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How To Make Cosplays Look Battleworn Using Paint And Tools

Jedimanda as Iden Versio from Star Wars
Jedimanda as Iden Versio from Star Wars

Ok, you’ve chosen the coolest character with the coolest armor. One problem, that character has been through some intense fictional battles and your armor must reflect that intensity. So instead of grabbing a medieval canon and lining up your armor within its sight, let’s learn some techniques that are much safer and easier to get those details. It’s time to get battle worn.

Products Used

Jedimanda and Michaels

First I am starting out with a sample piece of 4 mm foam with various details on top. Adhered with hot glue are various foam dowels from Micheals, which then I cut down further. I created indentions in the foam with a Dremel and various bits from coarse to smooth grit bits.

Jedimanda and Michaels

While using a Dremel or a wood burner tool, please wear a respirator or mask to protect yourself from fumes and foam dust.

I also created some bullet holes by using my Dremel. I used the carving bits to dill in holes. I’ll then added in more details with a wood burner tool around the edges. This technique makes the holes look like it cracked the armor.

Jedimanda and Michaels

Next I took the same tool and sliced into the sample foam edges on the foam dowels, organically, mimicking shards of material slicing into your armor. A little of this technique goes a long way. Don’t carve too many slices into your foam, you’ll want to keep the organic weathered, battle beaten look. Unless you want to look like your character stood in front of a firing squad, then slice that foam up!

Another technique that is a little more subtle is cutting into the foam directly with an art knife. Slicing into the foam will give you similar carvings but the width will be smaller versus if you made the details with a wood burner tool. Now, grab your heat gun and hit those new slices. You will see the carvings open up before your eyes. Be aware, if you adhered the foam pieces onto your foam with hot glue, the heat gun will reactive the gun and your foam bits could fall off. I recommend adhering foams together using super glue or contact cement if you know you will use your heat gun.

Jedimanda and Michaels

Using a Dremel, woodturner tool, and an art knife, you can achieve all kinds of battle worn and weathered looks on your foam armor. Now let’s get even more roughed up with some simple painting techniques.

Jedimanda and Michaels

First, seal your foam with several layers of a sealer, I used Plasti-dip, a sprayable rubber coating, in black. Next, I used a 4 layer base coat of Plaid FX in Pryo.

Now let’s dry brush on one weathering looks. You’ll want to use a fan brush. Just like the name suggests, we will put a minimum amount of paint on this brush and organically brush various strokes onto the foam. Brush in different directions and speeds. Even wipe off some paint to smear and lessen the pigment on the armor. This is a super fun technique and you can go crazy with it. I used PLAID FX in Saber Blue for this technique.

Jedimanda and Michaels
Jedimanda and Michaels
Jedimanda and Michaels

Next tip I have to show you is how to highlight and create depth with paint. Highlighting edges of battle worn scraps into the foam will help these details pop so much more. I used PLAID FX paint in Chainmail and Carbon. Using a small brush, preferably a liner brush, load up the black paint and dive that brush into the grooves you made. Next rinse that same brush and dip it into the silver. Find the edges and touch the silver paint to them. Use your finger to smear the paint to blend it more if needed.

Jedimanda and Michaels
Jedimanda and Michaels
Jedimanda and Michaels

These simple painting techniques will help you make your new battle worn armor stand out on any convention floor. Plus, you’ve achieved all these details without having to touch a battlefield.

Happy Cosplaying!

About the Author

Jedimanda avatar

Jedimanda

Contributor

Jedimanda is an author, costume maker, and unapologetic fangirl. With more than 8 years of cosplay experience under her belt, she competes and judges nationwide cosplay competitions. Recently, she wrote a book all about getting started in cosplay called, Creative Cosplay. Jedimanda is an epic seamstress with the cuts, scars, and glue gun burns to prove it. She tries to divide her time between her love of costume making, making cosplay tutorials on YouTube and building her SFX makeup portfolio with time still to pet her black cat Salem. When she’s not sewing her eyeballs out, she is a professional wig maker and works for Custom Wig Company.

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