How to Make Fantasy Armor

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There are many different ways to make armor, most of them expensive, time-consuming and requiring a skill set that many costume makers do not have. In addition to these challenges, armor in fantasy costumes is often highly stylized, with exaggerated shapes and unrealistic proportions that might be difficult reproducing in traditional materials. However, you don't need to give up on your dream costume. You can create the look of fantasy armor with prop replicas and a little paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference pictures
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Dressform
  • Trash bags
  • Pre-made papier mache paste
  • Muslin
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Wonderflex
  • Stovetop pot
  • Bucket
  • Tongs
  • Gesso
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear sealer
  • Gather together reference images of the fantasy costume you want to reproduce, or images that inspire you to invent your own creation.

  • Draw out your designs on paper from as many different angles as possible. Keep in mind that you will need to attach the armor to your costume in some way, so don't design pieces that are too large to wear or may not hold together on a real person.

  • Determine the dimensions of each separate piece of armor. Separate shoulder pads from chest plates, gauntlets from gloves, and thigh pieces from shin pieces. You will need to actually move in your costume, so make sure there is a separation at each part of your body that bends.

  • Adjust a dressform to your size and cover it with plastic trash bags. If you don't have a dressform, you can make a duct tape dummy by wearing old clothes and wrapping duct tape around your body. Cut the clothes off and stuff the dummy with polyester fiberfill, then tape the dummy closed.

  • Mix your papier mache paste and dip strips of newspaper into it. Decide which armor piece you want to start with, then begin layering the wet newspaper strips directly onto your dressform. For example, if you want to sculpt a shoulder pauldron, layer papier mache over the shoulder.

  • Build up the layers of papier mache until you have the general shape and size you want in your armor pieces. Use your sketches, but focus only on the general shape. It does not have to be precise. Let the papier mache dry completely.

  • Cover each papier mache template with muslin fabric. Trace the shape of the templates onto the muslin, creating a flat pattern. Cut out the patterns.

  • Lay the patterns over a sheet of Wonderflex and cut around them, making Wonderflex copies of each pattern.

  • Fill a large cooking pot with water and boil it, then transfer the water to a large bucket.

  • Choose a piece of Wonderflex and add it to the bucket. After 1 minute, remove the Wonderflex with a pair of tongs and dry it with a towel. The material cools quickly and can be handled almost right away.

  • Smooth the warm Wonderflex over its corresponding template, forming it to the shape. Leave it there to cool. Repeat Steps 7 through 9 on the other Wonderflex pieces.

  • Remove each plastic armor piece from the templates and coat their surfaces with gesso. Once the gesso is dry, sand it for a smoother surface.

  • Coat the armor with clear sealer. Once dry, paint your new fantasy armor in any acrylic paint colors you like.

  • Attach the armor to your body. You have a few different options. The simplest is to drill holes in the armor and string cording through them to create ties. You can also glue straps to the inside of each piece instead.

References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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