multiple variations of your favorite character, or making up your own 'crossover' (combining multiple characters/fandoms/historical references) into your own design can be really fun!
Tip: Cosplay isn't limited by gender roles! If you're a female wanting to dress as a male character, or any variation of the sort, there's tools and tricks to make it possible! Compression shirts and binders help create a more male shape, and makeup/contouring can help make feminine features look more masculine!
Tip: Mentally prepare yourself for a limited amount of time in large armor. Chances are things will get uncomfortable rather fast, so schedule photoshoots and events in succession so you don't need to be in cosplay long!
Tip: If you're a girl cosplaying as a guy, that doesn't mean you can't wear makeup! Male contouring and shading will actually help sell your look even better. There are tons of makeup tutorials online you can follow to give your face a more masculine look.
Tip: Not all costumes have to be big and impressive. I like to put a ton of effort into getting every detail just right on a simple costume. If it's an important character to me and something I really love, it's fun just to spend my time making it perfect.
Tip: Don't wear yourself out trying to do everything at a con, especially if you're in a heavy costume! It can be fun, but also very, very tiring. After some solid shenanigans, take a break and relax with a snack