Cosplay Newbs Guide -Everything you need to create your first foam armor piece a


Cosplay – The Newbs Guide

Everything you need to create your first foam armor piece and be cool as f&#%

By Buddy Cosplay

Copyright © 2016 by DBo Enterprises LLC. All rights reserved.



Shameless self-promotion section:


Follow Buddy Cosplay on Social Media:

Icons are clickable

Find more Cosplay goodness on the web at http://www.cccosplay.com

*In the Interest of transparency, some links contained within this eBook may be affiliate links and any profit gained by the use of those links will go to support the work we are doing to create a wonderful community of Cosplayers and creators. So, please click a lot and click often!

Why is this eBook free even though it’s worth 3.5 billion dollars?

(ok, maybe more like $10)

I want to get to know more budding creators and artists in the Cosplay foam armor and prop fabrication community. I want to share ideas, learn from others and bring together like minded people so we can all share and learn together to create the most awesome props and art that we can.

Also, while I have your attention, do me a favor and consider stopping over and signing up for my email list so we can share thoughts, patterns and tips with one another. You will also be the first to hear about exclusive projects that are coming out. Just click the button below to sign up! You know you wanna do it!


About the Author


Hello all you beautiful creators! I am Buddy Cosplay and I am a self-proclaimed nerd and proud of it (I was even a closet nerd long before nerdy was fashionable).

I started making props and cosplay armors a few years ago after my oldest daughter asked me to create a piece for an Anime character she liked. Once that creative juice started flowing I was hooked. Smash-cut to present day and you’ll often find me in my “Cosplay Lab” experimenting and creating original pieces of cosplay art.

I have also created tutorial videos to share my passion for the art of Cosplay with the world that can be [+ found HERE+].

It is my hopes to show interested people the awesome power of self-created costumes and help guide them through the process of getting their very first piece of armor created.

I am also an entrepreneur at heart and have created several websites, a few eBooks (just like this one), hosted a few podcasts and so much more. If you’d like to connect with me, feel free to follow me on Social Media (links provided above) where we can get to know each other a little better.

Thank you for taking the time to see what I’m all about. I look forward to seeing what we can build together!




Thank you to everyone I have already connected with in the Cosplay and prop building universe! This community has been amazing, kind, smart and so inspirational!

It wouldn’t be fair of me not to mention some of the great YouTube channels that helped to inspire, improve and challenge my imagination as I learned the art of Cosplay. A thank you goes out to Evil Ted Smith, Punished Props, ZNA Productions, Sean Xieng and BFX – you all have provided me with a bounty of inspiration and knowledge.

Also the biggest thank you goes out to my amazing wife Juliann for the countless hours spent hoping I’d turn off the dang computer and come to bed already. Without your patience and understanding, I’d not be where I am today. I love you. And lastly, my girls. You both have sparked my imagination through your wonderment of the world and I love each day that I get to glimpse that world through your eyes.

Oh, and Buster, my dog. Can’t you find a better place to crap?



Welcome to the Cosplay – Newbs Guide eBook! The goal of this book is to help you get started learning how to create your very first pieces of foam armor and props that are both stunning and comfortable to wear. Throughout this book you will find everything you need to create your first piece (from start to finish) with the most basic tools and the least cost. I will not burden you with advanced techniques and tools such as 3D printers, Laser cutters and all the other BS that will do nothing more but intimidate you.

This short book was designed with simplicity in mind. By this I mean that I intentionally left out a metric ton of information to not overwhelm you as you are learning the basics. Advance techniques can be learned later on but this books main focus are simply teaching you the basics. If you focus on the basics, you will have the fundamentals you need to create simple armor and a solid foundation to build upon later.

I want you to see the full process of creating something from nothing, become comfortable with the idea that mistakes WILL HAPPEN (and that’s OK), and ultimately learn a skill that will unlock your imagination and creativity!

-Stay creative


Table of Contents


[Clickable*] (click to go straight to the section you wish to view)



Part 1: Why should you Cosplay/ build your own props and armor


Part 2: Tools for foam armor crafting/prop making and safety concerns


Part 3: Making your own patterns and planning your foam armor designs


Part 4: Cutting your foam armor pieces


Part 5: Detailing your foam armor and props


Part 6: Gluing your armor pieces together


Part 7: Strapping your foam armor pieces


Part 8: Prepping foam before painting


Part 9: Painting foam armor and props


Part 10: Let’s build our first piece together







They are clickable!

Part 1: Why should you Cosplay or build your own props and armor


What exactly is Cosplay and how does one get involved in it?


Cosplay (Costume Play) can be defined in simple terms as: “Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character” (often a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).



The word itself is a combination of the words Costume and Play creating the hybrid “CosPlay”.  Cosplay is often associated with a Japanese origin; however regardless of it inception Cosplay has reached beyond Japanese character imitation into other aspects of charter creation such as foam fabrication, prop building and unique charter design.


According to the Cosplay Wiki page, “the term Cosplay is Japanese in origin, but costume play was originally a hobby from the United States where it has historically been known as ‘costuming’ as opposed to cosplaying and has been around for many decades.”


Most people group Cosplay and foam fabrication (aka armor and prop building) into the same category even though some like to consider them different branches of the same tree. For the purposes of continuity, we will consider them close enough to be the same thing as they both include character creation, costuming and prop building. But no matter how you define it Cosplay and foam fabrication is a fun and exciting way to show off your creativity and bring you imagination to life!


The foam armor and prop creation aspect of Cosplay has taken off in the past few years and has continually drawn in big crowds of fans and creative minds to events such as Comic Con, Horror Hound and many other venues. It’s also important to note that everyone who enjoys Cosplay does not necessarily create his or her own costumes and props. Some people purchase ready-made costumes to dress up as their favorite character while others create props and armor for others while not dressing up in them themselves.





Getting involved can as simple as dressing up as your favorite character, creating a new hero or designing unique artwork to share with others or just for your own amusement. It can be as simple as a few accessories and some body paint as illustrated in the image below or can be as complex as an oversized armor suit that makes you appear to be a giant killer robot!



However, if you do decide to get involved with Cosplay you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if you decide not to get involved in some of the gatherings surrounding Cosplay where you can show off your own artwork, see what others are doing and make new friends who have a similar passion.


The next question to be asked is WHY?


Why would someone want to Cosplay? The reasons are vast! Some people enjoy escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life and becoming a hero or warrior for an evening. Others enjoy the community aspect of it and make many friends along the way. Others simply enjoy the process of tapping into their own creativity and creating things from scratch while others create foam armor and costumes to sell for a profit. Whatever your reason may be there are tons of awesome Cosplayers, costume designers and prop builders to meet as you immerse yourself in the awesome word of Cosplay.


I cannot really articulate all of the reasons why I am so fond of Cosplay but I stumbled upon this video where Adam Savage (Mythbusters/Tested) gave a great Ted Talk about the subject. I thought you’d enjoy it as much as I did, enjoy:



 Part 2: Tools for foam armor crafting and prop making and safety concerns


Cosplay and the creation process itself are awesome ways to learn about creativity or to hone your artistic skills. Whether you are brand new to creating foam armor and props or are an experienced builder the process remains the same: use your imagination, problem solve and unleash your creativity!


Creativity can take many forms as you begin your journey into Cosplay. With this in mind I encourage you to not confine yourself to an exact list of tools and materials that you can use as you flex your creative muscles. For the purposes of general foam fabrication we are going to list some of the tools we use most often as well as share some that we don’t use as much (but we feel give our builds a little something extra).


No matter what, don’t feel like you have to be restricted to simple tools lists and instruction guides; the most enjoyable aspect of doing Cosplay is the creativity aspect of it so use the information below as a launching pad for your imagination and don’t get bogged down if I suggest you use a specific type of adhesive when you have a ready supply of hot glue handy that will work just fine.


Just get started!


Building armor is a pretty straightforward concept: Find something you like, pattern it onto [+ flexible foam,+] cut it out, glue it and paint it. Just because the idea is simplistic in nature doesn’t mean the process is as simple. To get realistic armor and prop builds you’ll have to do a little bit of planning and learn a few tricks and techniques to really bring your work to life.


As we progress through this series we will discuss some of these techniques and tricks to help you get the best and most authentic builds possible but first, we have to start with the basics: TOOLS.


Although you can use pretty much any type of tools to begin building your piece we are going to showcase the most commonly used tools to get you started on your first build and then we’ll briefly touch on a few alternative options as well.



Let’s begin with our suggested Minimal tools for get started:


*Each item listed below will link to Amazon so you can see the item and get a rough estimate of its cost. I am not suggesting that Amazon is always the least expensive place to purchase your tools and many of them can be found in local stores such as Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight and Hobby Lobby. Use your own discretion when making any purchase.



p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Razor knife  +](disposable works fine)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Sharpener for blades or refills  +](I recommend a sharpener so you save money on blade replacements)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Straight edge ruler+]  (flexible is best)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Sharpie markers    +](Multi colors for the different colors of foam)

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. Hot glue gun and sticks

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Sand paper  +](various grits for rough and detail sanding)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Velcro+] (hook and loop)

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. [+ Elastic strapping+]

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. [+ EVA type foam+]

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Heat gun  +] (used to heat form your foam)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Mod Podge+] OR [+ Plasti Dip  +](used to coat the foam before painting)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Acrylic Paint+] or [+ Plastic Paints  +] (Acrylic is cheaper and holds up well)

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. [+ Dust Mask+]



Other recommended tools:

These tools will add some extra professionalism to your builds are but are not required to get nice looking pieces of Cosplay armor or props.



p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Soldering iron+] or hot knife  (great for burning in designs and creating battle damage)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Cork board pins+] (use to hold patterns down to foam while tracing)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ X-acto Knife  +] (for fine cutting work)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Dremel Tool+] with accessories  (any rotary tool works but this is a solid choice)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Nylon strapping  +](used to strap pieces that don’t need to “give” any)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ DAP Kwik seal silicone  +](seam coverage)

p<>{color:#000;}. [+ Barge Rubber Cement +] (my go-to adhesive)

p<>{color:#000;}. Superglue  (always great to have handy for builds and at conventions)

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. [+ Respirator+]





Safety concerns


Working with any material (fiberglass, wood, metal and even foam) has some inherent risks involved whether that danger is from flying debris or chemical reactions, you must be prepared to keep yourself safe while using them. The following suggestions are from my personal experience and . Be sure to read all directions and warning labels and do your own due diligence when working with any materials to keep yourself safe and injury free. This book does not substitute proper use of materials nor does it serve as training on safe use of any material. I am in no way responsible for any injury that arises from you being a dummy. Just sayin’.


p<>{color:#0A0A0A;}. EVA Foam dust

The [+ foam+] you are using may contain tiny particles that can get in your eyes and worse.. into your lungs! Over time any foreign material in your lungs can reek havoc on you so it is wise to always use some sort of filter to keep yourself safe. Since sanding foam shoots tiny particles into the air you breath you should wear a [+ particle mask+] as a minimum safety precaution.

You can pick them up from any local hardware store or get them on Amazon at [+ THIS LINK.+]


p<>{color:#0A0A0A;}. Eye protection

If you can’t see, you can’t create! Your eyes are one of the most valuable things you possess so you need to protect them from flying debris. This can be dust, tiny pieces shooting off from your tools and more. ALWAYS wear safety glasses. Again, these can get picked up at any local hardware store or Walmart.

You can get them at [+ THIS LINK+] if you so choose.







p<>{color:#0A0A0A;}. Ear protection

“Huh? Whhhaattt?  Say that again.” Is that going to be you in a few years? It doesn’t need to be if you use ear protection. You can get the over the ear type or inserts to protect your ears from the load noises involved with working with power tools. Here are links to 2 different types on Amazon: [+ Over the ear protection+] & [+ Inside ear protection+]



p<>{color:#0A0A0A;}. Skin and clothing Protection

Hands and clothing can easily get covered in glue, hot glue, paint and more. Protect your hands and clothing with disposable gloves and an apron.

[+ Gloves +] (be sure to get the right size for you)

[+ Apron+]


p<>{color:#0A0A0A;}. Air Flow

Working in a well ventilated area is a MUST if you are using chemicals. Barge rubber cement, spray paint and fiberglass resin are a few chemicals I use often and will leave you light-headed if not used in a place where air flows freely. Also, if you are light-headed you are more prone to other injuries so just work in a well ventilated area or outside while using harsh chemicals. If you cannot work outside, consider a good mask and filter to wear while using these chemicals.

Here is a [+ link to the one I use+].


These are just the basics in being safe while working with foam. There is always the risk of cutting yourself with the razors and much more but these tips should get you started. Use common sense, read warning labels, follow the instructions, don’t do drugs, stay in school, listen to your parents (sorry, got ahead of myself there) and you should be fine.


Part 3: Making your own patterns and planning your foam armor designs

Patterning is an important aspect of creating Cosplay props and armor. Firstly, the use of patterns can help you reproduce highly accurate pieces in addition to creating armor pieces that fit you or your model much better than a generic design you might find on the internet.


There are many ways one can create patterns for their foam armor and props but we are going to focus in on creating patterns that are unique to your body shape throughout this book. In doing this we lose the simplistic nature of following a pattern that has already been made but we gain the benefit of creating pieces that we are confident will fit us. You can find many patterns on the internet for helmets, chest pieces and more but most people have different body shapes and proportions and a generic pattern may fit some but will often be too small or too bulky on others.


Another way people find patterns is through a software called Pepakura. There are several websites and forums dedicated to the use of Pepakura, which is basically 3D images that have been stripped down into smaller 2D shapes that you can print out on paper and reassemble back into a 3D shape by matching the numbered edges together but my personal experience with this method has been unsatisfactory.






Why do I not prefer Pepakura? First, accurately scaling it can be confusing. Second, to reinforce the paper you’ll end up using [+ fiberglass resin, Bondo auto filler+] and more which can become much more expensive and time-consuming.



Lastly, it is horribly time-consuming! Though by using this method the finished product will often hold up better under stress and will likely last you a bit longer, the extra cost and work involved doesn’t compare when there are much more forgiving materials to work with, such as [+ EVA foam+]. Additionally, I personally encourage creating your own version of popular costumes to insert a little bit of your own personality into it or create a unique character from scratch. The creation aspect of costume and prop building is one of the most enjoyable aspects of it.


The most difficult thing about creating your own custom patterns is creating the patterns on yourself….. without assistance. Imaging trying to hold a piece of paper on your face while trying to trace an outline while looking in the mirror. It can be a challenge, however there are ways around this by soliciting help from a friend or creating a replica of your body shape (you can make a head form, leg form, arm form or whole body form).


THIS IS FAT HEAD. HE IS MY STAND IN FOR SIZE WHEN CREATING HELMET TEMPLATES…and his head is fat. I can say that, it’s my fat head.


You can create these “stand ins” with a variety of materials from plaster bandages to duct tape. It’s often not too expensive and you can use these pattern dummies time and again if you take care of them. In a later post we will go over these sorts of builds but for now we will focus more on how to make the patterns and things you should keep in mind while designing them.


Before we move into patterning let’s take a step back and consider designing you piece. Of course you can find an image on Google and attempt to recreate that piece exactly but I like to encourage others to use these images as inspiration for their own interpretation of that piece so they can incorporate their own style and twists on an existing design.


Below is an example of creating your own “spin” on a popular character. The final design is nothing like the original piece. I simply used the “iron” aspect of the original as a starting point for my own vision of what an Iron Batman helmet might look like.


In the first image we have Batman in his Iron suit. I didn’t like the shapes or looks of the original .. or any part of the helmet to be more specific (it was too square and bulky), but I wanted to make my version to appear to have some sort of metal to it.









The original design was not my favorite due to its blocky shapes so I had to think up a way to incorporate having a metallic look to it while retaining the rounded shape of the original batman helmet.


My solution? How about I design my version of it with metal plates that were molded into shape and attached to the helmet! I thought that could work so I ran with that design. I drew a few rough sketches of ideas for it and once I settled on a design I liked I began making my helmet.



Here are pictures of what my finished piece looked like. In it, I retained the idea of having metal in it while keeping the original Batman shape and contours.





The design has different shapes, different colors and I really enjoyed the creation aspect of making the piece.


You might ask Is that ok to change up an existing character? Why not! Cosplay is about much more than dressing up as your favorite hero or villain, it’s about creating new twists and spins on an idea and enjoying the journey to get there. You don’t have to create exact replicas of existing costumes to enjoy the process of creating Cosplay.


The best part about creating your own version of a popular character is that you are not held to a rigid design. You can change something up to make it fit better on your body or just go crazy and make something loosely based on that design. The added bonus is that any little mistakes you make along the way can be turned into something unique on your version of the armor or prop.


Here are some other examples of people using their own “spin” on another idea:



Now that we understand more about design and patterns, let’s create a pattern using the image below:





While planning out your design you must keep in mind that this piece will be worn by you or someone else so comfort is an important consideration. Be careful around joint areas (elbows, waist and knees) so your piece doesn’t bunch up and hinder enough moment as it will probably be worn for a few hours at a time. The neck is an important place to keep in mind as well as you don’t want the check armor poking you in the neck if you have to bend at the waist a little bit.


Now that we have the design in mind, it is time to move on to patterning.


Creating patterns:

There are several ways you can pattern things out as well as several materials you can you. You can get as technical as you want by using software to create and print out designs but for the purpose of simplicity we will start out with simple paper patterns. Basically, we will use paper to make the shapes we want and then once we like what we have we will transfer that to the foam to cut out using the exact dimensions we got during the designing aspect of the build.



  • It’s important to get used to making alignment marks on your pattern as you go along through go the process (even for smaller pieces) because as you begin making more complex shapes and curves you need a way to realign the pieces to force the foam to make the contours you originally designed. Since this small piece doesn’t have any areas where the foam will connect back onto itself we are going to skip it for now (I know, hypocrite right?).


We are going to use a ruler (in this case, a soft foam ruler make from craft foam that we discuss in an article on www.CCCosplay.com ) to find the length of my forearm as well as the measurements of around my wrist and just below my elbow.


Once we have those numbers written down we can begin creating our template from those measurements. Make sure to find the centerline and use that to ensure all numbers line up correctly.





Next we can draw out the shape of the piece. I simply rounded the edges at the top and bottom so it didn’t have such harsh lines. Next, I folded the piece down the centerline (which you can see I had to re-measure) to ensure we have even promotions on both sides of the whole piece (symmetry man.. symmetry).




Now we simply cut out the pattern and we are almost ready to trace it onto foam and move on to the next step, but before we do, we should do a TEST FIT to ensure it fits correctly. Skipping this step can cause trouble down the line so take a minute and put it on your body to make sure everything looks good.









Part 4: Cutting your foam armor pieces


Cutting your EVA foam pieces out sounds like a pretty straight forward process right? You lay out the pattern and slice it with a sharp knife. Simple right?  Wrong!


It’s not exactly that simple but it is also not that complex either. With good planning you should know what cuts to make before you begin and things should move along smoothly. Without a little planning you will end up wasting tons of your [+ foam+] and having to pay more money to complete you projects.


The very first thing I consider before ever putting razor to foam is how can I position my patterns on the foam to get the most use out of it. If you put a single pattern right in the center, you’ll almost always find you are left with extra pieces that aren’t big enough for the next pattern and may eventually become wasted material so just think about that before you start cutting. Start along the edge and see if you can plan out several pieces to trace onto your foam before cutting to use up the maximum real-estate.



Cutting Angles


The next thing to think about before making any cut is at WHAT ANGLE should you cut? If pieces connect at in a flat design, then you simply cut straight up and down (a 90-degree angle) and the pieces will line up just fine. I recommend that you always use a [+ straight edge+] to help keep your lines straight and clean. A metal one works best as it’ll keep your razor knife from cutting into it during use.






What if your piece has an edge that is meant to have a 90 degree turn in it?


In this case you divide that 90 degrees in half and get a 45-degree angle on both pieces, when put together will add up to 90 degrees. ( 45+ 45= 90)


You can vary the angle cuts more or less to get sharper corners or less pronounced corners.










These angled cuts are often called beveled edges and you can use them to add some unique detail to your pieces as well as to create new shapes with your foam that you may not be able to recreate using heat forming.


Trying cutting in the opposite direction to create an undercut while you are experimenting. With a little practice you’ll be able to cut in curves as well, just practice on scrap foam before trying it out on your design.





The next important thing to keep in mind is having a [+ sharp razor+] to cut with. It needs to stay…. well….razor-sharp (see what I did there lol) the whole time you are using it. Foam is notoriously bad at dulling your razor knife quickly! For example, 2 cuts in and you may be sharpening your blade.




I recommend buying a sharpener [+(like this one) +]and running your blade across it a few time before every cut. Yes, every cut (or at least every 2-4 cuts).


I prefer to use an old-fashioned wet stone because they are inexpensive and work great. I use a little WD 40 on the surface for extra lubrication when sharpening my knives.







A sharp razor cuts like this:




A dull razor cuts like this:




Any questions?


You can also buy refill packs and replace the blades between builds but if you use a sharpener you can use a single blade for several pieces before replacing it.


One last note here… I recommend buying [+ several razor knives+] and using one for a few cuts and then grabbing another. Repeat this until you have run through all of your knives and then take a few minutes to sharpen them all at the same time. This will reduce the amount of time you have to spend sharpening razors while working on your piece. I have about 5-8 razor knives that I use up before sharpening any.



Do I have to use a razor for bevels?

No. You can cut a straight edge and use a rotary tool to slowly sand the edge down to the desired angle if you wish but I find this to be more tedious than necessary when you can get the same effect in a single cut.


Whichever way you choose to create you cuts and angles be sure to sand the edges with a fine grit sandpaper and heat seal any exposed edges so it will hold your primer and paint later on.


Part 5: Detailing your foam armor and props


Detailing armor and props can really bring a solid sense of realism to you pieces. By adding things such as rivets, bolts and layering you can add depth and realism to you work with little extra effort. Of course adding real bolts and rivets will eventually weight down you armor pieces and reduce comfort so we intend to recreate these effects with simple, but effective tricks to make your next armor piece stand out.



The following few segments will illustrate some of the tricks the top cosplayers use to add some realism to their cosplay builds. We will walk through the process in detail so you can also incorporate some of these tricks into your builds to help make them stand out.



How to give the appearance of rivets


Rivets are by far one of the simplest, yet effective effects you can add to your armor and prop pieces. If you are trying to achieve a look of metal that has been riveted together then this is perfect for you! Simply use the end of your rotary tool or burn the shape into your EVA foam with a hot knife to give this type of effect:





Here is a video tutorial that shows you all the steps: CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT


Heat-enhanced lines


You can add all sorts of amazing detail by using a sharp [+ X-acto knife +]and lightly scoring your foam in your desired pattern.


Using your sharp [+ razor knife+] , trace your design into the foam by allowing the blade to penetrate 1/4 to 1/2 of the thickness of your foam (be careful not to cut too deep or your piece will bend at that line).


Once you have completed your design apply some heat (a sweeping motion) with your [+ heat gun.+] The heat makes the foam retract inside the cut area and allows that think cut line to open up into a much more bold detail line (the deeper the cut, the thicker the line will be).



You can use this trick to add straight lines, curved lines, circles and more with nothing more than your razor knife and your heat gun, Easy peasy!





Adding dimension with raised and lowered pieces


A great way to add an extra layer of dimension to your piece is to add a lowered or raised area. This effect can give the appearance of an underlying piece of armor or a raised 3D effect. This is great to make buttons and more effects. In the example below I simply cut the 2 shapes out and then pressed them down until they were below the surface of the top layer of foam. I then applied [+ hot glue+] around the edges (on the unseen back side) to hold them in place.






Layering your EVA foam can give some great effects to your pieces. You can give the appearance of a raised edge, give dimension to props and much more. The concept is pretty straight forward as it only requires gluing layers upon layers to reach the desired effect. You can create several layers or a just a single layer (like the image below) to add some detail.



Simple metal bolt heads

The effect of bolts can really bring an armor piece to life. If you imagine something made of metal and put together (especially for medieval armor) you think of bolts and other river types of connectors holding it all together.


Bolts are one of the simplest effects you can make, and what people often use to give their pieces the appearance of bolts… just might surprise you.


The simplest and cheapest thing to use are craft wiggle eyes! Seriously…


Simply glue them down in place, and once primed and painted, they give a pretty decent effect of bolt heads.







I’ve used furniture tacks as well and since they are metal they can be added after paining and give an authentic metal look to your piece however the furniture tacks are a bit more expensive. I used them in the following build image.







Here is a video tutorial that shows you all the steps: CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT



Create a weld look with hot glue


The last effect tip in this article is to create the appearance of a weld seam using [+ hot glue .+] Like the other tips, it is pretty straight forward. Simply run a bead of hot glue along the joints where 2 pieces meet and let it dry. Prime it and paint it and the result will appear to be a welded metal seam.





Those are a few of the simplest ways to give your pieces some depth but don’t be afraid to experiment on a scrap piece of foam and see what new looks you can come up with.  Experimenting with different tools can yield some amazing effects you can’t find anywhere else other than your imagination.


Below are some videos with simple tips and tricks to add some detail and depth to your cosplay



p={color:#0563C1;}. Keeping your Razors sharp video

p={color:#0563C1;}. Creating leather out of Craft Foam

p={color:#0563C1;}. DIY Craft Foam Rulers

p={color:#0563C1;}. Creating Screw Head effect


Part 6: Gluing your armor pieces together


Getting your pieces to stick together is a simple process that has some more complex choices that you need to consider. What type of adhesive will you use? What is the associated cost with that choice? How will it hold up over time? Let’s review some of the more poultry options and see what works best for you.


What is the best type of adhesive to use?


I’ve seen people put together an elaborate Ironman armor set using nothing more than Super Glue while others are much more comfortable using a higher grade adhesive.

My personal glue of choose is [* Barge Rubber Cement*] . It bonds really well and gives lasts for a long time as well. I will use hot glue and super glue for detail work and smaller pieces but Barge rubber cement is my go-to glue (ha- that rhymed).



Overview of main types of glue used by most cosplayers


Barge Rubber Cement

[+ Barge+] has a chemical smell that requires good ventilation and it has a set up time, meaning you can apply a layer and then wait 4-5 minutes for it to set up before adding a second layer and waiting again. At this point you can stick your pieces together.


Hot Glue

[+ Hot glue is+] inexpensive and holds pretty well but isn’t as sturdy as Barge, in my opinion. Can burn your fingers. Often leaves beads of glue you’ll need to fix later.


Super Glue

[+ Super glue+] is a solid adhesive but it become very stiff after it dries. This doesn’t make it bad in any way but there is always a concern of it breaking free during use in high stress areas of your armor.  Can get messy and stick your fingers together. BUT…. it’s is a must have for when you are wearing you costume. If something breaks free you’ll be thankful that you have a bottle of superglue handy.



Cost comparison


In order of price from cheapest to most expensive you can usually bet that Super Glue is cheapest followed closely by Hot glue and then Barge cement. Which you choose to use is up to use but you must weigh the different pros and cons of what you are planning on building along with your budget to make the decision that works best for you. If cost is more important than sturdiness, then Super Glue might be your best choice. If you want your pieces to last longer periods of time then Barge cement would be a better option.


*Barge is not the only rubber cement around. Your local hardware store will carry other brands of rubber cement as well but my personal opinion is that Barge is a superior product for foam fabrication.



Giving you an estimated cost is just that.. an estimate. But you can get a good idea from the numbers below. Also, you can click the corresponding links to see the current cost on Amazon.


[+ Super Glue+] – 12 pack, $6

Works great for detail work, smaller pieces and can be used for building armor but I would not personally trust it for an entire armor build.


[+ Hot Glue Gun with refills+] – Gun with 12 refill sticks $6

Cost effective and can be used for larger pieces (can be messy when used with smaller detail work). You could create an entire armor set using hot glue but it tends to get everywhere and can make some of your connections look less clean.


[+ Barge Rubber Cement+] (1 qt) – $34

Hold great but not cheap to buy. Usually ordered online so it’s more difficult to get. Fumes can be an issue if you are working indoors.


I recommend a combination of 2 or all of them while creating your pieces. I often use Barge for the main base pieces, hot glue for some of the medium size pieces and super glue for the detail work.


Where can you get it?


Most of these items can be found at your local hardware stores and craft store or you can order them online. Below are quick links to them in Amazon (be sure to shop around for deals while you are there and you might find a better price as the internet changes every minute).

Part 7: Strapping your foam armor pieces

This aspect of creating your [+ foam+] armor costume can be pretty extensive when you consider that it encompasses everything from simple Velcro straps to intricate connections in an entire suit of armor. Since we couldn’t possibly cover every aspect in a single article we will focus more on strapping as a subject more so than as a step by step guide to all the different parts of it. However, we will cover a simple strapping example from start to finish as we go along so you can have that information to help you with your piece.


For the piece we have been building together in this book will use a simple elastic strap to keep this armor piece connected to our body. Since this piece is rather small and lightweight we can use something as simple as [+ elastic+] for it while larger pieces may require the use of [+ velcro straps+] and more.



[+ Elastic+] is also a good choice for this piece because it allows the strapping to stretch with allows us to slide our arm inside while it squeezes against your forearm using friction to hold it in place.


Before we begin strapping we need to make sure the majority of detail work is complete. Ensure all detail has been cut into the foam, any sanding is completed and that you have already heat formed you pieces so you don’t re-melt the hot glue we will be using to attach the strapping to the piece later on.


The first step is to plan out where you will attach your strapping to your armor pieces. It’s easy to just start gluing things but you should take a moment to consider where your joints are in relation to your straps so you are not pinching yourself with the straps and the fit is right (which isn’t an issue with this particular build but it is something to keep in mind for the future).


Once you have the strap locations planned out, mark your foam where you will be attaching them. Again, this is a step that is often overlooked but once you begin gluing things a few inches too high up or down your piece can make a HUGE impact on the final fit.




Next, we want to use out hot glue to attach the elastic to the foam. Run a bead of glue inside the marked area and quickly hold the elastic strap down into the glue before it cools. Continue to hold firm pressure on it for 30-60 seconds to ensure the glue has dried well. For added adhesion to the elastic itself, try stretching it as you lay it into the glue so that the glue not only sits on the surface, but also get in the cracks between the stretchy material. Continue this process until all straps are secured in place.


For this build I simply added a strap at the wrist (which helps keep the piece from sliding down my arm) and another at the mid-section of my forearm (to hold it firmly to my arm).





Score fine lines in the area you will be applying your hot glue to give it more surface area to grip you foam and strengthen it.


Now that the straps are in place there is one last thing to do before moving on.


TEST FIT IT! TRY IT ON! MAKE SURE IT FITS! However you want to say it… just do it!


Don’t forget this step or you may end up reworking your straps after putting on your paint job and risk damaging your paint. Once you are satisfied with the fit you can move on to prepping and painting your piece as covered in the next couple of lessons.






Once we are confident that our piece fits how we want it to and that it is comfortable enough to be worn for several hours then we are ready to begin making this piece look more realistic.


Part: 8   Prepping foam before painting


Why do we need to prep our foam?


It’s simple, foam has pores just like sponges have pores. Pores are bad, lesson over!


Just kidding. That’s not the whole article but the point was a valid one: Pores absorb paint. Before we can begin painting we need to get the foam in the best condition to hold our paint. To do that we need to do two things:


1) Heat seal any cut areas or the entire piece

2) Seal the piece with something that will lessen the absorbent nature of the foam so it requires less paint and makes it hold a more uniform paint job.



Why do we need to seal it?


For starters, unsealed foam will have areas that will absorb the paint faster than others areas and this will often cause an uneven paint job. Look at the sample image below to see the difference in a quick application of paint.


What can we use to seal foam?


Before we discuss WHAT to seal our foam with me must look at 2 WAYS you can seal foam. We can look at this in 2 different steps:

Heat sealing and Priming (most builders refer to them both with the same terminology so we will group them both under the name “sealing” even though they are different steps in the same process). Let’s view them as just 2 actions in the same step for the sake of simplicity.


First let’s touch on Heat sealing. This process can be defined as the application of heat to close the open pores of the foam. Again, this allows for a more even paint finish and less adsorption during the painting process.

The main advantage of heat sealing first is that it creates smoother edges on areas that you have previously cut by slightly melting the outer layer and making it more uniform. It also helps to melt the tiny fuzzy pieces that some cutting and sanding can create.


There are 2 main ways people will heat seal their piece: a [+ Heat gun+] and a [+ Torch.+]


Heat gun

Simply use a sweeping motion across you piece and you’ll notice that the surface becomes shiny. This is the foam cells closing up and becoming less like a sponge.


The think you have to watch out for is applying too much heat as you overheat an area and lose the shape you had formed your foam into. If you don’t use too much heat or stay in one spot too long you should be fine.


[+ Propane torch+]

A torch can be used to heat seal you foam as well. Since it is an actual flame it seals the foam much faster and you need only sweep across the foam lightly and quickly to seal up your foam.


Be careful not to hold on a spot to long or you can ignite your foam and ruin your whole piece. The torch tends to melt away the fuzzy pieces better than the heat gun and that is the reason that I use a torch over a heat gun in my builds.


Now that we’ve covered heat sealing, let’s discuss the other step of sealing: the primer or undercoat.



Priming your foam


The 2 main products that people use to finish seal their foam are [+ Plati Dip+] and [+ Mod Podge+]. Let’s look a little closer at these options.


p<>{color:#000;}. [* Plasti-dip*]


This is basically rubber in a spray can. Applying 2-4 coats of this will cover your piece and add some extra strength to it as well. You cannot sand this material at all so make sure ALL detail is present before using it.


I highly recommend a respirator when using this product as it has a lot of chemicals in it and there is no way it is good for your lungs. Wear gloves as well as it is hard to get off the skin.


[+ Plasti Dip+] is the more expensive option but in my opinion it is the superior way to go. For about 6-8$ a can you can get a solid undercoat on a couple small pieces or one larger piece.



p<>{color:#000;}. * Mod Podge*


This is the less expensive option as a bottle of this can go for 5-7$ but will last you through multiple pieces whereas a can of [+ Plasti Dip+] can be empty rather quickly.


With a cheaper price comes additional work. Applying this with a brush can become cumbersome rather quickly and the drying time between layers is longer than what you can get away with while using Plasti Dip.


I recommend [+ Mod Podge+] for beginners and once you get in a building groove, moving up to [+ Plasti Dip+].





Whichever material you decide to use make sure you read the directions, observe the safety recommendations and allow the layers to dry fully before moving forward.


Once dried completely you can move on to painting.

Part 9: Painting foam armor and props

Paint! This final bit of the process can really make or break your Cosplay costume. You can spend hours upon hours of time creating the best looking armor and then turn it into a mess with a bad paint job so plan on taking your time and really focusing on the little details in this step.


What type of paints should you use?

There are several different types of paint available that you can use and you can even mix paint in with Latex to paint you piece with but we are going to focus in on the primary 2 types people use throughout Cosplay. Acrylic paintsand [+ Spray paint.+]



I’ve read articles that suggest that if you use one type of paint, that you should use that same type (i.e. spray or acrylic) through your painting process. In my personal experience I have had no issue with mixing types of paint. For example: I’ve used a spray paint base coat and then used acrylic over top of it for detail work and more. This is not to say that there may be an issue that I have yet to encounter but in my experience I don’t see there being an issue if you mix types.



Let’s look deeper at both types:



p<>{color:#000;}. * Acrylic Paint*


This is my favorite type of paint to use. This is because it comes in a huge variety of colors and you can water it down enough to use it in an airbrush as well. The up sides to this type of paint are that is often costs much less to purchase and the color variety. The down sides to it is that it often takes more coats to get good coverage and the end product isn’t as shiny as gloss spray paint can be (which is good for an undamaged metal armor type of build).


Acrylic is the best choice for weathering armor so you will almost always need some handy no matter which you chose to use as your base coat.



p<>{color:#000;}. * Spray Paint*


This type of paint has limited color choices but it can give you a great end result if you want a shiny surface. The cost is greater than acrylic paint and there is one thing you must keep in mind: Spray paint requires a dry time as well as a cure time. This means that even if the paint feels dry to the touch you may have to wait an additional 12-24 hours before it is completely cured or risk interfering with the chemical curing process. This can cause some issue when applying different coats (such as a foggy tint to it) or when applying your clear coat. Read and follow all directions on your paint can to avoid these issues.


You should also choose a spray paint that is specifically made for use with plastic pieces. This type of spray paint is more flexible than regular paint and will resist cracking when your pieces bend during use. There are a few brands that offer plastic type paint but my favorite is Krylon Fusion Spray paint which you [+ can see HERE.+]




Whichever type of paint you choose you will likely want to get something to use as a clear coat to “lock in”  your weathering or other paint details you apply to your piece. For Spray paint, just get a plastic friendly type of clear coat spray (pay attention to the finish i.e. Gloss for shiny finish). For acrylic paint you can use a spray clear coat if you like or you can use an [+ air brush system+] to spray on the cheaper alternative: [+ Floor wax.+] Yes, floor wax will give you a protective finish that is also flexible.


Remember: when using spray paints to use a [+ respirator+] or only use in a well ventilated area as they put out some pretty nasty fumes.



That covers the basics on painting. Next, we are going to build a piece from start to finish in the final lesson. Let’s get to it!


Part 10: Let’s build our first piece together


Phew! We’ve discussed a ton and learned quite a bit about creating cosplay armor and finally we have reached the point where we can make our first piece together! I’m excited! What about you?



In this final section we are going to create a simple forearm piece inspired by the image below. We will attempt to hold true to the original design simply to illustrate how you can reproduce a piece with good accuracy.


Now that we have a reference image in mind and we are holding true to the original piece we can skip the design phase as we already know what we are going to make and what it looks like. I may, however use silver paint to make it look more like Stainless Steel.




Since this build will be small and not require much sturdiness I will be using Craft foam that I picked up at a local hobby store for about $1.25 per sheet. It is 5mm thick so it has some rigidity but will still be light. I will also be using a 2mm piece later in the build for an extra layer.




The first thing you need to do is plan your pattern. I am using a ruler I made out of an extra piece of foam because it is soft and flexible. You could also use a tape measure or other type of ruler for this as well. I measure the wrist, the base of the forearm and the length of my forearm to get the necessary numbers to begin drawing up my pattern.




Also, it is good to have safety equipment handy, though for such a simple build with zero sanding or chemicals I did not use them.



Pattern it


Now that I have the measurements noted I will make a simple shape to wrap around my forearm. I used the measurements as a starting point to know how long to make the top, bottom and length. Once I have a rough sketch I find the center point and fold the paper in half before cutting. This will give me symmetry on both halves once cut.






Next is a quick test fit of the pattern on my arm. Don’t skip this step or you might end up making a piece that does t fit and you’ll have to start from scratch.


Looks like it will fit just fine.





Next is to pin your pattern down to the foam with some simple pins to keep it from moving as you trace it onto your [+ foam.] Of course you can just hold it down if you wish. While cutting out your design on the foam use a [ straight edge+] if you can and remember to hold your razor knife at a 90 degree angle for sharp, consistent lines.




Detail it


Now that we have our basic shape cut out we are going to add a few details while the foam is still flat. First, I score a line along the top and the bottom to create a “lip” effect. I only let the [+ knife+] go about half was as not to cause the foam to crease by cutting too deep.


Next I apply heat using the heat gun to “open up” the cuts I made previously. The heat makes the foam retract and makes the thin cuts much more bold (as you will see later).









Form it


Now that the detail lines are ready we move on to shaping the piece. This requires us to apply heat over the front and back sides of the foam, using our [+ heat gun+] (a hair dryer WILL NOT WORK) until it is warm and pliable (maybe 30 seconds on each side). Once it is warm I wrap the foam around a cylindrical object (in the case a spray paint can) to help curve it. Of course you could mold it directly to your arm but remember that the foam might be hot so be careful. Hold it in pace for 30 seconds or so and you’ll see that the foam will hold the shape pretty well.









Layer it


 Now I move on to adding some additional depth with a layer. In the image below you can see that the white foam (5mm) is much thicker than the orange-colored foam (2mm). I wanted the top layer to look like a thin piece of metal that has been welded onto of the base metal so the 2mm foam will be perfect. Next, I cut out the desired shape (using the original as a reference photo) and glued it on top with [+ super glue.+]










To add a little more realism to the “welded look” I added a little bit of [+ hot glue+] around the edges to recreate the effect that will be more obvious once painted and weathered.





Strap it


Now that the piece has been shaped and molded I can move on to strapping. Since this is a pretty basic piece [+ elastic straps+] will be sufficient to hold it in place on my forearm. Be sure to mark the spots where the elastic will attach and then apply [+ hot glue+] and hold the elastic in place until it hardens. Once both straps are secured firmly in place it is time for another test fit!










Prep it


The next step is to prep the piece for painting. it is an important step to prep your piece or the paint will absorb into the foam. [+ Mod Podge+] works well for this small piece. Adding a few thin coats should work just fine for this piece allowing each layer to dry in between coats. You can use a hair dryer (NOT your heat gun) to speed up the drying process.


*Usually I would heat seal the piece first but since there has been no sanding or angled cuts we can skip that step on this build.





Paint it


Now that the Mod Podge has dried we can begin painting. I decided [+ Acrylic paint+] would work good for this piece but you can also use spray paint as well (however if you use spray paint make sure it is PLASTIC paint as it is more flexible than regular paint and is less prone to cracking). I added 3 layers of metallic paint and allowed to dry.






Weather it


Weathering gives your piece some great added realism and make it look like it has actually been used. It is a pretty straight forward process where you add some paint in low areas (cracks and edges) and wipe MOST of it off with a dry paper towel. You can repeat this process until you have the look you are going for. Note that in the thicker lines it really brings the detail.



Around the cross layer I added the black paint around it and wiped off the paint lightly leaving just a tiny bit behind in the cracks and along the edges really making the weld effect pop.












Sealing your paint job


The last step is to seal the paint job. Why? Because your paint can wipe off over time and the weathering detail might rub off even faster! By adding a protective outer layer of clear paint you can “lock in” the detail to make it last much longer. In this specific instance I did not have any spray clear coat left so I used my number 2 option…. [+ floor polish+]. Yes, floor polish will give you a protective outer layer and help the paint last longer though it isn’t as good as a plastic specific clear coat.







Now our piece is finally completed!  Let’s put it on and see how we did!





For added fun, I coupled the new forearm piece with a metal looking glove I had lying around the shop to let you see how a little more work can make a big impact on your piece.





Lastly, I wanted to show you that the pieces don’t have to be so simple (even though our piece looks pretty darn good if I may say so). You can use your imagination and create something much more complex like the piece I show next to the one we just completed below. The original design for that massive arm was for an Iron man suit but I changed direction and used the arm for something different, adding wrist guns and a Carbon Fiber paint job. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you can come up with too!




In closing


That’s it! You have learned all the basics (and some tips) that you need to get started making Cosplay armor and props. Again, this information was intended to be a starting point for beginners but there is so much more information to be shared with you. If you’d like to continue learning about tips and tricks be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel through the icon below.


Also, sign up for my email list where you will get some free downloadable templates and more! Just click that email icon below.


I hope you have learned something while we have taken this journey together. I’d love to see what you have created so be sure to stop by my FB page and share pictures of your work!


Thank you again for taking the time to read this eBook. I look forward to getting to know you and seeing your work. Happy creating friends!


p<>{color:#000;}. Buddy





Credits for Images used in the publication:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/mardytardi/13980277374/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/othree/9386305660/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/patloika/7934093754/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vincent_lee_yk/16547574418/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabofr/7574778678/in/[email protected]/image5

https://www.flickr.com/photos/othree/16490638348/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gordontarpley/6300787132/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/25195232616/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ygktech/14909957120/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15779068349/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcorduroy/4891858823/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/5674467117/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ygktech/15720297148/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gordontarpley/6242724832/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gordontarpley/6188291512/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ygktech/15881980016/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15335995128/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/taymtaym/10337095935/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/patloika/9364236658/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/baltasar89/17189620485/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/24853825389/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gordontarpley/6174043127/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/7019135989/in/[email protected]/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ygktech/26893603411/in/[email protected]/


Cosplay Newbs Guide -Everything you need to create your first foam armor piece a

Are you new to Cosplay? If so, getting started creating your first Cosplay costume can be a little bit intimidating, especially if you intend to create your own foam armor and props. You might ask yourself: What type of foam should you use? What is the best glue? What tools do I need? How do I paint it to look realistic? How much does it cost to get started? ..and more You can put all those fears to rest with this simple guide that will cover the basics of cosplay creation as well as walk you through creating your very first piece of foam armor with step by step instruction. This simple guide will guide you through each step while explaining the process and materials in easy to understand terms so even the newest NEWB can create their first piece of foam armor without worry. This book was created with you in mind and is offered to you at no cost so you too can test the creative nature of costuming and cosplay.

  • Author: Buddy Cosplay
  • Published: 2016-11-08 17:35:30
  • Words: 10756
Cosplay Newbs Guide -Everything you need to create your first foam armor piece a Cosplay Newbs Guide -Everything you need to create your first foam armor piece a