So one day, I was talking to a friend trying to figure out what I should try to build next. We bounced a couple ideas back and forth then he said, “what about a turtle from TMNT?”. That idea stuck with me for a few days and I decided I would go for it.
First thing I did was to buy the TMNT dvd set. I watched all the movies to refresh my childhood memories of the amazing films. Then I decided which character best fit my personality, of which was Mikey. So I had it figured out, I wanted to build a Mikey costume but had no clue how to go about it.
I did some research and figured the best approach would be to sculpt the entire costume. Even though I had no experience at sculpting, I wanted something challenging. My first sculpts were laughable. But with the encouraging help from members at the Replica Prop Forum, I was able to hone in on my sculpting and the improvements speak for themselves. The RPF also lead me to a great friend who helped me complete this build, thank you Jacob! Paint and professional photos by Jacob King.
The following instructions are a brief description of how I went about build this costume. There are many other ways and different materials that can be used. The hope is these instructions will inspire others to try something new. For me it was sculpting, and now I love it!
Step 1: Materials
Most of the products used were from Smooth-on. Great quality products.
Alja-Safe® Skin Safe Crystalline-Silica Free Alginate
Plaster of Paris
Chavant NSP Soft
EM-217 (WED) Clay
Ease Release 200
Ease Release 200
Dragon Skin 10 fast
Ease Release 2831
Flex-foam it V
Step 2: Building Armatures
Options for armatures include:
• Lifecasting- A process used to get an exact replica of the body part. Expensive but guarantees proper sizing.
• Duct Tape Dummy- A cheap alternative but not as accurate.
• Pre-made Foam Pieces- Another cheap alternative. At local hobby stores, you can find foam heads and even arms. Not exactly the correct size but can be used.
In building my costume, I used all three methods. For the head I used a pre-made foam piece, for the forearms and legs I used a lifecast, and for the upper body I used a duct-tape dummy.
Step 3: Sculpting
The process is simple but not easy. You simply add clay to the armature until you get a rough shape of the desired piece. With the help of sculpting tools, you can then get the piece to the exact shape. The final step is to use a texture stamp to give it the finished look.
Step 4: Molding
Here is the steps that I personally used.
1) Apply a release agent to the entire sculpt.
2) Mix and apply a thin layer of silicone to the entire sculpt to pick up all the detail.
3) Mix and apply additonal silicone to fill in any undercuts.
4) Mix and apply silicone until a uniform layer of 3/8 of an inch is achieved.
5) Add registration keys to the sculpt to aide in proper alignment lager.
Plasti-Paste Mother Mold
1) Build a dividing wall along the high ridgelines of the sculpt with clay.
2) Add registration keys to the clay dividing wall.
3) Apply sonnite wax to to the silicone mold and dividing wall.
4) Apply plasti-paste material in a uniform layer of 3/8 of an inch.
5) Remove clay wall and repeat as necessary.
Remove mold and mother mold
1) Slowly and carefully remove the mother mold from the silicone along the dividing walls.
2) Once the entire mother mold is removed, draw a cut line for peeling of the silicone mold.
3) Carefully cut up the cut line until the silicone mold can be removed from the sculpt.
Put the mold back together.
1) Be sure the silicone mold is clean from all clay and debris.
2) Lay the silicone mold into one side of the plasti-paste mother mold.
3) The registration keys will ensure the silicone sets properly in the mother mold.
4) Line up the cut seem on the silicone mold.
5) Place the other half of the plasti-paste mother mold over the silicone mold.
6) Strap or screw the plasti-paste mold together to make it a solid structure.
Check out these links from smooth-on
Step 5: Casting
1) Apply a good coat of releae agent to the inside of the silicone mold.
2) Mix and SLOWLY pour the dragon-skin material into the molds. (Helps remove in air intraptment)
3) Continuosly rotate the mold until the dragon-skni material evenly coats the entire mold.
4) Add more dragon-skin until a good even thickness is achieved.
5) Open the mold and gently remove the dragon-skin cast!
*Same process is used for the foam shell, just different materials*
Step 6: Painting
1) Clean the casting first
2) Apply the base color (green)
3) Add accent colors (yellow)
4) Added shadowing and details(brown)
5) Blend the colors with another coat of green.
Step 7: Accessories
For the head:
Custom eyes from tech-optics
A custom bandana (Orange of course)
Teeth were sculpted and casted in plastic
For the body:
Custom pads and belts were made.
Purchase a set of nunchucks!
Step 8: Harness
The shell needs to have some strapping like a back-pack sewn in to hold the shell to the back. The front portion of the shell is held in place with the belt and some overall straps.