How to Draft a Basic Cosplay Pattern

Learn how to draft a basic cosplay pattern with this step-by-step tutorial from one of IMPACT’s newest titles, The Costume Making Guide by Svetlana Quindt AKA Kamui Cosplay.

While armor patterns do not end up as a visible part of your final costume, creating them will be an amazing help in defining the shape and size of your final piece. They are basically the sketch of your finished artwork—you can’t live without them. If you feel really impatient you can obviously just start playing around with material, but having a plan is never a bad idea. Luckily there is an easy, quick and cheap way to get a perfect pattern for almost every armor piece you can imagine. All you need is some plastic wrap, duct tape, a marker and paper. Additionally a helping hand of a friend is really useful since cutting yourself free is sometimes more tricky than you might imagine.

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Step One: Wrap Your Arm in Plastic Wrap
Wrap the part of your body that you want to get armored. In this example, it’s your right forearm. Plastic wrap is perfect for this job, so just cover your arm with one or two tight layers. Make sure to add a few more inches (or several centimeters) over your wrist and elbow.

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Step Two: Tape Your Arm
Press the plastic wrap piece down securely to make sure it fits well around your arm. Grab a roll of duct tape. Instead of turning your arm into a tape tornado with one long strip, just tear off short tape pieces and place them evenly on all sides of your wrapped forearm. Try to avoid getting big wrinkles since they might distort your pattern.

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Step Three: Mark the Centerline of the Pattern
Grab a marker and draw your desired bracer shape on the duct tape. It’s a good idea to start with a middle line on the inner side of your forearm. Make a dot on the inner side of your wrist and one at the crook of your arm and simply connect both with a straight line.

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Step Four: Shape the Pattern
Draw a half circle on your pattern at these two points to curve the edge. Try to keep both sides of your pattern as similar as possible. That way you’ll get a nice, symmetrical bracer later.

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Step Five: Cut the Pattern off Your Arm
Cutting yourself free might be tricky, so it’s a good idea to call a friend or family member over to help. Ask them to cut you free very slowly and carefully! It helps to press a finger under the scissor blade and make slow and small cuts. We don’t want any accidents here.
Try to resist the urge to shock your helper by shouting, “OUCH!” as soon as they touch you with the scissors.

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Step Six: Trim the Edges
Once you’re free from the wrap and tape, you can clean up your cutouts and trim the edges until you end up with a perfect copy of your forearm shape.

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Step Seven: Flatten the Cut Pattern
To transform this into a usable bracer pattern, you’ll have to transfer it to some regular flat paper. Stretch and flatten your cutout pattern to get rid of most of the wrinkles.

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Step Eight: Trace the Pattern
Grab some thick paper and fold your sheet and your pattern template in the middle. Lay the folded pattern edge to the folded paper edge and start tracing all around the shape.

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Step Nine: Cut the Paper Pattern
Cut around three sides of your drawing and unfold the paper. You’ll have a perfectly symmetrical base for all of your upcoming bracers. This will now be your template for your very first bracer. You can use this for many more projects, so make sure not to throw it away. Store it in a pattern box until you need it again. It also helps to label what the pattern is. This bracer piece and many other following patterns will be a great resource for all your future costumes.

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Step Ten: Trace the Base Pattern Again
While this pattern might already work for countless other costumes, every project will require a special size and shape. Adjusting it, however, is easy. For this specific example fold the paper bracer along the middle line and trace it onto a new piece of paper.

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Step Eleven: Adjust the Drawn Design
To get a pointy end and little spikes at the sides, draw on some new lines while using the basic shape as a foundation.

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Step Twelve: Cut the Final Pattern
If you want to have the final design open at the bottom, adjust the drawing in a way that does not go all the way around your forearm. The lines for the new bracer shape extend further than the original shape.
Cut everything out and hold it to your arm to get a feeling of the final shape. Finding the right size and shape can be quite tricky, especially for beginners. As you can see though, this step is really easy and fast. In no time you’ll find the right solution. Adjusting patterns is much easier than adjusting the final costume piece, so take your time for this step!

You can use this method to create any pattern. Once you’ve perfected this technique, you’ll be able to use it to make anything!

Find this and many more step-by-step tutorials in The Costume Making Guide.

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