How to Make Foam Armour

Written by robert boumis
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How to Make Foam Armour
This type of armour crafting can be used for science fiction, fantasy, or historical armour. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

There are many reasons to make foam armour. You might want a light but convincing suit for a science fiction convention, for example. Or you may need a costume for a low-budget movie. Whatever the reason, this technique produces cheap, plausible armour. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even harden the armour enough for use in paintball tournaments. Be sure and use patience, however, as the armour's appearance will reflect the amount of effort you put into its creation.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sketch pad
  • Pencils
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Craft foam
  • Art scalpel
  • Heat gun or hair dryer on the highest setting
  • Straps, belts, buckles
  • Hot glue gun
  • Rotary tool
  • Mod Podge
  • Fibreglass resin or liquid Kevlar (optional)
  • Spraypaint

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  1. 1

    Design your armour. Consider consulting science fiction/fantasy films, books and video games for design ideas. If you can sketch, try doing concept artwork before creating your armour.

  2. 2

    Make a mock-up of your armour out of poster board. Use this step to size your armour. You'll want to ensure that you or your model can move effectively when wearing it.

  3. 3

    Use your poster board pieces as stencils. Place the stencils on the craft foam and mark out your armour pieces. Cut the pieces out with your art scalpel.

  4. 4

    Curve any pieces of armour that need to have a curved shape. Patiently heat these pieces with your heat gun. Make sure not to overheat the foam, however. Apply heat only long enough to cause the foam to become flexible. When that happens, curve the pieces to fit around your body.

  5. 5

    Attach straps, buckles and belts to hold the armour in place. Once they look right, hot glue these components in place.

  6. 6

    Add additional foam accent pieces. You can bevel the edges with your Dremel tool, or add scratches to "distress" the armour and make it look more realistic and lived-in.

  7. 7

    Seal your armour. The cheapest, safest way to do this is with Mod Podge, a product available at craft stores. Apply several coats. Fibreglass resin or liquid Kevlar can be used, but require more safety precautions.

  8. 8

    Paint your armour. It's best to add at least one undercoat before applying the colour. Then, if desired, add additional details like stripes of camouflage patterns.

  9. 9

    Distress your armour by spraying metallic spray paint on a piece of paper towel and wiping it across your armour. This makes it look like the armour is metallic underneath and that wear and tear has exposed some of the metal.

Tips and warnings

  • Craft foam is available at art supply stores or hardware stores.
  • Heated art scalpels that attach to soldering guns work best.
  • Mod Podge is available at craft stores.
  • Fibreglass resin or liquid Kevlar is available from online plastic suppliers.
  • Spraypaint colours will vary based on your design.
  • To make your armour harder, try sealing it with liquid fibreglass or liquid Kevlar. You could potentially make it hard enough to use for paintball or airsoft with this technique.
  • Even if you use liquid Kevlar on the armour, it will not be bulletproof. Real Kevlar armour is made from a completely different process.
  • Some armour designs recommend reinforcing with fibreglass fibres soaked in liquid fibreglass or liquid Kevlar. If you use fibreglass fibres, wear a full respirator, eye protection and skin protection. Fibreglass is not good for your lungs.

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