Have you picked what to wear for that cosplay event? If you’re still struggling with your costume, read on and let me show you how to create that cosplay armor using EVA foam. This will not be so difficult but you have to carefully choose the right EVA foam cosplay material that will best suit the look you want to achieve.
There’s a lot of foam armor choices available in the market. However, you have to be careful with your selection as this will determine the outcome of your cosplay armor. First, let’s talk about eva foam and find out what this is.
What's EVA Foam?
Ethylene-vinyl acetate or simply known as eva foam is a combination of ethylene and vinyl acetate with the latter comprising 10% to 40% of the entire material. The remainder is composed of ethylene. Sounds too difficult? Off with Science terms and let’s make it easier for you then. It’s actually much like any type of thermoplastic and is basically a good substitute for other materials used for production.
This has been a top choice among cosplayers because of its strength and it is easy to bend and form. On top of that, it also does not cost much so it is the best choice used to make armors and other props. It is also glossy so if you paint it properly, it can resemble metal. Thus, an Iron Man Armor or a Dragon Age Armor is easy to achieve.
Which EVA Foam Should I Pick ?
As there are three main types of eva foam, you might get confused which one to choose. These types can vary according to size and price as well as if you’re choosing the thicker foam over the thinner one. There are also different patterns to choose from. The two most popular choices are the cross pattern finish and the diamond finish. This is the type of foam clay pattern that is difficult to find in the market.
Meanwhile, you can go around Walmart, Home Depot, Harbor Freight, or Lowes, among many craft stores where these patterns may be available. Most of these can be found in floorings or the automotive section of stores or you can even order online.
Key Advantages Of EVA Foam
Durability is the main reason why cosplayers are going for the eva foam. Aside from that, it is also easier to cut, form and bond. You can make use of hot glue to easily get the exact same size of materials joined together. You also don’t need high-grade materials as you can easily cut them with basic tools including scissors and cutters. You can also use a heat gun to heat shape and mold it into your desired pattern.
Another advantage when using foam is its lightweight feature. EVA foam only weighs around 2 lbs. per cubic foot. This means you can make a shoulder piece, a helmet, shields, and more props without the burden of carrying something heavy. Last but definitely not least, EVA foam is UV resistant. If you are cosplaying outdoors under the sunlight, you might notice yellow shades on your armor. This means that your costume can still look sleek even when you are exposed to long hours under the heat of the sun.
If you’re a cosplayer on a tight budget, this is good news for you! Although prices for these foam pieces vary from one store to another, you can get one at around $17 per pack. The rolled ones are about $24. There are also cheaper ones but they may have thin layers. Multi-colored foams are also available. Many cosplayers don’t worry about getting the colored ones as they will eventually get painted.
Important Things To Remember When Choosing EVA Foam
When shopping for eva foam for your foam armor creation, take note that these are usually packed in 2×2 tiles. Each pack contains 4 to 6 pieces and is usually .375 inches thick. Here are other important things to remember when choosing eva foam in creating your costumes.
Keep in mind the tiles!
The tiles are the main pieces used when creating the entire armor. If you want to achieve a heavy armor effect, then you have to choose the thicker foam edge type. You can also get the cross pattern finish type as this one is the closest to the texture of real armor.
How about roll mats?
Are you going for the Iron Man armor? If so, you should be getting the roll mats that come in 2×6 inches. These are foams with thinner edges and are great to use for those costumes that have a thin edge shape. This is also a good choice if you are making a helmet. However, these are also rare finds and you might want to reconsider your shapes before jumping to getting roll mats.
Is craft foam good for my armor costume?
Using craft foam for your armor costume ideas may be the best next thing as this is available in many stores. The thickness for this type also varies so you will have a lot of choices depending on what armor type you are creating. Meanwhile, if you are using craft foam but are going for a more detailed look, then you should be adding an extra layer to give it a good flare. You can also use this type of foam to cover joined areas.
EVA Grade foam for larger projects
If you are creating larger pieces, it would be wise to choose the EVA grade foam. It comes in thick sheets that are large enough especially when you are making those bigger costumes. This type of eva foam is rough and porous. It is also sealed yet is soft and smooth to feel. As for the price, it isn’t that expensive but it may cost a hefty amount for the shipping fee should you buy it online.
Get Your Cosplay Game Up Using EVA Foam Armor
It is undeniable that many cosplayers have been stepping up their game by using foam for basically anything. From props to shoulder armor to a helmet, eva foam has become a go-to because of its comfort, light weight, and its cheap price among a number of other reasons.
Due to this, cosplayers have been looking at new techniques to step up their costumes by using various foam smithing tips. However, you have to bear in mind that although there are a lot of pros in using eva foam, there are also some cons including:
- More details – Unlike using thermoplastics that are easy to melt and mold, foam clay cannot give a sharp detail. It also cannot beat the details that you can get using resin molding.
- Natural textures – As foam has a smoother surface, it cannot also bring out the same result from using metals and leathers. Nevertheless, if you are making foam armor, you can always mimic the appearances of natural textures by alteration.
On the other hand, as possibilities remain open and endless, it is still undoubtedly true that using foam has stepped up the way costumes have been before.
Upgrading Cosplay Costume Textures
In this section, we’ll be talking about how to upgrade cosplay costume textures. This is an essential step, especially when using eva foam armor. As you know, using eva foam for shoulder armor won’t give you the same texture compared to using natural materials. However, you can always upgrade to get that more authentic look.
The Wood Grain Effect
Earthy characters can be best portrayed by using the wood grain effect texture. This has been an extremely popular choice when cosplaying elves, druids, and other elemental creatures. This can also be used in making patterns for wood stave props.
First, you have to create the base shape of the piece you want to wear. For example, if you want to use stave in woodwork, then you should wrap the base of a PVC pipe in thicker foam or a foam layer measuring about 5 mm. This is the standard thickness you need for wood grain textures. This is because you will need to carve the grain into the foam. If it isn’t thick enough, then you won’t also have enough depth to carve into.
Once you’re done crafting the base, this is where it gets all exciting! You can now carve using freehand designs to carve than grain. This will give it a more natural effect rather than having a separate piece that looks too neat.
The Battle Damage Armor
Did you know that creating the battle damage foam armor texture can be both fun yet heartbreaking? As the name of this texture for this foam armor suggests, you will need to create damage. This means you will need to break something that has been beautifully crafted to achieve the “damaged” texture.
Can you imagine breaking a piece that you’ve spent gluing for hours? Nevertheless, it can be fun to break pieces to get to this effect. It wouldn’t be so difficult to do as those pieces that naturally stick out from the suit are the ones that are likely to get damaged. You can do this by using a woodburning tool and sweeping it on the parts that are sticking out.
Another option that you can use in creating this texture is to heat up a part of your costume. You can do this using a heat gun. To create a battle mark, you can use a ball made up of aluminum foil and press it into the foam. You can boost the damaged effect by using painting techniques.
Creating Raised And Etched Filigree Textures
Many cosplayers personally prefer this texture technique. If you are able to master it, you will find it easier to create pieces. If you are looking to create raised filigrees, you have to start by checking your base foam piece first. Then, you can decide what to add including but not limited to carved shapes. However, you will need a Cricut machine if you are looking to create a specific shape, intricately. Meanwhile, if this machine is not available, then using a hot glue gun should do the trick.
You can also make use of a simple outline first before cutting a shape. You can draw a shape and then use a hot glue gun to extrude patterns. You can start at the thickest point where the filigree swirls start. Here’s a tip: you can use various pressure when you drag and release the heat gun when you’re creating shapes.
The Leather Texture
Did you know that replacing real leather with foam will save you a lot of cash? It’s true – you can actually cut down costs in creating your costume by using foam instead of leather. It’s also a relief that you can easily achieve the leather texture even when using foam. To be able to do this, you need your heat gun pressed on a large ball made from aluminum foil. Press the crinkled balls and you will easily get this texture on the foam you are using to make your cosplay armor. Aside from that, you can also use almost any type of material to do the pressing. You can press the heated foam to achieve leather texture effects on your costume.
Using EVA Thicker Foam For Cosplay Costumes
Now that you’ve learned about eva foam and how to texture it into natural materials, it’s time to understand more what to cosplay. This is important before deciding to upgrade the outfit of your character. Basically, you can use any material ranging from the simplest textile to the most detailed foam-made design. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter which character you’d be portraying but it is always wise to go for one with the look that you are most likely to achieve.
As mentioned earlier, eva foam is a great material when making costumes because it is lightweight and easy to mold. Thus, it makes a perfect pair to any base piece when making crowns, headgears, helmets, and other headpieces. You can even wear the whole thing made from this material without the need to worry about hurting your neck.
Accessories and Weapons
Costumes will not be complete without weapons and accessories. If you want to make rigid weapons, then eva foam is a good choice. You can create hammers, guns, swords, tasers, and more from this material. Cutting it into smaller pieces for your other props will not be a problem, too. With the use of a rotary tool or a soldering iron, you can have a sharp blade that can be shaped from your foam material.
Did you know that a hot glue gun, a metal ruler, paint, and Plasti dip are some of the basics you’ll need to create cosplay armors? With these materials, you can use hot glue to form foam into detailed cosplay armors. You can also use a belt sander to smoothen foam sheet surfaces.
Crucial Steps Before Making The Armor Costume
Any cosplayer would agree that one of the most challenging costumes to create is body armor. This is because making armor requires the use of materials that are not easy to work with using fabric. If you’re a beginner at crafting costumes, here are some useful ideas that you can use.
Know The Character
It is essential for any cosplayer to know the character they will portray. This includes knowing the details of their costume as this will make the entire cosplaying more authentic. For instance, one character may have only one set of armor while another character can have multiple sets of armor.
Other characters even wear separate sets ranging from chest, shoulder, arms, and legs armors. Once you’ve decided which character you’re portraying, then you will also know the number of supplies you need to start crafting.
Gather What You Need
Once you know which character you are aiming to look like and the type of armor they wear, it’s now time to gather materials and supplies needed for crafting. Basic stationery supplies such as pens, markers, pencils, and tracing paper can be found in your looking stores.
You probably have basic cutting tools stored in your handyman toolbox including sharp blades or cutters, a heat gun for the gluing process, and basic fabric glue. If you don’t have a well-ventilated space for crafting, you can also make use of a hairdryer to help hasten the drying process after you glue the pieces together.
You will also need the base pattern, other crafting tools like a cutting mat, scissors, paint, and adhesives such as Plasti dip, hot glue gun, soldering iron for complex designs, and of course the right foam. You will also need decorations like nylon straps, wood, foam layers, and basically anything that you’d like to add as props. Take note that you will need the right eva foam as this will be used as the main material of the costume that you will make.
On the other hand, you also need good adhesives to glue your materials together. This can be hot glue, Plasti dip, or even contact cement, tape, and other industrial adhesives available in the market or online. Primers, paint, and other props can also be incorporated into the entire costume piece. Crafting tools can range from simple pair of scissors to a rotary tool. You can also make use of rulers, white foam, floor mats, and other materials that will help to create your costume easier.
Can Wood And EVA Foam Go Together?
The short answer to this is YES! Anything can go with eva foam including natural wood or even those that are made with wood patterns. Here’s to even make it more exciting. Did you know that there are actually wood glues available to incorporate with your project? Wood glue is best known for its two main points in the cosplay world.
First, as it is a “glue”; its main purpose is to work as an adhesive. It works to join two pieces together as it digs into wood fibers. That is why if you’re adding wood props to your armor project, it will be a good idea to use this one. It can leave a seamless result that will lead to a more authentic character look. Aside from gluing wood pieces, you can also use them on leather, ceramics, fabric, and paper, among others.
Second, it is also a good alternative that you can use to seal your project. It can also serve as a primer to some cosplay pieces. When used correctly, wood glue can leave a smooth finish and great texture. It can also help to protect your project from getting damaged or soaked during the painting process.
Let’s Start Crafting!
Now that you’ve already gathered your supplies, it’s time to create the design. There are numerous idea patterns available from comics to online but chances are, you will have to sketch this yourself. You can sketch designs that are relevant to the character you will be cosplaying. However, you have to remember that you will need to sketch 3D designs as you will be using multiple sides after you get your piece glued together.
This will be your guide on how the outcome of your armor will be. You can always have this modified during the actual process. On the other hand, many cosplayers will sketch multiple designs before picking the “one”. This will help create variations and save time from repeating the process of cutting the foam, removing excess glue after you’ve already joined the pieces as well as determining the right size according to sketches. This will also prevent wasting foam should you change your mind along the way and decide to use another design for your armor.
The next step to making the costume is taking your body measurements. This is an effective method that will ensure good ventilation. You don’t need to worry about wearing something that is too tight or too big if you’ve created a costume that best fits your size. This is crucial especially when the next cosplay event you are attending will be held outdoors where you’ll be exposed to direct sunlight for long hours.
Time To Transfer The Design
After sketching a few designs and adjusting the size, it’s now time to transfer this onto your tracing paper. Then, take your body measurements and start working on the pattern. You can even use a mannequin so you can work with less difficulty especially when fitting your patterns.
Using pattern paper, you can start to draw on the mannequin. This will ensure that the paper you draw on does not move. Thus, you will get the exact size not just on one side but both. You can also use a piece of cloth to draw your pattern. You can have this placed on the part where you will actually use the cosplay armor.
Another idea you can use when transferring the design is by using a poster board. You can create a template using this instead of tracing paper as it will allow you to have better control. You can also use a pen or marker to transfer the design you’ve drawn on the tracing paper to the poster board.
Cutting The Foam
After you’re done drawing the armor patterns, it’s now time to cut your base material. If you need a beveled edge piece, then you will need a special cutting tool for this or you can be more creative when joining pieces. However, you will need to get the smooth effect after. You can also use contact cement to join one side to the other as this guarantees a strong hold on any type of surface.
You can use a razor blade or a Xacto knife to cut out pieces. You can also mark your tracing paper before cutting to ensure you don’t overcut the edges. Take note that you will need to make multiple pieces as you will need duplicates in certain body parts including the arms and the legs. This will help you get the 3D effect results for the character that you are aiming for.
Molding Foam Using Heat
It is important to make sure that your costume will indeed fit your body when using foam in making it. This is because you will not be able to contour foam easily. This can only be done by molding or bending using heat and applying it directly on the material.
To be able to get your desired shape, you will need to bend it and apply direct heat to the foam. Take note that you need low heat during the start of the process. Be sure to keep the hairdryer or the heat gun away when molding for safety purposes. Also, this process is only for molding the foam to the desired shape and not to completely melt it.
Once you’ve already achieved the shape you are aiming for, you have to leave it for some time in its molded position. This will make it stay in shape while you are waiting for it to dry completely. Meanwhile, if the foam you are using is not getting the warmth it needs, you can always adjust the setting. However, be on the lookout for any burning or melting of your costume material.
The Gluing Process
You will need to carefully select the type of adhesive to use as you wouldn’t want pieces of your costume to fall apart on the day of the event. Thus, if you are joining two pieces of foam, it will be best to use liquid-type adhesives. This will include contact glue or the liquid contact cement type. If you do so, your costume will come out smooth and less bulky.
Assembling the armor will require you to glue it together. This is when fabric glue becomes handy. After the molding process is done, you can start applying glue to either the left or right angle of your pieces or whichever comes first. Don’t forget to get the duplicates glued, too. Check and remove excess glue especially on pieces with overlapping shoulder nylon straps.
Painting The Foam
Now that you’re done creating your costume, the next thing to do is get the paint done. This will be a smooth transition from a lifeless piece of design to a more authentic look once it’s all colored, dried, and ready to wear. However, before you jump on to just splashing paint, remember that the eva foam surface should be prepared first.
If you don’t get the surfaces sealed, then chances are your costume will not last long. In this section, we’ll be talking about how to seal foam, use the right paint and paint the foam permanently.
How To Paint The Foam
So how do we really paint foam? Is this something easy to do? The answer is yes! You don’t need some complex skill to be able to do this but you should have the necessary knowledge before starting things. First, you need to get the foam sealed. How do you do that? Well, the most reliable way is to use Plasti dip.
Once you’ve done the sealing, you can now start using spray paint or acrylics. You can even use the airbrush method and other painting techniques. When you’re done painting, it is still recommended to get it sealed once more. You can use resin, varnish, or even epoxy to get this done.
Sealing The Foam
As I’ve mentioned, sealing is a crucial part if you want the paint to last longer on your costume. Depending on which project you are doing, there will be a right way to get the sealing done. For eva foam projects, you will need to use the heat seal process to get even the edges of the material smoothened. This is not always a must but if your foam is densely low, then it would be best if you heat seal before actually sealing it.
Do this by gently heating the foam using a hairdryer or a heat gun. This will allow surfaces to close in preparation for the painting job later. You can also use simple white glue that you use for basic crafting. You can do this if your material does not bend and is easy to control. Meanwhile, if your project is a shoulder piece that is thinner and can be bent easily, then sealing it using a higher type of adhesive is the best way to go.
Sealed And Ready To Paint!
Once you’ve done all the sealing, you’re all set for painting the project. Basically, you should be applying the primary coating before painting it. You can use acrylic or spray paint to apply a thin layer of the base coating. After the base coat is applied, you can now color the general forms of your project. In this part, you can continue to use spray or airbrush, depending on which you are comfortable using. It would also depend on whether the type of paint is readily available.
Masking is also a good idea before painting. This has been the oldest trick in the book that you can do. You can use some masking tape and tape the areas of the project that is not meant to be colored. Once the materials have dried, you can slowly remove the tape. This will give the painted area a nice and smooth finish. If you’re not comfortable using spray paint or airbrush, you can always go for the basic paintbrush method or some acrylic paints.
Painting The Details
Details are the life of every costume. You will appreciate a project more if it was carefully crafted and painted in detail. After you’ve finished painting the bigger pieces, it’s high time to get on with the smaller ones.
In this step, you can use a finer edge paintbrush. This will allow you to have more control when painting intricately. You can also use acrylic colors for this method. Aside from the basics, you can also incorporate airbrushes and create shadow effects. If you haven’t any airbrushes available, you can use water and acrylic paint. This will give you similar shadow effects. You can also do some weathering but this will depend on your preference.
Sealing The Finished Project
So we’ve discussed sealing before painting as a crucial process to get the colors evenly spread out. Now that the painting job is done, it’s time to once again get the project sealed. You can use a clear, acrylic sealer for this step. Take note that you don’t need to apply a thick amount of sealer to get the job done.
You have now successfully painted and sealed the project!
In the previous sections, you’ve been reading about sealing eva foam. If you still can’t completely understand what’s it about, here’s a more detailed explanation.
Sealing is an important process that is done mostly in any type of painting project depending on the type of paint that you are going to use. You can choose from varnish to acrylic sealers to get this process done. Meanwhile, don’t rush getting that next available Epoxy Resin to get the sealing done as this is mostly intended for very specific projects.
On the other hand, if you want your costume to be water-resistant, the best way to go is to use varnish. This will help seal your paints although it requires more work on your end. This is because you will have to apply it using a brush. You can also opt to use a spray varnish as this will not create a thickened layer. This will be perfect as you will only need varnish to serve as your project’s protection.
I’ve mentioned that Epoxy Resin is used to seal specific projects. If you are a beginner in making cosplay projects, this is not highly recommended because of its complexity of use. Resin is also a little bit toxic and can be difficult to even out without leaving any bubbles on the surface. However, if you want your project to last for a very long time, then sealing using resin is the best way. It is also water-resistant so it will keep all known fluids from penetrating.
Nevertheless, I’d still go for the acrylic sealer as this is already generally deemed enough for a cosplay project.
More Painting Information
Is there really a specific paint for eva foam? The answer to this is any water-based paint will work well with your eva foam project! That is why acrylic paints are a popular choice. It is also not recommended to use oil-based paints as this can cause damage underneath.
So, what are water-based paints? Here are some of the common choices that you can easily find from stores around you. Acrylic paints are water-based as mentioned earlier along with some enamels. Water colors can also be an option although this might not stick well with your project. Water-based inks are also available as well as water-based permanent markers that can be used during detailing.
It is safe to say that any water-based paints can be used. However, the next thing that you have to consider is the coverage. This is because you have to sometimes apply layers of it to one area to be able to get the desired color outcome. Meanwhile, oil-based paints can be used as support although these are more aggressive and will ultimately cause damage to the materials. There are so many paints to choose from and you can always ask around from the store staff to help you with available choices and options. Basically, whatever works well for you can be your best pick.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you don’t need to worry if you’ve got a colored eva foam. This is because you will eventually get some paint job done on it to achieve your character’s armor look. There are numerous paint types available that go best with your foam materials. Available paint ranges from liquid type to spray paint types depending on your preferences.
If you will use spray paint, make sure you have a well-ventilated area for crafting. This will eliminate odor faster and of course, have materials that are easier to dry. This is very important as you don’t want to wait for something that smells like an unfinished paint job or something that’s still wet!
Making your armor for the first time may be expensive. However, there are lots of cost-effective materials that will not hurt your pocket. For instance, if you are not using your yoga mat, then this can be good materials for your armor.
Take note that yoga mats are made from eva foam. That means you will find no difficulty when it comes to cutting foam, using glue to join the pieces together, and still getting the same effect as when you use the pack eva foam available from craft shops. You don’t even need to worry about the mat’s color as you can always give it a good paint job according to the color of the character’s armor that you will portray.
Buying from local craft shops will also save you shipping costs. Meanwhile, if you can only find the materials you want to use online, there are also several offers that come with free shipping options. Looking for the best alternative materials can save you not only cash but time in looking for the standard ones. It can also guarantee no waste as you can use these alternatives that can sometimes be readily available in your household.
Different Armor Cosplay Ideas
Running out of character ideas? Here are 5 fantasy and sci-fi cosplay characters that you can choose from:
- Raiden Cyborg Ninja – If you’ve watched the Cyborg Ninja series, you are probably familiar with this character. This character is also the sole ninja that hasn’t fought with the Solid Snake.
- Rubberized Armor for Joan of Arc – Who doesn’t know this famous heroine of France? You can use this look to cosplay her war outfit, too!
- Foam Gladiator look – Talking about armors, gladiators are a common pick because of their easy-to-make costumes. However, gladiator looks vary depending on how intricate the look you’re going for.
- Classic Knight – Another easy pick among cosplayers is the classic knight. Most costumes are made with eva foam so it isn’t so difficult to create. Materials are mostly accessible that is why it is also a go-to for armored costume looks.
- Skaven full outfit – This one is a bit complex but if you’re looking to level up your costume game, then the Skaven full outfit will be a great challenge. If you have the patience to cut and glue pieces together for that ultimate full outfit look, then give the Skaven look a try!