This is a quick rundown of the common materials I use for my stuff. There will be photos, a quick explanation of how I generally use them, and links to where you can purchase them online, or stores I generally get them from. Enjoy!
If you're looking for a specific material, here's a list of what's here:
- Foam Board/Foamcore
- Finishing Products (Paint & Sealing coats)
- Spackling Paste
- Misc. Things you can find on Amazon, that are pretty useful (really descriptive, I know, but it's really kinda random stuff)
Foamies are a type of closed-cell foam that I use for a bunch of stuff including armor, small props, and details on projects. This stuff is great because it's lightweight, comes in different thicknesses and colors, and you can even get it with an adhesive back to simplify your projects. A word of caution though, sometimes the adhesive back is janky and doesn't stick very well so be careful with that.
You can use foamies for just about everything, including using them as a base for worbla. If you're going to be painting your foamies, you want to seal them very well first using primer, shellac, mod podge, or something similar, so that you have a smooth layer to paint on. You also need to make sure that you're using a thick enough foamie for whatever you're making. For armor and the like, it'll have to be thicker (3-5mm) so that it's stronger and less likely to tear. If you're just using it for raised details on a prop, you can use the thinner (2mm) sheets.
Haar's Armor and Godot's mask are both made from foamies. For both of them, I used poser board on one side to strengthen the foam and help it to hold its shape. I also used several layers of Mod Podge to seal the foam before painting it.
Foamies can be bought at pretty much any craft store. I generally get mine at Joann Fabrics. They have a good selection of colors, thicknesses, and different size sheets. You can also find the adhesive-backed ones there. I imagine the same is true at most craft stores. You can also find them online on Amazon.
Foam Board / Foamcore
You've seem me make a lot of stuff out of foam board lately, and it's become my favorite crafting material. It's lightweight; inexpensive; easy to cut, sand, and finish; and relatively sturdy. When using foamcore board, you can easily draw on the shapes you need and cut them out with an X-acto knife. You can also find foamcore board with a black core, though it's generally a bit more expensive and the black core is pretty moot when you're going to be sealing it and painting over it anyway.
Foamcore is easy to bevel without needing any power tools like you would to bevel wood, so it's good for making blades and similar items. The downfall of foamcore is it's sturdiness. For long, thin, pieces, you'll want to use at least 2-3 layers of foamcore to make sure it won't bend and snap.
When working with foamcore, you'll want to make sure the edges are well sealed or you may have some foam melt away when you use spray paint and some types of adhesives. I recommend spackling paste for the edges because it dries hard and can easily be sanded for a smooth edge.
I've used foamcore for lots of projects, including Mika and Yuu's swords, the Bloodborne blunderbuss, and the Speaker's helmet. As you can see, it's a pretty versatile building material that can be used to acheve many different shapes when layered together.
Foamcore can be purchased at almost any craft store. I usually get mine at Joann Fabrics because coupons.
Here's a link to the type I usually get on Amazon.
Quickly becoming my favorite crafting material out there, worbla is a plastic sheet that can be shaped when heated and holds its shape once cooled. It is one of the most versatile cosplay materials out there because it is generally easy to work with, can be used in conjunction with other materials, is self-adhesive when hot, can fit to multi-directional curves, shows detail well, is unaffected by water, is quite durable, and can remain semi-flexible depending on the base material (if a base material is used).
I almost always create a base for the worbla out of foamies, compressed paperboard, or some other materials, then heat the worbla over it to add stability, and create a smooth, cohesive outer layer so there's no chance of details detaching themselves from your cosplay.
Be careful when you're heating your worbla because it has to be pretty hot before it hits its maximum flexibility. If you're pressing details into your worbla, you will probably want to use an object rather than your fingers (I often use a popsicle stick), or dip your fingers in cold water first to keep from getting burned (having the water around can be a good idea too in case you do burn yourself).
Worbla is textured so if you're wanting a sooth finish, it will take multiple iterations of priming and sanding to achieve a smooth surface. Spray shellac can also help over the priming to help achieve a smoother surface.
My dragon priest and Summer Rose masks were both done in worbla, along with smaller details on a number of other recent props. For all of my projects thus far, I've used a base material along with the worbla, though it is possible to use worbla on its own.
Worbla can be purchased online (I have yet to find it locally), I usually order mine through CosplaySupplies.com.
Ok, so this is a pretty sprawling list of things, but it's all stuff I've used and pretty much swear by. You'll find a quick overview of each thing with some photos and where to buy them.
I use pretty much regular acrylic paint for all of my projects, and I use it for coloration, weathering, highlighting, metallics. You name it, there's probably an acrylic out there than can do the trick for you. As for what brand to use, I generally go with Americana or FolkArt acrylics that come in little 2oz. bottles like these. You can purchase them online at Amazon.com, but I'd recommend actually going to your local craft store so you can actually see and compare your colors.
As far as important colors go, black is obviously going to be important. I use it for dimensional painting (highlighting and lowlighting areas to bring out the shapes), as well as for weathering props that require it.
As for the metallic acrylic paints I use, I mostly go with the Dazzling Metallics brand, with the exception of Gunmetal Grey, which I've only been able to find in the FolkArt brand.
Last but not least, we have the spraypaint. Remember that a lot of foams will react and may even dissolve if you apply spraypaint to them, so make sure to use at least a few sealing coats first! I generally use the Rustoleum "Painter's Touch" spraypaint, because it's self-priming and covers pretty well, not to mention has a decent selection of colors. Again, you can find these on Amazon.com, but I'd recommend going to either your craft store or hardware store (Home Depot carries this brand, I expect other major stores do too), so you have the best estimation on color.
As I said before, most foam, including foamcore board foam, reacts and sometimes dissolves when you apply spraypaint, so if you're planning on spraying any of your project, you'll need to have some sealing coats on there or you'll ruin your work. My two go-to products are Matte Mod Podge and Shellac. I generally use the spray shellac for projects that I want a high gloss finish to (like gems and similar items), or for things with thinner paper layers that are likely to wrinkle when they get wet. I use Mod Podge for more general purposes, it is my bread-and-butter sealer that I use for pretty much everything. I will usually put a layer over the entire finished product on most of my props to give them a nice, clean look as well as a good protective coating; in addition you end up with a velvet sheen, much less glossy than the shellac, but not totally flat like most metallic paints. Be aware that there are some spraypaints that resist the topcoat, so you'll want to read the back of the can to see if you should or not (metallics often recommend against a clear coat). If you still want to use a top ocat of mod podge to reduce the glossiness or just to have a solid seal coat, you'll likely have to do several layers before you'll get an even coat.
Spackling paste is important when you're using foamcore or open cell foam (styrofoam). You'll want to use it on any edges where the foam is exposed. It can then be sanded smooth for a nice surface that also protects the foam. I use DAP cause they make nice products and it works for me. You can find it at any hardware store or on Amazon!
Here's a bunch of other small, useful things with links of where you can purchase them on Amazon.