What are foams ? For what are they used in cosplay ? Why do so many types of foams exist? Why are there different density, thickness and colors?
If you are wondering at least one of these questions or others about foams, this article is made for you. I wrote this in all modesty, only with little experience with foams. I would not pretend to know everything, on the contrary, but I hope it will help you a bit.
For purposes of clarity, I decided to divide this article in 4 parts.
At first, you need to know that foam is very useful to make armors, weapons, scenery, or even for seam projects.
Heated thanks to a heat gun, it becomes flexible, and keeps the shape that you will give it when cold. Thick or thin, foam will adapt to your different projects. Alone or combined with thermoplastics, it will address your needs.
Foams that you will find in the cosplay world are usually foam you find as exercise mat or ground sheet, mat made especially for gym. All these different formats and each foam is not the same!
We will speak of the 3 types of foams the most used in cosplay:
Eva foams are the most resistant and dense of foams, you can find different thicknesses, density and colors!
Most of the time, its surface is smooth. In the cross-section, we can see a « full », compacted material, without cells or air bubbles. This « compacted » aspect of the foam increases with the density you choose.
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.
It is the same as EVA foam, but in a thinner format. Thanks to that, it keeps flexibility and versatility!
Now, I have to convince you that we can make great thinks thanks to foams!
Here are some examples:
A vambrace from my barbarian of Diablo 3 made of Plastazote foam (Now do you see the « granulose » aspect I was talking about on the two first pictures?)
Some armor parts from my Widowmaker costume from Overwatch are made in EVAzote. By the way, the LEDs are from Cosplaymat ;)
Or even the breastplate of Solidus from MGS V made by Zephon Cos in EVA foam.
Another example of using craft foam! To make the vambrace/gantelet of McCree, by Zephon Cos too.
Last but not least an example for craft foam, my Diadem for the Diablo 3 witch!
I hope that, now, you know a little bit more about the different types of foam, maybe you want to work with foams for your cosplays? :)
So, next step!
That’s a lot of foam, isn’t it?
Because I am sooo nice, I will help you understand how to use all of these, and also give you some tips to choose the most appropriate foam depending on your projects.
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:
Eh? …Nope, not the last question…um. Anyway.
To help you, I am making this small table where you can find the several foams you can find at CopslayMat and how to use them! ;)
That’s a lot of technical words, right? But, we understand each other, nope? :p
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.
Another thing to know: If you have big foam-based projects, it will be easier to use foam in roll because you will have a bigger surface available for make your pieces. And you won’t have to make connectors which may weaken your piece once finished.
I think that, with all this information, we begin to know a lot of stuff about foam and how to use it! Now we can move on to the next point!
Which tools do you need, now that you know which foam to chose ? Then, let’s go for a small list of essential tools :
From the top of my head, I don’t have anything else that would be « essential » to use foam. You can use other tools, but I think that with these ones, you can already have some fun in making your costumes!
Your piece in foam is finished, but… It’s still foam ! WHAT ARE WE DOING NOW???? We wanted realistic armors, weapons, LEMON PIE! /SBAFF/
Um… How can we give to the foam an armor aspect ? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
You have several options:
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! *get out*
I hope that this small (huge) article would have helped you to better understand the infinite universe of foams, and now, you wanna try it ! Still, do not forget, whatever the advices people give you, or that you can find, it is always more enlighten to try things by yourself, even if you have to do it all over again! You will see, and who knows, you may find your own technique of using and crafting foams! ;)
Bye, make some amazing crafts <3
Big thanks and big hug to Zephon Cos for his amazing pics <3
By Azure Cosplay.
Translated by Kamelia.