How to Make Costumes & Props from Foam Tiles
How to Create Costumes & Props with Foam Tiles
Learn how to create foam tile costumes for professional-looking, show-stopping costumes and props – the ultra-affordable costume solution.
Who loves movies, tv shows, and video games? *raises hand*
Who would love to dress up as your favorite character or own the props/weapons used *raises hand*
Well, we are here to help you create your dream creation with affordable materials and resources and knowledge from a skilled costume expert.
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What can you make with foam tiles?
As someone who is highly interested in the vast world of cosplay and costuming, I’ve searched everywhere for materials to create my ideal costume. After hours of research, I found EVA foam (foam tiles) work really well to craft all sorts of costumes and props. The most common uses for foam tiles in costume and prop making include:
- Armor: You’re able to cut and shape foam into customized armor. For example, wrist guards, boot covers, and breastplates.
- Props: You’re able to cut and shape foam for all kinds of props, such as swords, guns, and shields.
- Helmets and Masks: Create a mask or helmet that fits you perfectly.
- Adding volume to wigs: If you want to add pigtails, for example, cut out a piece of foam, shape it with a heat gun, paint the foam to match the color of the wig, sew the foam into the cap of the wig, glue the wig hair onto the foam and boom! Your wig now has more volume.
Pros of Using Foam Tiles for Costumes and Props
- One of the cheapest options: Compared to using other materials, foam is cheap! Other products like Worbla can cost between $23-$86 per sheet, depending on what size you get. Foam ranges at about $1 per sq ft and most foam tiles are 2’x2’.
- Any user from beginner to advanced can work with them: Foam was the first material I used when starting to build props. It’s definitely one of the easiest materials to start with since its cheap and forgiving. As time goes on and I become more skilled, I still choose to work with foam. Not only can you make basic props with it, but you can layer the foam to add more intricate details to your piece.
- Adding texture using tools can make your work more 3D and realistic: I think the best part of foam is how incredibly easy it is to make your work look more realistic. Foam is so easy to carve different textures into. You can use tools such as a dremel, knife, wood burning tool and more. When using other materials, you need to paint the texture on, which isn’t very easy if you don’t understand how painting textures work. With foam, the texturing is easy and achievable for even a beginning costumer.
- Flexible and forgiving: When creating armor out of foam, flexibility is important. Especially around joints and if you are going to be doing a lot of moving.
- Lightweight: Having a material that’s light makes a big difference in how comfortable your costume or prop is to wear an/or carry.
- Safety: Another one of the best features of using foam is the safety aspect. When you go to a convention, they check your weapons to make sure they are not real. Having a foam sword vs a wood sword ensures your weapon is safe to take into a family oriented event.
- Smooth texture: The texture of materials is so important! Having a smooth base to start is ideal for most builds. You can always add texture if you need to.
Cons of Using Foam Tiles for Costumes and Props
- Less durable: Since foam is flexible, it has the potential to fall apart or break more easily than other materials.
- Paint: Before painting foam, it’s crucial to seal it. To seal foam, add 3-5 layers of mod podge, and use a couple of light layers of plastidip. This process seals the foam so when you apply the paint, the foam won’t soak it up.
- How durable is foam/foam armor? I would say it’s a 7 out of 10. With that being said, it depends on how it’s built and what the purpose is. If you’re making a costume for a little boy, he’s probably going to damage it since he will be very active while wearing it. If you are keeping your prop on a shelf or just wearing armor around for an event, it’s pretty durable. I just don’t suggest playing ninja in it. (from personal experiences haha)
- What tools do you need to work with foam? A utility knife and lots of blades! It’s a good idea to change your blade very frequently. When you’re cutting your foam, it should be similar to cutting through butter. A heat gun is great to shape your foam. A pen for tracing your stencil onto your foam. Adhesive to glue the pieces together. A sealant such as mod modge to seal the foam before you apply paint so the foam doesn’t absorb the paint. Finally, grabbing a can of the color of paint you want your masterpiece to be!
- What adhesives do you use for foam? It honestly depends on your build! Hot glue is the most common but you can also use contact cement.
- You mentioned adding texture, what tools would you use for that? Oh man, the possibilities are endless! An Exacto knife, for sure, to add cuts, scrapes, gashes, and wood texture, for example. You can break out a dremel and go to town with many different textures with that tool alone. You can also use a wood burner.
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Foam tile costume and prop ideas
Halo Spartan Armor
Everything on the suit is foam, besides the plastic eye shield so she can see. I watched her make some of this costume and a lot of it was done freehand. No stencils. She looked at a figure she had of Master Chief and modeled it off of that.
Genos’ Cyborg Arm
The arm and hand are both made of foam, For this build, the foam is a bit thinner than what was used to make the armor above. The thickness of foam is builder’s preference. Although I would say using thinner foam for the hand probably makes it easier to move. You can also add lights to your foam pieces for added flare.
Even dogs use foam for costumes! This shield is a perfect example of layering foam to get a really nice 3D effect.
The white part of the gun is made with foam tiles as well as a few smaller pieces. This is a good example of using a heat gun to shape and bend the foam to the right size.
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Best Foam Tiles for Costumes & Props
So, we offer a lot of foam tiles, and you might be confused on where to get started. Below are our top 3 foam tile choices for costumes and props.
Foam tiles are a versatile and affordable material for making your own costumes and props. I hope this inspires ya’ll to give foam tiles a try. Happy building/crafting! For more from KayPickle, check out her Facebook page.