Three Things Every Beginning Cosplayer Should Have

feat. @nika_thecosflyer and @ladyliberty_cosplay
feat. @nika_thecosflyer and @ladyliberty_cosplay
By The Collectress

Now that I’ve been in the cosplay community for a few years (read: obsessed with this hobby actually), I’ve learned a few things that I wish I had known a few years ago. So, for any future or beginning cosplayers out there, here are a few relatively inexpensive items that you should absolutely have as you begin crafting your fandom. 

Craft Foam/EVA Foam

This lightweight foam is incredibly versatile, durable and is inexpensive. Craft foam you can get at your local craft store for around $1/sheet, and you can make some amazing things out of it. You can heat it, reshape it, paint it, cover it in fabric…hell, you can even make it look like armor. The Mutineer made her Wonder Woman armor out of it, even. It will require some treating, but with the right materials (gesso, learn to love gesso), some good paint, and a lot of patience, you can have a costume that looks like it just came off screen.

Here are a few helpful tutorials on how to get started with turning craft foam into something amazing:

Craft Foam Armor Tutorial  

Fire Lily Cosplay’s Tutorial

5 Ways to use Craft Foam in Cosplay


I learned about this little gem a year ago at a cosplay panel at Anime Los Angeles, and it has saved my cosplaying butt ever since. I’d tried different types of fabric glue in the past, but none of them have the durability or strength of Fabri-Tac. I mean, you can throw stuff in the wash and the glue will still stay. It does require touching up after repeated wear and tear, but really? Sometimes it saves you a lot  of headaches, particularly if you are not an experienced seamstress.

I used Fabri-Tac to construct a good portion of my Huttslayer Leia. I used it to cover the bra in olive suede fabric, and I used it to attach snaps to the bra so the metal work could just snap into place. My fingers were glued together for days afterward, but I was pretty happy with the final product. The picture below is from the third time I wore Huttslayer, and that glue is still holding strong.

You can find Fabri-Tac at Joann or your local fabric store (probably).

Puff Paint

Ever wonder how cosplayers get such intricate designs into their armor? Yes, sometimes cosplayers have the time/patience/tools to carve the foam, but more likely they use puff paint. Here’s the secret: before you paint the foam piece in its entirety, you use puff paint (which dries raised up and textured) to draw your design onto the foam. Wait until it’s set, spray paint it, and voila! You have your very own “carved” design in your foam armor. Both the Mutineer and I have used this technique in our own cosplays. I used it for Huttslayer on the skirt panels (wtf are those called anyway). It’s not the neatest design (I plan on remaking it this summer), but it does photograph well.

A more intricate example would be the Mutineer’s Lady Loki bracers, which she made out of craft foam, puff paint, patience, and a lot of gold spray paint. Her helm is 3D printed, but if you compare it to the bracers, you really can’t seen a difference. It’s astounding.

I hope this is helpful to all you beginning cosplayers out there. If you have tips/tricks of your own that you’d like to share with us, please post a comment!

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