Cosplay Tips & Tricks: Painting

Whether you’re working with EVA foam, Worbla, or even sometimes fabric, there’s always a lot of painting to be done in cosplay. But it can sometimes be tricky to figure out the best way to get a nice metallic color, or add weathering to a piece of armor.

Well, not to worry! Here I’ll be going over 5 different tips and tricks to help you level up your painting skills, including weathering, detail work, and more! So let’s not waste any more time, and just get started!

Shading & Weathering

When you create an armor piece for cosplay, you typically start by creating a nice, smooth base-coat of a metallic color. But if you just leave it like that, it doesn’t look very realistic.

Adding weathering and shading is a great way to add some realism! And one way to do that is to take some black acrylic paint, and thin it down a lot with water. Then take a brush, and paint the watery black acrylic into the corners and deeper areas of the armor, parts where dirt and shadows might fall naturally. Then you can pat and smooth it out with a paper towel, or a damp paintbrush, until you have a smooth, shadowy gradient.

And there you have it! A great way to add more dimension and realism to your armor.

Make Any Color Metallic

For my Wonder Woman cosplay, I really needed a metallic red color for her armor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any in the right shade.

So instead, using a technique I learned and adapted from @ghaicosplay, I just used regular red matte paint and made it metallic. To do this, I took a coppery metallic paint, watered it down a lot, and painted it over my red matte armor that I’d already painted. Brushing this thinned down metallic color over it, and wiping some of it off with a paper towel, turns a boring matte finish into a lovely metallic one!

It’s a super quick and easy way to turn any paint color metallic. For warmer colors (red, orange, etc), I would recommend using a coppery or golden metallic paint. For cooler colors (blue, purple, etc), I would recommend using a silvery or white metallic paint. You may need some experimentation to find what works best for your paint colors. And speaking of experimentation…

Free Paint Swatch Cards

A lot of the time, in cosplay, you’re using new and unfamiliar colors, or mixing combinations of shades to find that perfect hue, and it can sometimes be tricky to keep track of all the different colors. And you don’t want to mess up your nice armor with a color that might not work out!

A good solution for this is to use paint swatch cards. I made some that you can get for free in my resource library, after signing up for my email list, and they have a section for the paint color, name, cosplay, and more! All super helpful for keeping track of your different paint samples. Again, all you have to do is sign up for my email list to gain access.

Painting Straight Lines & Details

Painting straight lines is hard, but it doesn’t have to be! By using painters tape on your armor, you can create nice smooth, straight lines of color.

Simply lay down one color (typically the lighter one first), let it dry fully, carefully lay painters tape over the areas you want to keep safe, and paint over top of it! The painters tape keeps your lines smooth and precise.

You can even use a hobby knife to carefully cut out small details in the tape, which you then lay on your armor and then paint over. Letting it dry, and then pulling off the tape, will reveal a your awesome new paint job! It can take some practice to get the painters tape to lie smoothly, though. I used this technique for my General Amaya armor, for the blue and gold areas of the armor, as well as all over the intricately painted shield.

Adding Highlights

This is a technique coined by Kamui Cosplay, and it can really make your armor pop!

Once you have all your base colors and shadows painted on, take a very light shade of color (or even white), and a very thin paintbrush. Then carefully paint on thin detail lines on the highest raised edges of your armor, where the most light would fall naturally. You can do this on just a couple points, or on all the edges of your armor. It’s up to you! And it can really help bring your armor to the next level.

More Cosplay Tips & Tricks

There you have it! 5 tips and tricks to help you with your cosplay armor painting. Again, if you want to get access to my paint swatch cards, and other helpful cosplay resources, all you have to do is sign up for my email list! Super quick and easy, and definitely worth your time. And if you want to find more cosplay tips and tricks, you can check out my Instagram Story Highlight with all the rest of them! 

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