Basic Cosplay Construction on A Budget by Mittel Elf Cat 

Planning your cosplay can be a daunting task. It can also be immensely fun! Whether it is made completely of recycled materials or bought items.

When planning a cosplay, I always look at what I have before I start projects. Craft foam or Worbla are often the staple choices of many cosplayers, however, these materials are often expensive or inaccessible, and many times cosplayers don’t have the funds to buy these things. Cardboard, such as cereal boxes, pringle cans, toilet roll cartons can be very useful in the framework, or base, of a construction. Repurposing old clothing is an ideal, cost-effective way of making your cosplay, too. 

Pringle cans are my absolute favourite material for crafting, as it already has a curve and is strong. It’s been very useful for my Assassin’s Creed cosplay’s hidden blades and gauntlets. Even the leg armour! I’ll remove the base, cut along the side of the can, and bend it outward. I’ll also put it over my arm to see where it needs to be secured.

Cardboard is very useful, but it can be uncomfortable to wear. The simple solution for this is to pad it on the inside for comfort. If you use the thick corrugated cardboard it often bends along the corrugated pattern, so use at least two or more pieces with the pattern going different directions. This will help to reinforce the piece and will prevent it from bending or buckling.

Using old or new clothing is a good alternative way to build your Cosplay. My cosplays usually start with a tight fitting top and leggings as a base. For my Loki cosplay, my first big construction, I used a long-sleeved black top, and added extra fabric to complete the look of the costume.

Before you actually start, it’s find plenty of images for reference. Watch the action scenes or check game footage to see all sides of the characters and props. Models and action figurines are also a great reference for finer details. After constructing the base of your prop, start working on building up the shape with either more cardboard, paper mache, foam or fabrics.

When constructing props a template can, at times, be found online, or you can draw one yourself. Check YouTube for tutorials! 

Personally, I like to use cardboard as I always have access to it. Some art stores, like Artsauce Cape Town, get tons of products on big cardboard boxes, so don’t be afraid to ask for some cardboard from them.

Some props often need LEDs(lights) for cool effects. While this can seem like a daunting part of cosplay construction, I’ve found a simple bypass to dealing with all the electrical work yourself. Most Chinese stores stock strings of LEDs which have their own switches and battery banks. When making my Blades of Chaos for my Kratos Genderbend(female version of a male character), I made an empty gap in between the sections of the blade,  inserted the LEDs, and made a small spot in the handle to access the battery bank and switch. If your LED needs are not so simple, electronic parts stores like Yebo Electronics are great places to ask for help and assistance. Just specify what your needs and the desired look, and they will happily help you find parts as well as how to assemble them.  

For most Cosplay construction it’s down to budget. It’s awesome to tell people your Cosplay was made from recycled materials. Imagine making something from your old pair of leggings, a to-big-to fit-you t-shirt, some Pringles cans, leftover cardboard from cereal boxes that are cut and glued to shape and painted to the desired pattern and colours!

Most importantly, have fun, and do not be afraid to ask for help.