Over the years, I have had many friends who are talented at creating their own costumes, or cosplays, of their favorite characters from their favorite movies, anime, TV shows, and other media. Even though I may not be able to see a lot of the intricate details of their costumes, I’ve been very fortunate to have friends that take time learn how to write image descriptions for cosplay that they designed, or cosplay from others so that I don’t miss out on any of the details. In honor of National Anime Day, here are my tips for how to write image descriptions for cosplay to share on social media or similar websites.
What is an image description? Is it similar to alt text?
Alt text tells people what is in an image, such as text or basic essential details. If an image fails to load, alt text will display in its place. Search engines also index alt text information and consider it a factor when determining search engine ratings.
An image description gives more details than alt text and allows someone to learn more about what is in an image that goes beyond alt text. Alt text gives the user the most important information while image descriptions provide further detail. For example, alt text might tell me that my friend J is cosplaying as Pikachu, but an image description will take it one step further and tell me information about what J looks like, what the costume looks like, and the style of makeup they are using, along with other information.
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired
- How To Write Alt Text For Digital Comics
- How To Write Alt Text For Memes
- How To Write Alt Text For Amateur Art
- How To Write Alt Text For Gifs
Reasons to include image descriptions for cosplay
Some of the top reasons to include image descriptions for cosplay photos include:
- Many blind and visually impaired people watch anime, movies, and TV shows as well, and they also read books and comics. Hearing about cosplay for different characters can help with developing a mental image of what their favorite characters look like!
- Image descriptions give viewers the opportunity to read about all of the different details of the cosplay, and notice information that they might have otherwise overlooked- for example, an interesting texture or accessory
- It can help with increasing visibility on social media as people search for different cosplay and cosplay styles
- Descriptions can include names for different cosplay styles and materials, which is great for people who may be new to the world of cosplay
- By creating a description, cosplayers have the opportunity to show off their amazing work to an even larger audience
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How can I add image descriptions to social media?
There are a few different options for adding image descriptions to social media, though one of the most popular is to add a caption or additional comment to a post and include the phrase “Image Description:” or “ID:” to signal the start of an image description. Users can also include alt text for their images to provide a short description as to what is in the picture for screen reader users, though the exact method to insert alt text varies from platform to platform. I recommend including both alt text and image descriptions whenever possible.
For users who are creating image descriptions for other people’s comments, I recommend quoting the post or commenting directly on the post to ensure that credit is given to the additional artist. If this isn’t possible, reach out to the original poster and ask for permission to re-post with credit so that an image description for users who are blind or visually impaired can be added to the post.
- How To Add Alt Text On Social Media
- How To Write Image Descriptions About Online Products For Visual Impairment
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions For Instagram
Information to include in image descriptions for cosplay
Helpful information to include when writing image descriptions for cosplay include:
- The character name and what TV show/anime/comic/etc they are from
- The aesthetic for the cosplay if relevant, i.e steampunk or genderbent
- Hairstyles/items on their head as well as face/body paint or makeup
- Descriptions of clothing styles, fabrics, textures, etc
- How their clothing fits, i.e loose-fitting pants or a ballgown dress
- Any accessories they are wearing/holding, such as jewelry or a magic wand
- Shoes or items on their legs/feet
- Their facial expression or pose for the photo
- Description of the background, if relevant
- Any relevant text or signs
- Writing Image Descriptions For Red Carpet Outfits
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- Creating Audio Description For Viral Videos With YouDescribe
Information to exclude in image descriptions for cosplay
Information to exclude when writing image descriptions for cosplay include:
- Describing what the original character looks like, as users do not necessarily need to have a mental model of what a character looks like to appreciate a cosplay
- Over-describing what color looks like- I know what red looks like, but I will be interested to know what shade of red is used, such as a vibrant red or red-orange color
- Brand names for costume elements, unless the brand name is a specific style of clothing, i.e Converse shoes
- Links to items. Save those for the main caption of the post, and make sure the links are descriptive- i.e linking to the full phrase “red wig here” instead of just the word “here”
- Commentary about the person wearing the cosplay or their appearance, especially negative or self-deprecating commentary
- Statements about whether the cosplay is inaccurate or not
- Random items that are not relevant to the cosplay, i.e a broom in the background or other cosplayers who are standing out of focus
Example image descriptions for cosplay
Some examples of image descriptions that my friends have created for their cosplay include:
- Daisy cosplaying as Rose from Doctor Who. She is wearing a shoulder-length straight blonde wig and simple makeup, along with a black leather jacket and dark purple top. She also has on a pair of bootcut jeans and black running shoes, and is smiling at the camera as she holds a plush version of the TARDIS.
- Murray cosplaying as a steampunk version of Matt Murdock from Daredevil. He has dark brown hair and is wearing black rounded sunglasses with bronze frames that are very thick around the lenses. His jacket and pants are made of stiff dark brown material, with lots of elaborate buttons along the front of the jacket. His tie is tucked into a vest and he walks with a bronze long blindness cane. He holds the blindness cane behind his shoulder in the photo, as if he is ready to fight.
- Taylor cosplaying as Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle. They are wearing a long red-orange wig and elaborate face paint that swirls different shades of red, orange, and yellow similar to a flame, along with contacts that make their irises black. They are wearing a long, loose-fitting robe that is red along the edges, fading to orange and then yellow towards the center. They are also wearing tight red gloves that extend underneath the sleeves of their robe.
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Describing cosplay with audio description/video description
For cosplayers who prefer to show off their cosplay with video, all of these tips can be incorporated into audio description or video descriptions as well. Audio description allows users to create a secondary audio track that describes visual information in a nonvisual way, while a video description is a text-based description that can be utilized the same as an image description. Video descriptions tend to be more widely used on social media websites such as Tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram, while audio description is used more widely on video streaming websites.
- How To Write Video Descriptions For TikTok
- How To Make Tumblr Themes Accessible For Low Vision
- How To Write Video Descriptions For Animal Videos On Social Media
- How To Create Audio Description For YouTube With YouDescribe
Other tips for writing image descriptions for cosplay
- If available, consider listening to how the character’s appearance is described in the audio described version of the movie/TV show they are from- many streaming services have a descriptive audio track for popular programs
- To learn more about the qualities of different aesthetics, I recommend checking out Aesthetics Wiki on Fandom.com