DIY: Making Your Own Fake Leather

#Leather isn’t an uncommon element for #costumes & #cosplays, but it doesn’t have to be the real thing. Real leather can be cost prohibitive (not just the leather, but the tooling also can be pricey), becomes hot to wear or there may be objections to using and/or wearing animal products.

To solve these dilemmas, there’s an easy solution: make your own faux or fake leather. The question is how? The most obvious solution is to use faux leather fabric (or pleather); but if you need something that’s thicker than pleather you can use some foam underneath it, or you could just transform foam into your own homemade fake leather. You could even paint fabric to make it look leathery.

The first video tutorial below by Ginny Di talks about combining pleather with foam to create realistic looking fake leather. To do this you’ll need pleather, paints & foam.

If you want to make your own fake leather from foam only, you can try a technique presented by Buddy Cosplay. To do this, you’d need several tools, including an iron, heat gun, paints, foam, aluminum foil.

The next video is similar to the first, but isn’t as detailed. It’s by ButtercupBrix.

There are other similar tutorial videos online. The key to remember here is that you don’t have to use actual leather and you can let your creativity take you where you want. You could even make a gas mask that looks like leather by combining these techniques with the gas mask tutorial that we just posted.

References

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DIY Cosplay Gas Mask

If you’re doing a #cosplay that requires a gas mask, you could use an actual gas mask, but it may be cost prohibitive or it may become uncomfortable to wear for long periods as actual gas masks are made with rubber and are intended to form a tight seal around the face. Solution? Make your own cosplay gas mask! Not only will you be able to customize it however you want, it will be very easy to paint! (It’s really not easy to paint stretchy rubber as it will crack when you stretch it or wear it.)

While we aren’t necessarily advocating that you purchase this pattern,  but #cosplayer Lost Wax provides an excellent one with a tutorial video on how to make your very own cosplay gas mask:

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DIY: Making a Fursuit Head

The most distinguishing feature of any #fursuit #cosplay is its head. The head is probably the single most important element to any fursuit because the head is what helps to define the identity and species of the type of anthropomorphic character that the #fursuiter is portraying more than any other component. It’s also often the part of the fursuit that draws the most attention.

We’ll begin by stating that there are multiple ways in which a fursuit head can be constructed, but the primary components that are almost always used in all fursuit heads are (1) foam and (2) fur.

  • Foam is what gives the fursuit head its overall shape. Other materials (such as EVA foam or parts casted from resin) may also be used as part of the inner structure.
  • Synthetic fur (in typically different colors) is then applied to the outside of the head in patterns according to how the wearer wants it to look.

Other materials that you will need include the following:

  • Hot glue gun & sticks (a lot of stick)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape / ruler
  • Sewing (a sewing machine is recommended, but some sewing will have to be done by hand)
  • A head form
  • Hair clippers (for cutting the synthetic fur)
  • Vacuum cleaner (for cleaning up debris)

Most fursuit heads have static jaws, but if a fursuiter wants the jaw to move as they move their mouth on the inside, that needs to be taken into account before any work is done in constructing the fursuit head.

Several Documented Methods

For simplicity, we’ll break down some of the techniques for making a fursuit head into the following methods that we arbitrarily named. An important note: these aren’t necessarily the only ways in which a fursuit head can be constructed.

  • Method A (Static jaw, from the inside out over a balaclava base)
    • Start with a knit balaclava as the first inner layer.
    • While wearing the balaclava, wrap a sheet of foam around the head to form a cylinder that’s the same size as the maximum diameter of the wearer’s head.
    • With the balaclava removed, glue and and shape the cylinder around the sides and top of the head.
    • More foam is then added, shaped and sculpted to form the head of the anthropomorphic character before any fur is added.
  • Method B (Static jaw, from the outside in starting with wide foam)
    • Start with two very thick pieces of foam (like a foam mattress) and glue them together.
    • Begin to cut and shape the exterior of the anthropomorphic character by working inwardly. This is like creating an actual sculpture.
    • Gouge out the shape for the wearer’s head to fit inside of the sculpted head.
  • Method C (Static or movable jaw, from the inside out over an elastic strap base)
    • Create a simple structure for the head using 3 pieces of cut elastic strap, one of which goes around the chin.
    • Begin attaching foam pieces to the stretched elastic straps (that are on a head mold) to form a base layer of foam.
    • After attaching the foam to the chin area, cut the foam (and not the elastic beneath) if you want a movable jaw.
    • Ad more foam that is shaped and cut similar to what was done in Method A.
  • Method D (Movable jaw, from the inside out & using a resin-casted muzzle)
    • To do this method, starting with Method A or C for the base layer will be a good starting point.
    • Instead of forming a muzzle out of foam, use a hinged resin-casted muzzle (purchased from a prop maker) as the base of the muzzle. Then add foam over of the resin to create the desired head shape.
    • Of the various methods listed, this is probably the most expensive due to the need to purchase a resin-casted muzzle.

Now for the example videos.

Method A is shown by Skyehigh Studios:

We also recommend watching an 8-part video series posted by Koofsuits. We included the first of the 8-part video series on how she constructs a fursuit head. She doesn’t show the initial creation of the base layer as Skyehigh Studios did in the previous video.

Method B is shown by fursuiter StarryKitsune:

Method C is shown by fursuiter Tiny Badger:

Part of Method D is shown by prop maker CanineHybrid:

Using EVA Foam in the Fursuit Head Build

Fursuit maker AlbinoTopaz recorded how she made a fursuit head for an auction winner that incorporates EVA foam for additional rigidity in the final product. EVA foam was used for both the ears and teeth. This required painting.

References:

 

DIY: Making a Bionic Arm from EVA Foam

While we have previously shared David Guyton’s video tutorial on how to make a bionic arm from metal, he has just released a brand new tutorial on making one out of EVA foam!

While EVA foam is far less durable a material than metal, it has several distinct advantages over metal:

  • Some conventions have banned the wearing of metal armor. If you’re planning to attend such a convention in an armored costume, it will have to be made out of some other material, such as plastic or EVA foam.
  • EVA foam is much lighter than metal making it easier to wear.
  • While metal is a rather rigid material, EVA foam is far more flexible, which also makes EVA foam easier to wear.
  • Since EVA foam is a soft material as compared with metal, it’s much easier to work with than metal.
  • The tools & materials are less costly & easier to obtain for working with EVA foam as opposed to metal.
  • The skills required to work with EVA foam are easier to learn than the skills needed for working with metal.
  • Unlike metal edges that need to be sanded so that they won’t accidentally cut into skin, you needn’t worry about EVA foam edges being a potential safety hazard.
  • Unlike metal that can rust, EVA foam can’t rust.
  • You’re far less likely to disturb neighbors working with EVA foam because you don’t have to hammer it as you would need to do with metal.

The biggest disadvantages with EVA foam as compared with metal are as follows:

  • EVA foam is not as durable as metal (as previously mentioned), meaning it has a much higher chance of being damaged while being worn or stored.
  • Greater care must be used for storing EVA foam armor than with metal to ensure that it keeps its intended shape.
  • EVA foam armor is going to be much thicker than a metal equivalent, so additional allowances have to be made.
  • Replicating a metallic shine with painted EVA foam will probably never be as shiny as actual metal.

If you haven’t worked with EVA foam before, we recommend reading Working with EVA Foam for Beginners.

References:

All Kinds of EVA Foam Explained by Punished Props

Bill Doran of #PunishedProps has posted a fantastic video on #YouTube explaining lots of different kinds of #EVAFoam used by #cosplayers. If you make #costumes with EVA foam or are thinking about it, you should watch this video.

He focuses primarily on types of EVA foam available in the United States, but does touch one some types in Europe and a few other places.

We’ve also shared the links to various sources of EVA foam below the video.

EVA Foam Sources: