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Picture of Cosplay That Looks Like Metal or Plastic!
Samus 2.jpg

This is an incredibly simple Instructable about how to turn your costume/cosplay into a perfect metal or plastic-looking masterpiece! This technique may save you some time and money when creating your next masterpiece, and is very useful for projects that need to look perfect and clean, which is a look that is not easy to obtain and maintain in cosplay. I am currently working on Samus' Gravity Suit from Metroid Prime (pictured above), which has a very flawless and toy-like appearance. To achieve this, I chose vinyl over paint.


  • Car vinyl
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • EVA/craft foam (also can be used on Worbla and other materials)
  • Contact cement (preferably the scent-free LePage brand)
  • Painters tape (not required, but useful)

How to acquire vinyl:

There are many sources for obtaining car vinyl. You will buy it by the roll. Pay attention to the size of the roll - if you have extra large pieces, some rolls will be too small. You can get it from Amazon, but I have had a lot of luck shopping for vinyl through It takes longer to get it, but it is cheaper and I have found a larger variety of colours and sheens through Wish and you can get discounts using their codes. You can also purchase vinyl with cool patterns on it and vinyl that is translucent for lighting work or colouring transparent plastic/glass. The vinyl I get from Wish is about $10-15 for a 1.5m roll. The costume I am working on now is a full armour set plus an arm cannon/blaster, which took up about 7 rolls. Some of the vinyl I have used is pictured above.

Why use vinyl?

Consider that the arm cannon took 1 roll to cover. The standard way to colour a prop would be to prime it and paint it with spray paint. One piece may take an entire can to cover, plus time to cover it. It may also start to peel or crack over time. In Canada, each can of Flexi-Dip and paint costs about $10/ea for results not as flush, so the savings start adding up with this strategy. You also don't need to work outside, so working in the winter is easy!

Let's begin!

Step 1: Covering With Vinyl

  1. Cut the pieces you need for your costume from EVA foam.
  2. Place your piece on the back of the vinyl with the wrong
  3. side facing up and trace around it. Add at least 1cm of space around it so that the piece can be wrapped.
  4. Cut out the vinyl where you made your lines.
  5. Peel the backing off of the vinyl.
  6. Place your foam on the vinyl with the wrong side up. Make sure your foam is free of debris. You can use the painters tape to remove any lint or hair that is stuck to it. The vinyl picks up these details, so clean pieces mean clean results.
  7. Press down on the foam to stick it to the vinyl.
  8. Flip over the piece and use your heat gun on low or your hair dryer to warm up the vinyl. Press down on the piece to help the vinyl stick. Heated vinyl sticks better.
  9. If you are working with a curved piece, you will need to heat the vinyl and stretch it over your piece. You can watch videos on YouTube showing how people put vinyl on curves of cars in shops.
  10. Flip over your piece to the back. Cut darts if there are curves in your piece or if your flat piece will be bent (this will aid in buckling/unwanted folds).
  11. Using the heat gun/hair dryer again, heat the vinyl until it becomes a little softer and fold the pieces around the back of the foam. Tip: to keep darts on rounded edges from becoming rough and jagged, use your hand in a curved shape to fold the pieces inward at the same time instead of individually. Don’t worry about the back looking pretty – that will be covered up.

That’s it! Keep reading for more tips for finishing and creating even more flawless results.

Whitney Fabre7 months ago
This is such a great idea! Do you use car vinyl because of the metallic sheen and because it's stronger? Do you think we could use - more accessible - crafting vinyl? Maybe it's not strong enough for cosplay...
Namisuke (author)  Whitney Fabre7 months ago
You can get a variety of Sheen's and friction/dropping pieces won't harm it as much as stretch pleather or paint. This kind of vinyl isn't considered a crafting product. However, it is widely accessible online. There's nothing else out there like car vinyl at the moment. If you register for, you can get a huge first time user discount. I recommend using one device only for Wish, and if you want the discount again, create a separate account on a different device.