My very first foray into cosplaying, and really crafting in general, was inspired when I was thirteen by none other than the Alien movies. Inexperienced though I may have been, I knew that I wanted a proper xenomorph costume, difficulty be damned. Of course, after trying and failing to sculpt pieces from Model Magic, I discontinued the project, but it was still a goal of mine to one day own such a costume. So finally, five years later, I finished it--a wearable xenomorph cosplay nearly from scratch!
Unlike some makers online, though, I have no access to fancy tech like vacuform machines or latex casts. The aim of this tutorial is to provide simple instructions using relatively cheap materials while still having a great outcome. If you're like me, and this was also something you've dreamed of doing, I hope this tutorial will make your process just a little bit easier. And believe me, it's worth it!
(Note: As per lack of foresight, I didn't take too many pictures of some parts of the process, so I've drawn up some schematics instead.)
Let's get started...
Step 1: Planning the Project
As you may have guessed, this isn't the world's simplest project. I managed to complete it all in around three months, working in the evenings mostly, but if you don't want to rush it, I would recommend budgeting at least four months before you plan to wear the complete costume.
First, you'll want to figure out what kind of xeno you want to make! I went with a variation of Giger's original, nicknamed Big Chap, so some of the steps will be specific to that. The warrior type with the ridged skull will differ somewhat from my own.
I aimed to make my cosplay as cost-effective as possible, so a lot of the items I used are found items--you can try the same! You'll want to collect the materials beforehand. I made a lot of extra trips to the hardware store, but to avoid that, you'll need more than you think:
-Styrofoam blocks (enough to fill a 1'x1'x3' space)
-Air-dry clay (upwards of 2 lbs)
-Stringlike extras (think twine, electrical wire, shoelaces, etc)
-Tubing (ridged electrical tubing of different diameters, plastic tubing, feel free to vary it)
-Adhesives: Gorilla glue, superglue, Mod Podge, velcro, hot glue are all essential (I ended up using four bottles of superglue, so don't worry about getting too much)
-Craft foam! This is what the majority of the costume is made of. If you can, get plenty of both the thin and thick variants
-Acrylic paint (black and white)
-Lightweight flagpole mount
-Tools: X-acto knife, scissors, needle and thread, candle or access to open flame
-Black boots, pants, long sleeved shirt, vest, belt, gloves (all can be found at thrift stores)
-Extra black fabric pieces
In addition to these items, you'll want as many reference photos of your project as possible. Collect images of all angles of the head, hands, chest, and tail as possible--these will be the most handy down the line.
Now that we have our materials, we can start crafting the first step!
Step 2: The Head
I started the project with the knowledge that I didn't have too much time before the con I planned to show it at (NYCC), so I figured if I couldn't get the head done in a timely manner, I wouldn't have worked so hard for nothing. This was easily the hardest step of the entire process, and took a lot of trial and error, so I've cut the parts that didn't work and left you with the steps that did.
First, you're going to need your block(s) of styrofoam. If it's not already the size (1ft x 1ft x 3ft), you can use the gorilla glue to combine smaller pieces into one block with at least those dimensions. This will serve as the lightweight core of the xeno head.
Using reference photos of both the head in profile and straight on, I shaved down the styrofoam block using alternating a bread knife (for large chunks) and an X-acto knife (to get the shape of the curves closer to accuracy). I made sure to not be too hesitant to carve more than I needed, since the next steps would handle that. Some tips for this step: stand the block on its end and carve down the length of the dome. This way, you still get the shape, but also see all sides of the block at the same time and thus make it more symmetrical.
After this step, you should have a block vaguely shaped like the first image. The shading indicates depressed areas in the foam, where the detailing will go later.
At this stage, you'll want to carve a deep trough, almost to the other side of the foam, in the place where your head will fit. Keep it shallow enough to where you still have visibility from out beneath the chin of the xeno, but deep enough so that the head doesn't pitch wildly when you move.
The surface of this, seeing as it was made of cheap styrofoam (to limit costs--insulation foam can be expensive!), was rough and corrugated, and flaked easily. To get the detailed texture I wanted, I had to add an extra layer of something to the foam. This was done using the air-dry clay. I finished this step over a few days, taking care to give the front part of the head the most attention to detail, since this would be the focal point for the viewer of the costume.
First, I added a thick layer of clay over the head and mouth area. I left a gap stretching back to the raw foam at the back of the mouth--this would be the mouth cavity. Using reference photos (and a lot of pausing Alien from time to time), I built up the general shape of the front part of the dome, mouth, and jaw. During this initial step, try not to get bogged down in details, those will come after. I shaped the clay using just my hands in this stage.
After this has dried and firmly sealed over the foam, you can start refining the shape and working on details. Here I started fixing the teeth (inner and outer) and built up layers of veiny looking filaments all over the jaw, staying as accurate as I could to the reference material. I shaped the clay mainly with a pencil tip to get these forms, and for the front part of the dome, flattened it by dragging a ruler over the clay. (You can see in some of the images how the front part of the head is glossy. This is because I coated it with a layer of Mod Podge, worrying that it would break--this is definitely not necessary at this stage and I would recommend not sealing your shape down early.)
Now you should start coating the rest of the dome in clay. This was a difficult step: getting the clay to lie completely smooth over a bumpy surface took a lot of sanding and re-applying clay in the gaps. To make your life easier, I would recommend making these layers even more thick, since as the clay dried it would often crack or shrink.
Once you're finally satisfied with the clay part of your head, paint a layer of Mod Podge over the entire structure and let it fully dry--sanding Mod Podge is near impossible, so this will essentially 'save' your work so far.
Now, you can start the really fun part of the head!
Step 3: Detailing the Head
Hopefully at this point, you'll have some empty, depressed sections still along either side of the head--here is where you can really experiment with 'found items' in your crafting. I wanted to go somewhere between Giger's Big Chap and the protomorph from Covenant, but you may want to have a screen-accurate xeno or even put your own twist on the specifics.
For this part, I used a section of the ridged electrical tubing for the main tube. I split it in half and superglued it to the side of the head, adding craft foam triangles to give the illusion it came from inside the head. I also used plastic tubing for the smaller tubes, and craft foam wrapped in a cylinder for other segments. I filled in the blank gaps with craft foam cut to specific shapes. Around the dome section of the head I glued a shoelace to give the illusion it was a separate material entirely. I then used hot glue to cover the hard edges of these items and give the panels a more organic feel.
After adding all these items, I covered the whole head with a few layers of black acrylic paint and let it dry. As you can see, the paint step really took the head from 'alien, shabby' to 'alien, scary,' so if it doesn't look quite right before this step, try not to worry.
Then, give the whole head a single coat of Mod Podge to give it a faint sheen. To make the smooth dome even more realistic, give it three or four thick layers compared to the single layer of the rest of the head.
After the Mod Podge has dried, you can go in with white and grey paint and do the weathering on the detailing. This step will really make it look cohesive and natural, so take as much care as possible. I also mixed a lighter grey paint color for the dome and painted over the black, adding more Mod Podge on top of that to complete the illusion of a separate material. (In the test photos, you can see a purple luggage strap securing the head to mine, but this was just an extra precaution and not necessary in the final version.)
Step 4: The Neck
For the neck, I took some old fabric from an older cosplay and cut a long rectangle the height of my neck. For where my eyes would show, I cut a window at the top and left the overhanging strip as is. To make sure the neck didn't look just like a piece of fabric attached to the more realistic head, I took two pieces of the thin craft foam and cut them to shape, adding ridges made from thin strips of the same foam in a curving pattern. I then glued these to the areas of the fabric that would be on the sides of the neck and added hot glue to blend the edges.
To add more detail, I glued several pieces of twine in vein-like patterns along the upper and back parts of the neck, as well as added some vertical strips of the plastic tubing along the front window.
I then sealed the whole piece with black paint, Mod Podge, and white + grey detailing as I did the rest of the head and superglued the whole piece to the head, along the places where the neck meets the xenomorph head as best I could with reference to the photos I'd saved.
To finish the entire headpiece and make it wearable, I added velcro to the overhanging flap still left from the eye panel and made it securable to the other side, so just the panel for my eyes was uncovered.
Your xenomorph head is now completely finished! Now you can get started on the next part: the hands.
Step 5: The Hands
Watching clips from Alien: Isolation, I realized that one part of what made the xenomorph so believable was the range of movement in the hands. I had originally planned to make the hands and fingers a single, immovable piece, but I scrapped that idea for a (less screen accurate but more dynamic) individually jointed variation.
To begin, I cut out pieces from the thick craft foam:
Per hand, there was one large piece for the top of the hand, and smaller pieces for each of the joints of the hand. I shaped these using an X-acto knife heated by flame in order to make carving easier. The final joint, the fingertip, was also made much longer than my actual hands, and I added a clap tip at each end. I also flattened the foam of each joint in order to fit snugly inside the one further up the hand.
I then secured these pieces to a cheap pair of black gloves I owned, starting with the fingertips and working my way up the hand. Here, I had to take extra care with the superglue to avoid actually securing any of the foam joints to each other--I wanted to have as much motion as possible.
I then checked to make sure the gloves had enough room within them for my hands, making adjustments to the thickness of the foam with the knife as I went to be sure they looked as authentic as possible.
As with the head, I used pieces of shoelace and hot glue to add texture and detail to the foam and underside of the hands, and then added black paint, Mod Podge, and white detailing in that order. I tried as best as possible to match the level of detail I had achieved with the head.
(Note: You'll see there are six fingers on the hands, like the original drone, not three like in Aliens. I did this by simply gluing the foam for an extra finger alongside the foam for the pinky finger. This extended my hand a bit to the side, but wasn't too noticeable.)
Step 6: The Chest
Alright! At this point, you might be thinking, "Oh my god this project takes so long, how am I going to finish the rest of it before my con/party/etc?" and you'd be in my position at this stage. But have no fear! After this step, in which we finish the chestpiece, the rest of it will seem almost easy. Hopefully.
This step involves the most foam, so be sure to have on hand maybe five sheets of the ultra thin kind and two of the thicker kind. In addition, you'll be needing one of the noodles and a foam core poster board, as well as the vest.
To start, cut the vest so that the front stays together, and enough fabric remains to have sturdy arm holes, but the entire back of the vest is gone. This way, you can slip it on like a chest cover and have the back exposed--much easier to put on and take off when suiting up. Now that you've cut the back part out, put on the vest and draw with sharpie a line into the fabric following your ribcage, then cut along that line. You'll have a base that's pretty small, but it's all you'll need for the chestpiece.
Vertically along the vest, glue strips of the ridged tubing. Not much of this will show, but having some extra detail will really pop in pictures.
Once this is glued down with either superglue or hot glue, take one panel of the thin foam and cut a pattern that folds up and creates the shoulder flare, and pretty much snugly fits exactly one half of the remaining vest. This will take some trial and error--I intentionally didn't include a pattern because it will be so individual, but I do have a photo of this finished step (with some extra foam strip embellishments). Duplicate this but reversed, so now you have two foam halves of the vest that fit over the fabric base. Glue these down, leaving a strip empty in between them. Make sure these are well attached though, because these will support most of the foam for the rest of the detailing.
Now, to the ribs themselves. Technically, the original xeno has six ribs on each side, but I reduced this to five because I'm not the world's largest person. It will be fairly easy to do six instead if you prefer. For these, I cut ten long strips of the thick foam in a slight curved shape, like an open C, and shaved them down into more organic looking shapes. I then added dimension by cutting wider strips of the thin foam and gluing them over the thick foam to create the look of a three-dimensional bone. Once I had all my ribs finished, I shaped them over a candle (be sure not to actually dip the foam into the flame!), and glued them into place directly onto the foam cover of the vest. To make the vest more realistic, I then used many reference photos and cut small strips of foam and overlaid them in the patters I could see from the photos. This takes lots of patience--the xeno certainly is detailed!
For the front spines, I cut the pointed shapes from another piece of thick foam and carved them into the three-dimensional shapes I wanted. I also cut five foam heart shapes to serve as the base for these spines, and glued those in series down the empty strip I left on the vest. Then I glued the spines directly onto the middles of the hearts.
To create the tall shoulder loops, I cut two pieces of foam core board into tapered C shapes, making sure the inner curve sat nicely over each shoulder. I then cut and shaped two pieces of the pool noodle so they would lay over this foam core, and glued them over the tops. Additionally, I added foam detailing and more ridged tubing so that the loops would be as screen accurate as possible. Then I glued the two loops to the shoulders of the vest using copious amounts of hot glue--if these broke, I'd be in trouble!
At this stage, be sure you have enough foam on the back edges of the vest piece to reach to just the edge of your scapula. If you aren't sure, I'd have a friend check for you to be sure you have enough overhanging foam here-- this will also be important later.
Once you have all the foam where you want it, embellish with hot glue to make the whole thing look more organic. I added ridges, veins, and spikes over the whole thing as well as blended some edges, but what you do is up to you. Now that you have the vest put together, paint the whole thing black, add your layer of Mod Podge, and accent using greys and whites to taste. You know the drill.
Finally, attach velcro to those overhanging back flaps I mentioned earlier and paint the velcro black. This will be so you can secure your future back plate to your chest piece when you wear your costume.
Step 7: The Shirt & Back Plate
This part is fairly simple, but it took me a couple of tries to get right--for this stage, to save yourself a lot of grief, you should start with a snug-fitting black turtleneck. The one I used was too baggy in the arms, and I had to alter it by cutting panels out of the arms and sewing it back up (not a lot of fun).
Start by cutting the shirt entirely up the front, vertically, essentially turning it into a jacket instead of a pullover. This will make suiting up much easier. Now border the edges of that with velcro and glue that down--the shirt is effectively able to be closed and opened with ease.
I then went to work on the back plate. I formed the base by gluing two whole panels of the thick foam together, shaping and altering that piece with a candle flame and scissors to fit my back, and finally cutting five holes (one centered one at the top and two pairs immediately following that). These will hold the back tubes later. Then I started building the spine. In reference photos, you can see a ridge much like the ridge on the front of the ribcage-- I formed this by cutting a series of heart-shaped thick foam pieces to form the base of the vertebrae and building up off of those with thin foam pieces, cut into the shape of the spines that I wanted. Going down the spine, you can see the size of the vertebrae gradually decrease. The spine goes all the way up to the base of where the top spike will be placed. I then sealed and detailed each of the vertebrae with more hot glue, making sure to cover all the sharp, obvious edges.
Now for the back tubes! In reference photos, there are clearly four "regular" tubes that make up the two pairs. I made these by cutting pool noodles down to size, and warping and compressing them over an open flame. This was a difficult step--I almost burned myself a few times because of how hot the noodle got, but I wanted to be sure to gradually reduce the circumference along the tube. At the end, I pinched the tube so that the material was almost cardboard-thin. I then cut parabolic notches into the tubes at the base, where some ridging is clearly visible, and cut foam pieces to size & lined these foam pieces with thin foam strips. Finally, I sealed the whole thing and added extra details with more hot glue.
For the top tube, if I had had more time I would have warped and shaped it as well, but I was concerned about time constraints so only shaved it down using an X-acto knife (and added the characteristic top ridges using thick foam).
Next, secure these tubes into the back plate with plenty of superglue, and seal the edges with hot glue.
To put the back plate onto the shirt, you may want to enlist a friend's help, but it is possible to do it on your own with some difficulty. Get some black thread and a needle and, while wearing the shirt so that the material is stretched to how it will sit on you when finished, sew down the edges of the backplate to the back of the shirt. This might take a while, but it will keep it from unsticking like it would it you used glue, for example. Then you can paint + seal with Mod Podge + detail these like all the other parts.
On to the arms! For these, I wanted to recreate the ridged sections visible on the upper and lower arms of the original xeno. I made four oblong foam panels, with the top ones longer than the lower ones, and cut smaller ovals from the centers of each of these. On the back of these, I added an extra panel with thin foam strips as ridges, so that it would appear to be a separate, lower layer of ribbing. To the foam panels for the upper arms, at the bottom I cut another smaller hole. I then glued together three pieces of thick foam and cut two different elbow spikes, using the thick foam as essentially a carving block. After this, I inserted the spikes into their respective holes over the elbows, and glued down these arm panels to the shirt (with my arms inside, so that the material would stretch correctly. Finally, I added more detailing using string, wire, and foam strips to the rest of the arm, sealed the whole thing with hot glue, and painted and detailed the arms like I did the rest.
Step 8: The Belly Plate
This step is just a simple add-on to the jacket, but it can make photos look so much more detailed and conceal open, plain fabric even more. I kind of just eyeballed the details for this section, since it mostly fit under existing sections and also varies from morph to morph, so exact shapes aren't crucial when doing this step.
For this, I started with a base made from the thin foam sheets that I cut to a specific, semi-organic shape that would conceal most of my abdomen, but also jutted past where my shirt would end. I then added foam strips, pieces, and carved thicker foam sections as details on this plate. The middle tube is an extra piece of ridged electrical tubing I still had, and I used foam triangles to give the illusion this was emerging from within the body.
I then sealed the edges with hot glue, painted the whole thing a darker black, sealed with Mod Podge, and added detailing with grey and white paint. Now that I had this plate finished, I put on the rest of the jacket and superglued the belly plate (on one side of the jacket only) to where it would sit centered on my abdomen and hang slightly over the jacket's end. Then, on the non glued side, I added velcro to the back of the plate and more velcro to the other side of the jacket--thus the belly plate would be secured to both sides but still allow the jacket to come off when unsuiting. I also added more velcro to the inside of the bottom of the belly plate, so that I could also secure it to the front of the pants. Again, this part doesn't have to be super exact, seeing as it will mostly not be visible, save for just the lower half.
Step 9: The Legs
This is by far the easiest part of the cosplay, in my opinion. If you're running out of time before a con or wherever you want to show this, it is possible to do it the night before as I did. Still, I'd not recommend that. If I had more time, I'd definitely redo this part, but nonetheless I managed to pull it off and make it durable enough for two consecutive six-hour wears.
In reference pictures, I noticed ribbed paneling like on the arms, lots of veiny, upraised regions, and mechanical detailing around many of the joints--these were the details I was aiming to mimic the most with what I had on hand.
First, I started with a pair of faux-leather black pants (about $3 at a thrift store) as my base. Since these were stretchy in nature, and I wanted to be sure that the details laid as I wanted them to while wearing the costume, I did all of the work while actually wearing the pants. I started by cutting a strip of the clear plastic tubing as long as my leg in half (the long way) so now I had two half-pipes of tubing. I then superglued these, round side up, to the outer side of each pant leg, making sure they were secure enough to not bend while walking around.
Then, I did most of the detailing, like the ridged paneling and veins/biomechanical flourishes using my low-temperature hot glue gun. I used a reference photo as I worked, and held the leather taut against my leg so as to prevent wrinkles messing up the designs. This step took up quite a lot of hot glue, so be prepared with upwards of 10 sticks for this part.
After the hot glue had dried and I was satisfied with the raised patterns, I cut thin, long strips of the thick foam, and added them as the raised strips encircling the knee, upper thighs, and ridged paneling (using superglue). In addition, I cut tiny circles and other biomechanical patterns from this foam and added them (using the reference photo to guide me) over less decorated parts of the legs. I then sealed the edges of this detailing with more hot glue and waited for them to dry.
Once I was satisfied with all the three-dimensional work on the leg, I painted over both legs with black acrylic, sealed the details with a thin layer of Mod Podge (which also made the fabric glossier), and added weathering using white and grey paint. This can add lots of emphasis for non-embellished parts too, and create a sense of depth where there might not be any.
As another touch, I cut two small spines from an extra sheet of foam I had, and glued them onto the area of the pants that hung over the back of my shins--the original xeno has two such spines.
Finally, I cut a tiny slit in the back of the pants, right where my tailbone sits. I then took my lightweight flagpole mount and positioned it so that the pole part stuck through the pants from the inside, creating a mount for the tail while still concealing the bulky metal base on the inside. I glued this down several times to be sure it was secure--after all, if this tears, you'd end up flashing the whole convention! As a last step, I took a spare leather belt I had and secured it to the flagpole mount base (on the inside of the pants). Now, when I put on the pants, I would buckle the belt on the inside so that the flagpole base would stay securely in place, and not pull down the pants. Now that would be embarrassing!
Step 10: The Tail
When I was planning out this cosplay, the tail was one of the more concerning elements. I wanted something that actually resembled the original xeno's tail that was sturdy enough to last long hours in crowds, but not too heavy or bulky to tire me out or confuse me with complicated rigging. Originally, I sawed and bolted together a seven-segmented jointed wooden tail in the hopes that it might have a large range of motion, but this turned out to be a mistake: it weighed about fifteen pounds and destroyed any rigging I tried to set up.
I accidentally discovered the method I ended up choosing when I was messing around with one of the industrial strength noodles I'd purchased--the noodle itself made for a great tail! With a length of five feet and a diameter of three inches, and a surprising amount of flexibility and movement, it worked perfectly.
To start, I gradually shaved down the thickness of the noodle along the length, tapering it to almost a point at the very end. To avoid inconsistencies and stray marks, I shaped and melted the outer layer of the noodle using a candle flame. I then cut several short rectangular pieces of the thick foam to serve as the ridges on the tail--if you're making a warrior xeno instead of the classic, you'll want to gradually increase the height and sharpness of these ridges until they become a fan at the end, but I stayed with the classic, short style. I cut slits along the top of the tail, and inserted the foam pieces into these slits, sealing them in place with a bit of hot glue.
Once they were all in place, I used an X-acto knife heated over a flame (to make carving easier through the foam) and cut ovals all along the length of the tail aligned with the ridges. I could then pull out some foam from inside the ovals, making sure I didn't cut all the way to the hollow core of the noodle. This gives the illusion of an outer armored layer over a differently textured core, which is what the reference photos of the xeno seem to show. I then added slight details all along the tail using hot glue.
The barb at the end of the tail is made from a single sheet of the thick craft foam. I cut it into the basic shape of the barb, and shaved the hard edges using the heated X-acto knife, making it look more like an organic segment rather than a rectangular piece of cleanly cut foam. I then cut a slit along the underside of the end of the noodle/tail, and glued this barb into the end.
I then painted the whole tail and ridges with black acrylic, sealed it with Mod Podge, and added weathering in white and grey paint. Finally, after it dried, I slipped the noodle over the flagpole mount base sticking out from the inside of the pants and glued it in place, sealing the obvious edges with foam strips and plenty of hot glue and painting over it. Now, when the belt is buckled from the inside while the pants were worn, the tail stands out from the body rather than dragging along the ground, and will remain in place for many hours at a time without too much strain.
Step 11: The Shoes (optional)
While I did make this part of the cosplay, I didn't end up using it at the con for fear of it being broken or bent. I opted to just wear black, weathered leather boots, and to keep the shoe covers for an eventual photoshoot.
These were really simple to make. First, I cut two pieces of thick card paper into the rough shape of the top of my boots. I then cut four toes for each shoe from the thick foam sheets, using the heated X-acto knife to get the exact shapes I wanted, and glued them to the card paper base. I gave extra attention to the claw areas and let them hang slightly over the edge of the card paper to give the illusion of longer claws. I sealed these down with hot glue, and did all the minor details in hot glue as well. When I was satisfied with the level of detail, I painted over the shoe covers in black acrylic, sealed in Mod Podge, and did the detailing in grey and white as with pretty much the rest of the cosplay.
Finally, I added velcro all over the underside of these covers, and stuck detachable velcro over the corresponding areas of my boots. Now, the shoe covers are detachable, and you don't have to ruin a good pair of shoes in the process (since you can just take off the velcro)!
Step 12: Putting It All Together...
Now, you can take a step back and breathe for a second: you've done it--you've built an entire xenomorph costume basically from scratch. If you're like me, it's probably sitting in a corner or on a couch taking up a ton of space, but you're too excited to wear it to even mind.
On the day of the con/party/other that you plan to wear it, be sure to budget around 20 minutes to get dressed, and have a person or two nearby to help you suit up. I'd put it on in this order: pants w/tail (be sure to buckle the inside belt), jacket, headpiece, chestpiece (to keep the neck fabric from popping out, which happened a lot for me), shoes and shoe covers, gloves. For all of these, your friend can help secure each of the individual velcro sections and make sure no skin is showing.
Also: to cover my face, which shows through the cutout rectangle in the neck, I just cut a section out of a pair of black pantyhose and pulled it over my head before putting on the headpiece.
Some things to watch out for during the day:
-your tail will be a lot longer than you think, but also more durable--watch out for crowds but don't panic when you feel someone touch it, it'll hold up just fine
-bring an extra change of clothes with a friend just in case. It can get really hot in that costume.
-take advil before you go. The headpiece can get really heavy and cause minor headaches, and the constant pressure of the tail on the base of your spine may start to ache if you stay out for many hours. Also, the tail makes it so you can't properly sit down unless you crouch. Which still looks awesome, by the way.
-velcro has a tendency to unstick, so have your friend-as-handler stay with you throughout the day to reseal if necessary
And last but certainly not least, have fun! You've put a lot of work into this, so don't be afraid to really show it off and feel confident. If you're like me, you'll get a lot of people asking for pictures, and they'll look so much more amazing if you really get into posing for the camera and enjoy yourself.
Feel free to leave a comment if you need something clarified!