This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Whether you want to make fairy, dragon, butterfly, or cartoon wings, there are countless methods for creating a structure that works with your cosplay. In this tutorial, you will learn the easiest way to create wings by using EVA foam or craft foam. The method you choose will depend on the type of wings you need to make so check out the tutorials linked above for other options.
Simple foam wings are ideal for wing styles that don’t need to be see-through. In this tutorial, I’m specifically making shoujo-style wings, but you can also use this method to create opaque dragon wings or even textured angel wings.
Since EVA foam is lightweight, you can make large wings with this method. However, the more pins you will need to make sure they attach to your costume and sit correctly on your back.
This is a beginner-friendly method of creating wings. If you are creating a simple design, you can complete the tutorial within an hour. But of course, the more complex the details you’re adding are, the longer it will take to complete your wings.
Supplies you will need for this tutorial include:
- Paper and writing utensils
- EVA foam (4mm or 6mm plus more for details)
- Glue or contact cement
- A Heatgun
- Attachment pins
Step 1: Draw one wing
The first thing you want to do for pretty much any cosplay tutorial is to draw out your design on paper. You only need to draw one wing because you can simply flip the design over and trace it to create a perfectly symmetrical second wing.
Unless you are making very small wings, you’ll want to use a larger piece of paper for this, to make sure you are drawing the wing to scale. Or you can do what I did and just tape a few sheets of printer paper together to make a canvas size large enough for your wing design.
Cut out the final shape of the wing once you’ve finished drawing it. Hold it against your back and look in a mirror to make sure it’s the size and shape that you want.
You really only need the outline of the wing at this step, but I prefer to draw the details now too. This way you’ll have a good idea about what pieces you’ll need to cut out and add for details later on.
Step 2: cut out your wings
Now you want to cut out the basic shape of your wings from EVA foam. I recommend using a medium thickness of foam since that will help the wings maintain their shape and not flop around behind you. I used 6mm foam, but 4mm would also work well. If you are using craft foam, I recommend gluing two sheets together to double the thickness of your wing material.
- First, trace your wing onto the sheet of EVA foam using a sharpie.
- Flip the paper wing over and trace it for the second wing.
- Use a razor to cut out your wings. Remember to cut on the inside of the traced line since this will make the wings the same size as your original paper wing.
- Sharpen your razor after every cut. EVA foam dulls razor blades very quickly. To get smooth cuts and nice-looking edges, it’s best to use a knife sharpener frequently.
You can also use this time to cut out the details you want to add to your wings. I use a thinner foam (2mm) when adding extra layers to the wings. Remember, depending on your design, you might need to add your extra pieces to both sides of both wings. So, you’ll end up with two sets of details cut out on the right side and two sets cut out from the flipped-over pieces.
Step 3: Add details to your wings
Add your layers of detail to your wings. This will create a three-dimensional, textured surface that makes your wings look a lot more interesting. You can use pretty much any kind of glue to attach your decorations. If you are using contact cement or any kind of toxic glue, make sure to relocate to a well-ventilated area.
I also take this time to sand the wings. I’m not the neatest when it comes to cutting, so my edges tend to be sharper than I like. I use a Dremel with a sandpaper attachment to smooth out the sides and make everything look nice and even.
If you are using a material other than EVA foam for your decorations (such as felt feathers, fabric, or any kind of wire) wait until after you’ve heat-formed your foam to add them to the wings.
Step 4: Heat-form your wings and paint them
After the glue is dry, it’s time to give your wings a real three-dimensional shape. You can use heat to create a bend in your wings and make them look a little more interesting. Heat also helps to seal the EVA foam, making it easier to paint.
- Using a heatgun, heat your EVA foam until it bends easily.
- Hold your wing in a gentle curve or against a curved surface until the plastic has cooled down completely. If you don’t like how it looks, you can reheat the foam as many times as you need to and try again.
- Repeat with the second wing.
Heat-forming the wings is not strictly necessary, but I always think that shaped wings look more interesting and professional than wings that sit flat against your back.
After the wings are shaped the way you like them, you can go ahead and add your non-foam details and paint your wings. It’s a good idea to add one or two layers of primer before starting with the paint. I used Flexbond primer and regular acrylic paints to make my wings look a little more interesting.
Step 5: Attach the wings to your costume
Now that your wings are finished, it’s time to attach them to your costume. I used two pins (the kind you would use for a brooch) on each wing so that they would stay upright on my back. If you have large wings, you might want to use three or more pins, or purchase a larger type to make the attachment more secure.