Beginner’s Armour Making Tutorial

On September 11, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Toast

At Anime Revolution this year (2014) myself and two of my cosplayer friends decided to take on a challenge, running beginner aimed armour and weapon making panels. We had mixed opinions on who they were aimed at, but generally came to the conclusion that we just wanted to improve the general level and props and weapons that we saw around our local conventions. After sharing a few horror stories of things we had seen (eg. a single cardboard layer scythe and things made out of raw styrofoam) we put together our panel.

During the panel we were asked as to if we would be willing to post our slides or notes online. For anyone who saw our panels, the slide show was just a bunch of pictures and that was us naturally spewing shit about our hobby for an hour without any notes. The slide show was there to make you all think we were super pro.

As a result, I’ll do my best to do a write up of the information we covered in our Armour panel and Weapons panel over my next two blog posts.

As an amusing side note before I begin this tutorial, when the three of us ventured to the panel room to do set up, myself in my Male Castanic Alliance Zerker armour, Tiny Champion in their Dragon Age armour for Lady Hawke and Featherstone in their plug suit for Rei one person in the line up went “Why are you guys here? You don’t belong at this panel!” I responded with “I’m your panelist.” All I got was an “Oh…” Flattering and amusing to say the least.

Armouring for Beginners

Written by Toast Cosplay & TinyChampion Cosplay

Original Panel hosted by Toast Cosplay, TinyChampion Cosplay and Featherstone Cosplay


Templating free-hand:

Originally I had a funky little animation, but it won’t translate well on my blog. So you’ll have to make due with just the ending photo from it.

This is Kirito:

KiritosizingpicKirito’s on screen height was 20cm for me with this photo. The size of the small orange line, the size of the piece we are trying to figure out, is 0.8cm.

My height is about 168cm.

Therefore this gives us a conversation ratio of;

168/20 = 8.4

So the size of this piece is 0.8 x 8.4 = 6.8cm.

From here you can continue to figure out the sizing of things. I use these to size out small detail pieces on my armours. Here is an example of one of these sheets for a weapon I built. I like to include a conversion to ft/in because my brain finds that easier to estimate most of the time.








No, my weapon was not 9’4” in the end. I believe it was about 8’6”.

I’ll make a mini-tutorial, which I will post at a later time, with the specifications on how I build these sheets, for the excel impaired.

From here you end up with an item like this:


Templating off the body:

For templating you are often best to start off with templating your body, if the armour is going to be fitted to you. To do this wrap saran wrap around the body part like so;

Then cover this saran wrap with painter’s tape or scotch tape, any kind of paper tape.

Never under any circumstance use a duct-tape or anything similar. You will sweat to death.

As was included in our panel;

image (3)

I actually have no photos of my armour templating, just a photo of my cat sitting on top of my templating. This is a common issue in my house.

So please have a cat on a template of mine:




If you build large armour sets you will want to track and plan your tasks so you aren’t up until 3am the night before your con. I build a sheet like this to plan each task for each piece of armour, then track how done I am. It helps me to understand how much of my project I have left and also helps keep me motivated to get to write just how much I finished in a day/work period.

TinyChampion: As for me, what I like doing for tracking my progress is making a comprehensive checklist on a sheet of paper and sticking it to my fridge, along with milestones I wanna be at overall (i.e. have all the base pieces of an armor made by X date.) When I finish a task, I get to cross it off the list with a sharpie. Sometimes the list is very long, and sometimes it’s not, depending on how big of a project it is, if I’ve encountered anything new I didn’t notice before, or if any problems have arisen. Trust me, problems are more than likely going to occur, no matter how long you’ve been at it. Just give yourself plenty of buffer before a convention to get your stuff done, just in case.


Foam – Written By TinyChampion

Foam is really great if you’re looking for a really cost effective way to make armor, if you don’t mind having your armour in florescent colours before painting. It’s super cheap, and you can find it at most craft stores. You can hot glue it, heat shape it, basically it’ll take whatever you have to throw at it. It’s also pretty durable and lightweight, so it’s pretty ideal.

I personally like it because it’s incredibly easy to work with and easy to get a hold of.

It’s really great for making general armor shapes, or the overall base of an armour piece. Make sure you mark it out on the foam with a pen before you cut it, because foam tends to be unforgiving in this way, and the scraps, most of the time (depending on the overall size of the piece and what you intend to do with it), will be scraps. You can attempt to patch it by gluing in some pieces of foam, but you’ll probably wanna spackle over it so it’s smooth, and not do what I did and just dump copious amounts of hot glue over it, as seen here (I’ll put up a better picture when I get around to taking a higher res one):


One thing I forgot to touch upon in the panel we did was that the thinner pieces are going to be a little more bendy than the thicker pieces, even once you’ve finished shaping, sealing, etc. One thing you can do to help eliminate this, is to hot glue a piece of thin fabric on the underside of the foam (the part that will not be seen) to give it some stability. The glue will help retain the shape of the thinner foam and keep it from bending.


I am a Worbla builder. This shit is wonderful, it is costly, but it is wonderful. If you can afford it Worbla is very much worth it for armouring.

This is my giant collection of scraps:


Why do I have a giant drawer of scraps?

No not to cry over it.

Worbla scraps are very useful for detailing your armour. They can be used to add depth or do small pieces. Even the smallest Worbla piece can be re-heated and used to add details.

These details were all done using Worbla scraps:




Once your template is complete you will cut your foam pieces from there.  I generally check the fit by taping these pieces together with a painter’s tape (causes little to no damage to the foam) then test the piece by roughly placing it as it would be when it is fully shaped and bent.  This will prevent you from having to do adjustments once you have applied your worbla and is good practice in my opinion.

To add small details you can layer foam on your base layer.  Once this is completed cut Worbla pieces about 2 cm bigger than your foam piece, one for each side of the piece, and cover it.  Once you have smooshed the sides together re-heat the edges and clip them with scissors.  If the cutting is done while the edges are heated you will come away with clean edges.  I often do not cut the edges on pieces where I am going to be placing them together with another piece.

Your pieces will look like so;

In each image the foam is on the right and the covered is on the left.

Untitled-2 Untitled-3-2Once you’ve covered your pieces, shape them.  For pieces that will be tight to my body I often just let the worbla cool a bit then press it against my body until it cools.  This often takes some tape to force it to shape or stay together.  In the summer warm worbla on your body isn’t fun, but I find it highly effective for getting it to fit tightly to your body.

Once your base piece is done you can add pieces to it for more effect, or detail as above.  A mix of under-worbla foam details, plus worbla scrap and additional foam covered in worbla for detailing works well.


Wonderflex is another thermoplastic, similar to Worbla. It was on the market before worbla and was the first thermoplastic I worked with. I have worked with other thermoplastics (friendly plastic), but I don’t recommend even thinking about them with Worbla now on the market.

Wonderflex can be more useful than Worbla at times and I recommend all Worbla crafters have a small amount of it around. If you are ordering Worbla off of order a small or medium sheet of wonderflex as well. Where wonderflex is more useful is for its strength. Wonderflex has a fabric integrated into it so it will not stretch like Worbla will. As a result this means that it’s small scraps are not as useful, but it can strengthen your projects in weak or thin areas (or when you mess up and have to shrink/re-attach some parts like I do) and for holding fixing pieces like snaps, clips and d-rings into Worbla armour pieces. As Wonderflex is also a thermoplastic is stays very well inside Worbla and integrates with it.

It can also be useful on its own for building long and thin pieces or weapons that need a lot of support.

Other materials:

There is a long, long list of other materials you can build armour out of. I’m just going to mention a few others that are not bad for a beginner to start with:

–          Styrene; this is a thin modeling plastic which has slight thermoplastic properties but tends to just give right out under heat and isn’t ideal for complex curves. Can be useful for detailing and straight pieces. Thin pieces can be found at local model shops and I’ve found thicker pieces at plastic shops in my city.

–          Sintra; This is a plastic commonly used in sign making. It also has some thermoplastic properties but is more ideal for simply being glued together. Good for making very straight pieces, likely good for props as well.

–          Can tops; Tiny Champion has done two cosplays which took making chainmail. To quote them “you can make chain mail this way, or you can make chainmail and everyone anywhere around you will hate you”. Photos below of their lovely chain mail;

image[2] (2) image[7] (2)

That’s all for this tutorial, I will cover painting, resin casting and electronics in a different tutorial from either my weapons or armouring one as my advice for both is identical.

Tiny Champion cosplay on facebook –

Featherstone cosplay on facebook –

Myself on facebook –

You can check out some lovely photos of all of us from Anime Revolution on our facebook pages

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Remaining SAO notes

On May 25, 2014, in Sword Art Online, by Toast

This is a long purely test post with some remaining rambling about Kirito builds.  Try not to fall asleep.


The shoulder strap and chest piece:

AKA how the swords free hung from my back. This was my biggest pet peeve with most of the Kirito cosplay I had seen. Either there was no sword sheaths or they were connected to belts which had nothing to do with the chest strap (and were inaccurate). I also saw a few which had connected it to the chest strap but the chest strap had come out to be thick belts and/or armour instead of just another fabric piece like it is on the character.

As a result I set out to find a solution to all of these pet peeves. If I hadn’t succeeded I likely won’t have even cared to wear this cosplay.

Thankfully, all my work wasn’t wasted. But enough yammering.

Chest piece creation:

The base of the chest strap was a loop attached to a loose piece of strap, which buckled into the rest allowing for easy removal of the piece.

This base was covered in the same fabric that I made my Kirito jacket out of, and the same (self-made) bias tape was used to cover the edges. This was made to fit very tightly to my body over the jacket. It had three purposes;

–          Look damn sexy

–          Hold the jacket in the correct (open) position

–          Hold the swords and their sheathes

I have a wonderful photo of myself in the bathroom modeling just this piece on my facebook page.

The chest armour was constructed from foam and worbla and pressed to my chest so that it molded right onto my body. This really is the wonderful part of thermoplastics, everything can mold right to you. The piece had two levels, inside the worbla I put two pieces of foam together to create the lower surrounding edge on the piece. The circles were thin strips of worbla wrapped around a cup, then were squished onto the main piece. This was gessoed, sanded, rub n’ buffed, buffed and covered in future. It was then applied to the chest strap to hide the buckle.


Attaching the swords:

In retrospect, this should have been done earlier. Since you are reading this, if you plan to follow my methodology for this, please don’t make my mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20 on this one, but my design worked out in the end.

My mistake is simple, my sheathes were completed when I decided to go about this task. Big no-no, this should have been a part of the design process. Aside from that, all is well aside from using contact cement instead of super glue to attach some Velcro, which is a fixable error. Side note: It has now been re-attached with super glue and is 100% solid.

I added Velcro to each case to get them to stick together in the correct position on my back. This made them into a single object to deal with hanging, though they would still come apart so they were easier to store and it was still possible to cosplay pre-dual wield Kirito if I so pleased. Before doing this check, re-check, re-re check, re-re-r… you get the point, your references to make sure you have the correct case set up and the correct case on top. Once you’ve done that, apply Velcro to their cross over area on the correct faces.

With the cases connected I held my chest strap piece up to them and sketched out where the chest piece would hit them, one case would slide on, the other would have a Velcro strap that could be done up and un-done around the chest strap. The Elucidator has the Velcro strap and the Dark Repulser has the slip on ring.

The slip on ring was made from the same backpack material. I cut two holes in my foamboard case and slid the piece through. As I like to worry I applied two layers of worbla to this area and some of the surrounding area on the case to make sure this area wouldn’t tear. Even though my foamboard sword was a massive 0.8lbs, I wasn’t willing to take any failure chances.

Why this isn’t ideal: The strap rubs against the sword since it is inside the case, possibly ruining the paint. You’ve also had to make a later modification and have possibly weakened the sheath.

How to be better than me: Attach the strap to the case in a different manner (worbla added on the external part of the case as part of the build that holds the strap for example). If you must snake it inside, cover it in felt or fleece and make sure it is flush or close to flush with the rest of the case,.

The Velcro ring was two pieces of Velcro sew together. Like the strap it snaked through the case. I placed the “soft” side of the Velcro inside the case but I still panicked every time I had to pull the elucidator out of the case fearing damage to the paint job. I don’t need to detail why this isn’t ideal, it’s obvious. Thankfully unlike the foamboard the worbla case doesn’t have a big concern about a loss of strength or stability from such a small cut. However just to be sure I applied an extra layer of worbla to this area.

How to be better than me: Same as above, pre-plan, make it flush. If you are using Worbla you may chose to place it with-in the initial “sealing”, allowing it to stick out. Sew the two pieces together and place the inside the piece with the foam, having small slits for them to exit the piece. This would make the fixing very strong and permanent inside the piece, however I would suggest double layering the worbla in this area on the outside just to be sure everything will hold.

This system was easy to take on and off, was accurate and was very comfortable. I wasn’t in pain after wandering around with the sword for 8 hours at the convention, considering my Haseo cosplay it was something I was more than thankful for.

Other notes:

I don’t feel the need to detail my shoe and arm armour. They were done with worbla just like the chest armour, the little bump details were done with screws which I had cut the bases off of. These details are likely suppose to be rivets, but I liked how the screws looked. The arm armour stuck on with Velcro, the shoe armour just used elastics as the boots I wore are boots I rather like for real life things (when armoured shoes might not go over so well).

The jacket was sewn by me, the wig was styled by me and the bias tape used was handmade as I didn’t find any with the colour I liked. The was my most comfortable cosplay to date. It was fun to take pictures with people in it as I could give them a sword to hold (or to threaten me with).

I have two future projects that I aim to finish this year, some Tera online armour and Toan from Dark Cloud (giant glowing sword FTW). Will try to post notes/ect on these as I go. May eventually put up a post about how my Shadowy Death was built.

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Blah blah blah <excuses>.  I moved, took a few courses… and now I’m back in gear for 6 months.  I’ll yammer about last year then go get my butt going on this year’s projects.  My cat also passed away, which took away a lot of time from my life (you can see him trying to “help” with my sheaths a bit later on).

For my SAO project I tried two different techniques for making my sheathes.  The Dark Repulser, made from foamboard, received a foamboard sheath and the Elucidator, made from wood, received a worbla sheath.

This post will discuss how both cases were made and I’ll make another post for the final Kirito details, including how I got the sheathes to free hang from my back.


This photo again, getting sick of seeing it yet?

Worbla case:

This case was spawned from an over whelming need to use the four rolls of worbla I had purchased in some sort of way (currently it is over a year since I purchased the worbla for this project, I still own 2.5 sheets but it will be put to good use shortly).  At this point I was also sick of dealing with wood as a result of my issues with filing the Elucidator.


The pieces were cut, and I went about sealing the foam in inside the worbla.  It was at the point I started to worry about how strong and secure it would be, just the foam seemed a bit wiggly.  As a result I switched out using foam in the sides in favour of balsa wood.  This meant that the sides were stronger and would stand well, this helped to make the case rather strong.  For those not familiar with thermo plastics for cosplay sealing/base covering is simply sealing a core material (normally foam) inside of the thermo plastic.

Once the base covering is completed I connected one side piece to each face piece.  The face pieces were kept flat on the floor to insure their shape.  To make sure that the sides were squared to one another I placed a square doweling against each connection I made.

Each side was then fabric lined and the two sides were connected, for this part I inserted the sword inside the piece to make sure the pieces correctly lined up.  The end was then closed off and the top was shaped properly.


The case was then covered in my new cosplay bff, spackling.  This stuff can be applied to anything to smooth it out.  It turns from pink to white when it is dry.  I covered the case in this then sanded it with a mouse sander with a low grit on my deck.  Make sure to wear a mask and clothing you hate when you do this, you will be covered in dust.


After this it was covered in gesso, sanded again up to a 220 grit then painted with black paint.  The black paint for this was slightly lighter than the sword, it was a lower quality (cheaper) paint made by Amsterdam.

Once the paint was dry the case was covered in a matte varnish.  I used stick on foamies to create the top details, covered them in rub n’ buff, buffed them and sealed them with future floor wax to keep their shine.

Foamboard case:

This case was spawned from a dislike of my worbla case at the time (it was half done) and an excess of foamboard from the Dark Repulser.  Of the two this case was much faster to put together.

The pieces were cut and glued together using hot glue.  Just like the worbla case they were felt/fleece lined to protect the paint job on my sword.  I had some issues with shaping the top portions and ended up having to sneek in some extra foamboard to make them fit the pommel on the Dark Repulser.



I covered the exposed foamboard texture on the sides of the case in paper clay and used this to cover up any small dents that had occurred during the building process.

There was no gesso applied to this case and only a bit of light sanding on the paper clay areas.  It was then painted with a lighter paint that the Elucidator’s case, covered first in Future floor wax to give it a hard coating then in matte varnish by liquitex.  Sticky foam was applied to the top to, covered in rub n’ buff, buffed, then sealed with future just like it was on the other case.


Which method to I prefer?

Both have their strengths; the foamboard case went together much faster, was much lighter and didn’t require much sanding beyond the paper clay I used to cover up the texture of the board’s siding, where as the worbla case was much stronger and I had few fears about my beloved Elucidator being protected inside it.  The worbla case took much longer and also cost about ten times as much to make (the foamboard case cost me maybe $3 to put together) it also took a lot of sanding work to be happy with.  The foamboard case was much weaker, could take damage (and did take a bit over 2 con days, a lot of rough handling and 6 months on my couch exposed to house guests).  The extent of this damage was a small bit of the clay covering on the foamboard peeling up, which was easily repaired.

If you have a wooden sword which is well sharpened and you don’t want to risk damage to, and have the money for worbla or wonderflex (either will work), go with a worbla or wood case (not discussed here, as I avoided building one).  If you have a wooden sword that you are not so deeply in love with, or isn’t very sharpened then a foamboard sheath will work for you, they go well with a foamboard sword and are very cheap.  Paint included the foamboard sword and sheath cost me maybe $15, but I’m likely over estimating.

My next post will deal with how I hung the sheaths from my back without the use of belts, strings or anything but the chest strap and other remaining details on this cosplay.

Toast signing off  o7

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It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for here.  Life is busy, life is time consuming.  Enough whining from me.

To build on my last post here’s my build notes for my Elucidator.  This is mostly me ranting about the struggles on building my first wooden sword so you can skip some of my stupidity and/or experimentation phases.


All of the completed swords and sheaths


1069945_10151474332356755_1575842208_nThe Elucidator started as a ½ inch board of poplar.  It was cut to the sizes as specified in my first sword art online post.

Once the basic shape was cut I went to work on shaping the edges.  At first I was doing this with rough files but was unhappy with the speed and the results.  I set this project aside for a while and tended to my commission of Homura’s bow.  Once I returned to the Elucidator I had since purchased myself a Dremel 4000, which came with a small planer attachment.  This was likely the tool that saved my project and kept me doing it in wood.  Using the Dremel’s planer I shaped the edges of the main part of the sword (the straight part) and finished the curved areas by hand with my files.  This same thing could be accomplished with a hand plane which can be easily obtained at most hardware stores.


The base cut of the Elucidator


The sword after shaping and with one of the top pieces

The raised detail areas were cut from ¼ inch ply wood, shaped with a file, then glued on using wood glue to each side of the ½” poplar sword.  The handle was a 1 inch dowel cut to size then attached using both a dowel screw (a screw with two sets of threading, one in each direction) and wood glue.  The handle details were done out of a small amount of worbla and some paper clay.


All of the above was a fair amount of work, but the most work likely went into the paint job.  I spent hours sanding this sword out on my balcony.  I wasn’t happy until it was silky smooth.

After the final bit of building the blade was sanded to 220 grit, then had several coats of gesso applied and some paper clay applied to small nicks that had occurred in the wood during the building process.  The gesso was sanding to 1000 grit.  Two coats of black paint were applied with a brush to the entire sword.  I used Liquitex heavy body black paint, this paint is a bit expensive but it worth every penny.  It was a much darker black that my three other black paints used in this project and it went on well and sanded well.  This paint was sanding to 2000 grit, until I was able to see my fingers in it.  The reflective surface of the sword doesn’t show up well in photos but it is my favorite part of this sword.


The Elucidator and the Dark Repulser’s case being painted

After this the sword was taped with yellow painters tape (delicate) and I applied rub n’ buff to the edges with a soft cloth, it was also carefully applied to the pommel areas that required it.  I buffed the rub n’ buff areas with a cloth twice.

The entire sword was seal with two coats of future, which was applied with a foam brush.

The top circle was cut from a wooden piece intended for dolls I found at a sewing store I frequent (Dressew for any other Vancouverites), which was cut into four, sanded, covered in rub n’ buff, buffed and glued on with contact cement.


3D printed decals


3D printed decals covered in rub n’ buff


The end pieces on the sword were 3D printed for me by a local pop-up shop (I provided them the model).  This alone was an interesting experience, getting to play around with the 3D printer to get a set of perfect models.  Since the piece was so thin a single piece of tape made the different between the machine printing a good copy of the cross and a bad copy of the cross.  I covered these in rub n’ buff, sealed them and used contact cement to add them to the end of the blade.

Edit: I’ve had a few people comment on my use of the 3D printer for the decals on the sword.   There are many other option for making these, the one I would suggest after the 3D printer option it to create one piece in fimo, wood, tagboard or bristol board and to use it to make a resin mold then cast two copies.  However any material would work including; fimo, air-dry clays, thermoplastics, wood, bristol board/tag board, foam, acrylic… anything that is smooth, thin, paint-able and glue-able.

1044833_10151474332246755_2038470092_n 970615_10151474332251755_1781837677_n

I then swung the sword around a bit, much to the displeasure of my other half.

When you build your first wooden sword this is simply something you have to do, it’s fun to have the weight in your hand.  Do avoid jabbing yourself, anyone around you or any pets.  Also try not to break the blade in the process.

Always feel free to shoot me a note at my facebook page if you need some more help or details.

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With the 2013 con season over it is time to post some tutorials/builds of my 2013 work.  This will work through both of Kirito’s swords and sword cases; each was built in a different manner with different materials because I wanted to play around with materials this year.  It’ll also discuss how the swords were mounted and a bit to do with the few pieces of armour Kirito has.

First off, The Dark Repulser (The green sword for those that aren’t into Sword Art Online)



This is foam board and a square 1” wooden dowel for a handle, the same dowel I used for Homura’s bow.


Cut the basic shape from foam board, you’ll want two of each piece, I use a straight edge  and foam board cutter  from Logan (foamwerks).  These simply made the cuts easier and faster, this process is perfectly possible with a ruler and an exacto knife.

Once the base is cut the edges need to be cut to a 45 degree angle.  I suggest doing this afterwards so that you can watch the angle closely and make any needed adjustments as you create it.  With the foam board cutter this can be simply done by setting the cutter to 45 degrees and running it along the sides.  Take time on this, you want as clean of a cut as possible so you have less retouching and clean up to do later.

In my case my foam board was smaller than my sword, so the top bit is a different piece.

Please excuse the cat, he seems to believe that he can help with cosplay props.



At this point you are going to cut channels for doweling.   You’ll want ¼” doweling.  Place it upon the foam board piece on the backside and trace it, then check that you have right around a ¼” apart set of lines.  You are going to very carefully cut into the foam board, but not far enough to pierce the entire piece.  Peel out the foam and you’ll be left with the above featured picture.  I used a screw driver with a flat head to dig out the foam surface, be careful not to damage the front covering or it will show on your final sword.  Do this to both pieces such that the channel lines up exactly on the two sword pieces.

For the top a ¼” aluminum rod was used in place of doweling, as this will connect into the handle.  The detail pieces also contain small bits of doweling.


Glue the doweling into the first piece, and then glue the second on so that it perfectly lines up with the first.  You may have some small touch ups to do with cutting at this point, any errors you made in cutting the angles will be fixed shortly.

Once everything is placed correctly you can either do angle fixing or detailing.  I did my detailing first, then my patching/fixing.

My detailing was done out of craft foam, worbla and extra craft foam.  There is foam with an adhesive backing on it that is perfect for work like this.  The handle was connected by drilling a hole into the square doweling, after sanding it to soften the edges, then attached to the sword with glue in both the hole and on the base of the sword.


The edges now all need to be seal and fixed.  I used paper clay to do this however it would also be possible to do this with bondo (I believe) or spackling.  Use whichever material you would like to use for patching, the application is all very much the same.

Smooth the patching material over the edges and fill in any spots that were cut funny and any places on the face of the sword that require touch up.  Sand the patching to create a smooth edge; I suggest getting to the range of at least 220 on sanding if not 400.

Once you are satisfied with your patching apply gesso to the entire sword, including the foam board face.  Apply 3-6 layers then sand the entire sword to 400.  I’m a fan of wet sanding, but it isn’t mandatory.

The paints I used were Folkart Plaid metallic aquamarine for the main part of the sword, emerald green for the details and a custom mixed teal for the handle.

Just the aquamarine paint & the Elucidator’s case in paint prep stage.


The gems are resin cast out of a custom made mold.  To do this a base gem was first created with fimo, baked, used to create a mold out of Easy Mold (handy silicone mold maker) then cast out of polyester resin.  The backing of the gems is painted with the aquamarine colour.

The final detailing on the handle is some strips of styrene and a very thin strip of the adhesive foam, coloured in aquamarine paint.

The entire sword is seal and finished with Future by Pledge, a great high gloss hard coat for cosplay props (and floors, apparently).

I was happy with this sword, it was light, it looked good and was fast and easy to make.  If you don’t want to put the love and attention into a wooden sword and I would absolutely recommend this technique.


And as required, a photo of my finished cosplay taken by BD MacDonald



My other 2013 con photos are posted on my facebook.  Some nice photos of my Haseo cosplay with a new prop, his scythe Shadowy Death.

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Homura’s Bow

On June 14, 2013, in Other Props, by Toast

Hey look, I’m alive again!

This was a commission for a friend of mine.

By the time I was done it weighed a total of 0.9 kg (2 lb) and was 142 cm (about 56 inches).





Started with a 1 inch square doweling, cut it in to three 21 cm.  ¼” holes was drill in to each open end to the deepest my dremel could manage with drill bits, including what would make up the top and bottom.  Then two iron rods were cut at just about double the depth of these holes.  The dremel has small cutting blades that very easily, and very well, cut through the ¼” iron rod.

The rods were set aside for a bit.

First these were built:


These are tight fitting tubes that are glued on to one end and fits extremely tightly to the other end.   A double layer of Worbla thermo plastic was used to build each one.  Each is just under 3 inches, as they fit under the diamonds.

Once these were built the iron rods were glued in to place and tested to make sure everything fit well.  When pulled apart these was even a “pop”, so they certainly fit well.

After these were completed the diamonds were built on top of them.  There is two parts to each diamond, the “base diamond” and the “face diamond”.

Pieces for each base diamond are below, a flat face was created for the face diamonds to attached to.  These were covered in paper clay to fix small defects/smooth them.


Completed base diamond:


Each face diamond was built out of a base of bristol board and duct tape (it worked, and kept the form well).  These were filled with model magic and some hot glue to help them hold their form.  Then covered with a light layer of paper clay to make them sandable and more durable.



W/ face diamond attached


The ends of the bow were formed out of 6 layers of foam board, shaped, and covered in paper clay to create a smooth but durable surface.


Two more iron rods were then cut which were the depth of the holes drilled earlier plus the depth required to attach the bow ends at the correct angle.

Lots of sanding, gesso, paint prep

Then paint and finishes.





Sword Art Online

On November 13, 2012, in Sword Art Online, by Toast

Next project is under way.

After Haseo I wanted to go back to making props wanted to experiment with working in wood.  Back during my Haseo costume I made an attempt at the guns out of plywood.  These did not look very good, bits of chipping and a texture I found hard to remove.  I was so unhappy with these I didn’t include them in the costume and will be re-attempting then in wood (and/or maybe resin) once I become more comfortable with working in wood.

My previous props had either been styrene or cardboard (See my cardboard scythe).

I have begun to work on Sword Art Online main character, Kirito.

The Elucidator:

This sword will be built with one piece of 1/2″ poplar for the main body, one piece of 1/4″ poplar for the pomel details and a 1 inch dowel for the handle.

Here is my pommel design for it, adjust the size of the blade area until it fits your sword properly then print

Main measurements are as follows:

Total sword w/o handle: 86 cm (33.86 inches)

Blade width: 5.8 cm (2.28 inches)

Dowel handle (expected): 21 cm (8.27 inches)

Other important measurements:

Bottom tip is 10 cm (3.94 inches) from the point that is starts angling in.  These angles are 165 degrees.

The expansion towards the pommel begins at 73 cm (28.74 inches) (the point at which my pommel begin in the above sketch).

Angled area on blade: 0.9cm (.35 inches) of each side  (0.9 angled, 4cm flat, 0.9 angled)

Other Materials:


This sword can also be created using these measurements using cardboard like in my cardboard scythe tutorial or the common online cardboard sword tutorial techniques.  This will turn out best if the item is covered in either bondo and sanded or layers of gesso are used as a final primer.

Expanding Foam:

Although it isn’t ideal for a sword with such a large large surface expanding foam could also be used to carve this sword to the same specifications I have provided here.

I’ll post updates as I get to work on this sword, I just wanted to get some info about this project out there as I see many people interested in building this sword.

More frequent updates will be posted over at my facebook.  I’m waiting for a rain free day to land on a day I have free so that I can get to work, but no luck so far.  Vancouver winters mean rain for months on end! :(

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Haseo, Part 5

On October 13, 2012, in .Hack//G.U. / Haseo, by Toast

Last post for Haseo, at least until I decide to build a few more pieces for the costume.  I have started on another project and will post some updates on that in little while.  In the mean time I may discuss some tools or materials.

I still have to build the weapons (the guns) or another of his weapons (Twin blades, scythe or chainsaw sword).  Although I have built the twin blades in the past for my Haseo first form cosplay, and did still own them when I wore this cosplay, they were some of my learning props and didn’t fit with the rest of the Xth form cosplay’s quality/look.  I may consider the scythe just to try out a different scythe building technique (I’m interested in trying expanding foam out for a prop and having a staff the breaks into pieces), but that won’t be for a little while!  I don’t have a workshop or workshop space in my current home so many large projects will have to wait.

For anyone interested.  This  was my Haseo first form cosplay.  I’ve learned a lot about cosplay since I did this, changed many methods I use (and gotten the cash to pay for some better tools and materials).

Knee armour:

This was some of the more challenging armour to think through making.  The basic shape of it is a cylinder which slowly expands outwards, then with a second cylinder attached below.  At this point in my process I was also running out of wonderflex (and time) so I made do with friendly plastic for a few parts.

I, sadly, have no progress pictures for this piece so I can only really discuss the theory of how they were built.

The base was created out of a few pieces of foam, covered in wonderflex and placed around a pot to assure that they would be round.  The edges that stick out are foam covered in friendly plastic.  The bottom part was done in the same manner and attached to the top portion.

Wiring was very simple for this piece as there was only two LEDs.

These stayed on using an elastic which went just under my knee (over the muscle right there) and attached onto velcro on the front of my black tights.


Originally I believed that this would be the single least comfortable piece of the armour, it was sadly beaten by the sunflower.  Although the theory of this piece was good it felt like it just stood on my body and didn’t really fit as well as it should have.  I may rebuild this at some point.  To anyone else building this piece I would suggest attempting to shape it to your neck area a bit better.

The base of the collar was foam, to create the soft appearance of the piping instead of adding wonderflex on top of the base I stacked the foam, then wonderflexed it.  I did like this effect for this piece in the end and felt it was effective.

The two pictures below show the wonderflexed and shaped foam (and my lovely socks).

From here I did the normal wonderflex prep (gesso, lots of sanding).  The painted the item.

I blended the rub’n’buff with a bit of satin gloss to thin it out so I could treat it as paint, this worked really well and didn’t change the colour or effect of the rub’n’buff.

And the final item:

My painting is still a bit shaky, I am looking to improve this in the future :)

Shirt armour:

This was built in the same way the belt armour was; foam, mod podge, paint and wiring.  There is some wire in the piece that I used to keep it stiff and shaped, it helped it sit better.

As this was my first time using just foam for armour (no wonderflex, no styrene) I was very happy with the result.  It took paint well and came out smooth.  These two pieces have opened by eyes to foam armour a bit more, I may end up using it in a few more project going forward.

The wiring ran along the entire piece and the battery clipped into the opposite side of the thigh armour from the belt armour.

This wasn’t attached to this shirt direction to make washing the shirt easier (washing cosplay clothing is wise, this shirt did not smell great!).


The shirt, this was my sewing pride and joy of this costume.

I am not really a sewer, I tend not to sew with patterns and I’m not particularly confident in my sewing skills.  I managed through making the pants for this costume but the shirt was a different story, at least at first.

The shirt started as a near dress.  The base of the shirt came off of one of my fitted T-shirts then was significantly lengthened, originally it was to just above my knees, rather silly looking.

The front was cut in half to allow for the centre zipped, as I wanted the neck to come in very tight I wouldn’t be able to pull it on/off.  It also made it so I could walk to the convention in a different shirt, I take transit to my local conventions so I try to wear as little of my costume while transporting as possible.

Once the zipped was installed and the base shirt was somewhat fitted I had to create the lines down the shirt.  I spent a lot of time milling over different versions I had seen of this cosplay, most had simply chosen to draw on the lines.  I didn’t like this effect it tended to look too bold against the shirt and the lines of the character’s shirt look more like texture than drawn on lines.

I resolved to sewing them in.

After measuring the total I determined that the space between each line needed to be 4cm.  For each line  I pinched a bit of fabric, pinned it, ironed it (ironing was very key to keep these lines from puckering), stitched it then ironed it while it was folded, then while it was flat.  There was no puckering in the lines as a result of all the ironing.  These lines were put in all around the shirt.

Once the lines were done I cut out the black fabric.  Black fabric #1, the base, is shiny, black fabric #2 is dull black bias tape.  I liked the effect of the lining this created (and it was accurate to Haseo’s shirt, hooray!).  The bias tape was also used to line the arm holes.

The shoulder pieces were foam covered in fabric and glue.  The glue created an interesting effect on the fabric, which I rather liked.  They don’t show in any of the photos I have, but there are lines stitched into these with my sewing machine at 1cm intervals.  These are stitched onto the shirt, with some velcro to allow the collar to slide under certain parts.

The velcro on the bottom of the shirt is to hold the shirt armour, described above.  Around the neck there is velcro to hold on a leather collar that snaps around the back.  There are a few pieces of velcro to hold the collar in the correct position as well.

These photos are just of the shirt on the floor, not super attractive, but it shows all the sewing/velcro well.

Upper arm armour:

I hated this piece, with a passion as well.  In fact I dislike this piece so much I don’t even have direct picture of it to provide!  It broke both days I wore the cosplay, was very uncomfortable and further restricted my movement (which the other parts of the cosplay had done plenty already!).  I will be re-doing this piece with craft/eva foam in the future.

How this was built (again, I do not suggest following this!):

Wire was formed for each piece, glued together with a dab of hot glue.  A 1 cm piece of craft foam was slit in the middle and one was added to each side of the wire.  At this point the piece would fit my arm, but wasn’t tight.  These were covered in a thin layer of air dry clay.  These pieces were connected using a thin piece of balsa wood (likely my biggest error) then the shape on the connector was built up on top of the balsa wood.

These were then painted and finished.

Again, I do not suggest this method.  I think I will aim for shaped thick foam next time, connected by foam.  This would give a bit more flexibility and would not break as easily!

And that’s it for Haseo!

Here are a few more photos of the costume, but we’re done with this guy for now.

This was my largest, longest and most challenging project to date.  My next one is a bit easier but I certainly look forward to attempting another one like this!

Will post about my new project/some other tutorials in a bit :)

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Change of gears for a post.  I will continue the remainder of Haseo in a little bit!

This is a tutorial I wrote for a Pandora Hearts cosplay prop, B-rabbit’s scythe. At the time I did not have as much access to as many tools or materials as I do now (even now, I don’t think I would be able to bring insulation foam into my home).  I also didn’t have as much knowledge about different building techniques for such large props.  After explaining my method I will add a few notes of changes I would make now, or different ways to do certain parts.  Although this is written for a specific scythe it can be applied to most scythes out there.

The total height of the prop is about 2.1 metres (7 feet).

The scythe certainly has some weight to it, but is very durable and is surprisingly easy to carry (there is a balance point right at the connection point between the dowel and cardboard parts).

Without further ado,

Materials Required:

  • One 1-1/2 Thick Dowel (6’ long)
  • Two 3/8 Dowels (6’ long)
  • Cardboard
  • Lots of Hot Glue
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Exact o knife
  • Solid knife
  • Dark colored marker
  • Light colored marker
  • Glossy red spray paint
  • Elmer’s white glue
  • Poster paper
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure or sewing ruler
  • Shoe string

Step one:
Reference material. Using reference material figure out the proportions to which you want to build your scythe.  The one I built was just shy of 2.1 metres (7 feet).  The Alice & Oz are 168 cm (5’6”) and 165 cm (5’5”), and were un-able to touch the top of the scythe when it was completed.  After you have found the height you require for the scythe figure out the rest of the proportions, length of blade, height of blade, placement of different areas like the ‘heart’.

Set these measurements aside.

Step two:
After you have figured out the size of your scythe, figure out the size a rectangle would need to be to accommodate this size.  I created a 16 inch by 40 inch rectangle for mine. Take your cardboard and cut 8 inch by 8 inch squares out of it.  Attempt to avoid using the parts of the card board which had folds in them.  How many of these you need will depend on how thick you want your scythe.  Mine was six layers thick.  Each layer was 2 squares by 5 squares, so I used 60 squares.  However! You do not need to cut out 60 squares, you need to cut 2 and keep your spare cardboard.

Step three:
Once you have cut all 42 8” by 8” squares, heat up your glue gun.  Lay down one layer of squares (2 squares by 5 squares) like this by gluing the edges together.

Do this until you create a single layer of 2 x 5. Next you are going to create an ‘offset’ layer.  This layer is ‘off’ of the first layer.  It will only contain 4 of the squares you cut, then you will cover the rest of the areas with strips of the scraps you have.

Your next layer will be another 10 squares.  Build these layers like this until you have 6 layers glued together. (layer of 10, layer of 4, layer of 10, layer of 4 and so on).

Step four:
Draw on your scythe.

This will take time and a lot of measuring.  If you take the time to do this correct you are much more likely to be happy with your result.

This is my sketch of the scyhe, you can see my refrence photo in the corner.  It is covered in measurement lines, I strongly suggest doing this.

Step Five:
Cut dowel channels that are 3/8” thick.  I suggest measuring and drawing these on to your cardboard by using your doweling.  This will ensure it fits properly.

These are all the channels that are in my scythe.  Cut down 3/8” (you can use your doweling to make sure it is deep enough, do not go too deep!

Once you are done cutting your channels for the dowels, break (try not to cut, at least break it 1/2 way) the dowels and fit them into the channels.  After placing them in apply enough hot glue to make the channels, with the dowels in them, even to the surface of your cardboard.

Your scythe should now look like this.

Step six:
Time for more cardboard!
Take a large, solid, sheet of cardboard and cover the entire area with it.  Make sure it covers the scythe’s area at least.  I suggest gluing this sheet on with Elmer’s glue, as it creates a nice solid outer edge.  Do this on the back (not the side with the dowels) first. Place textbooks or other heavy objects on top of the cardboard to help it stick/set better.
Now go do something else for two hours.

Step seven:
Large dowel hole
On my photos above there in another noted dowel area, one for the staff’s dowel.  You have two choices at the moment.  You can cut the dowel hole, and insert the staff dowel, or you can
insert it later.  I put it in at this stage, but I believe it would work to put it in at a later stage.
You are going to want to cut through all of the layers other than the one you just stuck on (that solid cardboard layer).  If you want to put the staff in now, apply elmer’s glue to the length that you want to put in to your scythe and set it inside the hole, push it down and try to get it to sit as evenly as you can.
If you don’t want to put the staff in now, don’t.  It is possible to add it at any later point (before painting), however I am not sure how ‘secure’ this will be, or how easily the staff will go in.  You do however, still need to cut the staff’s hole.

Step eight:
Cut out the shape of your scythe using an exact o knife.  Cut away each layer at a time.  This may seem tedious, but it is  safest.  It would also be possible to use the solid knife, but be very careful with it.

Step nine:
Covering #2
No, this is not the wrong order.  You cut out the share first so that you would not lose your sketch of the scythe.  Apply another solid cover sheet.this time to the dowel side.
Use Elmer’s glue and the textbooks again.

Go do something else for two hours.

Step ten:
Now cut this layer out to be the same as your scythe

Step eleven:
You now have a total an 8 layers on your scythe.  You are going to cut through 3 on each side, all the way around the scythe.
The two left will make up the ‘center’ of the blade.  Use your solid knife for this.  However if you don’t feel safe/are willing to take the time, feel free to use your exacto knife.

Step Eleven:
Sealing and shaping
This is the most time consuming step there is.  Get your glue and glue gun ready.  Make sure you have the staff in by this point
You are now going to cover the sides in glue, ‘sealing’ them. During the phase you will shape the edges to look like a blade. Add glue slowly, and smooth it with your glue gun.

Eventually your edges should look like this.

Step Twelve:
You are now going to add string to the length of your staff.
Measure the length of the staff outside of the cardboard and divide it by 13.  This is how far apart each wrap of your string is going
to be. Mark these points along your staff.
I suggest taping the string to the staff first, before gluing on the string.  This allows you to see if the string look correct, it also makes gluing a lot easier.


Now glue it in place.  It doesn’t take very much glue to do this just a bit smoothed along the side of the string.

Step Thirteen:
“I’m ready for painting!”
No you aren’t.
Using Elmer’s glue, glue the poster board on to the cardboard scythe as smoothly as you can.  Use textbooks and such again.
Again, go do something for two hours.
Repeat on the other side.

** You can use bondo or layers of gesso (or similar products) to create a smoother surface, as stated before I didn’t know/have access to these before!

Step fourteen:
No, not painting yet.
This is the fix up stage.  Go back over your glue.  You may wish to use sand paper and your glue gun to smooth it.  A knife can be use to cut off the large lumps, the sand paper will smooth out large bumps and the glue gun will fill small holes and re-smooth. Make sure you are not using very much glue with the glue gun, but more so, pushing glue around.

Make sure your glue is fully dry and hardened before this step.

Your scythe will now look like this:

Nearly there!

Step Fifteen:
Get your paint.
I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor with Gloss in Cherry Red.

Make sure to paper wherever you are painting very well.

If you can I suggest painting outside.  On your lawn in best. Somewhere no one will mind a little bit of paint.

I used my garage as it was raining when I got to the painting phase.  Again, make sure to paper very well and be careful with the paint or you will be spending a while cleaning.

Apply 2-3 coats of paint to each side of the scythe.

This will likely take two cans of spray paint if you are using the same paint I have.

Make sure to give it  an hour to dry between coats.  Also make sure to cover the glue well so that it blends in with the rest of the scythe.

Apply a clear coat afterwards to give it a good finish and to prevent the paint from rubbing off.

Done! :)

After thoughts on this tutorial:

For easier storage make the rod break apart.  You can to this by making a few parts screw into one another and then the top, it also makes it easier to bring to the convention if you don’t have a car, public transit with this thing is a nightmare!

For a smoother final surface use something like gesso or bondo and sand it until smooth.

Other materials for the top part: Expandable foam, insulation foam.

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Haseo, Part 4

On September 20, 2012, in .Hack//G.U. / Haseo, by Toast

Anther multi-part post!  Trying to finish up the Haseo posts so I can get to slowly posting newer things :)

The wig:

I have always been a little afraid of wigs, my wig for my first form Haseo cosplay did not go over well.  I didn’t like the pure white colour of it, it was too thin and it wasn’t long enough to do all the spikes.  On top of all that, the back part didn’t even stay up correctly.  However it had been a few years since that wig and I’ve learned a fair amount since then.  I picked a non-white colour this time as I find it a bit more flattering and the Xth form has slightly darker hair than the other Haseo forms anyhow!

I do not have any progress photos of this, just some (after the con) completed photos.

I used a Magnum from Arda Wigs in Light grey (107) then some extra sort wefts in the same colour.

I have to say this is the nicest short wig I have ever purchased, I had heard good things about Arda and they certainly lived up to everything I had read.

Extra wefts were added to the side of the wig right at the ears to allow slightly longer side spikes and to allow a bit more detail in those spikes.

For spiking I used got2b glued and got2b freezing spray.  This was where I had made my mistake last time.  Most gels and hair sprays do not work on wigs due to the lack of hair oils however these two products work extremely well on wigs.

After clipping the front hair away from the back I built up the large back spike, thinning a lot of hair away as I went.  The magnum is an amazingly thick wig, I would estimate I removed 1/4th of the fiber that was on the wig.  Once the back was built up I slowly worked on spikes, using thinning scissors and a hair razor (both purchased at daiso) to cut them.

And here are the end results:

Wave Tattoos:

(Can be seen in the wig photos on Haseo’s face/upper arm)

The wave tattoos on the cosplay were done with Alcohol Activated Makeup, Dura in 302 red.  This stuff was wonderful.  Once it was drawn on well it looked great all day – I had a few cosplayers ask how my make up wasn’t smudging.  This stuff is easily found online through many makeup retailers and  I purchased mine in person at Studio FX in Vancouver, great place for cosplay makeup for those of us in the lower mainland.

The only down side to it is taking it off involves rubbing a lot of 99% alcohol on wherever you had the makeup, in my case my cheeks, and that can dry out your skin or make it very angry.

I can’t recommend this stuff enough for doing tattoos/marks in cosplays!

Back Piece aka “The Sunflower”

This piece got it’s nick name of the Sunflower from my significant other and it stuck, it really suits the piece and I will refer to it as such from here on.

The sunflower was the least comfortable piece of the costume, it forced me to stand in a certain position and disabled my ability to lean against walls for a quick break. It also prevented my arms from sitting against my sides, combined with the upper arm armour (which I will be re-designing, I was unhappy with it in the end) I ended up having to walk in a very funny fashion.

To start this piece was based around a thin PVC pipe which was cut and bent to shape.  It broke at the middle to allow me to easily take it on and off, it was held together by a doweling inside the pipes and a velcro strap on the outside.  This pipe was covered in foam pipe covers (the black ones), this was covered in wonderflex to give it a stronger base then that was covered in light-weight air dry clay to smooth it out.  Although it seems like a lot of layers, there was little weight to this piece and there were no issues with it breaking.

The spikes were created with floral foam as a base then covered in wonderflex.  To hold them in a hole was cut into the pipe cover to fit each spike, then each spike had a balsa wood doweling that inserted into a hole in the PVC pipe it self.  I had no issues with these either, they lived through many bumps by many people (always try to look out for people, especially cosplayers, at conventions!).

And the final sunflower (bottom part not shown);

Thanks for reading :)

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