How to make cosplay props!
If you don’t know, cosplay props are items or weapon replicas that cosplayers carry with them while in costume. While they’re not necessary in order to do a cosplay, props are just awesome in general. They can turn your cosplay from being good to being amazing! Like think of a Fire Emblem character with their signature weapon; they just simply look a lot cooler and better with their props.
So if you’re wondering how to get started on making your own cosplay props, then this post is for you!
In this post, I’ll go through various questions that you may have regarding on how to make cosplay props. By the end of the post, you’ll be able to get started on it with much confidence and knowledge.
Note that this post isn’t about any particular prop; there are just so many props in the fictional world to cover. So this article is mainly prop- making in general and what you need to get started.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about it!
What’s the TLDR version of making cosplay props?
At first, how to make cosplay props seems like a daunting task. When you see those gigantic Monster Hunter weapons with perfectly smooth surfaces and LED lights flashing, you might be thinking to yourself, “How will I ever make anything like that?” But don’t worry, Senpai will break it down for you.
Here’s the condensed version of making a cosplay prop:
- Find the pattern of the weapon you want to make. The most popular weapon props like the Master Sword are readily available online. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for a pattern, but they’re dirt cheap and totally worth the price!
- Print out the patter on blank paper (how many pages depends how small or big the prop will be)
- Trace the pattern over a sheet of foam (the foam is the actual material you’ll use, not the blank paper)
- Cut out the trace you just did. Be sure to do more than one pattern, as you’ll need to glue it together eventually (remember, it’s a 3D object!)
- Glue it together using various materials such as contact cement, glue or glue gun
- And that’s it! The base of your cosplay prop is basically done. All the stuff that happens afterward (e.g. paint, sanding, polishing) will make it look nicer and better.
What can I use to make cosplay props? How do you make cosplay foam props?
When it comes to making cosplay props, there are a lot of materials that can go into it. I’ll go over all the things you could potentially use to make cosplay props.
It all starts with a base and pattern. All a cosplay prop really is just some foam holding everything together, and using paper patterns to get the shape you want. The fancy stuff like the paint, metal and LED lights come right after.
But again, by far the most important thing is your base, which is the foundation of your prop. Underneath that Master Sword or Iron Man Helmet, is some sort of material holding it all together. It could be:
- EVA Foam
Depending on the type of cosplay prop (or your budget to be honest), any of these materials could work as a foundation. With that said, EVA Foam is by far the most popular choice when it comes to cosplay props. It strikes the best balance between being high quality and solid, while also being affordable.
How much space do I need to make cosplay props?
Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t need a lot of space to make cosplay props. Sure, it would be nice to have an entire garage dedicated to making your cool props. But it’s not necessary. Depending on how large or grand your props will be, it can be as small as specific room in your home. Or for those who live an apartment or condo, you can just the area with the largest amount of space as an area to make your cosplay props, such as the living room.
Some ideas on where to setup your cosplay prop work area:
- The basement
- One of the rooms in your house
- Your backyard (great for ventilation purposes, but be sure to protect your stuff from the elements, or store them away)
Do I have to be good hands-on to be good at cosplay props? Can anyone make cosplay props?
When I first did research on making cosplay props, I was intimidated myself. I’m not an artsy type by any means; as a kid, my elementary school teachers would give me a hard time of how bad my tracing and coloring were! So I was probably more intimidated by prop making than you are.
But after watching some videos and reading articles about making cosplay props, it’s really not that difficult. Sure it’ll take some practice to get really good at making cosplay props (and for me personally, tracing a pattern perfectly without screwing it up). It’s just like cosplay or any other hobby. You’ll get better over time and the fun is when you get better through your journey!
What do cosplayers use to make weapons?
There are many materials and tools that can be used to create cosplay props. You have the foundation such as EVA Foam or Worbla that holds everything together. Here are some other useful tools that can be used for prop making:
- Safety equipment such as gloves (to prevent cutting yourself accidentally) and respirator (especially if you plan on using chemicals)
- Blank sheets for printing out the pattern for your cosplay prop
- Cutting table. A cutting table is a great thing to have, so you don’t leave any marks on the table while you’re slashing away making your cosplay prop
- Cutting tools such as scissors, X-Acto knife and a box cutter knife. It’s also recommended to have a knife sharpener to keep your blade in good shape
- Things to keep things glued – barge, hot glue gun
- Markers (e.g. sharpie) to make where you’re going to cut
- Heat gun
- Sanding gun
These are only some of the things you could use for making cosplay props. You could also use real power tools.
Can you use cardboard for cosplay props?
Cardboard is generally not recommended to use for cosplay props. Why? Because cardboard is not sturdy as other prop materials like EVA Foam or Worbla. Not only that, when it comes to cosplay, cardboard looks fairly tacky and unappealing.
However, it definitely still is possible to use cardboard. You’ll just have to make sure that the cardboard you’re using is sturdy, and that you don’t bend it too much. The benefits of cardboard is that it’s super cheap, easy to find and fairly lightweight!
Can you make money from cosplay props?
Absolutely! Cosplay props are always in demand not only because of how cool they look, but also that many cosplayers want someone else to make it for him. Whether it’s because of time, or not wanting to do it themselves, cosplayers are paying good money to prop makers to help them build their next cosplay weapon project.
So if you enjoy making stuff like cosplay props, you’ll have no issue finding commissions! With that said, just like making costumes for others, making cosplay props is definitely time-consuming. While it can earn you money, it’s not a job that’s going to be extremely lucrative, as you’ll have to get the materials yourself and spend the time to make the prop.
From the foundation level, all it really involves is cutting out patterns and gluing/sticking them together. Like with costume-making, start off with an easy prop like a staff or wand. That way, you can work your way to more complex stuff like a Master Sword or Shield.
And there you have it; how to make cosplay props! Hopefully by now, you have a much better understanding of what goes into making a cosplay prop.
If you have any other tips to share, be sure to leave them in the comments below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!