Cosplay Creation: The Star Guitar

My girlfriend is cosplaying for Amecon and she needed a prop… An easy way would be to use the PS2/PS3 guitar but it didn’t quite suit the image needed. So I volunteered to create a guitar for her. Let’s just say I really should have started so much sooner… My timescale was 24 hours (cue music)…

Design Brief
A Star guitar as a template, I had no in-game images to work from so searched for a Star Guitar and found one. Had to have a pink inch thick rim around the star at least.

I only had cardboard to work with so planned to use some corrugated cardboard from boxes and then basically plaster with paper maché. The solvent would be flour and water to cut down on costs but then my sister had a bottle of PVA glue so used that also. So all was needed was:

– Lots of cardboard
– Paper template of Star Guitar
– PVA Glue (or suitable solvent)
– Poster Paint
– Brushes
– Scotch Tape
– Electrical Tape
– Pieces of wood
– Pen and Paper for calculations and designs
– Electrical heater to speed up drying times
– LOTS of coffee

Phase One – Templates
I tried to sketch out the dimensions on plain paper first using Photoshop to get the correct sizes. Then I thought, I’m wasting my time here, I should just scale the image to fit and print it off. A small issue with my network printer ensued but the template was made. I cut out the paper template and affixed it to the cardboard, ready to cut around.


Using the cutout as a template, I cut another piece out to keep the symmetry and to act as the back. I then thought about ways of re-enforcing strength into the design so the guitar would not collapse upon itself. The easiest way was to cut out a strip of cardboard with the corrugation set vertically so the stress load would act through it, and then make a simple circle. Yes I know a triangle is the strongest shape but a circle in this situation will suffice. The part where the fret board would slot in was a perfect 4CM in width and I had planned to simply slide in the board once made into that whole. More will be explained later.

Guitar (2) Guitar (3) Guitar (4)

Now with the base done, it was time to create a the fret board which was 4CM wide with a curved back. So I just made sure I had the right length of the fret board which is 4CM wide, then 1CM in terms of depth.

Guitar (6) Guitar (7) Guitar (8)

As you can see from the above picture, I managed to get the curve rather well and balanced throughout. To achieve that curve though I have to basically get the cardboard and run it along a flat edge to make the structurally stiff cardboard more flexible to curve around. There was an issue here though… Originally the design was 30CM for the base Star then 30CM for the Fret Board… I felt that it was a little too small so made it so the fret was much longer. I however had to then make two pieces and join them together. This would naturally create a weak link but couldn’t think of an alternative with time and lack of lengthy material at my disposal.

Guitar (9)

Since this is the fret board people would naturally be using it as a grip and so it would need to be structurally sound once again so the cardboard doesn’t collapse inside itself. So, I added more of the cardboard pillars inside the fret board which provided ample support.

Guitar (11)Guitar (12)

With that now completed I set about looking at attaching the fret board to the base Star itself. I had left a gap previously so it would all slot together creating maximum strength. While doing this I did originally think about extending the fret board all the way through the base itself so there would be strength from the bottom up, however I got lazy to cut off the circle pillars I’ve taped down previously. In hindsight I should have done just that, not only to add extra strength but ballast, something I had totally forgot about in the design.

Guitar (13) Guitar (14) Guitar (15) Guitar (16)

There was a bit of a gap between the fret board and the base itself so I created a holder which again not only adds strength through structure but filled the space perfectly. After some quick measurements it took only a few mins to create the shape required as the pieces simply slotted together. To attach I used PVA glue and loads of tape! As you can see from the above pictures as well I added more paper pillars to each corner as well. Now that the base structure was done, this is what it looked like!

Guitar (17)

Not bad eh? At this point I was getting encouraged as everything was going so smoothly. Too smoothly! With that done I set out about getting the strings into place. I looked around the house and thankfully I found some plastic/nylon string but it was pretty thick… So I seperated the strands to make them smaller. After a good few mins unwravelling them I set out on making the design for the holder.

Guitar (18) Guitar (22) Guitar (23) Guitar (25) Guitar (29)

I simply wanted a triangle shape which is elevated so the strings would go inbetween. Knowng that the string would be a little tight I found a piece of plasic for the string to tie around, making sure that the knots didn’t rip through the cardboard. With that in place I then used a plastic cable tie to attach the string holder to the base of the guitar.

Guitar (30) Guitar (31)

Looks like a real guitar no? The shape of the holder thing at the end was easy, again cut a template and then cut another out to duplicate along with some fins to fold over. At this point I was very, very tired so did nothing fancy in terms of structure, just a simple wrap around and a pillar in the middle. However at this point I hit a serious snag…

I tied the strings too tightly so when I raised the end bit, it basically made the whole fret board bend! So the structure I worked hard on keeping intact basically went right next to the joint. I was really running out of time since I still had to plaster the guitar a few times and apply coats of paint. The solution I thought of first was to just re-enforce it with some bamboo sticks since I know my mum keeps some about in the garden. Took me ages to find but I did and thankfully it did the trick! So after just sliding the bamboo stick inside the cardboard fret board and securing it with tape, I glued everything in place…

Guitar (32)Guitar (33) Guitar (35)

Now was the time to plaster the gurtar in uber quick time! I made some solvent using flour and water initially and used newspaper. However it took so long for the first coat to be applied I was getting worried. The sun was out to help drying times but then it started to rain. I was getting adbit discouraged at this point so went in for a coffee and sandwich to recompose myself on the next crucial steps to save time. After a brief discussion with my sister it was decided that I should just use the PVA glue for the next layer to provide more strength and indeed normal scrap white paper. This was something I should have done before actually as it provides so much more strength but requires careful application due to the limited flexibility of normal white paper. Time was ticking so I just slapped it on quicktime and let it dry for an hour as I napped.

The only thing now was to paint it and the process was very straightforward. Just a tub, some poster paint, mix, apply. I did about 3 coats of each using an electric heater to assist with the drying times and it turned out well. There are some changes though that I want to do to the guitar, especially the strap, extra detailing like glitter and stars as well as changing the balast so its more neautral and not top heavy. All in all I am please with the result after one days work and I hope Ashlea is too!


  • wow,great tutorial , wow~~

    i have some cosplay tutorials too , plz check my blog 🙂

  • Many thanks Alice! I will update this guide though with a part 2 since I made this one in quite a rush and many little details were omitted. Still pretty happy though with the final result and it looked good with my girlfriend’s outfit, of which she had a picture taken by Shojou Beat for as well ^_^

  • Pingback: TaroTard’s Cosplay Experience |