Beginner’s guide to cosplay foam
So, you've ventured into the exciting world of cosplay and are figuring out different ways to craft your cosplay.
And there's one thing called cosplay foam which you must have heard about recently from fella cosplayers.
Well, in this post we will answer the questions related to foam and cosplay, at least those which you need to start crafting your own cosplay with foam.
Foams and their types:
Foam is a very useful craft supply product which is used in different projects such as armors, props, weapons and even seam projects.
It is a very useful material and due to its flexibility to be shaped according to need, it is one of the most used materials in cosplay. You just need a heat gun to heat it and it can be shaped as you like when it turns cold.
It can even be combined with thermoplastics for more complex needs.
There are mostly three types of foams that are used in the cosplay world for different needs.
1. EVA foam
This is the go to go type of foam when it comes to cosplay armors and props. It is the most preferred and most commonly used type of Foam. There are many cosplay shops focused solely on selling EVa foam in various densities and thicknesses. They even sell large sheets of this foam for more complex cosplay needs. You can get it from TNT cosplay supply or coscom cosplay supplies. The largest sheet you can get is around 24”x60” and can be enough for use of multiple products.
2. Plastazote foam
These foams are an assembly of polymers, which make rigid foams that are also heat-resistant, but also easily thermoformed. They are often softer and lighter than EVA foam. They have a cell aspect, which means we can distinguish small air cells in the foam, giving it a granulose aspect while still remaining smooth.
3. Craft foam
It is the same as EVA foam, but in a thinner format. Thanks to that, it keeps flexibility and versatility!
II. How to choose the right foam
At first: The thickness needs to be chosen depending on the « style » of your armor, weapon, or anything you are making!
You cannot use the same thickness of foam for all of your cosplays, you need to adapt to what you wish to make!
For doing so: Look at your reference pictures, look at it carefully…
Ask yourself the right questions:
Is my armor imposing, thick? raw ?
Is my armor thin? Delicate? –
Do I have armor pieces that need several layers of thicknesses (For example : a thick vambrace, but with fine details, or the opposite)
Should I sculpt the foam to create the shape or should I thermoform it?
Most standard sizes are 10 to 5 to 2 mm. As a general guideline, use 10 mm for bases, 5 mm for depth, and 2 mm cosplay craft foam for creating detail!
What is mostly important with foams, it’s to understand the interest, the convenience of the density: the density is the amount of matter contained in a given volume. Then, higher is the density, more compact and resistant it will be.
Depending on your project, think a lot about the density you may choose, but also the proper thickness will make your piece the most similar to your reference picture.
III. Essential tools to use foam
Which tools do you need, now that you know which foam to choose ? Then, let’s go for a small list of essential tools :
A HEAT GUN:
Without a heat gun, it will be very difficult to use your foam correctly. The heat gun has an appropriate temperature to warm the foam enough without burning it. [Except if you let it heat the foam for 200 years of course x) ) Thanks to the heat gun, you will be able to thermoform your foam to give it a new shape and sculpt it! – adding from the translator, you can also give cutter strokes in your foam, warm it with the heat gun and the strokes will open itself!
A very good CUTTER:
Yes, the cutter is now one of your best friends. Better it cuts, prettier will be tour armor pieces or weapons! So grab one!
Very resistant SCISSORS :
Yes, scissors too are now your friend, they will be very useful to cut some foams such as craft foams and thin EVA foams ;)
It is used to sculpt foam, sand it, or make other details. The foam is very useful to obtain difficult shapes you cannot obtain in thermoforming it.
NEOPRENE glue: The Neoprene glue is a great glue to stick foam with itself, or mousse with another material!
A HOT GLUE GUN:
Last but not least, it is also one of your essential friends to work with foams. It will be useful to stick foam parts with each other, parts that are quite heavy or will endure some pressure !
That’s all that would be « essential » to use foam. You can use other tools, with these ones, you can already have some fun in making your costumes!
IV. Step « after-foam », what to do ?
Your piece in foam is finished, but… It’s still foam ! WHAT ARE WE DOING NOW???? We wanted realistic armors, weapons, props.
You can use wood glue.
It is one of the basic sealing stuff used by cosplayers due to its cost but professional creators avoid this because it can result in cracks after drying.
You can also use: plastiDIP in spray, or in liquid pot
you only have to apply several layers (at least 3) on the foam. Once dry, you will have a smoother surface which will have a plastic aspect. Thanks to that, your paintings effects will be emphasized!
You can also use GESSO in spray which can be applied on the foam in several layers (minimum 3), it waterproofs the surface and can be sanded once dry to have a smoother aspect!
It’s done! Now, it’s up to you to see what is the best solution for you; you only have to try ;) Then, just let yourself be guided by your own imagination thanks to the painting step, a little advice: Use acrylics, acrylics are life!