Skip to main content

Zhao Yun's Armor - by Tatsue

"Tatsue has some mad skills with craft foam. Almost all her costumes have craft foam in use somewhere in the mix of materials. She created Zhao Yun's armor, Dynasty Warriors 7, on a strict college budget and made it look very realistic. This shows that a little bit of creative energy and thought can go a long way to keep your wallet from feeling empty." - VFire


Zhao Yun - Dynasty Warriors 7
Cosplay by Tastue

Inspiration

While I was making this costume, I was both a poor college student and a starving artist, so I didn't have too much money to throw at a costume, so my goal was to make something under $50 but still have it look good. I had never made armor before (besides Terra's pauldrons that were just slightly curved unimpressive pieces of craft foam with felt on the underside) So, using only craft foam, glue, and some rub-n-buff, this is how I made cheap armor that doesn't look like crap!

Patterning

First I started out drawing out the shape of the armor on a piece of paper and fitting that over a duct tape double that I made of me (with binding because I crossplay more than anything) to make sure it was how I wanted it. I then transferred that over to my 3mm roll of craft foam and cut out two identical pieces (since I didn't have 6mm.) And then glued them together to make a more sturdy piece.


 


You can see here that I have cut the front and have spray painted the design of a dragon on either side
The design was scanned from the Dynasty Warriors artbook and scaled to the right size, printed on card stock, carefully cut out with an exacto knife, and then used as a stencil on the foam.
I then went in with a steady hand and some 3D fabric paint and drew in the design. This hurt, and I could not use my hands properly for a week (there are 6 of these total.)

After the dragons were finished and dry, I added strips of craft foam to do the rest of the detailing, as well as a bit more 3D paint as well. And then I moved on to the back and did the same.

Don't worry, that ugly blotch will get covered up with the paint.
 At this point, I have to shape, stabilize, and seal the foam.


Shaping

I had my duct tape dude at the ready, and using a single burner of my stove, I carefully heated up the foam and once it feels like leather, I placed it on my duct tape guy, and pressed it evenly over the curve of the chest using a pillow to get fairly even pressure. Once it cooled, it keeps its shape pretty well.

Stabilizing

Now, everybody knows that craft foam is not durable at all, so to make sure it didn't rip or whatever, I had to put some crinkle gauze on the back.
First, I coated the back with Elmer's glue. Then I laid a layer of crinkle gauze, not worrying yet about cutting it to the right shape. That can come later.
Once that dries a bit, I will slather more Elmer's glue over the back until the crinkle gauze is well covered. And then it needs a couple hours to dry.


Sealing


To seal, I used a mixture of Elmer's glue (or maybe mod podge or both), flexible fabric glue, and water. You mix the concoction all together, and start painting it on carefully over the foam. Between each coat, you want it to dry fully, or the glue will do bad things. I probably had a good 8 coats on the armor before I thought it was smooth and strong enough. It takes a while...


Painting

There are many things I could have used to paint this. Like, spray paint probably would have been easier, but that tends to chip and stuff, so I usually use this stuff called Rub-n-buff, and you can usually find it in Michaels or Hobby Lobby or other craft stores (never seen it in a Joanns, though) You can find it near the gold leafing stuff... which is usually near the wood and framing crap, though I could be wrong (As I haven't needed to buy more for a long time)

Using a paper towel (or my fingers because who cares about having a natural skin color?) I simply rubbed this stuff all over the sealed armor. The more friction you give it, the shinier it can get. But make sure to rub well, or you might find that you've missed a spot and you'll get this stuff all over everything, which is also why a final layer of that glue concoction is not a bad idea.

This is what it looks like afterward.


Then of course I need to do closures and such.
I cut out little strips of that fake leather that Joann's carries, and made straps to connect the front and back. On the sides that fit under the arms, I punched holes and placed grommets in for lacing.
There is also a pauldron that needed to be attached, and needed to be removable for transportation and such. So, I had to glue/press/punch/struggle with putting in snaps. You know, the ones with the evil little teeth that you press (hammer) into another piece to make it stay? Yeah, those ones. But I didn't always want them to show through, so with some of them, I just slathered some e6000 on the back, pressed the teeth through the foam, and prayed that they would stay in place (they have.) That way, you can't tell there is a snap there. See?


That is how I made my cheap armor that doesn't look too bad. 
The same process was used for the thigh bits, the bracers, and the boots.

Zhao Yun's Armor by Tatsue

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

New Writer and Announcements!!

Welcome back! It's been a while but I promise the wait has been worth it. Over the past year I've re-evaluated what the Cosplay Stitch and Seam should be. I feel like I've found it and have exciting news for you!

First off, Pannon is now a co-writer for the blog. She has made over 300 cosplays in the 15 years she's been crafting. Her work ranges from mad armor to poofy ball gowns. She has also helped found conventions and consistently works for a few across the states. One of her most notable achievements is being one half of the international competitive team, Green Jello Cosplay.
Pannon's experience will help bring in "behind the con scenes" as well as a plethora of tutorials and crafting stories. We will also be doing convention reviews and cosplay contest discussions.

Speaking of content - The Stitch and Seam is going podcast!! Episodes will be airing within a few weeks as we talk shop about anything and everything in our community.
Guest writers? Y…

Podcast Ep. 003 - Nihon Matsuri and the Cosplay Judges

This is our first live episode with a live audience... of about 5 people, but it still counts! Pannon and VFire are joined by Rennagade and Tatsue Cosplay as judges for the Nihon Matsuri Cosplay contest. Huzzah for guest episodes! (EDIT: Episode has been updated with bloopers at the end.)


The Japanese Festival, Nihon Matsuri, celebrates Japanese culture from old to new traditions and activities. It is a really fun experience and incredibly educational as it shows how much the Japanese community has had an effect on downtown Salt Lake City.


Keep creating the impossible! - the Stitch and Seam Team

Cosplay First Steps and Advice

Cosplay can be a very intimidating hobby to get into. We asked the community on Facebook to share advice on how to get your first steps in cosplay and we got a wonderful response. I hope their advice is helpful to those wishing to give this hobby a shot.


Share your first time convention stories or advice for beginners in the comments. You can also join the Stitch and Seam Facebook Group and contribute to episodes.

Speaking of contributing to episode, this week's Cosplay Horror Stories are from our awesome listeners Cassini Closet and LaVieve Cosplay. If you would like to hear us regale your horror story please send us an e-mail at CosplayStitchAndSeam @ gmail.com or go to our contact page and fill out the form.

Bonus!! Need tickets to Sale Lake Gaming con in July? Use the code "STITCH" at checkout and get 30% off your ticket price. Code expires July 1st.

As always, thank you for listening. We love our listeners!
- the Stitch and Seam Team