Foam Armor – Tips for Beginners
Foam Armor – Tips for Beginners
“Foam – my best friend”
Crafting is a fantastic way to forget about the life routine. Crafting helps me to relax and focus on something amazing, forget about the common problems. Creating the costume of your favorite character is always fun, doesn’t matter how skilled you are. Cosplay is for everyone!
Have you always wanted to bring your favorite character to life? Well, that’s possible and I want to share the tips that might be useful in building your first set of awesomeness.
Choose the character wisely
Check online if there are any tutorials, as it is your first cosplay and any tutorial of the specific character, you have chosen will be useful. After choosing the character, make some sketches and write down the materials that you have to purchase. Time goes super-fast while you craft, so it is recommended to schedule your working time, and don’t forget to take the photos of the process.
In order to build a cosplay, you need the templates. You can measure your body, use the sewing tips, draw on the foam and cut the details out. There are plenty of readymade templates online as an option, but if you want to make your very own template, which will perfectly fit your body, use the cling wrap. All you need is the cling wrap, lots of tape, marker, scissors and maybe a friend, who will help you in wrapping yourself.
The cling wrap is sticky, wrap the part of your body applying lots of layers of the cling wrap (for example the chest for the breastplate, or the leg for the leg armor, you can wrap any piece of your body and modify the template later) wrap yourself with the tape over the layers of the cling wrap. Draw the cutting lines on your body, over the tape, release yourself by cutting the wrap somewhere on the back.
As you can see, this technique is useful on cloth too. You will get your perfect template, just move it to the foam, or cloth, make the cuts on the convex parts, glue them together and your armor piece base is ready.
There are plenty of materials you can use while crafting your first cosplay, but this time I want to speak about the foam.
Eva Foam (alternative to Eva Foam is a yoga or floor mat). You can easily get this material, it’s super cheap, flexible, lightweight and easy to work with. Foam is the perfect budget solution to create the armor. If you have a heat gun and your foam reacts to the heat, you can even change the shape of the small details of your cosplay.
Foam has some pores, heat gun also will help you to close down those pores before priming and painting, when your armor piece is ready for paint. I have changed the shape of my leg armor, by heating it up (see image 3). Foams come in different colors and thicknesses, my favorite thickness is approximately 3mm for the armor base and the floor mats for the details shown below.
Those tiny stones are cut out of the floor mat and sanded using the cheap alternative to Dremel rotary tool, it is super useful when you work with the foam. Sanding down the edges of the foam gives your armor more realistic and finished look.
Rotary Tool (costs approximately 18$)
Heat Gun (costs approximately 28$)
It is not necessary to get those tools, I have crafted my first cosplay without them, but I would love to have them that time.
Cutting and gluing the foam
You can cut it with the scissors, or with a knife, I prefer the scissors. Gluing the foam is a very important mission, there is a huge assortment of the glue types you can use on foam. I usually use 2 types of glue; cement glue and the glue gun.
Cement glue is perfect for the facing surfaces, it’s very strong, but you need to give it a time. After you apply the cement glue to both parts of the foam, you have to wait for a little bit, before sticking the parts together. After you stick them, you need to keep holding or pressing the parts to each other in order to bound them.
The hot glue gun is perfect for securing the foam from the inside, you should be very careful while working with it, as sometimes it spills out unnecessary amount of glue and it is extremely hot, I have burned my fingers millions of times, as I don’t use the gloves, don’t be me, use the gloves
You can use hot glue gun everywhere if you will use it carefully. As it is not sandable after it hardens and it’s visible. Hot glue guns come with the silicone sticks, they are very cheap and you need lots of them as they run out very fast. Hot glue guns cost about 10$ and you can get the pack of 120 sticks for just 12$, so yes they are very cheap. Just make sure the glue gun you are about to purchase has the dripping control.
Priming and Painting
My first cosplay was primed using the white glue (PVA glue). PVA is a good option, in case if you can’t find other materials, or in case if you are on a very low budget. PVA is also used while making the paper-mache layers, over the foam. Working with PVA and especially layering the paper-mache is very long and exhausting process.
Best options for priming, in my opinion, are Rustoleum Primer and Plasti Dip cans. In case if you can’t find them, you can always order them online. Never start painting your cosplay without using the primes. My favorite is Rustoleum Primer, it gives a matte look. You need fewer layers when priming with Rustoleum than when priming with Plasti Dip and Rustoleum is a lot cheaper than Plasti Dip.
After applying multiple layers of the primer, you are ready to paint. Acrylic paint is the best possible option for painting. Apply the base color, add the shadows and the highlights and you are done!
I have never thought that I will ever be able to craft something in my life, but I did it and I’m still learning. You might see the perfect armors, perfect photos of the cosplayers who are professionals and are doing this for ages, don’t get intimidated, as everyone has passed the beginners path.