FFXIII-2 Lightning armor construction notes

(by Yuuri-C)
I believe being creative, having motivation, love for the character, and patience makes a great costume. There’s no such thing as perfect, so don’t take it too hard on yourself when something doesn’t look exactly like the character’s costume. I used cheap materials because I try not to spend a lot. I hope my tips help you all! Most importantly: Have fun!~

image☆ FAQS:

Q: How much money in total it took you to make this?
A: About $100.
Q: What’s the armor made out of?
A: Version 1 and 2 armor is made out of craft foam, either use 2mm (Version 1) or 6mm (some armor parts in Version 2). 2mm is easier to bend which I used for version 1 but it’s fragile. 6mm at the consumer craft store does not sell by yard while 2mm does. 6mm is harder to bend, it will require more bending, but it’s more sturdy.
Q:Where did you buy the craft foam?
A: Link (mainly the extra large roll)                                                                                     
Q: Does mode podge help strengthen the craft armor?
A: Not really, it helps with sealing cracks and create smoothness!
Q: How many sheets of craft foam you bought?
A: I’m quite small and I had to make the armor pieces smaller so it’ll fit me better, 4 sheets were enough. It all depends on your size, so you choose how many you think you need.
Q:How did you make the craft foam to bend?
A: I heat up the craft foam with the clothes iron or I use my hands to bend. I first draw lines where I’ll be folding, sometimes I have to cut edges to be able to fold. And once the shape is there I add hot glue behind it like where you see the crease of the fold. And once I add the hot glue I bend the fold close to the hot glue so it can stick a little but not all the way down.
Q: When are you debuting/did you debut this outfit?
A: My first made armor was at Otakon 2011 with my twin sister as Serah’s FFXIII-2 default outfit. The second revamped armor I made debuted at Katsucon 18.

Attachment☆ AttachmAttachment2ent

In case you don’t want to read my long explanations about attachment in the sections below. I drew on the photo that represents where I used velcro and glue on the armor and straps. Click to enlarge. Look closer at the non-painted photos and you can see the velcro on my armor. The straps alone are not attached like that, I drew it this way so it can look clear. But look at the The Roman Skirt & Straps section for more information.

☆ Wig & Feathersncjeop

I bought my first pink unstyled wig at ebay. I can’t find the original seller I bought it from. My second pink-purple-gray unstyled wig I bought it from here. The turkey feathers were bought here. Recently, I was told the feathers are sold out. I have no idea if the seller will relist it.

Untitled-1☆ The Roman Skirt & Straps

I used the backside of a vinyl fabric I had, painted them with acrylic paint, and sand it a lot. You can also see in the picture a sketch I made on how I was planning to attach the straps. They all cross together then I sew them together. You can see a box in the middle of the front strap, that’s where they meet. The version 1 gold pieces were made out of a thin cardboard and painted with metallic finish. Version 2 were made out of 6mm and 2mm craft foam.

☆ Feathers & Top

For the feathers on my first try I used a net like fabric, tulle. For version 1 I did my own ghetto way of taping three separate rows for the feathers for the back and621029_2345572456939_1195859854_o_1 front. It depends how tall you are, since I’m short I needed a few rows of feathers. Then I use hot glue to stick the rows to the net. I later added smaller feathers to the top by gluing on to top of the bigger feathers and I added more feathers to stick out in parts that were showing the tulle (not shown in the photo).
The second time, I used a thin white fabric and pasted the feathers onto the fabric. I made sure the feathers were all put on neatly and I bend all the feathers – you’ll here it crack. <-You do this if your feathers are all stiff, when I bend them they became straighter. I think it looks better that way (shown in the right photo). My first version, the top was a corset+leotard, the belt/straps I did it the same method as the "Roman Skirt". For version 2, I made my own leotard and gloves with Cotton Pique Knit Black fabric.

☆ Chest armorchest1chest2

First, use primer paint or mod podge, then spray paint (I suggest Krylon’s metallic which I used for v2 or Rust-Oleum’s silver I used for v1), weather the armor, and/or add rub ‘n buff on rivets and enamel paint in areas needed.
For the chest armor, I used my version 1 half which is 2mm and has two cups to make the shape in front. Lower half is 6mm craft foam. Look at the left photo for closer details of mostly the lower half, red are the separate pieces the blue is where I bend the craft foam. How is it attached? The chest armor (same with the back armor) are attached half way on top of the purple straps by hot glue. The top flaps are velcro. As shown here circled red.

☆ Chain, Belt, & Hip armor

Chain made of 6mm craft foam. I only cut the shape, hot glue together, use enamel paint, varnish, and I was dvelcro 2one! Same with the belt piece but that required some bending work which took me awhile to do with my hands@.@ The hip armor was able to bend by cutting a triangle in the middle as shown in green on the photo.

☆ Pauldrons

Version 2 pauldrons were easier to make than version 1. My sister,  Yuuri-K help me with the construction. My sis thought up of the idea of using the round mickey mouse globe by heating the back of the already cut out shape of the 6mm craft foam, place it on top of the globe, put it around the globe, and smooth it as hard as possible to get its shape.pauldron She made the patterns with the help of my shoulder, the top one was smaller and the bottom was bigger size. After all that, I added the little details, mode podge, and spray paint~

pauldronsMod Podge, paint, then glue smaller pauldron on top of the bigger pauldron. Then we paste it onto the armor, where I can still have room to move my arms.

Notice the pauldrons move forward when my collar is not close to my neck. When the collar is close to my neck, the pauldrons sit back like Lightning’s pauldrons. To be honest, her pauldrons look magically placed on her armor. Attachment: Hot glue, circle velcro(used when my pauldron came off during the con), or better to use gorilla glue in the areas circled here.


Gauntlet & Shield

The pictures are from my version 2 shield. Disregard my version 1 shield, I will not post about it because it was poorly made:< For version 2 I used thin wood that my dad gave me for the base. Cut a bit larger circle for the top, I used leather (which I had to paint black with mixture of silver) for the top. I covered the top of the base with leather and I left an opening to place fabric inside to make the top bumpy. The rest of the details including the silver rim are made out of craft foam. The handle are leather strips and I pasted down to the wood by using gorilla glue (much stronger than hot glue). I don't know the exact etro script, instead I used a quote from Zack (FFVII). The arm straps are made out of the backside of vinyl, painted, sanded, and added velcro to the straps' end to hold together. There are tiny straps with two silver rivets, you can't really see it in the photo but it's at the side of my arm. Version 1 and 2 contain the same gauntlets except I added an elastic band on version 2 hand piece. The arrow should been a bit thicker, but I have skinny arms so I had to make it that way… I layered and added primer, the spikes at the elbow are different cut triangle pieces. I had 4 pieces in total and pasted together, there are two different designs as the red lines show. There are some little details I didn’t add, they look like tiny pedals that help maintain the spike and armor together. The way I glued the spike was the only way I can be able to move my elbow. Attachment: I hot glue the gauntlets to the purple arm straps.

Thigh armor

The thigh armor is 2mm craft foam including the gold details, I added layers of craft foam on top. The back has 2 small elastic band<-Make sure it's tight enough so the thigh armor won't slip down.

Lower leg armor

I honestly hated my first version, it was very uncomfortable. But if you wish to make it similar to my first version, it consisted of high-heel shoes and craft foam on top. A longer craft foam piece for the leg was hot glue around the shoe and I added elastic band near the ankle. My version 2 is more comfortable, I used wedge boots, added craft foam details, paint mod podge and then spray paint. The spike I used 2mm craft foam, made 2 triangles, added creases (bend it!) and paste together. Add 3d painting for the indents on the spike or make your own indentation.

GUNBLADE (Untransformed version)


yyy-4This took me a fewdays to make, actually this was the most fun part! Materials I used: Cardboard, craftfoam, art paper (thick paper), a playhouse foam from my kid sis, and foamboard. Paint: Acrylic paint, rub n’ buff, and varnish (finish glossy look). Also I used primer to seal. The second photo is pointing out the materials I used (click to enlarge image). The third photo shows the details I did on the hilt before renders were out so there are inaccuracies. The handle was made by layering (3?) cardboard  ontop of each other. Hot glued together then I sand the sides. I added primer to cover the holes. Then I added craftfoam for the strips and for the rest of the details. The fourth photo shows what I did for the sword part. There are other materials like wood or insulation foam that would make this look more smooth. Basically I cut out what I drew on the board then I sand where the dotted lines are at. The sword needed more sanding>< I added paper on top for the black design. The other designs, I drew on top of the craft foam, added primer, then painted silver, and hot glued on to the sword. The smaller black sword, is not going to make sense how I made it. I first drew out the shape with that playhouse foam, cut it and covered it with craft foam. I don't remember how I did it, but it's a lot of different cut out craft foam pieces. I sealed it with primer a lot. I'm not totally satisfied with this part, and it's a bit heavy causing it to rip apart many time. Next time it does, gorilla glue would fix that.

GUNBLADE (Transformed version)

IMG_2052I basically used the same weapon I had. I broke in half, stuck the handle to the middle, and added more craft foam! It’s like her old weapon from XIII except this transformation doesn’t make sense to me.
Etro script on the gunblade: Gladius in turba aetern a induratus vincula inserepabilia rum. (The blade forged in everlasting chaos shall cleave the unbreakable chain.)

I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

18 thoughts on “FFXIII-2 Lightning armor construction notes

  1. Wow, you are amazing! It really is unbelievable, & you revealed everything. You’re awesome Yuuri C. Quick question, have you ever thought of using Worbla thermoplastic? How do you think it would turn out?

    1. Aw thanks:), that reminds me I need to finish other construction notes and make my sister post up her tutorials/construction notes.
      I want to work with worbla in the future! The last time I heard about worbla it was quite expenisve and flimsy, so that’s the downside of worbla for me. But I also heard that it’s able to stretch really well when heated so it’s great for curves. It’s also great for small details (maybe because the material is so thin?)
      If I had used worbla for Lightning’s armor, I think the main difference would be in the chest plate, it would have a better round shape. -Yuuri-C

      1. You’er welcome, and that is a good point. I was wondering about it, I think I will go with the method you used, since it turned out so well for you. I’m no professional, so I’m hoping mine turns out half as good as yours. But you really are a big inspiration for me & motivation for me to kick my cosplaying skills to improve. I look forward to possibly meeting you in person some day, but until then, happy cosplaying. -Danielle H.

      2. We all start somewhere, I’m sure your skills will get better with practice! Good luck and happy cosplaying to you too!^_^ -Yuuri-C

  2. You are truly a goddess! I’m buying my supplies right now. There’s a couple things I’m confused about. Is your collar piece separate from your front and back chest piece? And all I’ve found in 6mm foam are those interlocking kid floor tiles. Will those work for the chest piece?

    1. Yes, the collar piece is seperate and it’s attach via velcro. Hmm, I’ve never used interlocking kid floor tiles so I’m not sure. In the past I’ve bought thick craft foam at Joanns, Micheals, and consumercrafts. -Yuuri-C

    1. I made the skeleton for the sword out of foam board, but I’m having real trouble trying to make the craft foam “scabbard” that goes over the blade. Could you give me some pointers?

      1. Hmm, I don’t quite understand but all I did was bend the craft foam add hot glue to where it bends so it stays. Areas that needs smooth bend I use blow dryer and then shape it with my hand. And any rise details use layers and layer of craft foam.

  3. Thanks SO much for the fast response, Yuuri! I’ll post pics on my page when I’m done and send you the link. It probably won’t be until May. 😉

  4. How did you make your template for the pauldrons? Its my first cosplay and I can’t get the shape for them.

    1. Hi Kei, I first drew and cut out a circle shape made out of craft foam – big enough to cover my entire shoulder. Then my sister help me trace the design while I had the circle on top of my shoulder. After that I cut out the traced design. Once you have the big formed pauldron then you can make a smaller version to go on top of the big one.

  5. Thank you for the construction notes for this, very very helpful! ^_^ I’ve just started making mine out of worbla and craft foam.
    Your cosplays are amazing by the way!

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