How To Make Plate Armor For Cosplay

How To Make Plate Armor For Cosplay

Are you’re looking to join the next con? You may be hesitant about cosplaying that character considering that the cost of a costume armor demands a hefty amount. Get over your trepidation because there are actually a lot of DIY costume armor ideas that you can make using different materials that are widely available. In the next few sections, we’ve gathered an easy tutorial for you. You can use it to craft foam armor and make the next best outfit.

Are Costume Armor Pieces Popular?

Are Costume Armor Pieces Popular

Did you know that among the many choices, armor pieces have gained steady popularity? Compared to the situation years ago, many people have been cosplaying and fans have been steadily growing. Among many choices, manga series, comic books, popular characters in movies, video games, and other sources have inspired fans of all ages to don costumes of their favorite character and act like them. These also include a steady surge of using shoulder armor, a full armored dress, and other similar individual pieces.

It’s always fun to dress up like a superhero or a character from a video game and attend conventions. It’s even more fun to dress up in a knight armor from hundreds of years ago in the medieval period. These pieces have led to people getting more interested in crafting all the pieces of an armor costume the DIY way. Are you one of them? If yes, then let’s get all the pieces we need and start our cosplay project.

Choosing The Character, Pattern, And Foam

Choosing The Character, Pattern, And Foam

Armor pieces may seem expensive, making newbie costume players hesitant in making one. Here’s some good news! Although it may look costly, difficult to make, and all the other reasons you are possibly thinking, cosplaying using an armor piece is actually fun and a great DIY craft. Are you ready to get things started? Let’s do this!

Which Character Should I Choose?

Before gathering what you need, have you decided which character you’d portray? This is an important thing that you need to consider to be able to source the needed materials. There are numerous character patterns available that you can easily print. Once you’ve picked one, you can then focus on crafting the costume armor.

Here’s a quick tip: To have a perfectly fitted costume, you can cover the body part with cling wrap and layer it with masking tape. Draw the particular pattern needed and cut it with scissors following the lines. Using this as your armor pattern, lay your craft foam on your working table and carefully start tracing. You can also make your pattern by sketching the pieces on paper. This helps make sure your pieces can be connected and where the overlapping of pieces takes place.

Where Can I Get Free Patterns?

Are you looking for a free pattern? You can find one online and other apps that offer them for free. You can scale a pattern to different sizes before printing. Then, you can cut and trace it on your craft foam. References online would show measurements for the head, arms, legs, and waist. You can also take your own measurements so you can easily compare them with your prospective pattern. Characters with awesome armor looks include The Invincible Iron Man, Iron Monger, Titanium Heart, and Sentient Armor. You can also choose a different character or you can even level up and create your own original character.

Which Craft Foam Armor Should I Use?

As there are a lot of craft foam types available, you should be careful when choosing one for your armor. This is essential to be able to form the desired shape. A 6mm EVA foam mat can be a good material for your template. It is often sold in rolls with smooth and patterned sides. It is also very cheap making pricetags less of a worry and will also help you stay on budget.

What Should I Do Next After Buying Foam?

Have you chosen the best foam for your metal piece? If so, lay it flat on your working area and place all your paper cut patterns on the foam. Fit the pieces you’ve cut and start tracing using gel or paint pen. You can also label each foam piece to avoid confusion when you assemble them later.

For large pieces, patching two thicker sheets together is a good idea. However, you have to make sure that you hide overlapping parts and make it look like it’s a part of your entire design. Joined pieces can be reinforced by flipping them and smoothing a fabric like cotton or cheesecloth over them. You can use a heat gun to glue it together. Don’t forget to have it dried well then you can cut the excess fabric out.

Aside from foam, you can also make use of cardboard or thermoplastic materials. Thermoplastic is popular with cosplayers since the material can become soft and malleable when heated. They can be shaped by hand or placed in a molder to create the desired shape.

Identifying Different Armor Parts

Identifying Different Armor Parts

Can you identify all the parts of the armor you’re making? This is important as you will have to glue them together. Armor parts may include a breastplate. A breastplate is popular among hero costumes as well as knights and medieval warriors. It also includes the shield, both shoulder pieces, a neck protector, as well as metal leg and arm pieces.

As shapes differ from one to another, you might get confused about which one goes to which part. That’s why you need to get your labels ready and write little details to help you remember easily. You can also make a list of these parts to make sure you can complete the entire outfit you are making. If you still have time, you can also make use of a dressmakers’ dummy or form. This looks like a mannequin you can make out of your measurements. It will come in handy when you make and add details to your outfit as the form is customized to fit your shape.

How To Assemble And Contour Your Armor

How To Assemble And Contour Your Armor

So you’ve finished measuring. You’re also done drawing the pattern and cutting the pieces. Do you know what’s next? Yes, you got that right. We’re heading to the fun part of assembling and contouring your armor.

Using A Heat Gun To Join The Pieces

Either a heating gun or glue should work just fine in joining the breastplate pieces. Take note that it is important to secure the pieces to be glued at the seams. This will make the armor hug your body tightly when worn.

Using hot glue, you can start softening the foam. See to it that your heat source is steady but above all, make sure it’s safe as you might start an unwanted fire. You can also use other materials including a hair-dryer or a stove as these are also good heating sources. By doing so, it will help curve the backplate and shoulders of your armor and other parts that need to be shaped.

Heating your material can be a bit tricky as you might end up scorching it. That is why you need to test some scrap pieces first and learn the technique of timing. If you’ve gotten used to the heating process, you will be able to avoid foam bubbling and shrinking as you won’t have a lot of time to form the mold out of your heated foam.

Adding Details And Designs

Would you like to add some designs and details to your piece? If so, you can do this to your breastplate through the embossing process. You can emboss your armor by sketching designs using a knife or ball-point pen on the foam. You can do this while your foam is not yet assembled.

Did you know that wrapping the foam on a rounded object for a couple of days can help achieve your desired armor plate curves? You can also tie the foam pieces or use a rubber band to hold them in place. This is useful for the arm and leg pieces of your costume as you will need curves in the arm and calf areas.

Joining Overlapping Pieces Together

Joining Overlapping Pieces Together

Have you finished molding your foam using heat? If so, you can get the pieces designed to overlap glued together. Use your white glue and join these to avoid straining the material. Meanwhile, in areas where pieces do not overlap or require minimal molding, you can glue the pieces first and mold them after by using a rolling pin or small soldering iron.

What can you do to make your plates sturdy? Reinforcing them by placing gauzy fabric at the back part of the plate is a pretty good idea. Glue the fabric over the material and let it dry. The excess fabric can be cut off using a pair of scissors while applying another clean coat of glue can help reinforce it even more.

Working in sections can also help you deal with a lot of pieces of your costume. It will be easier for you to assemble these later if you’ve already created subsections to work on. Straps are also good options to hold pieces together as you wear them. Most cosplayers go for velcro as you can easily untie or unbuckle according to comfort. Before painting your armor, try it on to determine if it’s too tight or loose or if it fits just right. Don’t forget to wear a tight-fitting outfit underneath before you attach the pieces to your form.

Painting The Armor Properly

Painting The Armor Properly

Do you have acrylic paints at home? Check out your craft stash as you might have some leftovers from the last project you did. Before starting the painting process, ensure your area is well ventilated. Remember that pieces vary in size and you won’t like inhaling paint fumes once you’ve started the process. Also, put on a respirator mask to ensure safety.

Do you have sanding sponges available? These will come in handy as you will need to make sure all the areas of the armor are smooth and ready to be painted. Don’t forget to get your hand punch ready just in case you need to put holes on your piece. Once all the needed paint colors and brushes are ready, it’s time to get the painting done.

Foams are spongy and applying paint directly will only soak them. You need to seal the foam first using a glue. Do this by mixing 2 parts of water with 1 part school glue and 1 part flexible fabric glue. Using a brush, apply thin coats of the mixture, making sure there are no more holes that can make air bubbles pop on all the sides of the front piece. This can take around 7 to 8 coats of sealant. Drying in between layers will not be a problem since you are using thin coats of glue for sealing. You can also apply a clear coat or hard coat whichever is your preference.

Your armor will be subjected to your movements when you wear them so it is wise to add two sheets of foam to make the structure sturdier and more durable. To create a weathered look, use dark acrylic paint. You can also opt for a black and green mixture to create a tarnished copper finish. Wipe the paint before it dries to create a hint of battered effects on the cracks.

FAQs On How To Make Cosplay Plate Armor

FAQs On How To Make Cosplay Plate Armor

What Materials Do I Need To Make My Armor?

First things first. Choose a character and download a pattern of its outfit. You will need your crafting tools such as small knives, cutter, sewing stash, scissors, and some adhesives. You will also need paint. There are a lot of available colors but popular choices include metal colors, especially if you are making an armor piece. To make the front piece, you can use EVA craft foam, tracing paper, a pencil, and a heat gun. Don’t forget your sanding sponges as you will need them later on to get surfaces smoothened. To add, any available primer and topcoats can also come in handy.

Can I Still Make An Armor On A Budget?

Yes, of course. Cosplaying is not limited to buying a ready-made outfit. There are plenty of designs that you can get from the web to help you get started. You can make a list of the things you need and carefully source out materials that can either be found in your house or from a thrift shop in your area. If you’re lucky enough, online shops sometimes have discounted offers that you can take advantage of.

You also find alternatives for your armor cosplay. For example, if a pair of gloves that would match your look is too expensive to buy, then get that sewing kit ready and make one. Practicing your crafting skills on inexpensive material is a much better way as you will have the freedom to make mistakes and improve your creativity.

Is There Any Advantage In Using Craft Foam Armor?

Yes, there is. Craft foam is a versatile material that you can use to make costumes and props. This thin porous sheet of plastic foam can be molded and shaped into helmets, crowns, jackets, armor and any costume you have in mind. It comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses of 2mm and 6mm. If your project calls for thicker foam, you can always glue them on top of each other.

Fashioning craft foams is possible using a normal pair of scissors. For cleaner and more precise edges, you can use a knife. Adding some detailed designs on the material like indentions or scoring can easily be made using tools like a ball pen, seam ripper, or dull knife. Gluing designs on the material is fairly easy as they can hold your cording, rope, rhinestone, or any accessories that will complete the look of your costume.

Can Foam Armor Be Securely Closed?

Yes. This is another perk that you can get from using craft foam. Measure the size accurately so you can easily and securely close the gaps along the seam. Having a wardrobe malfunction can be very uncomfortable during events. That is why you have to also think about the movements you’ll be making throughout the event. You also get the necessary buckle, Velcro, or snap attached to help hold your armor in place while you move or perform.

Can Kids Make This Too?

Yes, children can enjoy making plate armor, too. However, they must be supervised by an adult. This is to avoid accidents such as getting their fingers cut by tools or causing a fire. Kids also need supervision to mold and cut patterns. This will help them avoid tears on one side of their foam or pattern paper as well as get the work done in a timely manner. Stretching and pulling thinner foam can also cause it to tear, thus an adult’s assistance is necessary.

Now are you all set for the next con? Wearing that DIY armor piece you’ve completed is a positive sign that your crafting skills are getting better as ever! Creating your armor is a great choice not just for Halloween but for a wide variety of events. The best thing about it is that you are not required to have more detail as the outcome will depend on how you want it to look. It doesn’t need a lot of dry time making it a perfect chest accessory for an upcoming event. Enjoy and don’t forget to share photos!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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