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Foam Cyborg Arm Tutorial by Traumagician Foam Cyborg Arm Tutorial by Traumagician
I had a fair number of people asking me how I made the borg arm for my Vriska cosplay, so I went ahead and made this tutorial thing. Here's to hoping that people find it useful! Now, I know that this tutorial is very poorly arranged, so if you've got any questions, fire away and I'll answer as best I can. And if you do anything with this, I'd be thrilled to take a look at it!

I used a couple of tutorials for this myself, specifically Anniina85's stocking arm tutorial and Amethyst Angel's plastic automail tutorial.

EDIT: Oh man, this thing is so full of typos. I'm gonna have to fix those at some point.

Links:
Part one of stocking arm tutorial: fav.me/d495qkd
Part two of stocking arm tuturial: fav.me/d4bt11o
Amethyst Angel's Automail full tutorial: amethyst-angel.com/armormaking…
Amethyst Angel's Automail parts directory: www.amethyst-angel.com/automai…
My forearm piece: fav.me/d6m6u5x
My upper arm piece: fav.me/d6m6tmt
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:iconpocketchocolate:
PocketChocolate Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
waa this is just what I needed ; W;
It looks cool and easy to do! Well at least I think it will be easy? XD
thanks for the amazing tutorial ^O^
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad it looks useful to you, haha. It's a pretty simple process, yeah, but it can be rather time-consuming and tedious (especially when you're working on the fingerplates and the glove.)
You're very welcome! If you have any questions or anything, feel free to ask me. : )
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:iconarianod:
Arianod Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Gr8t :thumbsup:
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:iconpenypaw:
PenyPaw Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the amazing tutorial !going to use this for my vriskas cosplay ^^
well..i have like 2 months to make this. WINTECON IM ON MY WAY YEEE-HAAA
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome! Best of luck on your cosplay, and if you have any trouble I'm happy to answer questions. c:
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:iconpenypaw:
PenyPaw Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:3
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:icon221b-timelord:
221B-Timelord Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hi! This is a great tutorial, I'm just confused a8out a couple of things. I'm doing a Vriska cosplay for Halloween and my friend is doing Fem!Eridan. I was wondering if you could just clarify some stuff for me. 1- I'm a tad confused 8y the positioning and cutting of the foam pieces. 2- I also don't really understand the shoulder plate part. 3- I don't particularly get how you attach the hand pieces to the glove and such. Thank you! Sorry I'm so confused a8out everything!!!! :::: )
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey there! No worries; this tutorial is kinda convoluted and hard to understand. I'm happy to help as best I can. Feel free to ask more questions if these answers don't help you. : )

1. Can you be more specific about what part of the cutting/positioning confuses you? I don't know exactly what's confusing you right now, so I don't know how to help.

2. Oh man, I have no idea how to explain the shoulderplate. It's basically just two banana-shaped pieces of foam. You glue both of the left points together, then bend the pieces at an angle and glue the right points together. If you do it right you end up with a curving two-layer piece like the one I made. I really can't explain it better than that; I'm sorry!
    On the bright side, you really only need the shoulderpiece if you're planning on going jacketless. If you're wearing the jacket, nobody will be able to tell if you're wearing the piece or not. I almost never wear my shoulderpiece.

3. The armored pieces are attached to the glove with adhesive-backed velcro. This makes it so that you can detach and reattach the armored portions of the robot arm as desired, which makes putting the arm on a LOT easier than if you just glued the armor into place.
    First I put on the fabric part of the glove.  Next I stuck two pieces of velcro together so I had a velcro sandwich, with the hooks and the loops meeting in the middle and the adhesive backs facing out. Then I placed one adhesive side of the sandwich against the inside face (the side that would go against my arm) of the handplate. From there, I just put the handplate into place on the back of my hand, so that the remaining sticky side of the velcro sandwich would adhere to the fabric glove. Then I just carefully pulled the foam piece off, so that one half of the velcro sandwich was on the foam and the other half was on the glove. After that I took the glove off and reinforced the velcro by sewing around the edges.

Best of luck in your cosplay endeavors!
Reply
:icon221b-timelord:
221B-Timelord Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay, thank you so much! Sorry I wasn't very clear. I think I'm mainly confused a8out how the foam parts (other than the hand) are attached and stuff, and also when you were talking a8out the forearm piece. I don't really understand what you meant when you said to like, cut it, and then tape it 8ack together, and then some other stuff? I don't know, sorry. I'm a little 8it confused on what I'm actually confused a8out. Thank you for the help, though!
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
    Ah, now I think I might see where you're coming from. I'll do my best to explain. The forearm piece is made in two separate pieces. Later you connect the two pieces with a strap, so that you can open and close the piece around your forearm like a clamshell. If it were made all in one piece, you wouldn't be able to get it on- your hand would get stuck in the wrist opening and the foam would tear. I learned that from experience. xD
   What you do is trace the forearm template onto a sheet of foam and cut it out. Once you have the general shape cut out, you chop it in half along the dotted line, leaving you with two distinct pieces. Then you have to tape the two pieces back together along the dotted line, so that the silhouette of the piece is the same as it was before you cut it in half. What you're doing here is basically making a hinge out of tape. You should be able to open and close the two pieces like a book. Then you just thermoform the piece around your forearm.
    I know it seems weird to cut the foam in half and then basically undo your cut, but it's actually a lot easier to thermoform the piece into the desired clamshell shape when the hinge mechanism is already in place. Once the piece has been thermoformed you can replace the tape with ribbon or a foam strap or something- it just has to be long enough that you can wrap it all the way around the forearm piece and snap the clamshell into the 'closed' position.
    The strap should be enough to keep the forearm piece on your arm, but it's still a good idea to add velcro tabs (like on the handplate) for further staying power. The bicep piece is loose enough that you can just slip it on over your arm and scoot it into position, but snug enough that it stays put without velcro. The shoulderpiece, if you make it, isn't attached to the fabric part of the glove at all- you glue safety pins to it and then pin it onto the sleeve of your shirt once the rest of the arm is on.

Does that help at all?
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:icon221b-timelord:
221B-Timelord Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay! That helps a lot, thank you. I finally figured out the forearm and I'm working on the upper arm piece now. Thank you so much for all the help!
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome, and I'm glad you're getting it figured out!

And on the Mod Podge front (sorry, just barely noticed that comment), I do NOT recommend using Mod Podge as a sealant for the foam. See, Mod Podge is really brittle once it dries, which means that if you happen to bump into something with the arm or bend a piece the wrong way, the paint layer will crack and look ugly. If you have absolutely nothing else you can use as a sealant (Plasti-Dip or fabric glue would also work if you can't get rubber cement) then go ahead and use the Mod Podge, but you'll have to be really gentle with the pieces to prevent cracking.
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:icon221b-timelord:
221B-Timelord Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh, and 8y the way, I couldn't find any ru88er cement, so I just got Mod Podge. Do you think that'll work okay?
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:icon221b-timelord:
221B-Timelord Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Alright, sorry. I SWEAR this is my last question. For the hand plate, what did you do in fig. D? I couldn't really tell. Thank you for dealing with my ineptitude!
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:iconivanbraginski1234:
IvanBraginski1234 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Student General Artist
This is incredible! :D
Thank you!
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, glad you like. You're welcome, and I hope you can get some use out of it!
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:iconkura4ever101:
Kura4ever101 Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student Artist
I have otakon in like 4 days. So this is kinda urgent. What should I use if I don't have lacquer? I have rust oleum clear enamel. I also thought about sealing smaller pieces with nail polish. I kinda did this in a rush and don't have everything.
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Gah, sorry for the late reply! I've been out of town the past few days. The clear enamel should be fine; just test it out on a piece of scrap foam before you use it on the main arm, because I've heard that certain enamels will actually melt foam. Nail polish would probably also do fine. I've never really tried it with anything but lacquer, so I really don't know what else will work. Sorry that I'm not much help!
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:iconkura4ever101:
Kura4ever101 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Student Artist
ahh don't worry about it! It stayed nicely throughout the con. Thanks for the tutorial though! It really helped me a lot! :'D
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad it worked out for you! You're very welcome, and I'm happy that you found it helpful.
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:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
Which of the glues do you use to adhere the foam to itself?  Hot glue?  Rubber cement?  Trying to mentally plan out a winter soldier arm.  
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hot glue, definitely. Rubber cement works very nicely for sealing the foam in preparation for painting, but it's rubbish for actually gluing foam to foam.
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:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
Fantastic - thanks for letting me know.  I'm doing a lot of planning and I really think I'm going to give it a full blown go this weekend.  If it works out, I'll send you photos :3  I'm excited about trying my hand.  And very glad that the character wears fingerless gloves as the hand part of a cybernetic arm looks like it would be the hardest.  I'm going to try to do the fingertips with sculpey to give them some weight/hard texture.  
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! Yeah, the hand part is kind of a pain, especially the bit that goes over the palm- and it renders your hand pretty much immobile to boot. xD Fingerless gloves to the rescue! Hmm, Sculpey fingertips... I tried to do that too, but they kept cracking and turning out weird and lumpy, so I ended up just making the squishy foam ones. Hopefully you have better luck with yours than I did with mine, haha.

I would love to see pictures! I haven't yet seen any Bucky arms made with this method, so it'll be interesting to see how it works out for you.
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:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
I did it! @.@
araniaart.tumblr.com/post/9258…
I made a lot of changes to accomodate the different arm style (smooth surface, shinier rather than distressed metal, etc) - but your tutorial REALLY came in useful with the foam, the glue mixture, and just the confidence to try this overall :)  Thank you so much!  
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, congratulations! This project is a pretty massive undertaking, so go you for doing it in a single weekend. I'm impressed. 
Hhrnfhdnfngh, it turned out great. Seriously, awesome job- definitely the best Winter Soldier arm I've seen anywhere. I'm simply tickled pink that you found the tutorial helpful, and that you used it to such great effect. So you are very, very welcome. :D
also I'm totally going to reblog your pics later, but I'm on vacation right now and tumblr mobile is really buggy. 
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:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
^_____^ Thank you SO much for the kind words!  It means a ton coming from you, and I really couldn't have done it without your tutorial and quick answers!  It was a long weekend, but a fun one X3  
((And reblogs would be aweeesome!  I don't have a lot of followers lol<3 Enjoy your vacation! ))  
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, you're very welcome. Happy to be of service, and glad you had fun with the project. : ) 

(Hehe, I don't have many myself, so I probably won't be of much help exposure-wise. Thanks, and I'll definitely enjoy what little there is left of it.)
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(1 Reply)
:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
I've started working with the sculpey - I have two fingers that turned out how I like - the other three after baking are either too tight and don't fit as far down over the fingers, or are just thicker in general.  But I think another attempt or two and I'll have a set that I like :)  
I think I'm going to sacrifice mobility in the last digits of my fingers, though.  At least it's going to be my left hand.  I've thought about making it in two pieces kind of like your finger joints, maybe securing them somehow to silver gloves underneath, but I'm (a) not sure what would glue sculpey to gloves successfully, and (b) kind of like the sleeker look.... we'll see.  This is a big learning process for me. 
*Crosses fingers* I'm really looking forward to working on it this weekend - after I finish my RL workstuff for the week X3  
I
Reply
:iconmitunaiscute:
Mitunaiscute Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Omg this is by far the best tutorial! Do u know by chance where to get the rub n buff?
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw, thank you! Rub 'n Buff is pretty easy to find; they sell it at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and even at a few Wal-Marts. If all else fails, you can always order online.
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:iconmitunaiscute:
Mitunaiscute Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Oh great thank you! :)
Reply
:iconpoisonpenpresents:
PoisonPenPresents Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm cosplaying mindfang and I was looking for a good tutorial for her robotic arm. Many thanks for this one! yours looks awesome!
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome! I hope you find it useful. And thank you!
Reply
:iconpoisonpenpresents:
PoisonPenPresents Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No prob! It's actually proving very useful. The one thing thats getting me is the forearm but I'll get it soon enough.
Reply
:iconastrocanine:
AstroCanine Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my god, this is awesome. Big help for my upcoming Winter Soldier cosplay.
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Aha, yes! Ever since I saw Winter Soldier I've been itching to see what would happen if someone tried this method for Bucky's arm. Best of luck on your cosplay!
Reply
:iconarania:
arania Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
ROFL I'm considering the same thing myself - FANTASTIC tutorial, and it's really got the gears in my head going if I want to try to undertake something like this, but your tutorial is fantastic and makes me think I could have a shot at pulling it off.  
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw, thank you! Glad you like, and I hope to put it to good use.
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:iconastrocanine:
AstroCanine Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
I'm actually not doing the entire arm. I couldn't find the right vest/armor thing; so I'm gonna just buy the jacket he wears when we first see him and do the fingers.
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:icondanieldevrell:
DanielDevrell Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014
What else could you use as a foam sealant?
Reply
:iconfeferitales:
feferitales Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014  Student
For making props like crowns or stuff that should be stiff i have used mod podge but its not very flexible after and you really need to wait for it to dry. 
Reply
:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've never really used anything except for my glue concoction, so I'm not entirely sure what else would work. It has to have something that will clog up the pores in the foam, though. You *might* be able to use wood glue, so long as you sanded down the bumpy bits before painting. I'd really recommend just using the rubber cement/school glue/water mixture, unless there's some particular reason why that's not going to work.
Reply
:icondeviantt1234:
Deviantt1234 Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What did you mean by sewing in velcro to the glove and the foam? Anddo you have to do anything else to attach the pieces to the glove or do they all remain seperate
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, first I put on the fabric part of the glove. I had two pieces of sticky-backed velcro. I put them together so I had a velcro sandwich, with the hooks and the loops meeting in the middle and the sticky backs facing out. Then I placed one sticky side of the sandwich against the inside face of the foam piece (the side of the piece that would go against my arm). From there, I just put the foam piece down on my arm, so that the remaining sticky side of the velcro sandwich would adhere to the fabric glove. Then I just carefully pulled the foam piece off, so that one half of the velcro sandwich was on the foam and the other half was on the glove. After that I took the glove off and reinforced the velcro by sewing around the edges.

The velcro is the only thing that connects the glove to the foam; other than that, they're separate. Hope that helps, and if you need any further clarification, I'll do what I can. : )
Reply
:iconyuukiartemis:
YuukiArtemis Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I reeeeally want to know!
How 8ig was craft foam that you used?
All dimensions pleeeease?
::::)
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
12 inch by 18 inch by 5 millimeters.
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:iconvriskaelliott:
VriskaElliott Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014
Would this work with cardboard?
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:iconvriskaelliott:
VriskaElliott Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014
Would this work with cardboard?
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:icontraumagician:
Traumagician Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Eeegh. I don't think that would work so well, to be honest- cardboard isn't flexible enough to be able to bend to the arm very well, and it won't thermoform, either. It'd work if you were making something flat, but it wouldn't be too great for something curvy like a robo-arm.
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