Cosplay Tutorial: the Mandalorian's shoulder straps

Cosplay Tutorial: the Mandalorian's shoulder straps
It is now well known that The Mandalorian has been a great success worldwide, grabbing not only the old guard of Star Wars fans, but also a whole new group of fans who have poured into Disney + during this year of Global Pandemic. Proof of this are the countless gadgets and accessories that online shops have filled up with since the first episode of the series was released. From Lego sets to action figures, this Christmas will undoubtedly be chock full of opportunities to make a fan of The Mandalorian happy.

But if the recipient of your thoughts is madly into the series and has already collected every possible trinket, don't be afraid, this article is just for you!

Let's leave aside the normal gifts and get to the heart of the world of cosplay. In this tutorial we will explain step by step how to create a first part of Mandalorian armor: the shoulder straps. Apart from these, the bounty hunter costume is made up of a few fundamental pieces. The iconic helmet, the breastplate, the two bracelets, the handguards and four pieces to protect the legs.

Read also: The Mandalorian: The Jedi. All the references and quotations of the Star Wars saga

The shoulder straps, however, are one of the pieces with a particularly simple structure and execution, thus making them suitable even for those who are beginners and try their hand at first time in cosplay. What you will need are a little manual skills and a series of tools and materials that we will list. Don't worry though, if something isn't perfect right away at the first try: the only secret in cosplay is to always try and never stop experimenting.


iron ruler scissors bostik superchiaro cutter white pen sandpaper foam 0,2 mm (crepla rubber) foam 0,5 mm (craft foam) plasti dip acrylic colors (silver, black , white) dremel heat gun These listed are the base materials most often used in foam processing. In addition to those more commonly used even in everyday life such as scissors, rulers and pens, some are a little more particular, such as the foam and the plasti dip. The first is a high-density foam, very light, easily workable and thermomodeling. It exists on the market in different heights, varying between two millimeters and five centimeters in thickness.

The second, on the other hand, is a flexible paint used in cosplay to give a base capable of not cracking and flaking if the piece of foam undergoes stress, such as inadvertent bending or knocking. The dremel is another of the most used tools in cosplay: it is a rotating tool that allows you to save time (and a lot of effort!) In going to shape the foam. It has different tips for as many uses, but mainly the cylindrical one covered with a piece of sandpaper is used.

How to create the shoulder straps

The pattern or blueprint is the basic design that is used to cut the various pieces of foam to be assembled to create the finished element. Depending on how complex the object to create is, there will be various parts to print, but for the Mandalorian shoulder straps you just need to download the file that you can find at this link. Before proceeding with the processing then, print this sheet and cut out the drawing with the wording "side 1".

Once ready, place your blueprint on the 5 mm foam and trace the outline of the pattern with the pen white (or a normal pen) following the drawing you have printed, remembering to mark the joint points on the foam as well. To have the other side of the shoulder strap, all you have to do is reposition your piece on the foam and trace its outline again. One of the advantages of this foam is precisely the versatility of its sides, since both are totally identical. There will therefore be no need to overturn the drawings to get the correct pieces.

If you look at the pieces you have just cut, you will notice that on one side they have "triangles" of missing foam. These are used to create a curvature in order to give a first shape to the piece. It is precisely from here that we will start now, going to glue these two small sides. Take the Bostik and spread a thread of glue on both profiles, let it dry for about a minute, until it becomes opaque or is no longer sticky to the touch.

Bring the two sides together with a slight force. and hold the position for a few moments. If you have allowed the glue to dry properly, they should not come off. But do not worry: if you have made some calculation errors, you can easily remove the glue by simply rubbing your finger on it and repeat the procedure. Perform this operation on both points of curvature of all the pieces in order to have them ready for the next step.

At this point we must glue the two sides together to give the first base to the shoulder straps. As before, we spread a thin uniform layer of Bostik glue on the longer side, the one with the seams, of both pieces. Let it dry and after about a minute glue them together: it doesn't matter where you start, but be careful that the two sides do not accidentally touch, or you will have to detach them immediately. Your piece should now be like the one in the photo below, with such a curvature that it will fit over your shoulder.

For this step you will need the dremel: go and mount the cylindrical tip with the sandpaper mentioned we talked at the beginning of the tutorial and wear a protective mask in front of your nose and mouth so as not to breathe the foam dust that will be created. By putting the drill at the lowest speed, firmly hold your piece and go smoothing the joints between the pieces. Experiment with a few small touches on the foam before proceeding definitively, so that you can adjust the speed of the instrument and the direction in which you are most comfortable to work. Try to level the line created in the center of your piece to create a camber that fits the rest of the piece.

Your shoulder strap should now look like the one in photo 1 on the left. As you can see where you passed the dremel will turn out to be of a different color than the rest of the foam: in this step we will make this process almost invisible. To do this we will need sandpaper, but remember to wear your protective mask!

Starting with a piece of the 120 grit one, let's lightly sand all the parts we touched with the dremel. We will repeat this same operation with a 320, 800 and 2000 piece of sandpaper in this sequence as well. It may seem like a long and boring process, but if you trust the process, you will eventually have an excellent base ready to be colored. As you can see from the second photo on the right, the sanding has almost disappeared from sight because of having smoothed the piece by hand as much as possible.

Once you have finished sanding, it's time to create that sort of frame running along the entire shoulder strap. To do this, we will need some 5mm foam strips. The first one we need is 15mm wide and about 22cm long. However, I advise you to make it a few centimeters longer, so as to cut the excess instead of adding pieces of foam, which would not result in an optimal execution. Go and place the foam strip in the center of the shoulder strap, mark the position along both sides. Then spread a thin layer of glue evenly both on the shoulder strap, remaining inside your marks, and on the strip and wait a few moments.

Once dry, assemble them starting from one of the two sides and proceeding with calm down by attaching the clamp. Apply light pressure especially on the ends so that the glue can take well and the top piece does not rise. Proceed in the same way with the outer edge: cut a 1 cm wide strip and measure side by side for the length as you work. Also remember to cut diagonally in the joining corners as you can see in the photo, so as to make them fit together well and make everything more harmonious. In this case, you will have to try to be as precise as possible so that when looking at the edge of your shoulder strap you will not notice a big difference with your base.

As a final finishing touch for this step, you will need a another strip 15 mm wide and 22 cm long more or less, but of the thinnest 2 mm foam. This strap will serve you to create the difference in height between the central part and the outer edge, exactly like the shoulder straps of our favorite Mandalorian. The procedure is what you have learned by now: a thin uniform layer of glue on both sides, drying for a few moments, gluing with light pressure on the pieces to make them adhere well together. The final result at this point should be like the one in the photo below.

Now is the time to go back to the pattern sheet with the blueprint we haven't used yet. The Mandalorian faced a Mudhorn in the first season and from that moment the stylized skull of the creature appeared on the right shoulder of our bounty hunter. What we need to reproduce this symbol also on one of our armor pieces, is the thinnest foam, the 2 mm one.

We cut the pattern with scissors as far as possible and with the cutter at the edge. internal. We place the blueprint on the rubber and trace the outline. As with paper, you can cut out this foam with scissors as it is very thin, and then finish it with the cutter where necessary. Following the same method used for the border, we place the skull on the most front side of the right shoulder strap and trace the outline. Again, we proceed with a thin and uniform layer of glue both on the shoulder strap and on the crepla rubber and after drying it, we glue by applying a slight pressure to make it adhere well.

Let's move on to a less complicated step, but not for this less important. With your heat gun go to heat the piece outside. But be careful not to overheat it because you could cause the glue to peel off and open the piece. So start here too with the lowest level and if you feel that the gun is not heating up enough, go and raise it. This procedure is used for two reasons: the first is precisely that of hot modeling, so that the piece takes a more rounded shape than that given only with gluing. The second, on the other hand, is to close all the cells of the foam, so as not to make it porous so as not to absorb the paint and the color that we will put later.

To understand if the foam cells are closed, just pay attention to the color of the same. The foam will become darker and almost shiny once the heat has had its effect on the cells and closes them. At this stage it is completely normal for the areas you have worked with dremel and sandpaper to become a little more visible: do not worry, it is something that you can adjust and camouflage without any problem with the color. Once you have finished this step, you are ready for the first coat of primer!

Following the instructions on the Plasti Dip package, spread a uniform layer of paint on the outside of the shoulder strap. Remember to perform this operation in an open or well-ventilated area, wearing your protective mask here too! After a couple of coats of primer, you should have a result like the one in the following photo. As you can see, some imperfections are still noticeable, but it is absolutely not a problem. If you want a cleaner effect, however, you can proceed with other coats of primer, so as to create a certain thickness, covering even more any defect that will disappear with the color.

So here we are at the last step of this tutorial! Here it is all about your artistic side and your creativity. Indulge yourself as you like in the coloring, if you prefer to make it totally shiny and perfect like that of the most famous Disney + bounty hunter or if you want to focus more on originality and give it that touch of lived-in with some battle damage. Each option is valid and it's up to you to decide how to create it. The only suggestion we would like to give you is to proceed with the coloring gradually and preferably to use a sponge to give the color, rather than a brush, to prevent the passes on the foam from remaining.

To give the piece a little more depth, take a thin brush and mix a bit of black with a few drops of water. Then go and put the color especially in the joints of the various pieces, so as to cover the small imperfections that may still exist. Mix the various colors to get the shade of metal that best suits your Mandalorian and if you want to give your armor a little more polished look, you can use the glue as a final step, once you are satisfied with the color.

So indulge yourself in this last phase and experiment with different materials to spread the color. Don't use only brushes, try to use sponges or pieces of fabric to see how the texture varies according to the medium used to color. And please, don't forget to show us the result!

If you want to complete your future Mandalorian look, we recommend adding this Grogu animatronics to your cosplay!

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