Planning and Patterning Cosplay Weapons

Your character’s weapon is just as important to your cosplay as the clothes and armor themselves. Some characters are even more recognizable by their weapon than anything else they wear, and you want to make sure you get it just right. But how can you make sure your cosplay weapon looks as accurate as possible from the very start? All it takes is some careful prep and research.

In this post, we’re sharing our top tips for planning and patterning cosplay weapons and providing some examples of those tricks in real life. To see the weapon patterning process in action, check out our video from our How to Train Your Dragon tutorial series for a demonstration using Astrid’s axe. 

Cosplay Weapon Tips: Planning and Prep

Astrid armor and axe cosplay at C2E2 in Chicago 2019

  • Pick the right material(s): Your weapon is part of your cosplay, and that means you’ll be carrying it with you all day while you’re in costume. When you’re trying to get every detail just right, it can be easy to forget about the practical concerns of making your weapon, but the weight of your prop is incredibly important. When you’re planning your weapon building approach, make sure you balance achieving the right look with using materials that are light enough to carry around with you and realistic for you to work with. For Astrid’s axe, we stuck with a wooden dowel rod and insulation foam for our base to create a prop that was easy to carry but still looked authentic to the viking armor style.
  • Consider the size: We encourage every maker to start with reference photos of the character they’re designing, and the same goes for props and weapons, too. However, you shouldn’t just consider the shape and silhouette of your weapon, but also its relative size. By keeping the ratio of your weapon consistent compared to the size or height of your character, you’ll be able to decide how big your weapon actually needs to be. And returning to our first tip: the bigger the weapon, the lighter materials you’ll want to use to make it manageable. If your sword is as tall as you, you want to make sure it’s not as heavy as you are, too.
  • Always draw it first: Whether you’re using a pre-made pattern to outline your weapon or drawing it out yourself, it’s always best to put your design on paper first. Printing or drawing the shape of the weapon on paper to follow as you cut acts as a guide to keep your measurements consistent and correct. You’ll waste a lot less material if you know what to cut the first time, too. Creating a pattern can help you compare the sizes of different parts of your weapon, keep things balanced or symmetrical, and provide a guide to fall back on if something does go wrong. You’ll know exactly what you did the first time and can make changes to fix any earlier mistakes instead of just repeating them.

Cosplay Weapon Applications

While creating cosplay props and weapons is a multi-step process, starting with a clear plan of action (and some patterns to keep you on track) is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success in the long run. Your careful prep can help you visualize what your finished weapon will look like by breaking the design down into manageable shapes and parts that you can assemble and add detail to later. Our top tip is to start with as basic of a shape as possible to avoid overwhelming yourself. Big or small, any cosplay weapon will benefit from research and planning before you start cutting into your materials and sticking them together.