In these tutorials you will learn how to create animal ears that are made of fur and can be attached directly to a wig or headband. The other method will involve attaching ears to a hoodie, coat, or caplet so that they stand up on top of your head. You can adjust the shape of the ears and the material used to match whatever you need for your next cosplay, but the overall method will be the same.
(Faux) Fur Animal Ears
This tutorial will take you through the steps to make three-dimensional ears using faux fur. You can attach these to your wig using clips or a headband to go for a seamless look. When it comes time to color the ears (if you choose to do so), you can stick to more realistic shading or add colors like I did. You can use this same technique for any kind of animal ear, even long rabbit ears, by adjusting the shape of your pattern in the first step.
Supplies needed to make these fur ears:
- 4mm EVA foam or 2 layers of craft foam
- A Heatgun
- Faux fur
- A sharp razor
- Fabric glue or hot glue
- A wide-toothed comb or wig brush
- Fabric scissors
- Electric razor (optional)
- Hair chalk
- Fabric paint
- Small paint brushes
- A headband or hair clips
Step 1: Make a pattern for your ears
Like in every tutorial, the first step here is to make a pattern for your ears. The easiest way to do this is to look at photos of the ears of whatever animal you want. Look at real bear ears, cat ears, fox ears, etc. depending on what you are cosplaying. Then sketch out your ear on paper based on your reference photos. Remember, we’re going to make bended, three-dimensional ears here, so you’ll want to make your pattern wider than you’d expect at the base to account for the shape.
Cut out your paper ear and hold it up against your head or a wig head to see how it will look. Then make any adjustments to the shape. Don’t be afraid to make changes now, because if you get toward the end of the process and don’t like it, the only way to fix the ear is to start from the beginning.
Step 2: Cut out EVA foam and heat form it
To get your ears to stand upright and maintain their shape, you are going to insert plastic foam pieces. I recommend using 4mm EVA foam for this (so that it’s not too thick but not too floppy), but you can also use Worbla, or glue two sheets of craft foam together and use that.
- Trace your pattern onto the foam sheet and cut it out. Repeat so you have one piece of foam for each ear.
- Use a heatgun to heat up your foam and bend it into your desired shape. As the foam cools, it will maintain its new shape, no longer laying flat. Repeat for the second ear. Make sure your two ears are mirrors of each other so that one will be the left and one the right ear.
Now you have two foam pieces that are shaped like three dimensional animal ears. You are going to use these later as inserts inside your fabric ears.
Step 3: Cut out your fur pieces (add seam allowance)
Now it’s time to get out your faux fur and cut out the pieces you’ll need for your ears.
- Trace the pattern from step one onto the back of the fur material four times. For two of them, you want to flip the ear pattern over so that you have fur pieces for the front and back of each ear.
- Add ½ inch seam allowance around each traced ear pattern. This will give you space to sew the front and back of each ear together.
- Cut out each piece using a razor. You don’t want to use scissors for this because you’ll end up cutting the fur fibers. I find it easiest to use raw razor blades, but you can also use a sharpened box cutter or precision razor if you prefer.
Step 4: Sew the ear pieces together
Now that you have the front and back of each ear cut out, you’ll want to sew them together. Sing the fur material doesn’t fray, you can glue the edges of the ears together to make the process quicker. However, you’ll get better results if you take the time to sew the material instead.
- Take one front and one back piece and brush the fur to the inside. You want the fur fibers sandwiched between the two fabric pieces.
- Pin the top and side edges of the ear pieces together. Leave the bottom open and un-pinned.
- Sew the two pieces together. You can hand sew or use a sewing machine. The material is fluffy, but now too thick for a machine.
- Turn the ear right side out and comb the fur out of the seam. If there is a lot that got caught in the thread, you can use a pin to help pull it out.
- Turn the ear wrong side out again and trim the excess seam allowance. This will prevent the excess material from becoming too bulky inside the ear.
- Turn the fabric right side out and repeat on the second ear.
Step 5: Insert the foam pieces and glue them in place
Now it’s time to combine your ears and foam pieces to get them into the right shape. This step is pretty simple:
- Insert your foam pieces into each of the ears.
- Glue the front of each ear to the front of the foam. Otherwise, the fur material won’t keep its shape against the insert and will be loose around the curve of the ear. I use tacky glue for this, but hot glue is also okay to use. You don’t have to glue the back of the ear down, but you can if you prefer.
- Wait for the glue to dry completely. Now you’ve got your two ears ready for trimming and details.
Step 6: Trim the fur
Believe it or not, most animal ears are not actually very furry. They have very short fur along the back and edges of the ear, with some tufts of longer fur toward the front or middle. So, don’t be afraid to do a lot of trimming in this next part. Make sure to look at your reference photos so you know which areas need to be long for your animal ears.
The best way to approach this step is actually by using an electric razor. However, if you’re like me and don’t have one available, you can still get acceptable results with sharp scissors or hair shears.
While trimming the fur, try to go slowly and avoid rushing the process. Once the fur is cut, you can’t put it back on. Even though you’re going to end up cutting the majority of it off, you don’t want to overdo it and have to start over from scratch.
Step 7: Add color, shadows, and highlights
Once you are happy with the way your ears look, it’s time to add some highlights and shadows. This is what will bring your ears to the next level. It will give them more dimension and help them look more realistic and natural (if that’s what you’re going for) since most animals don’t have one solid color of fur.
Again, the best way to approach this is by looking at reference photos. But in general, what you want to do is add shadow to the inside of the ear and highlights around the edges.
- Rub dark gray hair chalk on the inside of the ear to add shadow. Use a little color to start, and build up layers until your shadows are as dark as you want.
- Use a small paint brush to scrub the chalk through the fur fibers and disperse the color. This will give you more of a gradient and help you avoid harsh lines.
- Add white or a highlight color around the edges of the ear. If you’re working with white fur, like me, use a light gray color just inside the edges of the ear so that the white will stand out more.
- Add whatever colors you want. Many animals have a pinkish tint inside their ear, so adding a small amount of pink color looks good. You can also add other colors to make the ear as interesting as you want. If you want to use bolder colors, I recommend using fabric paint.
Step 8: Attaching your ears to your wig
Once you’re happy with how your ears look, all that’s left to do is add clips to attach them to your wig. You can get small hair clips and glue or sew them onto the base of your ears. For large ears or long ears, you’ll want to use two clips per ear to make them more secure.
Alternatively, you can attach the ears to a headband. This is a little easier to put on and off, but you can’t be as precise with your ear placement.
If you’re not using the wig for any other costume, you can even sew the ears directly onto the wig so that you never have to worry about them falling off or putting them on incorrectly.