No matter who or what you’re recreating, having the perfect cosplay props for your costume will make you feel like you’ve really become your character. And there’s nothing like the sense of pride you’ll feel when you’ve made the props yourself!
In this post, we’ll walk you through how to make a few of the most common props for cosplayers, from helmets and shields to badges, pins, and masks.
How to Make Cosplay Props
1. Cosplay Helmet
If you’re new to making your own cosplay props, a helmet is one of the simplest places to start. EVA foam is an ideal material for your cosplay helmet, since it’s pliable and easy to shape using hand tools like a craft knife.
But before you dive into sculpting your foam, you’ll need to make a pattern to follow during the construction process. Create a mold of your own head using aluminum foil to ensure your helmet will fit you properly. Cut it into a few pieces, then trace those pieces onto your foam. Once you’ve cut them out, use glue or contact cement to stick everything together, then finish with a few coats of paint.
2. Cosplay Staff
When you’re making a cosplay staff, pick materials that make your life easier. Wood shovels or broom handles are inexpensive and readily available to serve as the main part of your staff and you can easily customize them to match your costume.
Cut the handle to size before working on any design features. If you’re new to woodworking, practice your carving skills on scraps before you do any work on the staff itself. For designs or features on the top of your staff, foam or connectable PVC pipes are straightforward to use and easy to paint.
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3. Cosplay Shield
Much like a helmet, a cosplay shield can be made from EVA foam. Be sure to pay attention to the thickness of the foam you’re buying. Too thin will make your shield bendy, whereas too thick can be difficult to work with.
Start by cutting your shield to the right shape. From there, add any distinguishing features like crests using smaller bits of foam glued onto your main shield. For more intricate details, you can paint directly onto your foam with acrylic paints. Once your glue is set and paint is dry, cut a few small slits in your foam to attach a handle or strap on the underside of your shield.
4. Cosplay Wands
Cosplay wands may be small, but they’re often incredibly detailed. Carving into a stick is always an option for experienced woodworkers, but one of the easiest tricks to creating an elaborate wand handle is using hot glue.
Find a piece of wood to be the main part of your wand. Then, use a hot glue gun to lightly drizzle glue in random patterns over one end of the stick (wherever you want the handle to be). Let the glue dry until it’s completely solid before painting your wand. The finished product will look like knotted wood!
5. Cosplay Utility Belt
Wondering how to make a utility belt? These handy costume additions work well for many different cosplay characters and can be made quickly using fabric, cardboard, or foam.
If you already have a belt to use, sewing fabric pouches using recycled material is the easiest solution. Simply stitch together a front panel and a slightly longer back panel using the extra area of the back panel as a flap to close the pouch. Add a belt loop to the back, slide the pouch onto your belt, and you’re ready to go!
6. Cosplay Headband
If you need animal ears or a crowning headpiece, a headband is an easy option. Since you’ll need the main part of the headband to be sturdy, wrapping wire around a plain headband will give you the right structure to work from if you’re covering it in fabric later.
Grab your headband and wrap some jewelry wire around the top and sides of it. Pull the sides tight with pliers before pulling the wire upwards, away from the headband, into the shape that you’re looking for. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the headband for a symmetrical finish. Then, attach material or fur as needed for your character’s look.
7. Cosplay Badge
Depending on the finish you’re looking for, you can make a cosplay badge out of fabric, cardboard, foil, or foam. Whichever material you choose to use, remember that it will need to be solid enough to be clipped to your costume with a safety pin.
For cardboard and foam badges, start by curing out your desired shape. Use hot glue to stick all of the different pieces of your badge together before painting the design and letting it dry. You could even stitch on some embellishments like beads or sequins.
8. Cosplay Communicator
Cosplay communicators come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most common is a wrist-worn piece. If you have an old watch, these are perfect for decorating to look like communication devices for your character.
Find a watch with leather straps if you can, which will make painting on patterns or decorations much easier than if you’re working with a metal strap. Once the leather has been cleaned with rubbing alcohol and left to dry, you can use acrylic paint to design your communicator. Use foil or paint over the top of the watch face before gluing any three-dimensional extras on top.
9. Cosplay Tricorder
For the Star Trek fans out there, a tricorder is likely going to be a key part of your cosplay costume. But how do you make one? Find a small cardboard box and cut to the right shape before covering in duct tape to keep the structure solid.
Cover the box in aluminum foil to make it shiny, then glue small pieces of black paper on top for the dashboard. With metallic Sharpies, draw the computer dials and displays until you’re finished.
10. Cosplay Mask
Fabric works well for many basic cosplay masks, but if you’re trying to build something more complicated or detailed, foam is going to be a good option. Just like with making a helmet, start by molding aluminum foil to your own face. Then, carefully remove the foil and duct tape it to hold the structure together.
Trace the foil shape onto your foam and cut out the pieces of your mask. With a hair dryer, bend the foam over a mannequin or your foil template to manipulate the foam to curve around the shape of your face. Leave the mask over the mold to set. Once the foam is solid again, you’re ready to paint.
11. Pins for a Cosplay Costume
Cosplay pins are much like badges, just on a smaller scale. You can use the same techniques you would use for a badge, with either fabric, cardboard, or foam as the base for your pin. If you have some metalworking skills, you can certainly try creating something unique using small pieces of metal, too.
For basic pins, take thick cardboard or foam and cut this to your preferred shape. Cut or paint your design onto the surface, then leave it to dry. Once your pattern is complete, glue a pin backing or safety pin onto the reverse side of your design before adding your pin to your cosplay costume!
Let’s Get Crafty!
Making any cosplay prop takes some time to practice and perfect your handiwork. But with materials like foam, wood, and cardboard, even a beginner cosplayer can craft something unique and special to bring a character to life.
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