- Paper & pen
- X-Acto knife and extra blades
- Foam Board in 1/8th to 3/8th of an inch in thickness. The larger sheets with smooth cardboard laminate can be found at art supplies stores. Don’t use the super weak sheets found at dollar stores.
- Acrylic paint (artist grade preferred)
- Epoxy glue (10 minute if you can get it)
- LePage Poly Instafil, Paperclay or Bondo (i.e. a sandable filler)
- Clear acetate sheet
- Acrylic based glass paint (I used Lefranc & Bourgeois Glass & Tile)
- A rubber tip shaping brush or the end of a paint brush
Making the Frame
Start by drawing out a template on paper to the size you want the wings to be. You want to add a base to your wings where it would “join to your body”. Cut out your template for tracing.
On your Foam Board, trace your template out 4 times. Your Foam Board should have a finished surface on both sides, but if it doesn’t, remember to flip your pattern for 2 of the wings you’ll trace. You are basically creating 2 panels between which you’ll sandwich a sheet of acetate to create 2 wings.
Once you’re done tracing, use a new X-Acto knife blade and start cutting out the inner segments for the stained glass sections, then cut out the outside perimeter of the frame slowly. For each of the 4 wings, use a new blade as Foam Board cuts best with a super sharp blade. Once the blade starts to dull slightly, the paper and foam will start to tear and you won’t be able to get clean cuts if you don’t switch to a new blade.
You should notice when you start cutting with a new blade that it goes through the paper and foam easily. Cutting with the blade will gradually get slower and harder as the edge of the knife gets dulled.
Once you’ve got your 4 traced wings, it’s time to fill in the inner edge segments with Poly Instafil. You only need a thin layer just to seal and smooth out the exposed foam edge.
Once your inner segment sections are dried, you can sand smooth the Poly Instafil for a nice finished edge.
Then you can paint your frame what ever colour you like. I used black artist acrylic paint as it has a slicker almost wet finish rather than cheap craft acrylic which is usually a flat matte. You can leave the outside perimeter edges bare as this section will need to be filled and painted later.
Now use your paper template to trace the perimeter of your wing out twice onto the clear acetate. You want to cut the acetate 1/8th of an inch inside your trace line.
Glueing the Frame and “Glass”
Now that your Foam Board frames are prepped, set aside 2 of them with one pre-cut acetate panel. With one frame, mix up your epoxy and start to draw a glue line on the inside of the frame and away from the edges. Make sure to cover all the dividers of the frame and a larger area at the base of the wing. This is important as this will both glue and seal the edges of every segment for the painting of the stained glass.
Once the glue is down, align your acetate panel on top of the frame.
Repeat the same gluing method on the second frame you set aside earlier. Then place it over the frame with the acetate sheet, aligning both frames carefully on top of each other.
At this point, you can add flat lightweight objects over the wing to keep the panels in place as the epoxy cures.
Repeat the same steps for the second wing.
If you have an airbrush to apply the glass paint, I recommend painting the acetate first before gluing it to the frame. In this case, you’ll want to mark out each segment with a wax pencil while adding a 1/4th of an inch border to the template so you know where to stop painting.
Finishing the Edge
Once the epoxy glue has completely cured, you can finish and fill in the outside edge of your wings. Again, use your Poly Instafil to fill in and smooth out the edge.
Once your Poly Instafil has cured, you can sand the edge smooth. Follow this by finishing the paint job on your wings’ frame.
Painting the “Glass”
Now that you have your wings finished and all edges are smooth, you can start painting the stained glass.
In order for the gradient of colours to show up, I first thinned out with water the Lefranc & Bourgeois Glass & Tile paint. It is important that your paints have the same viscosity (water to paint ratio), otherwise they will not blend correctly and might pull in onto themselves while drying. I had this problem making the second wing on Gen’s right shoulder on the image down below.
The reason for adding water is to allow the colours to blend in together from one shade to the other in the center. The Lefranc & Bourgeois in its original state is too thick to achieve this effect.
The acetate segments at the top of the wings were a blend of dark blue purple to a light red purple. The bottom segments are a blend of dark blue to a emerald green that leans a little blue. I only needed 4 colours of glass paint for these wings.
Find a perfectly flat surface to set your wings on to allow them to dry undisturbed or moved during the painting and drying period.
Once you have your premixed paints thinned out, pour a small amount of your top colour in the top corner and then a small amount of the bottom colour in the bottom corner. You want these colours to pool toward the centre slowly and not flood. If you don’t have enough of one colour, add just a little more at a time.
Now that both your shades are on the acetate, mix them together with your rubber tip shaping brush by pulling a bit of paint from each side and then “cutting” the paint with strokes into it. The lower viscosity of the thinned paint will allow the colours to start blending together to create a gradient.
Repeat the same painting steps for each clear acetate segment.
For your other wing, I recommend painting the acetate on the opposite side so that the paint will be facing the same side when you wear them on your back.
Let your paint dry for 48 hours before moving the wings.
You can use alcohol based glass paint like Pebeo as well, but this product has a quicker dry time and you will need 3X the amount of paint. With acrylic based Lefranc & Bourgeois Glass & Tile paint, I only needed one jar of each of the 2 shades of purple and two jars of the blue and green to get the project done.
Depending on the final size of your wings, you might need a corseted harness or a plate system to wear your wings. There are plenty of tutorials out there on doing that, such as this one from HCC Cosplay.
For a pair of small wings like these, you can make a U shaped harness out of copper wire. Copper wire comes in different gauges and is lightweight and easy enough to shape by hand into a U shape. The top branches of the U is where you can glue the base of the wings. You can also cut out a channel for the wire to rest inside the foam layer so that when you glue the wire into place the wings will stay flush on your back.
You can also paint the wire to match the frame of the wings or your skin tone.
Once the U shape is finished and glued down to your wings, it can then be slipped under a shoulder-less top or corset and your wigs will sit on your bareback or an under shirt.
Now you can wear your wings!
Ani_BEE is a longtime cosplayer from Ontario, Canada who got into makeup thanks to this hobby. Check out her blog, WARPAINT and Unicorns where she shares her experiences making props and crazy wigs as well as tons of makeup reviews.