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How to Make Illyria's Costume

Updated on August 31, 2017

How to dress up as Illyria from Season Five of Angel

Illyria is a very unique looking character, and a particularly awesome one to cosplay. She's also quite hard - or at least, her armour is.

There are two parts to cosplaying Illyria - the make-up and the costume. If you don't have the time or skill to make the full costume, you can still colour your hair and paint your face, and (hopefully) get some contact lenses, and be completely recognisable as Illyria.

The body armour is very complicated - a few people have made it successfully, but it is a major mission. Creating Illyria's costume involves getting a full-length body suit, adding vinyl or faux leather in individual pieces, and then tracking down hessian, paint, and various odd bits of ribbon and unidentifiable material, and piecing it together into gloves, shoes and bodysuit.

Nevertheless, if you wish to attempt this, there are resources available on this page, and links to other people's tutorials and cosplays - hopefully they'll help you get started!

Page One: Illyria The God-King Illyria, played by Amy Acker, appeared in Season Five of Angel. Both beautiful and deadly, her rebirth killed one of the previous characters, and brought great grief to Angel, Wesley, Gun, Spike and Lorne.

Is Illyria an awesome character to dress up as?

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Illyria emerges from the shell and examines her new blue form
Illyria emerges from the shell and examines her new blue form

Dressing Up As Illyria

"Joss decided he wanted a 'blue' character and the rest was left to Dayne."

Illyria is rather blue, as you can see. There are a number of make-up tutorials floating around, but they all follow slightly different steps.

Probably the best resource to read is Dayne Johnson's Behind the Scenes discussion of how he created Illyria's appearance.

If you don't want to make the full costume, you could just paint your face, slip in some contacts and colour (or clip in) blue hair. She's a very recognisable character, and has appeared in 'normal' clothing - such as when she pretended to be Fred, for Fred's parents.

The armour is basically a stretch bodysuit covered with pieces of pleather and fabric.

You can go plain-clothes Illyria, but you cannot skip the blue paint!

Go Full Armour or Just Add Makeup? - Should Illyria be left to the professionals or can anyone play?

While Illyria's costume involves full leather-style body armour, this is very difficult to make, and probably hot to wear. As she's a very unique looking character, and does disguise herself in the appearance of normal clothing on occasion, you can just dress up as a quick and easy version, with blue hair, eyes and make up (and maybe a sword!)

Should you try to make the full version of Illyria's costume or just paint yourself blue and dress up in normal clothes?

Amy Acker - as Illyria and Fred

Amy Acker played both Illyria and Fred
Amy Acker played both Illyria and Fred

Check you get the right shade of blue!

Check you get the right shade of blue!
Check you get the right shade of blue!

Blue hair extensions on eBay

For costuming related products, bulk buys, wigs and specialty items, eBay is often a better place to go - if you're willing to spend time hunting for a bargain or pay a lot more.

Photo of Illyria's Face - A better view of Illyria's facial designs and blue contacts

A better view of Illyria's facial designs and blue contacts
A better view of Illyria's facial designs and blue contacts

Illyria's Eyes

  • Large, with a small pupil

  • Faded medium blue

  • Never blink!

You can order custom-made ones, or pick a colour from premade versions. As Illyria's eyes are quite unusual a shop-bought contact lens probably won't be perfect. On the other hand, they're a lot cheaper! If you have vision problems then you'll have to order custom contacts though.

Be careful of what you put in your eyes, and ask for help if you've never used contacts!

If you're considering getting custom contacts, then you can try:

  • 1-800 Contacts

    You can look at the colours here (click the little words under the image - the Aqua is closest to Illyria's eyes, but may be affected by your natural eye colour).

  • 9mm SFX Custom-made Theatrical Contacts

Custom contacts for a costume or 'off the rack'? - Quick and cheap or expensive custom-made contacts?

Which would you opt for - cheap ready made contact lenses, or

Illyria pulling power from her sarcophagus, after creating her armour

Illyria's armour and sarcophagus
Illyria's armour and sarcophagus

Illyria's Flawless Skin Video Tutorials - Video tutorials showing how to get pale skin, ready to play Illyria (or for any other costume!)

Illyria has very pale, perfect skin - you may need to apply make-up to get the right effect. These tutorials are designed for general cosplaying, and vampire/goth halloween costumes. Illyria also has quite a lot of make-up around her eyes. The main difference to the tutorials is the colour!

Note: Tutorials for using makeup with pale skin are not the same as tutorials for using makeup to get pale skin!

If you expect people to be photographing you, an Anti-Shine Powder is a very good idea to prevent shiny, oily skin in photos!

Alabaster Foundations

You'll want some kind of derma-shield base to protect your face from the face paint, but whether you want to make yourself look pale(r) depends entirely on you, and what your skin colour already is (although a dark brown-skinned Illyria would be quite cool actually, with her blue highlights!).

Illyria - Blue Face Paint Video

Illyria - Blue Face Paint Video
Illyria - Blue Face Paint Video

Painting the blue skin and forehead patterns.

This is a video showing how to apply the blue face paint and makeup, and would come after any skin foundation and other makeup if you choose to use those. It's also the only video tutorial for Illyria's makeup! (There's also this brief one listing the products used by another costumer)

  • Paint base blue on forehead

  • Brush lighter paint along edges of the forehead , to blend in the blue to the rest of the face with a large brush

  • ...and down the sides of the face, and in to the cheekbones

  • Paint eyelids blue

  • Apply silver-blue lipstick

  • Use a small brush to paint the pale blue and white lines on the forehead

  • Use the large brush again down the sides of the neck

A closer look at Illyria's hair and face

A closer look at Illyria's hair and face
A closer look at Illyria's hair and face

Blue Face Paints and Makeup - .Painting Yourself 'Til You're Blue In The Face

You'll need a light blue to paint the details on, and a darker blue for the main areas.

Contours and Cheekbones Makeup Videos - If you want to get daring, you can try and mimic Amy Acker's cheekbones!

Illyria's Armour: Front View - Her armour is a complicated puzzle of rope or hessian, leather, and other textiles on a black base

Full length view of Illyria in her armour
Full length view of Illyria in her armour

Illyria's posture is typically wary and poised - her arms out slightly, her head forward, her eyes very fixed - hunting like a predator.

And the real Illyria costume (being worn by fans)

Illyria Cosplay Convention Photos - Some Illyria cosplays from Flickr!

Illyria of Vahla ha'nesh by Verdaera on DeviantART
Illyria of Vahla ha'nesh by Verdaera on DeviantART


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We just posted high-res photos of the original Illyria costume, as a reference for cosplayers and artists. Enjoy!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      8 years ago from Northern California

      Congratulations. You lens is an Honorable Mention on the Best of Make Your Own Halloween Costumes. Be sure to stop by to pick up your award image.

      Halloween Blessing Angel

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @Sabre1000: @ sabreblade, I absolutely agree with you!

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice video instructions. Thanks for the fun costume lens!

    • Sabre1000 profile image


      8 years ago

      Illyria cosplayers shouldn't be smiling!


      Unless they are beating up a Spike cosplayer...


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