Masquerade Competition Guide

Who are our Judges?

Every year we welcome new and veteran judges to apply for the role of Masquerade Judge. We welcome you to apply if you are interested in judging for next year!

We typically have a panel of three or four judges for Costume Craftsmanship and Performance. Our Masquerade Judges are FanimeCon staff, not Guests of Honor, with the perks and responsibilities associated with being a FanimeCon staff member. Our judges are volunteers who love cosplay and want to help make the Masquerade a fair event and share their knowledge with novice and experienced cosplayers.

FanimeCon judges generally have years of relevant experience in one or more of the following disciplines:

  • Costume construction and/or design.
  • Dance, choreography, or performance (concerts, plays, variety shows, etc.)
  • One or more of the following: 3D printing, urethane resin, fiberglass, foam-latex appliances, leatherworking, machining, vacuum-forming, and/or related processes.

Judges must commit to being impartial if they accept the position. Award winners will be voted for in a democratic process by the judges, with support from the Masquerade head.

If you are participating in the Craftsmanship portion of the Masquerade, our judges will meet with you at your appointment time and ask questions related to your costume and props. We’ve provided some tips below to help you know what the judges are looking for when they speak with you.

Our judges also review the performance portion of the Masquerade. After the Masquerade, judges meet for final decisions during a 30-minute judging break before appearing on stage to present the awards for both Craftsmanship and Performance categories. The judges will make a brief statement about each prize winner. 

Masquerade Craftsmanship Judging Examples

Please note that this is a sample document, and the judging process may not include everything listed below. Judges may decide to add to the following questions and observations. 

We will compare your costume to the picture or pictures that you provide for us to judge accuracy, theme, originality, etc. 

  • Who made this costume? 
  • Who or what is the character? 
  • What series is the character from? 
  • Did you bring reference materials? 
  • At how many conventions have you worn this costume? 
  • At how many conventions have you participated in a costume contest? 

Non-sewn (molded, crafted) Costumes: 

  • How did you come up with the concept? 
  • What kind of pattern did you use? Did you make it from a model/picture, or did you see another costume like this and based it on that? 
  • Why did you choose these materials? Were they difficult to find?
  • How is the costume put together? Bolted together? Glued? Papier-mâché?
  • Did you make the props yourself, or did you special order them?
  • How much help did you get? (if any?) 
  • How long did it take you to make? 
  • Is the costume well-constructed and safe to wear?
  • Do you need to wear special clothing under the costume that can be seen through the joints? Did you make this clothing yourself? 

Sewn Costumes: 

  • How did you get your accessories (jewelry, large gem props, etc.)? Did you buy them? Did you make them? 
  • Did you use commercial patterns, modified patterns, or self-made patterns? 
  • Did you use a sewing machine? What kind of stitches did you use? 
  • Any hand-stitching? What kind of hand-sewing was used? (Stitching will be checked for neatness.)
  • Are the fabric/material edges finished or left raw and cut? (This shows time and patience, if you make sure of the quality and details.)
  • What materials did you use? 
  • How are all the parts secured? (i.e., velcro, safety pins, hot glue, string, snaps, hook & eyes, buttons, staples, etc.) 

Make-up and Hair: 

  • Who did your makeup? Is it stage makeup or special makeup? (We will rate how well your makeup is done.)
  • Is that your natural hair? How long did it take you to style it? 
  • Is that a wig? If so, how long did it take you to style it? Did you customize it yourself, or was it made-to-order? 


  • Did you purchase, customize, or make your shoes?
  • Do your shoes match the costume?


The judges will be present at the Masquerade as well as at appointment judging. Judges will note the flow and movement of your design before making a final decision on the award winners.

Class Ranking:

Classes are dependent on a variety of factors, including::

  • How many awards have you won and what types of awards?
  • What was your background in costuming before beginning convention competitions?
  • How many costume contests have you participated in?
  • What are the classes of the other members in your group (for group awards)?

Judges may bump a contender to a higher or lower class based on their interview with you. They do not have to inform the cosplayer of this decision, as it will likely be made in conference with the other judges after judging has completed. 

The following table is an example of some key factors that judges may consider when deciding your class placement. The judges will look at some or all of these factors when making a determination.


  • You have just started competing in costume contests
  • You do not have a background in costuming
  • You are still learning sewing/crafting skills
  • You have won no awards or no major awards


  • You have made more than one costume
  • You demonstrate sewing/crafting skills above the novice level but not at the master level
  • You have competed in more than one costume contest
  • You have won minor craftsmanship  awards


  • You have made multiple costumes
  • You have competed in multiple costume contests
  • You have advanced training in sewing/crafting
  • You have won major craftsmanship awards (Best in Show, 1st Place, Best Master, etc.)

Other conventions have different rules?
Excluding conventions that are International Costumer Guild (ICG) certified, there are no across-the-board rules which conventions use for their classes or awards. Rules are set at the discretion of FanimeCon, the Masquerade head, and the judges. The information presented here represents general judging guidelines that are used in FanimeCon’s competition.