Kuroyukihime Cosplay: Crafting the Butterfly Wings

Written by Riri (@lillyums)

Hey guys! One of my most prized props to this day is the recently crafted wings of Kuroyukihime from Accel World that I debuted at our local anime convention, Sakura Con 2013. This was the funnest prop I have made; I've spent hours and hours and hours planning and it turned out *almost* the way I wanted it to be.  I had only one failed attempt at just making the wire frame - but luckily everything thereafter had minimal mistakes!  And a lot of inhalation of spray paint fumes... >.< 

So this post will be about my adventures in making this, and you may treat it as a tutorial for yourself for similar projects if you'd like.  Here were the materials I ended up using for this project (not including failed attempt): 

  • 12 & 14 gauge hard aluminum wire
  • Large pliers
  • Sheer black 1 way stretch tricot fabric
  • 3 rolls of 36" x 60" Darice Foam Roll
  • a very sharp Exacto knife (very important to be sharp)
  • Plasti-Dip spray X2
  • Black spray paint (Krylon) X2
  • Light Pink/White spray paint (Krylon)  X2
  • "Mambo Pink" spray paint (Krylon) X2
  • Satin Finish spray (Krylon) X2 (or your preferred finish)
  • High Temp Hot Glue Gun
  • Leftover nylon fabric & felt  

What I had initially started with was a purchase of 100 ft 14 gauge galvanized steel wire to produce the frame, but what happened in the end was that the frame was FAR too heavy to even hold itself up.  I knew I needed a thicker wire to support the upper wing set, but I also needed it to be LIGHT.  So I went over to Whimsie and decided on aluminum wire because it is much lighter than steel.  As a recommendation, definitely order wire samples to make sure it's the right thickness! And that's what I did :)  I ordered 12 and 14 gauge soft AND hard aluminum wire.  The soft was definitely FAR too soft, but ... fun to play with. In the end, I went with the 12 gauge hard aluminum wire for the large wing pieces, and 14 gauge hard for the smaller.  It was excellent at first... but after I had finished the project, I wished I had tested the 10 gauge wire.  

Before I decided to start over on the frame, I needed to figure out how I wanted the frame to look this second time around using 3 rolls of 36" x 60" Darice Foam Roll from Jo-Anns. I traced out the shape of the wings and cut them out, and THEN constructed the frame for each wing using those cut outs - since they were the shape I wanted. Sounds kind of backwards, but I had a reason to do it this way. I couldn't make the frame as large as I'd want to because I didn't want to run into what I had first ran into, and I only had so much roll of foam to work with - the roll was also rolled kind of funny on the inside too, so I had to use the flattest part w/o cutting into this weird bent area.  I didn't attach the pieces together yet though, but the frame was laid out as shown in the photo above.  So I cut out all the pieces I needed, and created the "veins" and finer details after I made the frame.  See the photos below for the foam pieces.

The black fabric I had used was a one way stretch sheer black tricot fabric.  I loved the fabric, and it felt great, and I wish I could wear it! Elegantly of course =P  Fast forward, after I completed this project, I had wished I had doubled the layers of the fabric to produce a darker sheer black... But it still looked ok :) Anyways I laid out one large and small wing out on the fabric folded twice for 4 layers and cut it, giving about half inch for hemming.  With 4 wing pieces, there was a total of 8 fabric pieces, 2 of each to be sewn together for each wing. Once all the fabric was slipped onto the wing pieces, the real work began...

Each wing needed two pieces of the traced out foam pieces and both sides (since they would sandwich the wire frame) would have to be identical as far as the painting and pattern goes.  So I relied heavily on a reference photo of Kuriyukihime's wings to really get a good idea of colors and how/where to spray paint.

I started off by sealing every foam piece with Plasti-Dip.  Basically a rubber sealant and prevents spray paint to soak into the foam. Foam is porous, so you need to seal these surfaces.  Next, I sprayed a black spray paint over mainly the areas that I wanted to be a nice black color - even though the foam is already black, it's nice to really get black-black, because dull black isn't that pretty :) Together with masking tape and some grocery bags, I covered the areas I wanted to spray pink onto.  But because it's still black, spraying the actual pink I wanted wouldn't work - so I put down a very light pink (or white) color as a "base" color so that my beautiful pink spray later can actually show up.  2-3 coats of a light pink or white spray paint will do it, of course leaving time in between for drying.  There after, 2 coats of the Mambo Pink Krylon Paint did the job perfectly.  For some finer details such as the bottom short wings - I placed masking tape down and carved out the areas out of the tape that needed the pink, and all black areas were protected with plastic bags.  Check out photos below on the painting of the bottom wings - I didn't document my upper, but the technique is similar.

After everything was sprayed down, believe it or not there was definitely some bleeding occurring.  I took one of those disposable sponges, sprayed a bunch of spray paint down on paper and dabbed the sponge into it.  I smudged it around areas that had pink crossover and that really helped clean it up very well.  Finished everything with a satin finish spray and allowed to dry.

While everything was drying, I connected the wire pieces above together, being sure to connect it along the big loop in the center (for better support). 

After everything was dry, it was time for making some sandwiches!!!! So I grabbed each piece and its mirrored piece and took out the high temp hot glue gun. Which, is very hot, by the way.  I started gluing the edges of the now-fabric-covered wire frame to one bottom piece of the foam, making sure that no fabric would be peaking out.  Then I laid the top piece over and glue that down. I did that for each wing piece.  In the end, it turned out wonderful, and the almost-end piece looked like this:

So next was the loop - there are all sorts of wires sticking up all over the place!! EEEK!!! Fear not RIRI! I took some felt and glued it all around the wiring.  Then I had some thick nylon fabric that I just doubled up and wrapped around over the felt for extra cushioning and softness.  And... THAT'S IT!!!  It was pretty damn sturdy... let me tell you :) I was pretty happy with it overall. I hoped that I had made skinnier and more veins and spent more time gluing pieces down, but it was already 3am the day before! >.<

I hope you enjoyed this somewhat tutorial on how I made my wings! 

Photo by NW Cosplay

ED Note 5/10/2013:  

I realized that I had not discussed how I attached the wings to my body!  So the "loop" or back support piece that I made - I actually added nylon (stretchy) loops, 4 of them, where I want to hook 2 bra straps onto.  So here are some (bad resolution sorry) photos of what that looks like. I feel that there may be better ways of doing this - but this actually worked out really well for me. Of course, if your wings are A LOT heavier, then a much sturdier back support system would need to be implemented. But since my wings were fairly light, this is ok.  The stretchy nylon loops - I just basically cut a piece off the leg of a pair of tights and so you have like a stretchy band - so I looped it and secured it where I wanted it to be (much like how you work with lanyards and phone charms).  Having it stretchy I think would put less stress on the bra straps (which are not stretchy) so that it wouldn't break. 

There you have it!!