Introduction: Impressionist TWO-FACE Costume!
Having had some success a few years back with my Impressionist Joker Costume, for 2013 I decided to take a crack at another Batman villain, Two-Face. One of my reasons for taking this route is that I've grown weary of putting huge effort into costumes that accurately represent my inspiration, but which the audience fails to appreciate. Why create a 1966 Doctor Who Cyberman if everybody is just going to say "Hey, look at the robot!"? So I've been leaning toward costumes that don't rely on a knowledgeable public. My Lovecraft-inspired costume from last year was chosen because I didn't expect anyone to know what it was, so I wasn't sad when they didn't.
The Impressionist Two-Face costume is the same deal. It is not meant to look like Harvey Dent. Folks will probably recognize some of the elements and figure out what I'm doing, but my satisfaction will not be based on their ability to puzzle out my intentions. It was more important to create something striking, weird, and a little gross. They might not know who I am, but they'll notice me!
Here's what I used:
Fimo (white, translucent and pearl)
Two jackets, one black and one white
Two pants, one black and one white
various fabric remnants
One suit vest
A pair of shoes
a jug of blood!
Step 1: Two Face Mask
Since the technique had worked for the Joker mask, I decided to go ahead and start this mask by simply sticking papier-mache to my face. Smart people apply Vaseline or something similar beforehand, but frugal and/or lazy people (or those too impatient to run to the drugstore before beginning) just stand in front of a bathroom mirror, slop it on, and then shoot themselves in the face with a hairdryer.
Some people have more elaborate recipes, but I use straight-up flour and water. I like to work with a thick paste, but it's really a matter of personal preference. I've used a lot of different consistencies over the years and eventually settled on what works best for me, but I'm not going to tell you how thick to make your paste. It's all up to you. Mine is something like cake batter, easily pourable, but not too runny (the consistency of pancake batter, for example, would be too runny).
After I had a couple of coats on my face and let it dry, I popped off the base mask and allowed it to cure for a couple of days (I had time. If you don't, just keep blasting it with a hairdryer and you'll be able to work with it again in just a few minutes.
Once it was fully dried, I trimmed the edges so the mask covered my forehead, cheekbones, and terminated around my upper lip. Now comes the fun part: inventing a face.
My idea was that the "Two-Face" concept should be interpreted literally: I wanted to look as though I had sliced off two human faces, stitched them together, and then wore them over my own face. My left eye would be the right eye of one face, and vice versa. Confused? It'll all make sense in the end.
Since I had to fit two faces on, I knew that this mask would end up wrapping around to my ear area, so the first thing I did was build extensions to the mask and papier-mache over them to create a new work surface. Then I employed my usual technique of taking little wads of newspaper and bits of masking tape to sculpt the shapes I wanted. First I had to decide where the middle seam would go, and build up the edges around that. Part of the reason that I chose a crooked seam, rather than a straight seam straight down the middle, is that the crooked seam made it easier to hide my own cumbersome human nose.
From there I built up brow ridges, cheek bones and other shapes that would disguise the obvious contours of my own face beneath the mask, and some raggedy edges to imply that I cut these faces off with a dull blade! Basically, just experiment until you find a design you like... sculpting with paper and tape is easy, and if you don't like the results, you can simply pull it off.
Once you're satisfied, put another couple of layers of papier-mache over the whole thing!
Now, I regret missing this step photographically, but it happened. Like the Joker mask, I intended to use ribbons to tie this mask around my head. With the Joker, I drilled holes in the finished mask, dragged the ribbons through and tied them off, using a washer to secure them. This time, I punched the holes right after I had put a coat of papier-mache over the tape-sculpted features. From the front, the holes went into the corners of the false eye sockets. The ribbons were drawn through and tied off, then I papered over them, so the ties are completely invisible from the front. I really like this design feature, the only drawback being that if you decide that you want different ribbons instead, you're kind of screwed. The mask is the first element of the costume I built, and I had no concept of what I would wear with it at the time. I chose two shades of red ribbons because they look like blood and the mask was kind of gory, and I don't regret that choice. However, if I'd waited, I would have made a different selection. Given the way the whole costume turned out, it would have been more sensible to use black ribbons on the right and white ribbons on the left. But I didn't, and that's that, so stop yelling at me!
Step 2: Prettying Up the Ugly Mug
Now comes my favorite part: the paint job and accessories!
However, one thing I didn't get good shots of is the creation of the eyeballs, which I had to do before the paintjob. I looked around for a while, trying to find big doll eyes or theatrical fake eyes or prosthetic eyes or something kind of realistic that would work for me, but in the end I just used Fimo. I made two fake eyes out of white Fimo and baked them, then painted irises on by hand. Then I took some translucent Fimo and put a thin layer over each eye and baked them a second time, to give them a milky dead look with the irises just barely showing through. After that, I took more of the white Fimo to sculpt upper and lower lids for both eyes, attached them, and baked them up together. The reason this had to be done first is that the eyelids would need to be painted to match their respective faces, so I needed to have them ready to paint.
I chose my basic color scheme and then just had a lot of fun adding highlights, lowlights, and scrabbly little details all over the mask (and used the same colors to paint the eyelids). I painted the inside bright red and streaked the edges to make them look good and meaty. I made several teeth out of Fimo, dug holes in the gumline and superglued them into place. Once the mask was ready, I glued the eyes into place.
The "stitches" were made by punching holes into the mask and inserting bits of floral wire, which were then superglued. Tiny dobs of red paint were added to the holes.
Eventually, a coat of acrylic varnish over the whole mask tied everything together (and made it shiny!)
Step 3: Suit Up!
Aside from, you know, his face, what's the most striking thing about Two-Face? His bisected suit. I played around with some different ideas, but in the end, I decided to just go with black and white... partly for simplicity, partly based on the materials that I was able to acquire most easily (and also because even though I have a crazy-sweet jacket exactly like the one Tommy Chong wore on That 70s Show, and it would have made an awesome half of the costume jacket, I just couldn't bring myself to cut it up). In the end, I was pretty glad it went the way it did.
This year, I actually had a sewing machine, which made things a lot simpler.
When I made my first thrift store run to search for available suits and found none, I had picked up a white suit jacket as a "just-in-case" maneuver, figuring I could always dye, paint or accessorize it as necessary. And I already had an old black tuxedo jacket in my closet, so I used that. And from a nearby vintage clothing shop I found two inexpensive pairs of pants, one black and one white.
So I took a seam ripper (okay, I actually used an X-Acto knife) and started to split everything in half. The jacket was relatively easy, just pinning the two halves together and sewing them in place. The collar required a bit more hand-work, but all in all, the two-color jacket was not a difficult job.
The pants were a bit trickier because of the zipper. If you decide to do this, just be aware that you need to carefully remove the zipper. For example, the right half of my suit is black, which means it's the white half of the fly that closes over the zipper. So I kept the zipper in my black pants. I left it stitched into the right side, and carefully freed it from the left side, then sewed that part of the zipper into the fly of the white pants when I put them together. It was an easy solution, but something you'll need to keep in mind if you make something like this. You're not going to want to combine halves of two zippers! Just keep one zipper intact.
I'm no tailor, and you probably aren't either, so just know that unless all the clothing you use is exactly the same size, it won't combine perfectly. Just do your best. The seam may not lay flat and the crotch might be a little wonky (but hey, whose crotch isn't?), but people are probably going to notice the whole picture, not the little details.
Step 4: Weirding Up the Dark Side
For some people, a suit that's split down the middle might be enough. But this is me, and it's Halloween, so you just know I'm not stopping yet.
I tossed around a lot of ideas, and I purchased supplies in both black and white, but ultimately decided a more interesting approach would be to only decorate half of the suit. So I kept the white side plain, and made the black side crazy.
You can always find fun things for cheap at the fabric store. I picked up some remnants (satin, velvet) and various types of closeout trim (sequins, medallions, fringe, braid). The first thing I did was make an epaulet for my right shoulder out of fabric, fringe, and braid, then stitched it on.
Next I started to make a bunch of weird shapes out of velvet, and trimmed them in satin. It was mostly just freehand shapes, there is no set of rules for how to do this. I just found areas on the jacket that I wanted to break up with new stuff, then cut out shapes to fill them up. To some of them I added different decorative trim. I did the same thing to the pants.
This went a long way toward making the jacket more interesting, but I felt like it wasn't enough. After looking at some photographs of myself wearing the suit, I decided that it still looked too much like a jacket with stuff stuck to it. What I thought it needed was another layer to create the illusion that it was all one piece, and not some kind of simple applique (even though it was!)
I thought about maybe finding some weird charms or something, to paint black and dangle from the jacket, but I am all out of black spraypaint and you can't buy it in the city. So a similar solution was to go to a bead shop. I bought some black seed beads, a couple of strands of black beads in different shapes, and a few vials of Czech glass beads (these were sorted by color, so the vials I got were mostly black). I proceeded to combine and apply hundreds of little bead clusters to the jacket. It took a long time. And was totally worth it.
But still I wasn't satisfied! So I ordered three sheets of self-adhesive black acrylic tiny rhinestones - 975 stones in all. Then i started sticking them all over the black half of my suit.
Listen, I'm not stupid. I know that self-adhesive rhinestones aren't going to actually stay on. But I figured they'd last long enough to work. But they were littering my rug in seven seconds. So I went back and started gluing on the ones that had fallen, and then purposely removing the ones that hadn't fallen so I could preemptively glue them as well. It took a a long time. And was totally worth it.
Step 5: Accessorize! With Vests and Ties!
This stuff was a bit time consuming, but pretty simple overall. To make the bisected tie, I used the discarded legs of the pants from which I made the main suit. I stitched the black and white fabric together to make a very long piece that was white on the left and black on the right. Then I took an old tie I had around, unstitched it and used it as a pattern. I just pinned it to the cloth, cut it out, and pinned it into the shape of a tie. Really, really easy. Just takes a while. I even took the liner from the old tie and put it in the new one.
The vest was a similar prospect. I went to a thrift shop and found a black suit vest, then cut off the half that I needed to make white. I used the original piece to make a pattern (sensing a theme here?) I was using a remnant of white satin and decided to make it two-ply so it would be more comfortable against my skin. The only thing I was nervous about is that the white side had to be the side with the button-holes... luckily, this sewing machine (which I don't really know how to use, but am gradually figuring out, in a rudimentary hamfisted kind of way) has a buttonhole setting. And it actually works! It probably works really well for somebody who knows how to sew, but it even worked for me!
So once again, use the real piece of clothing as a pattern and make the piece you need. Pin it to the original vest and stitch it into place. It's a bit sloppy but looks more or less like a vest! Doesn't need to be perfect. You're not wearing this to prom. Are you?!
The final accessory was just a pair of shoes. I got black shoes at a thrift shop. I spraypainted one of them white. It won't stay on forever, but it will get you most of the way through the night. I honestly did attempt to find white shoes and discard one of them, but when it comes to white shoes at thrift shops (around here at least), all you're going to find are athletic shoes and golf cleats. Neither of which were what I really wanted. I found one pair of hideous white dress shoes that were two sizes too small, and I bought them anyway, thinking I would just tough it out (would not be the first time I was uncomfortable for the sake of Halloween!) but you gotta draw the line someplace.
Actually, while the shoes were the final accessory, the intended final accessory was a set of gloves. Full disclosure: I screwed 'em up. Tried to make a white satin glove out of the same fabric as the vest. I cut it too small. I spent a lot of time sewing it, ended up bursting it open when I tried to put it on, and this was the night of October 30th so I figured, it's not going to happen! Maybe, if I get an opportunity to wear this bad boy again, I'll give it another shot. The gloves weren't strictly necessary, just something I fancied. But heck, I figured it would be good to mention my failures too. Costuming (for me) is trial and error. That part was an error!
Step 6: Get Saucy!
I got a jug of fake blood and smeared it on my face, jawline, and throat, letting it run down my neck and chest. Yeah, it might be nasty, but an inevitable consequence of skinning people's faces and using them for masks is that you're going to end up bloody. And really, it looked awesome. I kept reapplying it throughout the evening to keep it red and juicy!