Shadinski_Cosplay and the Basics of Prop Making

Ever see an epic piece of cosplay armour or a super cool fantasy style weapon and wonder damn how can I create something like that?

Enter our guide on the ins and outs of cosplay props, Shayden, known as Shadinki_cosplay. Shayden dived headfirst into the world of prop construction in the year 2014, after seeing another cosplayers rendition of the Lazer Rifle from Fallout three. Shayden recounts to us “I want to physically have that”. Unfortunately, we can’t just pop down to your local nuclear apocalypse weapon store to scratch that itch, so he was on his own. Armed with cardboard, paper mache and determination, he spent three weeks between classes making it. 

Over time, Shayden grew to learn more and more about the greater cosplay and craft community through his research, and eventually made his first full build: an NCR ranger from Fallout: New Vegas that he wore to PAX 2014. From then on Shayden has continued to craft and create. He continues his cosplay journey through both personal builds and cosplay commissions, ranging from big complex builds to simple props, with a focus on prop commissions with a heavy focus on foam. 

Now, we have the pleasure of learning from Shayden's expertise as he shares insights on building your prop-making toolkit and embarking on this exciting journey. Shayden emphasizes the affordability of starting this hobby. "Cosplay is expensive," some say, but Shayden challenges this notion. With the right knowledge, tools, and materials, getting started can be surprisingly budget-friendly.


Craft knife -$6

Where would a cosplayer be without their trusty craft knife. It cuts. What more can we say? You’ll need it! Be sure to get replacement blades and change them regularly, as foam wears them out very fast. Using a dull or blunt craft knife makes it super tricky to cut cleanly, and will lead to a lot of frustration and messy edges, so be sure to keep an eye on your knife and change out your blades. 

Heat gun - $50 

Heat guns are used for shaping and treating foam. Give it a quick blast with the gun, form the shape, and let it cool, the foam will then maintain the shape a lot easier. Heat treating is another use for a heat gun: by running the heat over the foam, the porous surface of the foam closes up, which means your primers and paints won’t be soaked up by the foam as much, saving you materials and time! A final little trick with a heat gun is that it can be used for detailing your work. By scoring lines in the foam and heating it, this opens up the lines you’ve cut, and can make for an interesting and useful technique. 

Hot glue gun - $8 (small craft) - $27 (heavy duty) 

We know! Hot glue is sometimes paraded as the ‘easy way out’ or the ‘last minute crunch solution’, but believe us, hot glue is KEY in some elements of prop making. Hot glue is pretty self explanatory, it sticks things together. There are some areas where it shines over other adhesives such as contact cement. Hot glue is great for reinforcing seams, covering seams on the inside of props, and for some lower impact connections. Don’t count it out. 

Rotary tool / dremel - $55

Shayden describes this as ‘the most essential tool’. The rotary tool consists of a handle and a spinning end, which a number of different attachments can be swapped in and out from, creating a flexible tool that can do a huge number of things. Bevelling, sanding, detailing and cutting, its truly a jack-of-all-trades. Shadyens favourite attachments include the conical tip sander, which he uses to create holes, and the sanding drum, which when pulled up, can create interesting ‘cookie cutter’ shapes for details like rivets or screws. 


Explore the rest of Shaydens Prop making must haves in Edition 7 of Colin Magazine coming soon.