Becoming Captain America
Steve Rogers aka Captain America is one of the most recognizable comic book characters. Both children and adults look up to him. He is inspiring. And trying to tackle him as a cosplay can be quite intimidating. Chris Evans has brought life to the character and it is a lot to live up to. Yet many of us want to try our hand at it. Here is a breakdown of how I put together my Civil War Captain America cosplay.
The first and most important detail is the suit. Most people do not have the skill set to make their own Cap suit. I decided on the White Sheep Leather Cordura suit. There are a slew of costume companies that sell suits but I have not seen any that I would consider as near the quality from White Sheep Leather.
The suit comes in 3 pieces. There are pants, a vest and a undershirt with the sleeves attached. This helps with flexibility for your arms and the shirt is designed to be cooler than a full cordura layer.
There are 3 versions of this suit that they sell. You can choose from Cordura, Lycra and a Stretch. I have seen all three in person because Left Coast Avenger has the Stretch suit and Sentinel of Seattle has the Lycra version. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. Cordura looks the closest to what Captain America wears and it is the most durable of the suits, but this suit doesn’t breathe particularly well and does get warm. Lycra is softer, offers great flexibility and much cooler to wear but it will catch on fingernails, Velcro or sharp edges of your shield while also being the hardest to do any kind of weathering on. The Stretch suit is a happy medium. It looks reasonably close to the actual suit, still has good flexibility and improved breathability while being a good durable fabric.
There are a variety of places that you can buy a shield from. Marvel has their Legends series which is very reasonable for the price. Shield Laboratory is also a fantastic option. I went with Cap Shield Central on Etsy and I have been extremely happy with the decision. The paint job is spectacular, the leather on the back is extremely durable and the shield itself is beyond tough.
I have had people up to a 180 lbs stand on the shield on top of me. I have literally put this shield through hell in the last 2 years and it is still holding up. I highly recommend it and the price is much better than you would expect.
If you are interested in building your own shield there is a great article over at Instructables. It is quite detailed and I highly recommend it if you are looking to tackle that yourself.
I wear the Bronze Armory helmet. This is mostly because I have a larger head than the average guy. Many Caps wear the Cattoys Helmet but it is a bit smaller and is for a 23.5 inch head at max. I still added some additional leather to go between by cheeks/nose and the helmet and I updated the paint job. This helmet also is not the exact look of the one used in Civil War. It is the version for Age of Ultron or the Stealth suit but I was just happy to get one that fits comfortably (after adding a little foam on the inside) and looks good.
I cannot stress how important the Belt is to being able to enjoy doing Captain America. My belt was a custom commission from Leather Works by Willow. I specially asked Willow to upsize the pouches on the belt. We specifically planned that the 3 larger pouches would be sized to comfortably fit Credit Cards and Business Cards. This makes the ease of stopping for food or handing out cards so much easier. I generally have car keys in the back left pouch, and the business cards in the front right I kept my cash, Credit cards and any cards that I am handed from other people. Then I keep chapstick in one of the small pouches. This makes life so much easier as a cosplayer.
I also made my own Buckle to go on to the belt. It is 5 layers. Worbla, 2mm foam, another layer of worbla, then to pieces of 2mm foam to create the details and a final layer of worbla on top. I then dremmeled down the edges, lots of sanding and painted it silver and I used a black wash in conjunction with drybrushing silver and black to create the worn look.
To keep the belt in place I added Velcro to a couple of places on the vest of the suit and the belt to help it all stay in place. The reference picture shows where the actual suit had velcro to assist with the preventing the belt from getting out of position.
My Harness was also made by Leather Works by Willow. The important lesson we learned with this project was to make sure we are measuring to the right spot on your back when determining how long the straps should be. We ended up making it a touch to big at first. If you go with a high quality leather, I would warn you that you going to need to use weights to help teach the leather to curve in the right places to help it have the shape that you want.
I also made the 4 point Harness in the back the same way I made the belt buckle but it is a little more complicated of a design. I will probably replace this with a metal version at some point but it is part of the costume that is very rarely seen. The big disadvantage to my design is that the worbla is dense enough that even 95 lb magnets cannot hold of the shield through my harness.
I am currently using the gloves from White Sheep Leather. I have done a series of modifications to make them work for me. I very heavily weathered the gloves with a series of brown and black drybrushing. I also tightened the gloves along the outside of the thumb. I added some elastic at the wrist. The final thing I have done is to remove the wrist strap and moved to better pull the glove closed and hide the Velcro. The collage above shows the original gloves, after weathering and then the gloves used in the movie for reference.
I am looking forward to swapping these for the RG Studios gloves when the opportunity arises.
I wear the spats (also called gators) by White Sheep Leather. These are pretty much the best I have seen. I did add additional holes in the straps so I could pull them tighter. I also recommend reinforcing the stitching for the pieces of leather that hold the traps in place. I will eventually add some Velcro to keep the straps from hanging loose but for now I tuck the strap into itself.
There are a great set of these available from RG Studios but I decided to make my own. I did this with a layer of black worbla and 2mm foam on top. I did about 5 layers of plastidip to get the two materials to a similar texture. I went with worbla for the bottom layer so it would be more durable but still relatively thin. If you try this yourself I wish I had added more bend to the pieces before I glued them down. But I solved this by putting some strapping around the shoulders to help teach the material to bend over a few days while I wasn’t wearing the suit.
Starbursts and Metal Bits
The Starbursts I made the same way as the shoulder bells. I made an executive decision to made part of the material wider because I wanted it to cover the material underneath but that means the looks is slightly less screen accurate. My only regret in my design was that I didn’t put worbla underneath the thin extensions of the and now I think they bend more than I would like. I may update this later on.
I added the metal bit by making a them out of foam an worbla. But these are only 3 layers to keep them small. I did have to make 3 different sizes of them depending on where they go on the chest, belt, pouches, or harness.
All of the suit is weathered via a series of drybrushing black to for the darkest areas. I also used an airbrush over 3 time periods to gradually darken the whole suit which was mostly over the blue and red portions of the suit. I prefer doing the white by hand as much as possible. The final layer of airbrushing I did with a dark navy blue to help keep the blue tone but still ship the bright blue color of the suit to the more navy blue to match the civil war suit in the movie that seemed to want to be very close to being black.
The weathering on the shield was done differently. This was with a black wash. These are meant for miniature wargaming. I used the Vallejo Black wash but you can get the same effect from Citadel Nuln Oil which is more commonly available at hobby/game stores to sell war gaming supplies. After putting the wash on the shield, I used an old towel to wipe the wash in the streaking pattern and then again after the wash is partially dry. Then a 3rd final time after the wash is almost completely dry I used the towel like sandpaper to remove some of the wash where I wanted more of the shield to show through.