Cosplay Tips & Tricks: Foam Armor Building

I’ve been crafting foam armor for cosplay since 2018, and I’ve learned a lot about it since then! If you’ve never tried working with EVA foam before, the New Year is a great time to start, and this blog post is sure to be helpful to you! If you have crafted with EVA foam before, then this post will give you some great tips and tricks to help you improve. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Cutting Straight Lines

Something that can be very useful when working with EVA foam is being able to cut straight lines into the foam. Though it can also be very tricky! One way you can cut straight lines into the foam is to use a sharp knife, and hold it carefully and steadily. Look a little bit ahead of where you are cutting, and draw the knife through the foam in one smooth motion, towards you.

It can help to practice on scrap foam until you get a better feel for how to make straight lines. If doing it free-hand like this is still too difficult, you can also just use a straight ruler, line it up where you want to cut, and then just cut the knife along that.

Drawing on Black Foam

Most EVA foam is black and, as a result, it can be difficult to trace pattern pieces onto it, since most pen is hard to see on it. One solution to this is to use a silver Sharpie marker! Silver-colored and other metallic markers show up very clearly on EVA foam, and it’s way easier than trying to use a ballpoint pen or something. If you don’t want to run through a ton of markers all the time, though, buying gray or white foam is also an option.

Adding Details

When you’re making EVA foam armor, you generally want to add detail to it. Leaving armor blank and empty is kind of boring, and you almost always want some added textures or details! One way to add details to EVA foam is to use a soldering iron. In a well-ventilated area (fumes can be toxic), let your soldering iron tip heat up, and then use it to carefully draw and burn details into the foam.

You can do swirls and details, organic textures, battle damage, and so much more! It’s a great way to add detail to EVA foam. If you want to learn more techniques for adding detail to foam armor, you might want to check out my Youtube tutorial on the subject!

Creating Fake Leather

A lot of cosplays call for leather components, but real leather or pleather can sometimes be expensive, and hard to get your hands on. Fortunately, there’s a really easy way to get realistic-looking fake leather out of EVA foam!

First, take your EVA foam (works best with a thinner foam, like 2mm), and thoroughly heat up the surface with a heat gun. Next, crumple up a ball of aluminum foil, and, before the foam cools down, press the foil into it.

Repeat this step – heating up the foam again as necessary – until the entire surface of the foam has been textured with the foil. And after some nice priming and painting, there you have it! Super cheap and easy fake leather.

Registration Marks

When you’re making armor, you generally have a lot of different pieces to keep track of, and it can sometimes be difficult to remember how they all fit together. One easy way to keep track of how pieces connect is to add registration marks.
Registration marks are small, sometimes labeled marks on a pattern or piece of foam, that show you how to line up and glue together the pieces. It makes the job of building the armor much easier. My basic female breastplate pattern, for example, uses a lot of registration marks to make for a super easy building job. 

More Tips & Tricks

And there you have it! Five different tips and tricks for working with EVA foam for cosplay. If you’re interested in finding more tips, you might want to check out my Instagram – in my Story Highlight labeled ‘Tuesday Tips’ I have a TON of posts I have created showing more quick and easy tutorials for cosplay!

EVA foam is a super versatile material, and I hope that this short post helped you learn some neat tips and tricks that will make working with it much easier.

Disclaimer – Some links included may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and buy something, I get a small commission. It’s no extra cost to you, it just helps me out.