When it comes to making cosplays, it can be a really daunting experience. Now, I found that out April 2016 when I took up my first pencil and began designing a Winter Soldier cosplay. The thing with the cosplay is that it is deceptively easy looking, but when it comes to creating the thing it can take up to three or four hours for you to even remotely finish a design. My Winter Soldier arm initially took me 30 hours from concept to finished product, with lots of swearing, crying, and late nights.
– A3 paper
– 2mm Craft Foam (Black and White are the easiest to paint over but any colour will do)
– FlexBond or Gesso Primer (Having used both – FlexBond is better)
– Silver Paint
– Craft Knife/Box Cutter
– Measuring Tape
– Elastic (Optional)
– Hot Glue
The first thing you want to do is start making a pattern. To do this you’ll need the A3 paper, ruler, measuring tape and pencils. For some of the arm it may seem excessive to be using A3 paper, but it makes it a whole lot easier in the end. Measure your wrist and add approx. 2cm to that measurement. Measure just below your elbow and again add 2cm. You want to do this so that there is room for you to slip the arm on and off. As I made the pattern, I widened the detailing in it by .5cm, making sure that the pieces could slot together with small gaps. This makes the arm more 3D.
Once you’ve cut out the paper patterns, you need to trace that onto your foam. I find that pinning the paper onto the foam makes it a lot easier to cut around it with the craft knife. It’s best to do this on a chopping board so you can cut through it easily. This has to be one of the most annoying and time consuming parts of the costume and I can guarantee you will almost cut yourself like ten times.
Now that you’ve got all the foam cut out, time to start piecing it together! I wrap a solid piece around my upper arm and forearm to start with. I then cut it to shape (if it’s a bit tacky and uneven that’s okay, you won’t see it!). This becomes your base. Once you’ve got that, lay it flat and lay the panels you just cut out about .5cm apart. Hot glue is your best friend when it comes to this, just be super careful when pressing pieces together.
Stop and breathe for a moment, grab some coffee and pat yourself on the back for making it this far. It’s about to get a whole lot harder (sort of). This is where the real formation begins. Wrap those flat pieces around your arm and begin to overlay the panels to join it all together. Don’t be afraid to cut it a bit to shape and also I would 10/10 recommend keeping it loose fitting. It’s more breathable and easier to get the arm on and off. Making something smaller is also a lot easier than making it bigger (I have learnt the hard way!).
With the top panel of the arm, you’ll need to cut it and glue it to shape it to your arm. It’ll be a tad boxy but it makes it look better than having it not sticking close to your body. Cut a triangle and glue it back together (it may take a few goes) and this will hopefully make it sit closer to your body. This top panel then gets attached to your upper arm piece and ta da! You’ve got the arm done! If it takes a few goes (I’ve made 4 of these and am still perfecting it) don’t get stressed. I’ve found techniques that work for me, don’t always work for others.
Priming time! I use FlexBond to prime, but watered down PVA glue (you need approx three layers of this) works as well, as does Gesso primer. FlexBond gives it more resistance to showing lines where the foam gets bent and compressed. Once the primer is dry, you can paint! I use a mix of silver and black to make the silver darker (you need to with most paints). Hairspray is the cheapest sealer you can find, or any sealer will work to make sure the paint doesn’t chip.
If you’re adding a star on (I made this for Infinity War so I haven’t), it’s best to print a star template the size you want and use it as a stencil. It saves soooo much time and hassle.
This step is also optional, but is recommended. I add a piece of elastic to the sides of the shoulder piece, big enough to loop over my body. This holds it even tighter and stops the upper arm piece from slipping around too much, as it can’t be skin tight for obvious reasons. It all depends on your costume composition, as I put my arm on before I put my shirt on. However, my shirt zips so it makes it easy to do this.
Cos-test time! And hopefully it all goes without a hiccup. Unfortunately with this arm, unless you use a thermoplastic, it’s gonna shift and move around and drive you up the wall a bit. I know I had this problem. However, it does look amazing in photos!
My biggest tip for this is to take your time. I did this arm in about six hours from start to finish, with it being the fourth one I’ve made. I am still frustrated by it, but that’s just cosplay for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as some things won’t work the first time – especially if you’re new to the cosplay scene. I’m also happy to answer any questions you have! You can find me on my cosplay page or on my Insta which are just below!
Jaclyn May Cosplay