Introduction: Working With Foam: Tips and Tricks - Clean Detailing

About: A wellington based cosplayer and propmaker well versed in foamsmithing and creating fantastic weapons, accessories, clothes and armours from the medium of foam. Running weekly Tips and Tricks posts and sharin…

As we catch up with the weekly posts, this instructable looks at the techniques used to adhere foam details cleanly without lots of mess or glue being spread over the entire project. This can be unsightly and affect the final paintjob.

These instructables are designed to be simple and informative, and the skills can be transfered easily across to other mediums. If you have any questions about the tips or any suggestions or comments on tips you'd like to see, I'd be very interested in hearing them.

Step 1: What You Will Need

- Your base shape/ product which you will be adding your details onto.

- Masking Tape and Paper to create your detail pattern (showcased in Tips and Tricks: Detail Templating)

- Dressmakers Pins

- Contact Cement

- Scrap foam pieces.

Step 2: Making Your Template

First thing you need to do is get your base shape, and using the methods showcased in the previous Tips and Tricks post, work out your detail design and put this onto a template to transfer onto foam. This is explained in Tips and Tricks: Detail Templating and Tips and Tricks: Layering on Curves.

The short version of this, however, is:
- layer over the area you are adding details in masking tape, draw on your detail design and then peel this off.
- Apply the masking tape to paper to give it some rigididy, straighten up and neaten the design up and then cut it out to form your template.

Now you are ready to apply this to foam.

Step 3:

Using the dress making pins secure the template to foam to a thickness of your choice. Remember to take into account the thickness of the foam when you are making your template. In this example we are using 2mm foam.

With the detail layer secure, trace the design onto your foam.

Then simply remove the pins and the template and cut out your foam detailing layer.

Your foam detail layer is now complete and ready to be transferred onto your prop or armour.

Step 4: Outlining the Prop

Now to get this detail transferred onto the prop cleanly without glue everywhere its a fairly simple process:

- Take your dress making pins and pin the detail layer into place.

- Trace around your detail layer

- Unpin your detail layer

You now have the confines of where you can apply your contact cement.

Step 5: Applying Contact Cement

So those scraps of foam you needed? This is where you use them

I cut the scraps to match the width of the various sections on the detail layer, so you can apply the contact cement nice and neatly without going outside the lines.

Remember, with contact cement, it needs to be applied to both the prop and the layers, and thinly. "Less is more" really is the case with this stuff. Hence using foam scraps that match the width of the traced detail layer on the prop so you can get even application.

Step 6: Sticking Down the Detail Layer

As simple as this next bit is, it requires patience. And a steady hand. Once contact adhesive sticks it wont come apart very easily.

Wait a few minutes for the contact adhesive to become very lightly tacky, if at all. if any residue stays on your finger when testing it, its still too wet and wont stick properly.

Take your detail layer and start applying it to your prop in between the traced lines, taking care not to stretch it or mis-align it too much.

Do this slowly, bit by bit, making sure that the layer and prop dont touch each other except for where you are focusing on. (This can be done by putting your hand in the way, or using greaseproof paper)

Step 7: Step Back and Admire Your Work

Once you have applied your layer press it down and make sure its properly contacted the prop and stuck down, and then you are done!

Step back, and look at your nice, clean, creation!

All ready for priming and painting.