Tutorial: How to Create Claws for Costumes

how to make claws

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Related Tutorial:

How to Make Moveable Talons

how to make talons

You can attach claws directly to your fingernails for a beast-like effect. The type of claws you make will depend on the overall look you’re going for and the amount of work you want to put into the claws.

Nail claws are actually fairly easy to create. However, if you’re not used to wearing long nails, they may get in the way of holding things. So make sure you’re ready for that when you wear them.

claws attached to nails

Polymer clay claws 

Clay claws are fairly easy to make since all you really need is some polymer clay and some form of adhesive. The goal here is to create claws that you can attach directly to your nails and then remove them after you’re finished wearing the costume. Polymer clay comes in just about any color you can think of, but you can also paint once it’s hardened to create any kind of effect you want.

This method is great for creating claws for many feral characters that have unruly nails, non-human character races (such as dragonborn characters or some tieflings), or for human forms of beast characters (such as pokemon gijinka costumes). Evil mages and witches can also look great with crazy claws as part of their costumes. 

Supplies needed: 

shaping clay
Shape your clay claws around an acrylic nail so that you can use both hands when molding.
adding varnish
Paint a layer of varnish on the claws to make them shiny.
gluing the claws to your fingers
Apply eyelash glue or spirit gum to both the claw and your nail surface. What for the adhesive to get tacky (30 seconds) them press the nails into place.
  1. Use acrylic nails as the base, and shape a small amount of polymer clay around the nails. You may need to knead the clay for a bit to soften it. You can also use your own nails if you prefer. I find it easier to use an acrylic nail as the base so that I can use both hands when molding the clay. The nail base also makes it easier to apply the nails later on.
  2. Bake the polymer clay. Most brands of polymer clay are baked at a fairly low temperature (around 275ºF or 135ºC). Acrylic is a fairly durable plastic and shouldn’t melt until it reaches about 320ºF, so in most cases, the claws can be baked in the oven with the acrylic nail base. However, it’s best to test this out first to be sure. If the acrylic nails melt in the test, you can remove them and glue them back in after the clay has baked and hardened.
  3. Add a glaze to the clay nails. Polymer clay naturally has a matte, dull surface. To create a shiny claw effect, apply a polymer clay glaze with a soft brush. You can also take this opportunity to paint your claws.
  4. Use eyelash glue or spirit gum to attach the nails. After your nails are finished, you can attach them directly to your fingernails. Do NOT use the nail glue that comes with acrylic nails (unless you want the claws to stay on for a couple of weeks). Instead, you’ll want to use a less permanent adhesive. Spirit gum is typically what’s used to adhere prosthetics to the body, but you can also try eyelash glue if you happen to have that on hand.

You can use other types of clay if you are more familiar with something else. However, the benefit of polymer clay is that it does not shrink when it’s baked and hardened. If you create the claws to fit on your fingers, they will remain the same size. Many other types of clay will shrink as they harden. Polymer clay also tends to maintain a pretty smooth appearance, which is ideal for creating nails.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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