This is a making-of build write-up for my General Amaya cosplay! She is a character from the animated Netflix show ‘The Dragon Prince’ – one of the best in the show, if you ask me – and she took me around 6 months to make!!
I would take breaks sometimes, so it wasn’t 6 months of straight crafting, but it still took ages. It also cost around $250 in supplies, which is definitely more than I’ve spent on any other cosplay project. BUT, I’m glad that I made her!
It was a big adventure (only my second full-armored cosplay build, after Lady Sif), it was hard, but I learned a lot from the experience and I got a lot better at cosplay. So let’s just get right into the creation process!
Research & Planning
I first started out made a materials list and a budget. (I went way over all of these, because at the time I wasn’t as experienced with all those things, but that’s fine.)
At the same time, I gathered lots of reference images, adding them all to a digital folder on my device, and also did lots of research into the character and cosplay, looking at screenshots and clips from the show, as well as what other cosplayers did.
For parts I was more unsure about – like the wig and the shield – I talked to some other cosplayers on Instagram, asking what they did. This really helped me figure different parts out.
All of the armor was patterned by hand (except for the small diamond on the pauldron, for which I went to a geometric shape-printing website, and got one for free from there), either out of plastic wrap and duct tape, or sketching out shapes on flat paper and adjusting them until I was happy.
The breastplate, instead of using my typical wrap-myself-in-duct-tape method, I did ‘paper draping,’ taping and cutting paper on my mannequin until I liked the shape. It worked out fairly decently!
Some parts I had to pattern multiple times until I got something I was happy (including the shin and shoulder armor), but eventually I got some armor patterns I liked!
Keep in mind, though, that I didn’t make all the patterns at once, then all the armor – I did a mix, doing some patterning then making the armor for it, then doing more patterning, and so on. I just wrote out the post this way for clarity’s sake.
The armor was made mainly out of 6mm EVA foam from TnT Cosplay Supply, onto which I traced all my armor patterns, glued the pieces together, and heat-formed them into the shapes I wanted. It was super satisfying to see everything starting to come together.
A couple pieces were layered together, like the shoulder amor, so for those I either used velcro to attach them together, or just glued them on top of each other with hot glue or contact cement.
For attachments, I used a mix of velcro and elastic to secure everything to my body. It wasn’t… the best attachment work ever, but it was still FAR better than what I’d done for my previous cosplay, which was essentially a couple pieces of string I tied together. Now THAT was a struggle. These ones turned out better.
Priming & Painting
Before painting anything, I heat-sealed all the armor by running a heat gun over it, then went on to priming. To get a more realistic texture on the armor, I first brushed on a layer of Flexbond, then dabbed and swirled the primer with a paper towel to get a more interesting, textured surface. I think it worked out pretty well! I go into a bit more detail about that here.
Most of Amaya’s armor was plain silver, but, again, I wanted it to look more realistic. So I started by painting everything black, then doing several layers of silver acrylic on top, letting that dry, and then weathering it with a ton of watered-down black paint. I brushed the black on, then wiped most of it off again. I also added some watered-down brown paint as well, for a more dirty edge to the armor.
For the gold areas, I sketched on rough lines where I wanted the gold details to go, painted over them with gold acrylic, and weathered it watered down brown acrylic. Then I carefully laid down painters tape over the gold details, adding the other paint colors on top.
This way I could just peel off the painters tape later, and get nice, clean lines. It did still need some cleaning up afterwards, but overall I was pretty happy with the result.
I did several layers of dark blue paint to get a nice shade for the blue areas of armor, then brushed a thin layer of watered-down silver paint over it, wiping some of it off again, and giving it a more metallic finish. This idea came from Ghai Cosplay on Instagram.
After adding the gold and blue areas of paint, I also weathered them a bit more too.
As well as lots of armor, this cosplay called for several leather pieces. I was lucky enough to find a large black leather skirt at a thrift store, which I cut up and used for most of the leather armor pieces.
I first created the leather pieces out of 6mm and 2mm foam, then traced the same shape onto the back of the leather, cut it out, and glued the leather piece onto the foam with contact cement. I go into a bit more detail about covering EVA foam with leather here.
I then painted and weathered it with more acrylic paint. For some of the thinner leather bits (glued onto 2mm foam), I ran it through a sewing machine before painting it, giving a stitched effect to the leather. My sewing machine did not really like this, but so it goes.
General Amaya’s huge shield was actually one of the parts I was most worried about building, and it took me quite a while to make because I kept putting it off. I did a lot of research into what I could make it out of beforehand, but eventually settled on 10mm HD foam from SKS Props.
I created a digital pattern for the front, back, and sides of the shield, printed it out, traced all the pattern pieces onto the foam, and cut it out.
Since the foam was so thick, the edges were pretty rough, so I cleaned them up with my Dremel. Then I glued everything together, using a heat gun to make everything sit how I wanted it to.
The handle is made out an adjustable leather buckle I cut off the shoes I used for this cosplay, and a wooden dowel covered in 2mm foam. I added a couple more layers to the back of the shield to make the handle as well.
The shield ended up being WAY too top heavy at first, and while I tried to puzzle out a solution, my dad gave me the idea to create a small pocket at the bottom of the shield, and hot glue some large rocks into it. So I did! It worked out pretty great – still a bit top heavy, but not nearly as bad. And since I decorated and painted the pocket to match the rest of the shield, it looked like it was always supposed to be there.
In addition, I added a few other details with 2mm foam, then primed, painted, and weathered the shield the same way I did the armor. Except it took way longer. And I used a ton of primer and paint. But it was WORTH it because it turned out being my favorite part of the cosplay.
The sword is made out of two wooden dowels of different sizes glued together, then covered in 6mm and 2mm foam, and Dremeled into the proper shape.
It was actually my very first time using a Dremel, so the blade turned out a bit… messy, even after I fixed it as best as I could with Qwikseal. I then primed it, and painted it the same way I did the armor and shield. And I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
Except it’s a crazy huge sword and the sheath was way too big to stick to the armor, so I didn’t end up finishing that aspect of it. So the sword just hangs on the wall in my room, which I’m fine with.
I also made a digital pattern for this sword as well.
The sewing was another part of this cosplay I was pretty nervous about. Ghai Cosplay gave me a pattern recommendation – the same one she used – so I bought that off of Etsy, made a mock-up, altered it, then traced the pattern onto a dark blue fabric that matched my blue paint.
Then I sewed it all together, adjusted it more, and stitched gold ribbon trim onto it for various details. Haha, it sounds so simple when I write it like this, but sewing is a STRUGGLE for me, and this shirt was a fairly complicated pattern, and it just… took me a while. It was hard.
But! It still turned out decently. And most of it is hidden under the armor. Which is fine. I guess. I also added on some sew-on snaps to attach various armor pieces.
The gloves were made out a black, 4-way stretch fabric I got by taking the fabric from some black leggings, tracing my hand onto it, sewing it together, and then cutting it out.
I had to make these twice, since the first time they were WAY too small. The second pair wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for me. Wearing gloves just makes me feel so fancy, even if the cosplay isn’t really a ‘fancy’ costume.
The shoes were thrifted and altered, and the trousers were thrifted, with more sew-on snaps added to attach armor pieces.
Wig & Makeup
I tried to get a wig from Ali Express, but THAT went terribly (I never got the wig. Or my money back. Which was lame), so I bought one from L-Email Wigs.
I had never really cut or styled a wig before, so I mainly just cut things off until it looked decent. Not my favorite wig ever, but it looked okay from certain angles (and when I used lots of bobby pins), so I just decided to go with it.
Fun fact, this was also my first time using a wig for a cosplay, so this was just an all-round adventure for me. It was a frustrating struggle, but at least I ended up with SOMETHING.
This cosplay was also the first time I used makeup for a cosplay! Or ever! My older sister taught me a lot of it, I learned some from Youtube, and I practiced with it on my own.
It’s pretty much just a basic face of makeup (because I didn’t know how to do anything different), with the scar being made out of two different colors of cheap lip liner. I go into a bit more detail about that here.
For the photoshoot for this cosplay, I knew I wanted something more interesting than just me posing in my backyard. I started by making a Pinterest board of pose ideas, practicing them, then nicely asking my photography-skilled sister if she would go take pictures with me.
She agreed, and we went to a large, open field at Golden Hour (the hour before sunset), where she took lots of great pictures of my Amaya cosplay. Later she helped me edit them as well – isn’t she just the best??
SO, that’s pretty much it for this cosplay! It sounds so much simpler when I’m writing it down, but it was a genuine struggle to make, it took me ages, and I had to learn so many new things for it! But I’m glad that I stuck with it until the end, and that I ended up with a result that I’m proud of.
If you want to see more pictures of the completed cosplay, here they are!
I also created a video interview featuring General Amaya, so if you like the character, you might want to check that out as well!