Hello beautiful people!
So this was my first cosplay attempt EVER, Erza Scarlet’s Heart Kreuz Armor from the anime Fairy Tail. And since I got frustrated searching the internet for tutorials and found nothing useful, I promised myself to share my knowledge with everyone if the armor turned out to be a success!
Before we start I just want to point out that this was all a trial and error process, so there may be a few blunders I fixed along the way. I worked using proportions and not by accurate numbers, so you might have to measure things on yourselves using your own scale as a reference. And speaking of scales, I am 1.53m tall, pretty short! So consider that this armor was made according to my tiny size, and you might have to work out the proportions and make a few adjustments to create your own perfect fit.
I hope this step-by-step tutorial will be useful and help you all make a much better armor than mine.
And of course if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and I’ll be more than happy to help you with anything!
((DISCLAIMER: All rights to "Fairy Tail" the anime and the manga go to its creator Hiro Mashima and TV Tokio))
In this part we will go through the making of the: Chest piece.
Materials you will need:
- Butter paper sheets.
- Craft foam sheets size 50x50 cm, preferably white.
- Hot glue gun.
- 50 cm long zipper, preferably black.
- Metallic Silver & Black spray-paint.
- Red and Yellow Rotring ink + yellow acrylic paint.
- Thick black markers and paintbrushes.
- Scissors or cutter.
- Needle and thread.
Step 1: Making the Front Pattern
Starting with the front, on a piece of butter paper draw a rough outline of half your torso, you can ask someone to help you with this, simply by putting the butter paper on your chest and drawing the outline of your body with a pencil from the vertical center line that crosses your belly button to the left or right side of your chest, approximately a vertical line down the middle of the armpit, and make sure to indicate the following:
- Where the collar line should be
- Where the arm openings should be
- Shoulder width
- Waist line and width
- Breast size
After you have your rough outline, draw clear lines and curves of that half, cut out the pattern, which should look something like the first picture in orange. I transferred it on a piece of foam because the butter paper got too messy.
Now that you have your first half, the second half should only be a mirror of that. And to have that you should have the pattern start from the vertical center line exactly, but just to be cautious, adding a centimeter or two between both halves won’t kill you. It’s also better not to have the armor fitting EXACTLY to your body, it should be a bit bigger so that you’d be comfortable in it, or at least to be able to breathe! So on another piece of butter paper trace your pattern and then flip it over to the other side to mirror it, trace that and VOILA!! you have your front pattern! it should look something like the second picture after you move that pattern to the foam sheet and cut it out. I personally prefer using scissors to cut craft foam.
And after that we need to define the chest on the front so that the armor won't look flat. So for this step you want to hold the pattern you cut out on your chest (Since I don't have a dress form or a mannequin I used myself as a model, and I came out perfectly unharmed!!) and with your fingers you want to make a crease where the chest starts, and mark that line with a pencil or marker. It should look like two diagonal lines forming a triangle that goes from the center of the arm opening to the inside with its tip almost at the center of the chest area, both sides MUST have the same lines at the same positions otherwise the front will look uneven. You can see that line drawn roughly in the third picture.
Now what we are going to do with that triangle is cut the bottom line, pull it up on the top line and glue it in place. Repeat the same step for both sides and you should end up with a nice curved front as shown in pictures 4 slightly from the top and 5 from the side.
And there you have it! You just made the front of the chest-piece!
Step 2: Making the Back Pattern
The way we are going to make the back pattern is very similar to how we made the front. And we are going to reuse the same pattern we made earlier. Simple enough? Alright!!
Now we take our pattern, transfer it onto the foam sheet and mirror it like we did with the front, and cut both pieces out.
The next thing is to add the zipper from the back, because we need a simple easy and durable way to put on and take off the armor. You should use the kind that opens from the bottom like those in jackets or hoodies. (If you can't find a zipper then find an old jacket and take the seams out and you can use that zipper.) Also, a black zipper in the middle of the back is convenient because it also functions as a part of the armor design; Erza's armor has a straight vertical line down the center of the back, so there you go! Two birds with one stone!
Now we sew our foam pieces to both sides of the zipper. What's really nice about craft foam is that it's very soft and adjustable just like regular fabric except thicker and that thickness (Even a 2mm thick sheet like the ones I use) makes it possible to form it into a strong structure without using clay or gypsum to hold it in place. Now you can sew the zipper on manually without a sewing machine but it will take time to make those stitches perfect by hand. But I personally find it more fun to do by hand. After you've attached the zipper onto both pieces you will have something that looks like the second picture.
Now to give the back a nice curved shape so it won't look flat, we do the same crease method we did on the front part. Again, place the piece on your back, and with your fingers make a crease at the top center of your shoulders and have someone mark the resulting triangle for you. And also using the same way, cut the bottom line, pull it up to the top line and glue it using the hot glue gun. You see the crease in the third and fourth pictures.
Also in those pictures, you'll notice that the bottom part below the waist isn't as curved as the front one. That's because I decided to go with a straight cut down the waist so I folded the curves inside into a straight line and glued them in place, but you can just cut them off to form a straight line.
And now the back part is finished!
Step 3: Making the Base
Now that we have the front and back parts ready, all that's left is to glue them together!
To get a perfect fit, place both pieces on your chest, and put the shoulder straps from the front part on top of the ones of the back part and mark the line where they intersect. Make sure you give yourself a little room to breathe, don't pull the armor too tight around you or you won't be comfortable in it. Craft foam armors are very hot to wear so leaving a small area for air to enter would make it more comfortable to wear in all cases. Also, mark the line where the curve from the front part covers the back part on both sides. After you mark those lines use pins to pin the pieces together from the shoulders and the sides. This is to test the fit before you use hot glue on the pieces. If you use hot glue and mess up and want to remove it and try again, you will deform the foam, it will lose its thickness and shape and become thin and stretchy because the heat from the glue melts it. It can be fixed, it's not the end of the world, but it's best to avoid making those mistakes because in some cases you might have to redo the whole thing.. and you wouldn't want that now would you?
After you try it on for the first time and make sure it fits you comfortably and you can move your waist, arms, neck... etc. take it off and start hot-gluing it all together. Now make sure it's all as neat as possible, no glue out the seams. And don't worry if the shoulders look a bit sloppy if the layers aren't exactly fitting to each other because you can cut the extra pieces off, and that area will be covered by the pauldrons (shoulder pieces) that we will cover later on.
It should look something like those pictures when it's finished. Now don't worry about the chest looking flat like that, it will be fixed when we attach the collar. In this I made the neck opening a bit too wide, that goes back to drawing the pattern part, because I drew the shoulders too far away from the neck opening which in turn became too big so I ended up with a wide neck-line and eventually a wide collar. You can avoid that by making the neck-line small when you start drawing your own body pattern.
And look! your chest base is now done! Let's do a little dance to celebrate this historical moment!
Step 4: Making the Collar
To make the collar you simply need a rectangular peace of foam that you measure around your neck and has a width about the approximate height that you want. The collar should reach up to the bottom of your chin and maybe cover a little bit of it, it depends on how high you want it to be. The middle part of that rectangle should be curved in the same way as the neckline, and in the center there is a small pointy rectangular opening. Draw that and cut it out AFTER you attach the collar, because the curve will affect the lines you cut out. If you draw and cut out a perfect rectangle before you attach it, the opening will look more like a "V" shape than a vertical "I" shape. I did that before attaching it and had that situation, but you can fix it, you can fix anything! By just making another crease, cutting the bottom line and pulling it inside towards the center, that way you get what looks like a straight line, but if you detach it and look at the piece as a rectangle, the opening will look like an upside down "V".
And regarding measurements, I did that all based on proportions but it's important to have the center line as your reference.
Now for the back of the collar, I sewed a separate peace of foam to the zipper, then glued the back of the collar on that piece. Now I can tell you that this move was completely unnecessary and you can simply sew the back of the collar straight onto the zipper. It would save you an extra piece of foam, and who doesn't love an economical worker?
And notice how the chest curve fell into place and looks more defined now than the previous step. That's because the weight of the collar keeps it down in place, you just have to make sure the area where the chest starts is heavy enough and glued securely on the inside so that this area won't keep popping up.
The pictures show different sides of the chest armor, the structure is stable and it's holding up pretty well so far, and you might have noticed a few sketch lines defining the chest..
Yes! You guessed it!! Time for some detailing.
Step 5: Adding Details Pt.1
Okay! So for the details part, we are talking about 3D details. which include:
- An outline of the top of the collar
- An outline of the bottom of the collar
- An outline of the bottom of the chest
For each of those we will cut a strip of foam, straight for the first one and curved for the second and third details, and we will simply use hot glue to stick them in place. Now this was a trial and error process, so I would suggest that before you start cutting away and wasting all the foam you have, make a few drafts with butter paper and keep cutting them and trying them on until you get the perfect final template, and THEN cut the foam and glue it in place. The first picture shows the detail on the top of the collar.
The following 3 pictures show how the detail sits on the collar, in the fifth picture the detail at the bottom of the chest was added, now these are actually TWO curved strips of foam that meet in the center, they have a "U" shape on the front side and it reaches upwards towards the back, and in the last picture you see how the chest piece is supposed to sit on the body.
That moment of glory when you try on your own creation.. priceless!
Step 6: Adding Details Pt.2
So we've already added the details on the top and bottom of the collar and at the bottom of the chest by strips of foam.
Now we are going to make the cut details on the bottom of the chest. The bottom part is shaped in curves so we are going to cut curved shapes out of the bottom, for this part you will also rely on your sense of proportion. Now there are 3 curved shapes, one in the center (it's center is on the vertical center line of the armor) and two on the sides, one on each side (their center is on the vertical side line of the armor). The curve in the center is bigger than the two on the sides. So when you look at the front view you should see one big curve between two half curves. The back should be the same, but since I was too hasty to sew the zipper on it was pointless to take out the seams and re-sew it to the bottom layer of the armor. So I fixed that later on by just drawing the curves with the markers.
Make sure you make the curves identical, keep the cutouts you get, they will come in handy!
And to make the bottom layer of the armor, it is basically another rectangle, about 10-15 cm wide and goes all the way around the armor itself, underneath it.
So remember when I told you to keep the cutouts of the curves you made? Yes here is where they come in useful, you use them to trace the outlines of the curves again on the rectangle and cut them out as well, and the resulting peace will be glued underneath the armor. Just don't glue the ends of the rectangle together or you won't be able to put the armor back on!
but before you glue that piece on the armor, make another one like it, only longer. We will use that for the belt piece!
The pictures show how it should look like when you finish doing that.
And I can safely say that we have finished modeling the chest piece!! Now, time for some paint!
Step 7: Paint Away!
And now on to the painting!
I am relatively new to spray-paint, as I am to all of this.. But I can honestly say that I didn't screw it up as much as I thought I might!
So a few important tips for spray painting, keep the object at a distance when you spray it, you don't want it too close otherwise you'll end up with lumpy tear-drop paint that will look terrible. Also, get lots and lots of newspapers to cover the area you'll be painting in, preferably outdoors, since you don't want to inhale all that spray. Don't wear your favorite shirt because there is a big chance you will get dirty, gloves and goggles if it's windy because you will get paint in your eyes if the wind is mean enough!
Also, make sure to test the spray paint out on a small piece of foam just to check if it's safe to use, because some types of paint will just burn through it, and it's also a good idea to test the colors before you actually start to paint the real thing.
The colors I used for the armor are a silver chrome spray paint and a glossy black spray paint, those are the ones on the left and right. the one in the middle is a textured metallic paint which I used for the sword.
Before you start painting cover the black zipper with some duct tape or any kind of tape for that matter, just so it doesn't get painted in the process and it would still open and close properly.
So after laying newspapers everywhere, you place the armor and you spray it from a distance with the silver paint first on one side, wait a bit till it dries and turn it over to the other side and repeat that until you've painted it completely, don't forget to also paint the inside of the collar because that is going to show. After you do a coat or two of silver, walk even farther away and spray some black strokes, do NOT color it black.. this will just give the silver paint some darker points and this will give it more definition, try to hit the points where you think should show more shadow like underneath the chest, the creases on the back... etc.
The pictures show how it looks like after being left to dry.
Painting is really fun, and especially when you see that it's all coming along nicely, you start to feel a bit proud!
Step 8: Using Markers
One thing that separates reality from animation is the outlines. That's my theory on the subject, if you want to make something look cartoon-ish or anime-ish, give it a black outline.
And I swear by black markers. They can instantly make anything, and I mean ANYTHING, look awesome.
So the secret here, is the black outline!
And now that you know the great secret, wield your black markers and start outlining every single line, every single detail on that chest piece, fill in the thickness of the foam itself, the edges, everything! It will look drastically different once you are done with it, but be slow and be careful, you cannot afford to make mistakes now because one stray line would be fatal... Black marker is permanent, and you will mess up the paint job if it goes wrong.
Check out the pictures and see for yourselves!
Step 9: Painting the Logo
The colors I used (in the picture) were Rotring colored ink and those are incredible. Flawless fills, they show no strokes, they look printed and give an amazing glossy finish. Acrylic paint is generally a bad idea since the brush strokes will show, but I only used that for the yellow cross part and I'll explain that in detail below. You see also a small color sample next to each one, to know what shade of red or yellow you should be searching for, Those are the basic primary colors, nothing fancy.
First, I recommend drawing the logo on paper then cutting it and tracing it onto the armor like a pattern, which is the safest option if you don't want to risk ruining the paint on the armor. Foam takes pencil strokes very badly, since it's really soft and anything leaves permanent traces in it. Pictures 3, 4, 5 show you that process.
After you've drawn the logo on paper, cut it and traced it on the armor, you want to start coloring!
I started with the red. Using red Rotring ink and a paintbrush, I painted it directly on the colored foam, since what I had was a bright red and I was aiming for a darker color, the foam will absorb the ink giving a beautiful dark red color. Give it as many coats as you desire, the more the better, just be careful, ink can be tricky, you shouldn't let it dry on your watch, finish painting the whole thing at one time, otherwise you'll have ugly smudges and you don't want that. Even though this case isn't as drastic on foam as it is on paper, one should still be very cautious. So take your time with it if you want it to turn out perfect.
After the red part is dry, I started painting the yellow cross with yellow acrylic paint. Now as I mentioned before, acrylic paint is a terrible choice for this particular job because it shows clear brush strokes and what we want is a smooth fill color. You can see that clearly in pictures 6, 7 how the brush strokes appear when using acrylic paint. So do as many coats as you can without leaving clear traces of the brush strokes with the acrylic paint and when that is dry attack it mercilessly with some yellow Rotring ink! keep painting and painting until you can't see any brush strokes. And moreover, the yellow ink above the acrylic base will give it a nice bright yellow color with a beautiful glossy finish.
After the paint is all dry, yes, you guessed it.. MARKERS!!
So grab your black marker and start outlining the drawings. That part should come in handy if you messed up the outlines while painting or got a few sloppy edges, thick black outlines will hide all that and give it all a perfect final look.
The last 2 pictures show you what the final product should look like.
And, dare I say it, you are DONE!! You have finished making the chest piece!! WELL DONE! I knew you could do it, I had faith in you all along!!
Now stand back, admire your work, and let's move on to the next piece of the armor.
Step 10: Conclusion
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, it was fun for me to make this armor and I hope it would be the same for all the brave souls who attempt it.
But one last piece of advice, hard work pays off. This will be exhausting and time consuming and at times even frustrating. But if you want it to look perfect you have to give it all the effort and time you can possibly afford, and when you see your final result, you will be blown away!
Again, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( email@example.com )
The first part of the armor is done, now let's move on to the next one!
Lots of love,
First Prize in the
Halloween Props Contest