Drow Elf Armor Tutorial with Worbla and L200 Foam

Tutorial by Sayakat Cosplay

Photo credits:
Professional photos by @S1_price_lightworks on instagram,
Non-professional progress and costume pictures by myself

The armor for this costume was created using Worbla and L200 foam sponsored from cosplaysupplies.com, and other materials. Each piece was a combination of materials as per the needs of each piece.

Materials Used:

Roll of half inch L200
Roll of quarter inch L200
Jumbo roll of black worbla
Saran wrap
Masking tape
Barge cement
Super glue
Eva foam (4mm thickness)
Craft foam
Spray paint
Acrylic paint
Nylon strapping
D rings
Heat gun
Hot glue gun & high temp glue sticks
Box cutter and sharpener
Cutting mat/silicone baking mat

To pattern each piece, I either used saran wrap and masking tape to tape over the body part the armor was covering, or a free hand pattern drawn on newspaper. I use left over newspaper to pattern because it’s cheap and easily available. I used the tape and saran wrap method for my foot armor and lower leg armor. I created a free hand blueprint for the shoulder piece and arm piece using newspaper. The finger armor/claws were also a free hand blueprint.

Patterning is an important part of the process, as this is where the base shapes and fit are created. Take your time drawing and fitting the patterns, and figuring out where seam lines will be placed. This will make the armor building that much faster and stress free. After the pattern for each piece is made, I use the pattern to cut out the base pieces for the armor.

The quarter inch L200 served as the base for the foot armor, shoulder piece, and arm piece. The half-inch L200 served as the base for the leg armor and was used to create bevels and details for the other pieces. Each piece is a mixture of materials, built for comfort and the needs of each piece. The leg armor has almost no worbla in it for weight and ease of movement. The shoulder and arm are covered in worbla for durability.

I started with the foot armor, as I usually start at either the bottom of the costume or the top.  I patterned the armor, cut the pattern off my foot, and laid it flat on the foam to trace and cut out. When working with L200, be aware that the foam will dull your blade incredibly fast. To get nice clean cuts, you will need to sharpen your blade after every cut you do. I use a Kershaw sharpener, but any knife sharpener will work to sharpen your cutting blade. Also be sure to have a cutting mat or other cutting surface under the foam, as you will need to exert some pressure to cut the foam cleanly.

Once the two sides of the foot were cut out, I heat formed them using my heat gun. L200 is very light and squishy, but it does heat form rather nicely. It will shrink a small amount as the foam cells contract under heat, but once formed, the L200 does keep its shape quite well. I glued the pieces together with hot glue. I found that hot glue works the best for L200 to L200 bonds. I tested barge, super glue, and hot glue prior to construction to determine the best gluing strategy. Always test your adhesives with new materials, as what is best may be different. Barge contact cement and superglue do work, but the bond is not as tight as with hot glue and super glue only works on the flat and uncut top surface of L200.

Foot armor glued together, I freehanded my decorations onto the piece to determine what I wanted to place and where. I decided on a simple single scroll piece for each side, that I made from black worbla. I used worbla for this, as it is easy to make a beveled scroll easily from worbla. I cut a number of angled bevels from the half-inch foam at the start of the project to make bevels for the various armor pieces.  To cut a bevel, you need to hold your box cutter at a 45-degree angle to the cutting surface and cut one long continuous line down the edge of the foam. Turn the foam over and do the same thing to keep making bevels. I took the time and made all my bevels at the beginning so I would not need to keep making them throughout the project.

The last step of the foot armor was to glue on the scrolls and the bevels to the edge of the piece. This was also done with hot glue. For the shoulder piece I created the pattern, cut out two pieces of the quarter inch L200, and then covered those pieces in black worbla. I used the foam pieces to pattern out on the worbla how much I would need to cover each foam piece. I traced around the foam about an inch out from the foam to create a piece of worbla that was slightly larger than the foam so the worbla could be wrapped over the edge of the foam.

This is called the fold over method in terms of covering something in worbla rather than the sandwich method which totally encases a piece of foam in two pieces of worbla. Only the edges are folded over, creating one side entirely covered in worbla, and the inside is only a thin strip of worbla over the edge and the foam is exposed on the inside. I chose the fold over method to conserve materials and for weight reasons. Worbla armor can get heavy, but using that method and foam for the details kept the shoulder piece light and comfortable.

To cover foam in worbla, heat up the piece of worbla completely, and then start to fold the edges over the foam. Reheat the edges of the worbla as necessary to keep folding over until the whole piece is covered in worbla. If you notice bubbles under your worbla surface, you can heat where the bubble is present, and once the worbla is warm and malleable, poke a small hole with a straight pin and force the air out. This will remove the bubble and you’ll be left with a nice, flat worbla surface. You may have a small pinhole left, but you can fill that in at a later step. The two shoulder sides, once covered in worbla, were heated and the top seam was pressed together to bond the two sides together and create the final shoulder shape. The same process was done for the smaller lower shoulder section as well.

The details on the shoulder were created by first free hand drawing on the piece.  Then masking tape was laid over the design, the pattern was traced, and the tape was removed and taped to newspaper. The design was cut out and used to trace onto 4 mm eva foam. These foam pieces were glued to the shoulder along with L200 bevels using hot glue.

The arm armor construction was similar to the shoulder but instead of L200 bevels, I used some of the leftover worbla scraps to create all the bevel details on the arm, as I wanted the profile of the bevels a bit lower and smaller than the foam bevels that I had made. I added a small amount of worbla details along with a 4 mm eva foam detail.

The leg armor is made completely from L200 foam, using both the thicknesses. The base leg and knee pieces are made from half inch L200, and the details on the edges and the designs are cut from the quarter inch L200. The lower leg piece is actually 3 pieces of foam, the shin armor and two pieces for each knee to create a curved shape. The knee pieces were cut out, heat shaped, and glued together. The shin piece was cut out and heat formed until the final shape was achieved. The knee was hot glued to the shin, and then the edge details were glued down using hot glue. The decorative pieces were also glued using hot glue.

The finger armor was created by patterning out the armor on newspaper, and then tracing and cutting the patterns on craft foam. I also used the worbla fold over method for these pieces, as I didn’t want the fingers getting too thick or bulky by adding extra worbla. If you decide to not use worbla, be aware that craft foam on its own is not very sturdy, especially for parts that are on a highly mobile and tactile part of the body and may be damaged easily. That’s why for hand pieces, I will always cover the craft foam in worbla.

A trick that I have discovered for gluing finger armor down is to put on a latex or vinyl glove, and then put on the glove you will glue the armor to. You can then glue the finger armor down to the glove using super glue. Worbla/foam bond well to fabric using super glue, and the latex glove underneath prevents the glue from gluing to your hand. You can use hot glue or contact cement to glue armor to the hand, but hot glue can be painful and does not bond well, and contact cement is messy and can leave glue marks everywhere.

Once all the pieces are glued down, carefully pull the glove and armor off the latex glove underneath. Some of the latex glove might be stuck and break off the glove (such as the fingertips) this is fine and totally ok. Remove as much of the latex glove as you can, and if anything is left behind you can go back in with tweezers and pull the remaining bits out.

Voila, a nicely glued armored gauntlet.

Once everything was built, I dremeled all the rough edges and smoothed out the worbla trim. Worbla can be sanded, but it makes the material a bit rough, so make sure to prime appropriately to smooth out the rough surface. I filled in gaps and seams with quikseal caulk. Quikseal is water-soluble and non-toxic and a great gap filler. This is commonly used to fill gaps in foam, but can also be used to fill gaps in worbla as well. It does shrink as it dries, so a second and maybe third layer is necessary to level out the gaps completely. Once all the gaps are filled and everything is dremeled and sanded, I primed with plastidip. All pieces got primed with 3 layers of plastidip. I usually will also prime with filler primer, but due to some time constraints I did not. Plastidip will actually smooth out worbla surfaces on its own pretty well, but the surface will be a bit rougher than if it was primed with filler primer as well.

Once primed, all pieces were painted with a shimmer black spray paint. Once dry, all the trim was painted white as a base for the silver with acrylic paint, and then painted silver over the white. The armor was sealed with a matte sealing spray. The finger armor was primed and painted slightly differently as small pieces like them are difficult to spray paint/plastidip. Instead of plastidip, they were primed with modpodge, and then painted with black acrylic paint. A bit of antique gold rub and buff was buffed on to the tips and edges of the pieces for a bit of contrast color to the rest of the costume.

All pieces were completed with strapping, D rings, and velcro for attachments after everything was painted, and the shoulder was fully assembled at this point. The two pieces are attached with nylon strapping and hot glue, and there is a small amount of cushion foam inside the shoulder for comfort when wearing the piece.

In addition to the armor, I also modified a swimsuit, sewed the rest of the fabric pieces, and styled a lacefront wig from Arda Wigs.

For the photo shoot, I completely painted myself grey with the help of a friend in Vibe body paint (water based body paint) from European Body Art. This process took approximately 4 hours including the beauty makeup for the face and body shading and contouring.