Introduction: Angor Rot Trollhunters Costume Build
As soon as I saw Angor Rot in Trollhunters, I knew it would make a great costume. It's an ambitious project, but every year I try to expand my skill set when building my Halloween costume, though I really needed more time for this. I've always wanted to do a big costume, and now I have, though I didn't quite finish. I wanted a rubber latex skin, and there are a few details I didn't get too. Standing at 7'-4", the costume attracted a lot of attention and many people wanted a photo. I couldn't take two steps without someone running up to me.
• Many reference photos from all angles
• Old shirt: for muscle suit base
• Old pants: for muscle suit base
• Old shoes
• Large roll of 36" wide paper: for templating, sketching, and to protect work surfaces
• Painters tape: to hold things in place, marking, and masking
• 1/2" thick x 24" x 72" Upholstery foam sheet: for the muscle suit base and skinning the head
• (2) 2" thick x 24" x72" Upholstery foam sheet: to build up the muscles
• (2-3) Cans 3M 74 foam spray adhesive: This is expensive. I began using it to attach foam and the fleece, but switched to 3M 77 which is much cheaper. I used 5 cans, but should have used 3M 77. The main purpose of the 74 is to create a barrier on the fleece for the latex
• (4-5) Cans 3M 77 spray adhesive: to attach foam, fleece, and rigid insulation. I used 3 cans, but should have used this instead of 3M 74
• (1) quart contact cement: to adhere EVA and craft foam.
• Craft Foam: for the belt and various details
• Velcro: for belt and battery holder
• EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles: for the lift shoes, belt buckle and head
• 2" Rigid insulation: for the lift shoes
• Plasti-Dip Rubber Coating: for the EVA foam belt buckle. I only used it for exposed foam
• (3) yards, 60" wide anti-pill fleece: I just barely had enough. I'd recommend 4 yards so you don't have to do as much splicing.
• (1) gallon Monster Makers Mask Latex: applied over the 3M 74 coated fleece for skin texture
• (1) gallon Rubber cement: applied onto the latex for a durable surface
• Naptha: thins the rubber cement for application
• Oil paint: to color the rubber cement
• Small diameter PVC pipe: for various rings in the face and on the belt
• Muslin Perm Press Material: for the loincloth
• 1/4" Acrylic: for the eyes
• Cardstock: for the 'eye sockets'
• (4) Yellow LEDs: for the eyes
• 20/22 gauge wire
• (2) toggle switches: for the eyes and body lights
• (2) dual AA battery holder
• (12) Blue LEDs: for the body
• Acrylic paint: brown and black to weather the loincloth
• Brown spray paint: for belt and bracer
• Gold spray paint: for belt buckle, belt trim, and bracer trim
• Pantyhose or sheer material: to diffuse the blue LEDs. I double layered black and white
• Lead pointer: It's a fancy pencil I use to sketch
• Ink pens: for drawing on foam
• Hobby knife with many, many, many hobby blades
• Rotary Cutter: to cut fleece and muslin
• Cutting mat
• Respirator: when dealing with glue, paint, etc
• Metal ruler to measure and act as a straight edge for cutting
• Paint can opener for the contact cement can
• Dremel with sanding attachment: for shaping EVA foam belt buckle and smoothing EVA seams
• Angle grinder: to shape upholstery foam
• Band saw: to cut acrylic and 2" rigid foam
• Belt sander: to smooth acrylic edges and sand face
• Spray bottle: to mix acrylic paints for weathering
• Wire strippers: for wiring LEDs
• Breadboard (optional): to test LED configuration
• Material cost is about $400, all in assuming you are starting with nothing. I already had a lot of the materials so I only spent $280. I had craft foam, EVA foam, contact cement, LEDs & related wiring, spray paint, muslin, plasti-dip, rigid insulation, velcro, nylon strapping & tri-glides, 3M 77 glue, etc. The smallest amount you can buy of some materials is much more than you need, so it helps if you already have some of this stuff. That or it gives you material for future projects. This cost does not account for tools.
I took many, many screenshot references from the show to try and capture Angor Rot from all angles. These photos are the blue prints for the costume. If you want to try and make it accurate, photos are a must. When working on the head, I had a screenshot right there as I built it.
I made a duct tape dummy first, though definitely double wrap it in duct tape. Filling it with expanding foam is also the best way to do it. I stuffed it with clothes, so it was a bit too spongy.
I wish i had put sweatpants and a sweatshirt on the dummy, just to make the resulting costume I built on top a bit looser and provide more room to wear clothes underneath.
I used screenshots for a rough idea of size and proportion. I looked for shots with Angor Rot and the teacher, and then I measured pixels, the heights for both, sizes of legs, arms, etc. Then I compared my physical measurements, creating a ratio of my measurements to determine Angor's. I then modified sizes to make it work.
There is no easy way to get some of my proportion to Angor Rot's. His shoulders are three times the width of his waist and even with foam I can't get that broad. I focused on the imposing height. I'm making this a bit more muscular. Angor Rot is drawn as a cartoon without a lot of detail. I want to bring him to the physical world where he would have musculature.
Step 1: Making the Body
I just pulled an old long sleeve shirt and long pants onto the mannequin to start. While I glued individual muscles to the shirt, I wished I had wrapped the shirt and pants in 1/2" foam. This gives you a somewhat sturdy base which will make applying muscles and later wrapping much easier. I didn't do this, but wish I had. Wrapping the arms/legs/body also removes wrinkles that the fabric could create. Separate the foam at the shoulder, elbow, waist, and knees. You need these joints so you can still move. It's okay to have gaps because the fleece will cover it.
I started taping out muscle forms using reference images of musculature and Angor Rot. I used my son's action figure to also help visualize how it works. This worked the best as it's 3d.
I cut foam with a hobby knife. To glue it, I first tried contact cement. It didn't dry well with the fabric or the foam. It finally dried on the fabric but would require at least another coat of contact cement. The foam just didn't tack up with contact cement.
I tried using 3m 77 spray glue on the foam to create a barrier between the foam and contact cement. It's a few more steps but 3m 74 is expensive, so i was trying to build on a budget.This didn't really work either.
Just 3m77 on the foam worked well. It seemed similar in strength to the 3M 74 at 1/3 the price. I tried it on a few low stress bonds and was pleased with the bond. While i mixed #M 74 and 3M 77, doing this again, I would attach all foam with 3M 77. It's a lot cheaper and seems to work fine. The bad thing about 3M 77 is that it sprays everywhere, 3M 77 has a much more controlled spray that doesn't get on everything in the surrounding area.
When using 3m 74, just get coverage. Don't overdo it as it will just take longer to dry. A thin coating is fine.
Breaking the muscles into basic shapes works best for definition instead of trying to carve shapes out of foam. As I mentioned, if i did this over, I'd skin it with 1/2" foam. My main concern is fabric shirt and pants wrinkling, foam prevents this. Definitely run the foam the entire length of shirt. I stopped short and regretted it later.
I did just a few leg muscles to help keep a bulky shape. I did cut a knee cap and glues it lower than my actual knee to better proportion the length of my leg since the platfrom shoe makes the leg much longer.
I used a paper template for most everything before I cut the foam, just to make sure I got the sizing right and did't cut something the wrong size.
I did a rough shape of the muscles with a hobby knife, creating a general shape and chamfering the edges. I tried using a dremel, but the head was too small and it was quite easy to tear the foam.
An angle grinder works much better with the larger head, but be careful. I would clamp down the shirt or pants because otherwise they will want to move. The grinder did a good job of smoothing and shaping. Practice first, the left side of the grinder head was less likely to dig into the foam due to the rotation.
I wrapped the upper ribs from armpit to armpit, with pec muscles on top of that. There are three different pieces for each shoulder, two pieces for the tricep, one for the bicep, and a thin piece between them. The back has two large pieces for the lats, two more pieces for the traps, and two more pieces on top of the lats.
The legs are minimal with hamstrings, quads, and a knee cap.
Since I'll be building shoe lifts, the legs are much longer. I cut a length of foam to fit the new lift shoes. Since the bottom of the shoe is much larger than my leg, I pie cut the foam, cutting triangles out and re-gluing it so it tapered from shoe to knee. I cut the foam long enough to wrap the platform shoe. Then I measure d the diameter of my calf and then split that number into 4 for (4) pie cuts, then glued it back up.
The foam tapered much more than the lift shoe, take that into account. I got it to fit, but it's stretched tight. This could have been corrected by not making the pie cut so long. The pie cut should have started at my foot, not towards the bottom of the foam. My original plan was to have the foam velcro to the shoe, but it's such a tight fit with how it worked out, I didn't need to. The foam doesn't slide well. That and the taper from shoe to knee begins to get restrictive.
I wanted an overall height of more than 7'. I created shoe lifts with (4) layers of 2" rigid foam insulation. Use 3M 77 spray glue as contact cement will melt it.
I padded the bottom with EVA foam for grip and topped it with EVA foam too. I used 1" strips of EVA foam at the toe and heel to hold the shoe in place. The EVA foam to rigid foam glue is 77, but I used contact cement for EVA foam to EVA foam. Overall it's a 9" boost in height and it's surprisingly light weight. Other than the bulk, it's pretty easy to walk with them on.
Step 2: Skinning the Muslce Suit
Once foam is in place and shaped, it's time to wrap it in fleece. This can help smooth out some features and hide gaps between the foam. The fleece can be applied with few to none wrinkles, just keep pulling/stretching as you glue it down. When you get to the end, make sure you have enough to stretch past your seam. the very end edge is hard to prevent wrinkles. I would pull it farther, glue it down without wrinkles, then just cut at the seam and cut the wrinkles off.
The foam on theshirt stopped right at my waist. I wish I had extended it down further, so the fleece could extend further. I later added fleece directly to the shirt because my belt wasn't fully covering it. This of course created another seam which will eventually become hidden with the latex rubber skin.
I started with the front, then did the back, each arm, and each leg. Orient the fleece without glue first, then pull half of it back. I would always spray 3m 74 or 77 in the middle, on both surfaces, then work from the middle out, spraying a strip of glue and then gluing down while still wet so that you can pull it up if need be. If you let it dry first, you won't get a second chance. The wrinkles will come out, just keep pulling and gluing.
I wired the blue LEDs after the fact. I started in the left arm and worked may way left to right. I tried to run the wire inside the foam when possible, using the end of the wire taped to a drill bit to poke through the foam. For long stretches I ran inside the shirt and taped the wire down.
To put the LEDs in place, I cut the fleece and foam. I plan to go back and make the holes/openings a bit more authentic to the source material. I did it rather quickly. I stripped the wire but didn't cut it, splicing the LED in-line and then using hot glue to seal the connections. Then I'd pull the wire so the LED sat at the bottom of the hole.
A battery pack and switch comes out the bottom of the shirt and is velcroed behind the belt for easy access. I used (12) blue LEDs with no resistors.While I originally planned to use (21) LEDs to match the source directly, it was just too many. Even that many would have been fine for amperage.
Step 3: The Head
Making the face out of EVA foam was a bear. I'm not a sculpter and there are some convoluted shapes. I just broke it down and did the best i could, figuring i could add to and cut/replace if necessary. Having a reference image (or 3) definitely helps. I would constantly refer to the image to make sure i was on track.
I started building a cylinder, then built out around the eye sockets. The head was pie cut to get the curve. The horns are EVA foam with the seams smoothed with the dremel.I plan to go back and add stryation.
When building out features, I tried to match heights, not necessarily the contours. Once i thought the eye sockets were right, i sliced a piece of 2" foam down to 1/2" and covered the head. This smoothed the counters and it finally began to look like Angor. It would have been easier if i had 1/2" foam instead of cutting it down, but time was of the essence.
Unfortunately the head ended up a bit big, and this is after scaling it down. It just makes the costume look like a bobble head. Maybe i should have started with the head and built the body out. The head could have scaled down, but not by much.
Two LEDs were used for each eye which is 1/4 acrylic contact cemented to card stock that was shaped to a cone and taped. I did paint the paper with black spray paint, but left it white inside to reflect light. I sanded the back of the acrylic to diffuse the light. The LED leads and wire are hot glued together then hot glued to small end of cone. Wire splices are twisted and hot glued to a switch and battery holder which are velcroed inside the head. Black pantyhose covers the mouth, which is where I look out.
I referred to my LED tutorial for wiring on my blog. With two AA batteries I didn't need any resistors.
Step 4: Details & Final Thoughts
The belt is craft foam, contact cemented together, then painted brown with the edges masked in painters tape. I used yellow craft foam, but I do plan to go back and spray it gold.
The belt buckle is EVA foam, though it hasn't make it onto the costume yet.
The loincloth is just a muslin material, cut to shape. I used a dremel to ravel the edges. I used an emerald green and black rit dye, eyeballing the color. I glued the front of the loincloth to the top half of the body and glued the belt over that, just to prevent a piece of costume slipping/moving. The back loincloth is glued to the belt, but not to the costume. The belt velcroes in the back.
Acrylic paint watered down weathers the loin cloth. I made it dirtier at the bottom.
The bracer and bracelet are EVA foam contact cemented together. The bracer uses 1" nylon strapping and a tri glide.
I plan to add PVC pipe cut to rings and painted gold in the face and on the belt. The shoulder cover will be more muslin material glued to EVA foam.
Initially I planned to cover the LED with black and white pantyhose to diffuse the light. It's the combination that looked best and diffused best. The holes will be painted darker.
The horns need striation as well as craft foam and rings. I'll use a saw to get straight lines and a dremel for definition.
I didn't get to the point of the tree branches wrapping the legs, arms, and head. It would have been EVA foam.
The skin would have been latex for texture topped with tinted rubber cement. The process would involved spraying the fleece with 3M 74 to create a barrier, latex over that for texture and to cover the fleece seams. Rubber cement tinted with oil paint and thinned with Naptha would be applied over the latex for a durable skin.
I love the physicality. At 7'-4" tall, it's an imposing costume. There's a lot I don't like that others don't notice. I didn't get the rubber skin on before Halloween, thus a lot of seams were visible but most people didn't notice, afraid of the 7' tall monster. I hope to complete this after Halloween. The skin would make this look more realistic instead of a mascot. I have a better approach to making a muscle suit after this, but it's rather warm and I don't necessarily want to do the same thing again. There's a lot of foam in this that acts as insulation. It's great outside though.
Not many people recognized the character, but I couldn't go more than two steps without someone wanting a picture with me.
The head is a bit too big which is disappointing, and that's scaled down from my first sketch. While I could make it a bit shorter, it would be tough to make it less wide. The body just isn't quite big enough for Angor Rot. He's huge, and I made the body as big as I could. I've always wanted to do a BIG costume, now that it's done I've always wanted to do armor.