Depends on the armor you are trying to make, your budget, and how much space you have available … etc.
This is a list of armor related tutorials:
As you can see there are a variety of methods listed!
Cardboard | A commonplace and cheap material, it can be used on it’s own or used as a base for other methods. It’s good because it is lightweight and easy to get, but bad because it fairly weak (especially if it gets wet!) and generally looks bad unless you put in additional effort. featherweight is known for making really nice cosplay props from cardboard if you want some good examples!
Casting / Molding | This is one of the more expensive and labor intensive methods, sculpting a piece then creating a mold from the piece and then casting your final product from that mold. Volpin used this method in the making of a Skyrim ancient nord helmet.
Chainmail | Pretty straight forward, used for chainmail pieces.
Fiberglass | Fiberglass requires you to have access to an outdoors / well ventilated work area and wear a mask while working with it. Generally you have a base (cardboard, papermache, foam, papercraft) and are covering it with your fiberglass resin - which is the messy part. Once finished and the resin has fully cured you’ll need an electric sander to sand it down. The armor shown in this tutorial is made with fiberglass.
Foam | There are many different types of foam: camping mat foam, green foam, styrofoam, pink insulation foam, expanding foam, craft foam etc…. Different types of foam work for different projects but all are lightweight. For example, pink insulation foam can be layered to make thick armor (think space marine or big daddy) and craft foam can be used for thinner pieces like automail.
Leather | For leather armors, but in some cases can look more metallic. An example of leather armor would be this Sif skirt done by God Save The Queen Fashions.
Model Magic Clay | Very lighweight modelling clay that is basically foam, good for smaller pieces that need to be shaped.
Paperclay / Paper Mache | Usually goes over a base and can be used to strengthen or finish a piece.
Papercrafting / Pepakura | Used as a pattern, or used as a base to be covered by something stronger such as fiberglass. It’s a pattern (you either design yourself or commission) that you can print and cut out and tape together to form the shape of the armor.
Sintra | This is a pvc foam board that can be shaped with heat.
Styrene | This is the plastic material that stormtroopers usually use to create their armor, usually done by vaccumforming.
Wonderflex | This is another plastic that is commonly used by cosplayers for armor and props, it can be shaped with heat and sticks to itself through use of heat - apparently you can heat it with a hairdryer!
Wood | A pretty uncommon choice since it is fairly heavy and requires specific tools to work with it.
Hope this helps give you some information on the different types of armor materials out there and will hopefully help you make a decision! :)
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