Tutorial: Cosplay Fake Feather

Hey everyone, Wondercon was great but it’s time for me to start work and prepare for the next convention! I’m planning a Raven Queen outfit to hopefully be ready to debut at Anime Expo 2014. For those who don’t know her, the Raven Queen is the goddess of  death in Dungeons and Dragons (4e). It’s been a while since I have posted a tutorial and working on this costume has given me a great opportunity to show you all a quick preview. The Raven Queen really doesn’t have much in terms of reference or design images online, so I’ve created my own design for her.

Anyways, as you might have guessed from her name, the Raven Queen is going to need some feathers in her attire. For ethical reasons (which I do not wish to discuss or argue, and which aren’t relevant to the costume) I don’t want to use real feathers for this. I’ve searched far and wide and come across a few tutorials to make faux or fake feathers. The process is usually very long or expensive. I want to make two full wings, so I need something quick (and preferably cheap). That’s why I’ve decided to use paper. Yup, paper. And after a few prototypes I found a technique that I am happy with. Quick, easy, and cheap! Here’s what they look like when photographed with an iPhone with terrible kitchen lighting:




-Cardstock (paper thicker than printer paper, but not nearly as thick as cardboard. It can be bought in bulk packs at craft stores and office stores)

-Scissors (nice and sharp ones)

-Paint (in what ever color you want the feathers to be)


Step one:

Take the paper and fold it in half. Or just… make a fold. I get about 3-5 feathers on a single piece of paper depending on the size of the feather. Just make sure the paper fold is thicker than the desired thickness of the feather.



Step 2:

Draw a basic guide on the paper that look like half a feather. After a few feathers you’ll get the hang of it and won’t need any sort of guide.



Step Three:

Cut it out.



Step Four:

Begin to make cuts for the texture of the feather. These cuts should be angled in the way that the fluff of a feather would grow, that is, in a general downward direction. Just make sure not to make them too long or you’ll risk cutting the feather in half. Make a few of these large cuts until it looks right. The picture below is just an example of the depth and angle of the cut, it needs a lot more before it starts looking like a feather!



Step Five:

Make a bunch of smaller cuts all down the side. This gives the feather even more texture. This step can be skipped if you don’t want the feather to look as ragged and worn. At this point I’ll also make one or two larger cuts and take out a small triangle to imitate the way the feather fibers separate in real feathers. Sometimes I’ll also leave the tip of the feather longer, with less little cuts. You can see an example of this pictured in step six. Remember to vary the cuts when making multiple feathers!



Step Six:

At this point I have a lot of mess and a lot of little paper bits everywhere. The feathers are looking decent, but they need some color. Time to get out the paint! This is one coat of black spray paint. I had about 20 feathers and I wasn’t going to try to hand paint all of them. The very bottom of the feather is white from where I taped it down to spray paint. I purposefully make the stalk longer to account for the lack of paint there, but the area will be covered when the feathers are layered anyway.



Step Seven:

I bought some cheap metallic blue and green acrylic paint and lightly added some streaks along the cuts, just so it wasn’t solid black. I also used a glossy clear spray over the whole thing. At the end of this whole process my glorious clump of feathers looks like this:




No Flash-DSCN0035


I think they look pretty good for being made out of paper. Pretty soon I’ll post up another tutorial and show how they look when implemented into a costume! I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. There are many other tutorials out there for fake feathers, please keep them in mind when considering using feathers in costumes! The birds will thank you :)


7 thoughts on “Tutorial: Cosplay Fake Feather

  1. Another reason to make artificial feathers: if you’re in the US, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 makes it illegal to collect feathers of migratory birds, including crows, morning doves, and other not-generally-considered-as-fancy bird feathers.

  2. Wow. Amazing. Thank you for this tutorial. As an interior designer, I want to use an African Juju Hat as decor for a client, however because they are made with feathers, I refuse to purchase one. Like you, I don’t want to stand on my soapbox about the unethical nature of using feathers in frivolous projects, I simply choose to be guided by my own, personal, moral compass. I am grateful to you, and other incredibly talented artists out there, for sharing your skills while holding tight to your beliefs. Thank you.

    PS: I was also able to find a DIY JuJu Hat tutorial online, albeit using real feathers. Between that tutorial and your paper feather technique, I’m going to try to make one. One would never call me crafty, and I need at least two hundred feathers for this particular project, but what the hell! THANKS!!

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