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Paper Mache Armor and Prop Tutorial by FireLilyCosplay Paper Mache Armor and Prop Tutorial by FireLilyCosplay
At last, the long awaited Paper Mache Armor and Prop Tutorial!

I've had a lot of practice with this method, and this is the formula that works best for me, so I hope it can help you build your armor and props with ease. I really enjoy working with my hands and making armor pieces using various methods, so please don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any - I'll be glad to answer them!

Tutorial and all images therein are Copyright Fire Lily and FireLilyCosplay.com.
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Given 2012-01-15
:iconcrestfallenicarus:
CrestfallenIcarus Featured By Owner 12 hours ago  Hobbyist General Artist
loving the tutorial:D (Big Grin), im building shinji's plugsuit currently and i was wondering if you had any thoughts on the steps i should take in order to make it as accurate as possible(like giving it a light shine or something) anything is very much appreciated!
Reply
:iconfrayaldernari:
FrayAldernari Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2015  Student General Artist
Hello! This is great for getting a smooth outcome, thank you! I do have a question though. I am currently making Maka's Scythe (it looks like this i.imgur.com/TXBNm.jpg) and I have completed everything except paper-macheing (is this a word XD) the cardboard blade and spray painting.

My goal is to cover the blade in such a way that it will appear totally smooth and metal-like. So my question is if the method you describe here was used on the blade, would it appear too thick? Would it be possible to only do 2 layers of paper mache and one layer of gesso and get the same effect? 

Basically, what is the best way to make a ridiculously large cardboard blade appear smooth when painted. Thank you for your time! 
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
The easiest way would be to make the blade from plastic. You can use ABS plastic sheeting, Transparent Worbla, or something similar. Glue it to your base and then paint it. That's the best way to get the smoothest surface for the blade.

If you want to use paper mache, you MUST use a minimum of 5-6 layers of gesso for sanding purposes to get a smooth enough surface. And the paper mache is what adds strength, so I wouldn't skimp on those layers, either.
Reply
:iconfrayaldernari:
FrayAldernari Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2015  Student General Artist
Unfortunately I have already completed the blade with cardboard, so I will have to go the paper mache route. I did some experimenting and you are right, I will have to use a lot of gesso. Thank you for the advice!
Reply
:iconfrostskadet:
Frostskadet Featured By Owner May 29, 2015
How hard is it once it is all dry? Like in terms of impact resistance? I'm worried about cracking my armor pieces if i bump into something.
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner May 30, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
They take bumps and jostling very well. You should worry more about sharp edges, which will indent the armor. But dull impacts are no problem.
Reply
:iconoceanpirate:
OceanPirate Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Would a few layers of acrylic paint instead of Gesso work too? Where I live they don't have Gesso sadly.
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No. The more layers of paint you put on, they more likely they are to crack. Try using wood glue instead or filler primer. Both are sandable.
Reply
:iconoceanpirate:
OceanPirate Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hm,so....A few layers of paper mache and then a few layers of woodglue,then sand it?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yes. And you may need to add more wood glue depending on how smooth you need it.
Reply
:iconkuro-eri:
Kuro-Eri Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey :) just wondering, im making Axels chakrams from Kingdom Hearts. I was planning on making them using papier mache pulp and normal papier mache, maybe also some of that plaster you use for broken bones :/ I can't use Styrofoam rings and I dont like the look of it. Would it work??
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm not sure what you're asking...? You need a base for the papier mache - you can't just use it alone or it will be too likely to break. At least use wire or something as a skeletal support.
Reply
:iconkuro-eri:
Kuro-Eri Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry if Im talking gibberish :3 but I got the answer I needed so thnx!
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm so glad :)
Reply
:iconelenna-huntress:
Elenna-Huntress Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2014
Shoulder armor without destroying bank accounts, sanity, hands, or brains!
Reply
:iconalternitiveuniverse:
AlternitiveUniverse Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
This is amazing.
Reply
:iconredsworld:
Redsworld Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014  Student Digital Artist
This is probably a stupid question but, do you need to put the paper mache part or can you just use tape and gesso?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would not recommend Gessoing directly over tape (it doesn't suit my preferences), but you are welcome to try! 
Reply
:iconredsworld:
Redsworld Featured By Owner Edited Sep 13, 2014  Student Digital Artist
yea thanks, tried it already, I wouldn't recommend it either...(⌒_⌒; )
Reply
:iconserephent:
serephent Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I am trying to figure out how to make a rather complicated staff and am at a loss. I am making the FFXIV WHM Zenith staff and the dang thing has 4 wings coming from the main piece and the staff itself looks like it is marble. On top of which, I have to be able to travel with it. Do you have any recommendations?

www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi…; <---staff
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:iconmmaski-sukai:
mmaski-sukai Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist
This is amazing!!
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you!
Reply
:iconmmaski-sukai:
mmaski-sukai Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Hobbyist
you are very welcomed
Reply
:iconhollyleaf9797:
HollyLeaf9797 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What brand of Gesso do you use?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Liquitex. Brand doesn't really matter to me since it's just used on a prop - I get whatever is most cost effective.
Reply
:icondracona-wynne-hale:
Dracona-Wynne-Hale Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Would this stand up to whacking with pool noodle swords reinforced with fiberglass?
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I assume so?  I've never tried, so I'm not the best to ask!
Reply
:iconkorukikonaru:
KorukiKonaru Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014
I will have to keep this in mind.
Reply
:iconmewkimikochan:
mewkimikochan Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What did you use for the straps?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
For which piece - the Athena Pauldron? I made straps from vinyl, but I've also used leather, webbing, and thick cotton.
Reply
:iconla-souffrance:
LA-Souffrance Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Student General Artist
just want I need! ty ^^
Reply
:iconh-stallionwolf:
H-StallionWolf Featured By Owner May 16, 2014  Student Digital Artist
hmmmm, i got a question:

Isn't chipboard sturdy and flexible at a smal point? I'm trying to make two bracelet like armor pieces for my forearms and my doubt whether i should use chip board or printed cardboard or duplex card stock?
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yes!  Chip board is awesome.  I use it for bracelets, head pieces, helmets, etc all the time. 
Reply
:iconh-stallionwolf:
H-StallionWolf Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Student Digital Artist
HMMM I tried chipboard and it broke easily, so i went with duplex card stock. now i'm at the 4th layer of gesso and it's coming up ok
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
The stuff I use is the cardboard from the backs of paper pads and notebooks and such.  You can also use poster board or cardboard cereal boxes.  But I'm glad the card stock worked :D
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:iconh-stallionwolf:
H-StallionWolf Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Student Digital Artist
yeah at first the card stock wasn't staying in place but after mummifying it with isolation tape and papermache it, it turned out good (luckily i had the bracelt with styrofoam balls to keep it in shape)
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:iconthestrategos:
TheStrategos Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014
Cool :D !
Reply
:iconwhitelucke:
WhiteLucke Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
THIS HELPS SO MUCH THANK YOU
Reply
:iconjabberbabywocky645:
JabberBabyWocky645 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This is awesome! Thank you for the tutorial, it will be very helpful!
Reply
:iconmikaraxxvocaloidfanx:
MikaraXXVocaloidFanX Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013
I have a quick question, for the chip board is it usually sold in craft stores? Or where can I find it? This is a very helpful tutorial!
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I usually get it off the back of note pads and such.  I think they sell it at Art stores like Dick Blick's, but not so much at craft stores.  Though you can buy card stock or heavy cardboard.
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:iconmikaraxxvocaloidfanx:
Thank you that's really helpful! :)
Reply
:iconstardust-skies:
Stardust-skies Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I cannot wait to try this out next time! Thank you! Love 
Reply
:iconnorthernkaled:
Northernkaled Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Just what I need thank you.
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Welcome!
Reply
:iconsnow557:
Snow557 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013
How sturdy is this? I was just wondering because I wanted to make Edward Elric's automail arm and leg and all that. >.>
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:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Pretty sturdy. I wouldn't recommend LARPing in it or SCA fights, but it will hold up well. It can also be heavy. Maybe look into using Sintra or Wonderflex? Much lighter and easier to work with.
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:iconsnow557:
Snow557 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013
Oh! Thanks so much! I just don't know how to work with Wonderflex and I've never heard of Sintra. This will be the first thing I'll make and I wanted to do something I've done before. (Such as Paper Mache Lol.) But I'll certainly try it out! If I do end up using this idea, I'll certainly link some pics!
Reply
:iconfirelilycosplay:
FireLilyCosplay Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I would love to see!
Reply
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