Many people wonder what kind of materials to use for cosplays and there is a huge variety of material that can get used… This is not a guide, but my thoughts about this topic.
In general the main material used is fabrics or leather. There are a lot of differenty types and colors and mainly the choice of fabrics (or leather) should be made considering the original art. Gathering a lot of pictures via Google or Artbooks might be challenging, but is definitely worth it.
Most (online) shops give you the opportunity to acquire samples of fabrics to check if the quality, color fits for your desired cosplay. I use that really often to check if similar fabrics make a huge difference or if they are what I expect them to feel and look like and to find out which shop offers the cheapest price for my desired fabrics. Depending on the kind of fabrics and quality you can spend between 5 and 50 €/meter.
Hint: Don’t use fabrics you can’t handle, e.g. I am slightly allergic on some plush types and my skin is too sensitive to handle linnen directly.
If you want to create weapons and/or armors you should make up your mind about
- which amount you want and are able to spend on the required material (such as: the basic material, paint, finisher, etc)
- which material you are able to work with
Some weapons are easy to acquire, e.g. fake katanas, knives, guns, etc are sold around the time of January/February (traditional time for costume parties in Germany) or Halloween. In worst case, when you don’t have any affinity to work with materials or don’t have the time to work on it, you need to ask someone to create something for you. That applies for costumes as well as weapons and armors. The prices for this vary and sources might be friends, eBay or Costume sites.
In my case, I’m sewing by hand and am fine with that, but for weapons I prefer to ask my friend Mikon who did my gorgeous Vim weapon for Bilu.
As for weapons and armors you got a lot of choice to choose your materials and it doesn’t need to be the most expensive material – especially not, if you can’t work with it! There are a lot of Tutorials about methods to create weapons and armors on Youtube, so you should check those out before getting started.
I’ll rank by price:
- Paperboard / foam rubber. The cheapest way of creating something, but it’s not really stable – except you put on some (in case of paperboard: a lot of) layers. Does not requires paint when color was chosen correctly from start.
- Paper mache / Gypsum. Right after Paperboard or foam rubber are those versions that require a lot of glueing and layers for stability. In the end these are quite nice and stable when dried out, but they require paint and sealing.
- Polystyrene. This material requires a lot of cutting and shaping, but is strong, not easy to break and requires paint and sealing.
- Thermoplastic materials. Here you have the choice between: Wonderflex, Worbla’s Finest Art, Worbla’s Deco Art, Fosshape, KobraCast Art. These materials require heat to get shaped into whatever you want to do with them. Cooled material is medium to hard – depending on which you chose – but strong, not easy to break, but the surface isn’t ready for paint immediately, therefore requires layers of gypsum before being able to paint and seal.
With the cheapest method you can create things for ~1 meter with costs of 20-30 €, while thermoplastic materials boost the costs straight up to 100-300 € for the same size depending on the used material, type of gypsum, paint and sealing.
There are a lot of cosplayers who swear on Worbla lately, but for the aspect of costs I think there are other ways to create weapons or armors, that look nice and aren’t too heavy, but don’t get blown away by a strong wind or get damaged by careless people at the same time.
Of course that depends on each person, but I think, as cosplay is a quite expensive hobby itself, I could pay attention on things like sales, cheap materials/fabrics and alternatives… therefore I wrote this post 🙂