I am a huge fan of James Cameron's Avatar and a cosplayer. This is what happens when the two are mixed. My favorite animal in the movie is the thanator, a massive cat-like creature that is feared by human and Na'vi alike. I was going to a showing of Toruk: The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil and I decided to build a skull that I could wear on my head for the show. I love how it turned it out and wanted to share my methods with others.
These are the ingredients that I used to make my skull:
Hot glue gun
Dozen round, very thin dowels
White acrylic paint
Step 1: A Skull for a Skull
I am a collector of all things natural and, fortunately, I happen to have a cow skull that I found. This made a perfect base for the thanator skull, but I am sure that most people do not have anything like this lying around in their houses. If you don't have a skull to use for a base, making one out of paper mache should work in a pinch.
I do have other skulls in my collection, but I chose the cow for several reasons. The size and length of the cow skull made it a wonderful base for my thanator.
I took a large sheet of worbla and used my heating tool to shape and stretch it over the skull. Doing it this way I discovered that the worbla tore, stretched and bunched up in odd places. I took off the excess material where this happened. Then I cut off the worbla for the eye openings and along the lower edges. For the bottom edges, be sure to straighten and flare them out. This will give you a good, flat surface to attach the teeth.
Once I had finished molding the large sheet of worbla, I used some scrap pieces to fill in any holes and close any gaps that I had made.
Once the shape was completed I carefully pulled and prodded the worbla of off the cow skull. It took a few minutes to do that, but there was no damage to either skull.
Since the vast majority of creatures on Pandora (the alien moon from Avatar) have two sets of eyes, I decided mine had to have that too. Using my x-acto knife I carefully cut out a second set of eyes behind the primary set. I had to do this after I removed the worbla because I didn't want to damage the cow skull or my knife.
Step 2: Fill It Out
After filling everything in, I used wood filler to smooth out any rough and uneven edges created by joining the different pieces of worbla. It still created some rough edges, but they turned out to be beneficial when it came time to paint.
Step 3: Show Me Your Teeth
Now that the basic skull has been made, it's time to make the teeth. Using a lot of reference pictures and an action figure I have, I made two rows of teeth (one per side) and four large teeth for the front. I cut out the outlines for the teeth from a foam floor mat with an x-acto knife. With my dremel, I shaped and smoothed out the teeth. Once I had the desired shape, I used wonderflex to cover the teeth to give them an even smoother and more symmetrical look.
After the teeth were shaped and covered in wonderflex, I attached them to the skull with hot glue.
Step 4: If You Got It, Flare It!
The last major undertakings for the thanator skull were the head extensions/sensory receptors that flare out from the back of the head. Again, using my reference photos and figure I was able to determine the specific shapes and sizes of the extensions. I thought about using foam for a base, but decided against it because I wanted the skull to be as light as possible.
I drew the outlines on to wonderflex and then cut them out using my x-acto knife. Once I did that, I used my knife again to cut very thin openings in the back of the skull. I then slid the extensions into them and stepped back to see how it looked. It didn't look good; the extensions were flopping everywhere and it looked nothing like a thanator. I pulled them back out and realized that I could use very thin, round dowels to give them some shape without adding a lot of weight. I bought a half dozen of the smallest dowels I could find and measured them for the extensions.
Using my heating tool, I gently wrapped the wonderflex around the dowels and made the ends rounded so they wouldn't be sharp and pointed. I made sure to leave the proximal edge of each extension flat because that was where I was going to attach them to the skull.
For the large, flat extensions I used two different sized dowels. One will be used for the small peak and the other will help keep the extension splayed out and firmly attached to the skull. I used the heating tool and a small amount of hot glue to slide the flat edges in the openings and to attach them securely.
Step 5: Paint It White
Once everything was attached, I began painting it. The more layers I added on, the better it looked. It gave it sun bleached look that I love. As for those rough edges, they gave the skull a natural appearance. Skulls have fissures in them that are the remnants of where the separate plates fuse together during infancy and development in the womb.The edges, along with the many layers of paint, made the skull look like it was bleached and cracked from sitting out in the sun.
That's everything. I hope you enjoyed this instructable and maybe even learned a thing or two. :)