Introduction: E.T. Costume
E.T. everyones favorite alien! I've never really seen it done so I figured why not. I wanted to spend as little money as possible, I think I spent under $20 (a lot of the stuff I already had) and made it in less then three days because I was going to an event.
I hope you learn some new techniques and have a happy halloween!
Step 1: Gathering Your Materials
A paper mache egg from a craft store
Paper towel roll
White blanket or sheet
Not all these materials are necessary. Feel free to swap out any of the items for something you already have or something you prefer.
Step 2: Shaping With Newspaper
Start by crumpling a bunch of news paper, taping them together with masking tape, and get it roughed out into the shape of E.T.'s head. This is where reference photos come in hand! It is going to look really rough at first, but just keep adding until you get the desired shape.
Step 3: Smoothing With Masking Tape
Once you like the shape you have, cover the entire mass of newspaper with masking tape to smooth it.
Step 4: Facial Features
Next take foil and shape out the nose, brows, cheekbones, or any other areas you would like to define. You can use news paper or even masking tape rolled up instead of the foil for this.
Step 5: Tape on Facial Features
Once you shape out your facial features, tape them on. It doesn't hurt to tape over the entire face to smooth it out. Look over the entire thing and make sure everything looks good and its all somewhat flat. The smoother it is, the better it looks in the end.
Step 6: Paper Mache
I ripped the newspaper into strips, also made sure to tear off all the straight edges (so that all pieces of newspaper have rough edges). Mix your white glue with water in a bowl, I didn't use an exact measurement, I just thinned it to my liking. Make sure to completely saturate your newspaper strips and begin to lay them on your taped head. I stacked multiple strips on top of each other to speed up the process, just make sure they completely saturated in the white glue mixture. I did about 3 layers of newspaper, but do what works best for you. Do this until the head is fully covered and then set aside to dry.
Step 7: Cut the Back Open
Once you've allowed your head to completely dry, you're going to want to cut the back open to remove the innards to cut down on some of the weight. Cut three sides and leave one side still attached so it works like a hinge. Cut it towards the back of the head because it will be easier to hide. I didn't have time to let mine dry because I only had three days to make this, that's why the cut looks torn apart. If you let it dry completely it will cut a lot cleaner. Proceed removing everything from the inside, this might take a little work, just take your time.
Step 8: Sealing the Head Back Up
Once you have removed all the insides of the head, you're going to want to tape the back portion of the head back on, where you cut it open. Just cover the entire cut line. Once that is done you're going to paper mache over the tape to make a good seal. Just make sure your newspaper strips completely go past the tape onto the pre existing paper mache. A few layers will be fine, no need to go overboard. Set aside and let dry.
Step 9: Creating the Body
For the body I used a black trash bag and filled it with whatever material I had laying around (towels& blankets), whatever works for you should be fine. Add tape around the bag to somewhat shape it. It's not really important what it looks like because it is going to get covered in the end. Use the head as the guide to get the proportions close enough to what you want. Also check to make sure the body will fit in the milk crate and make any adjustments needed before the next step.
Step 10: Paper Mache the Body
Repeat the same paper mache process as the head. Cover only the top and sides of the trash bag, leaving the bottom open. Make sure your trash bag it completely sealed off, so you don't make a mess of whatever is inside of it. Once it is dry remove the stuffed trash bag.
Step 11: Neck
Once the paper mache body has dried, it is time to add the neck so we can join the head and body together after paint. Take a paper towel roll and cut a hole in the body at the top, just a little smaller than the paper towel roll so it will fit snug. You can tape it in place if necessary, then add paper mache to it.
Step 12: Cotton and Latex Build Up
Time for the fun part! This might be a little tricky at first, but once you start playing with it will get easier. A quick disclaimer about working with latex, it is not terribly dangerous but it would be smart to work in a well ventilated area and wear gloves. This can be a little messy and latex sticks to everything and will ruin clothes.
At this point you're going to want as much reference photos out as possible. Start by tearing pieces of cotton batting and dip them into the liquid latex, completely saturate them and start placing them on the head. I tend to ring out the excess latex so it's not all over the place and dries a little faster. Working in small sections at a time makes it easier to manage. Starting at the back of the head will allow you time to experiment with the material before you get to the trickier areas like the face. While you're first working with it experiment as much as you can, add wrinkles, push it around, build it up, anything that will help you get accustomed to the material so by the time you get the face you are not overwhelmed. Tear pieces of the cotton batting into the size you need or that best fits what you're trying to build up. You can roll the cotton up, fold it in half, whatever works to get the desired build up you want. The latex will start to dry and this it when you want to start pressing in some detail and shaping the areas to your liking. If it your first time, start by taking your tool of choice (popsicle stick, dental tool, toothpick) and push in some wrinkles. Do it while the latex is still completely liquid so you can get a feel for what it will do. Sometimes the detail you carve in will rise back up, but just keep working it and as it dries it will hold much better. The more you work with it, the easier it becomes and you find the sweet spot of when you can add all the details. Continue to work one section at a time until the entire head is covered in cotton and latex. The majority of the head is just laying on one layer of cotton and latex and doing subtle lines. When you get to face it is a lot more building up and adding wrinkles and lines.
This method is great because surprising you can add a good amount of texture and detail and it also leaves a pretty awesome natural texture as well. You don't have to finish it all at one time, you can start and stop at any time. You can even remove something you don't like, it might be a little tricky, but it is possible.
Step 13: Adding the Eyes
I couldn't find anything for eyes, I finally settled on a paper mache egg I found at craft store. I was not happy with this because it needed to be as smooth as possible, but I was in such a rush to finish this, I didn't have a choice. To my surprise when I cut open the egg there was a plastic egg underneath the paper mache. This would work perfect, I sanded it smooth and cut it to the shape. Use what you can find, the smoother the better it will look. Cut it to shape, placing it against the head and making sure it looks right. Make sure you make it little bit bigger than what you're actually going to see, because you need to add cotton and latex around it to make eyelids. Once you get the shape you like, glue it in place with superglue.
Step 14: Eyelids
Add cotton and latex around the eye forms to build up eyelids using the same process as before.
This should be the final step of creating your head, make sure you are satisfied before moving on the painting process. If you decide you want to build up an area more or add more details after you paint, you can do that, you'll just have to paint over that area again.
Step 15: Painting
Take your liquid latex and mix it with a brown acrylic paint 50/50. You can thin it with water if needed. The reason you mix your acrylic paint with the latex is so that it will bond really well to the cotton and latex already on the head. Cover the entire head with the paint except the eyes. You can use a cheap chip brush to apply or even upholstery foam, whatever works.
Step 16: Adding a Wash
Next you're going to want to add a wash, which is a darker color that sits in the deeper areas and brings out a lot of the detail. Make sure the brown base coat is completely dry. Take a dark brown acrylic paint and thin it down a lot with water. You can use the same brown with black added to it. Adding latex to this is paint not necessary. Paint on the dark color and let it sit for a second and use a paper towel to wipe off the excess, leaving the paint in all the cracks and deep areas. Working in small areas until the head is entirely done.
Step 17: Dry Brushing
Once the wash has dried you're going to dry brush the entire head. This will accentuate the high points of the head. You're going to use a much lighter color than the first brown you used to base coat the head. Just straight acrylic will work fine, it doesnt need to be thinned. Take a little paint on a brush, chip brushes work great, and wipe off the majority of the paint on a paper towel. Lightly brush over the high points of the head until you've done the whole thing. This will finish the paint job, feel free to experiment with the process and make it your own.
Step 18: Paint the Body
Use the same brown and latex mix you used for the base coat on the head and paint the body and neck. I only painted the top half and neck because it is not going to be seen and I was restricted with time, but you can paint to whole thing if you would like.
Step 19: Painting the Eyes
I used an airbrush for this so it was as smooth as possible, but it is not necessary, a brush will work fine. Base the eyes with a white acrylic paint. Once that dries paint a blue iris. I used a circle template to get a perfect circle. If you'd like you can paint in tiny subtle lines in the iris before you add the pupil. Do a variation of colors, building them up. Jordu Schell has a great video on making eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUjevl_2Ki0 Once that is dry, paint in a black pupil. Let completely dry and add a high gloss varnish or an epoxy to make the eyes shine. Keep in mind some touch ups around the eyes might be necessary.
Step 20: Cut a Hole in the Bottom of the Head
Cut a hole in the bottom of the head towards the back for the neck. Make it slightly smaller than the paper towel holder so it is a snug fit. You can do this at any point of the process, once the head has been covered in paper mache. Once all the painting is done place the head on the body and its all set!
Step 21: Finishing
Place your E.T. in a milk crate and add a white towel or blanket over the figure and you're ready to go! You can add handle bars to milk crate, attach him to a real bike or continue the with the same process and build up some arms or even the entire body. Let your imagination go crazy and use these techniques on any other project you have in mind! The great thing about the costume is that it only requires a red sweatshirt and denim pants!
Step 22: Strapping E.T. to Yourself
The way I strapped E.T. to myself was with some straps I had laying around. Luckily they were red so they match the sweatshirt perfect. Thread the strap through any hole on in the back of the milk crate from the inside going out. Wrap the strap under your arm and across your opposite shoulder. Once it is over your shoulder thread it through one of the holes in the front of the milk crate, making sure its on the opposite side from where you started and then tie it off. Repeat on the other side. Surprisingly it is not terribly heavily or uncomfortable to wear attached to your chest for hours on end.
Hope you enjoyed, feel free to ask any questions or share your work! Have fun creating!