Facehuggers are an easy and utterly scary prop to make to add to your Halloween decorations. This one is made in a few hours with less than $10 of material.
I use liquid latex to give mine a waterproof and rubbery texture. You could also choose to cover the armature with paper mache.
What you'll need:
- Cardboard: try to find some double thickness (heavy duty) cardboard if you can. It makes the body of the facehugger much more sturdy.
- Masking tape: 1" and 3" wide (though you could use one or the other if you prefer)
- Wire: I use 18 gauge clothes line wire. It's plastic coated, flexible but sturdy, and easy to cut. You could also re-purpose some old wire clothes hangers if you have any handy.
- Double ply paper towels or toilet paper (so you can pull the layers apart) or super cheap towel or TP so it's thin
- Liquid Latex: I use mask latex from Monster Makers but you can use the kind available at hobby stores such as Woodland Scenic's brand.
- Foam pipe unsulation tubes ($2-$4 at a hardware store)
- Acrylic craft paint in the colors of your choosing. I used pinky fleshtones, browns, and a bit of mustardy yellow
- Scissors or utility knife
- Wire snips
- Cheap paint brushes (chip brushes)
- Plastic cups
Step 1: Cardboard Body
First, cut two shapes for the body from cardboard. You can see the rough shape I've used. We need two because we'll be sandwiching the leg wires between them. Mine is about 1' x1' at its widest points.
This is where some heavy duty cardboard comes in handy. The body is much more rigid with sturdy cardboard.
Step 2: Adding the Legs
Using your wire, cut four lengths about 40" long. Each wire will be used for two legs, hence why they're so long.
Next, mark the placement on one of your cardboard bodies and poke a hole in the cardboard with a screwdriver or craft knife.
Fold each leg wire in half to find the midpoint and poke the ends up through the holes in the body until all four wires are in place.
When you have all of the legs in, attach the second cardboard body under the first by taping all around the edges.
Step 3: Making the Leg Segments
Now it's time to build out the legs. For this step, find the cheapest lowest quality corrugated cardboard you can find. The flimsier the better. We'll be rolling it into tubes and, believe me, rolling up flimsy cardboard is much easier on your hands. I also pull off one side of the finished surface to make it even easier.
Cut your cardboard into pieces close to these measurements
- 8 - 3"x7"
- 8 - 3"x5"
- 8 - 3" x2"
- 8 - 2"x2" (Not pictured. I use a thinner cardboard for these last segments. The cardboard from a case of soda is perfect)
Feel free to adjust if you'd like your legs to be longer or shorter. Roll your cardboard into tubes and tape to secure. Keep in mind that you want to roll it tight enough to keep its shape, but not so tightly that you can't slide it onto one of the leg wires.
Step 4: Finishing Legs
Slide the cardboard tubes onto each of the wires starting with the longest tube and ending with the shortest. Use pliers to bend the end of your wires over to secure the tubes. You may need to cut off a bit of excess wire.
To smooth the joints between the tubes and add those creepy knuckles that facehuggers have, cut out 24 rounded diamond shapes from cardboard. I try to cut them out so the corrugations (ribs in cardboard) are vertically aligned with the leg (in other words, the ribs go with the curve rather than against it). This makes it easier to wrap these knuckles around the legs.
Wrap the knuckles, one per joint, around the legs and secure with tape.
Now that your legs are done, wrap them completely with masking tape. This is where the wider tape comes in handy. Don't worry about getting the tape perfectly smooth. A few wrinkles will only add to the texture of the facehugger later or can be hidden when you apply the latex.
Step 5: Filling Out the Body
To fill the spaces on the body between where the legs begin, first cut a long thin rectangle of cardboard to place along the outside of the leg bases. This will support the legs and keep them upright in that creepy position they should be in.
Next, cut out six long ovals of cardboard. Tape each one to the center line of the body and then arc them up and over to tape them down to the outside edge of the body. This fills out the body while leaving room down the middle for the spine/tail.
Step 6: Building Up the Breathing Flaps
The two pouches at either side of the tail need to be built up.
Start by cutting a long half oval from cardboard and taping it down to angle from the center line of the body out to the end of the pouch. Cut a few more of the same shapes, then cut them in half of fold them in half to attach to the sides of the first piece in an X shape.
To make it easier to cover these later, I usually cut out long strips of thin cardboard and tape them to the top of these ribs and then lay making tape across them. This gives you a good armature to attach your latex and paper towel to later.
Step 7: Spine
You should have an empty space down the center of the facehugger's body. We'll attach the spine (also the beginning of the tail) to this section. You could make the spine and the tail out of one piece of pipe insulation, but I find it ungainly to work on the body with a long tail whipping around, so I make the tail and spine separately. You'll notice that I've put an X on the body between the pouches. This is where the wire that supports the tail will be attached later.
Cut a piece of pipe insulation that is a few inches shorter than the body. Use a utility knife, scissors, or a hot wire to carve away bits of the pipe to give it a ribbed texture. Then, cut a few wedges out of one end so you can tape the tip into a more rounded shape. Tape the spine pipe to the center of the body with the rounded end at the front.
Step 8: Applying the Skin
Start by brushing sections of the body and the legs with liquid latex and gently laying on small pieces of thin paper towel or toilet paper. Coat the paper with latex until the paper is no longer visible.
Be careful not to over-saturate the paper layers or they'll tear or sag. It's better to do several layers all over allowing each one to dry a bit in between. You can also tint your latex with acrylic paint to save steps later. Don't forget to flip it over and coat the underside as well if you want your facehugger to be waterproof.
TIP: To keep the liquid latex from gumming up your paint brush, put a little bit of liquid dish soap on the bristles first. When you're done with the latex, it will rinse right off the brush.
Step 9: Completing the Tail
You'll make the tail in a similar way to the spine. Just decide how long you want it to be, carve the pipe insulation, and run a piece of wire down the length with enough extra to bend at the end to secure your pipe and enough to insert into the body.
Coat the tail with latex so it matches the body. Attach it when you're done and then coat the join between the spine and tail with additional latex to hide any gap.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
Once your latex is all dry, you can paint your facehugger. I water down some latex and add acrylic paint to tint it while keeping it all water proof.
I chose to make mine a bit dark and grungy, but have fun with your colors and make your facehugger as creepy as you want!