I wanted to make some authentic looking gloves for a ring wraith costume.
I did have a few requirements though:
- I didn't want to make gloves and was happy to put bits onto bought gloves.
- I wanted to keep it generally soft so that it wouldn't hurt anyone.
- I wanted it to look like armour (more specifically back of hand armour up to and over the wrist).
- It would be nice for it to last some time.
Step 1: Gather Materials
Here is a list of materials that I used:
- Gardening gloves, black
- Foam card, 2 mm thick, black
- Black spray paint
- Silver spray paint (hammered finish)
- Silver spray paint (gloss finish)
Here are most of the tools I used:
- Sharp fixed blade knife
- Straight edge and ruler
- Hot glue
- Card from cereal packets
- Pencil / pen
- Thick, black, permanent marker
- Silver pen
- Sharp knife
- Double-sided tape
- Bamboo skewers
Step 2: Prepare the Gloves
The gloves that I found were black leather with orange piping around some of the edges. The black permanent marker was used to colour in the non-black parts. This made all the outside of the gloves black or, at least, a close approximation.
Step 3: Plan the Armoured Pieces
I designed the pieces that were to be cut out by using cardboard to make sample pieces based around some of the versions of the gauntlets I have found online. This is a slightly simplified version of props that I have seen (via the
Internet) from the films since I'm making it out of foam rather than metal so that allows for a bit easy creation.
There were pointy shapes for the fingertips, slightly more rounded shapes for the shape just before the fingertips (called "penultimates" from now on and "Fingertip-1" in the diagram) and the rest of the pieces look like a 3 peak mountain range (which shall be slightly inaccurately labelled "knuckles"). Although the picture has no scale, I used a square on the paper to represent 1 cm in real life.
The pieces for the thumbs have fewer sections but are wider and longer, generally by 1 cm for each segment. The piece nearest to the wrist for the thumb section is longer and pointier than then finger pieces so that those parts will blend into the wrist section smoothly. Three large panels were used for the wrist / back of hand sections. This is due to quite a lot of that part of the gauntlet being hidden by the sleeves of the robe. So I limited the amount of effort I put into making a section that would rarely, if ever, be seen.
The last bit is the part that covers the knuckles (It looks like a band with 4 triangles at the top and 4 more triangles at the bottom. This will be called the "band of knuckles" to differentiate from the knuckles above.). Again, this part was modeled in cardboard to make sure it was suitable. For mine, the point to point distance for the mountain bend is 9 cm. the point to point distance for the valley bend is about 3 cm. When flat, the distance across from one mountain fold to the next is 6 cm (which is also the same for a valley to valley distance). The tabs are 3 cm long and cut to a suitable width as I saw fit.
After all the pieces (except for the fingers - only one was made to test the shape and fit if I remember correctly) were cut out of cardboard, they were taped in place to see if the fit was good. Minor tweaks were made (i.e. trimming with scissors) but the overall design was good. The wrist sections covered the back half of the glove - i.e. cut the cardboard guides to the seams along the sides of the glove.
Step 4: Cut Out the Foam
Using the sharp knife, I started cutting out the foam shapes individually based on the cardboard designs from the previous step. This did take quite a long time and the repeated parts didn't match each other. So, I cut out 3 cm x 3cm squares of foam and the cut out stacks of knuckles at one time as detailed below:
Index finger - 5 knuckles
Middle finger - 6 knuckles
Ring finger - 5 knuckles
Little finger - 4 knuckles
Thumb - 3 knuckles (but larger than the finger knuckles)
This sped up the process a lot but did introduce a few inaccuracies. It was good enough though for this prop. As you might have noticed, there are many more knuckles than you have actual knuckles but this will be explained later.
Cutting out the panels for the wrist and the band of knuckles by tracing around the cardboard onto the foam and then using the knife to cut out each segment.
Step 5: Shaping the Foam
Using the hairdryer, I carefully heated certain pieces of foam until they were warm to the touch and then bent them into a curve. Before releasing the curve, I would dunk the foam piece into cold water (there might have been ice but it was cold tap water). When each piece had been in the water for about 10 seconds, it was taken out and left to air dry on a drying up cloth. The following pieces used this method to form the shapes:
- Wrist pieces
Using a similar technique (heat up then plunge into cold water), the tips of fingertips were pinched about halfway along their long axis. A ridge was formed from about halfway along to the tip after the dipping into the cold water.
Finally, the band of knuckles: the folds alternated between mountain and valley folds as can be seen in the picture. The widest parts were mountain folds and the narrower parts were valley folds. The foam was folded in this way, heated up with a hairdryer for a longer time (more material to make hot and then suddenly cool) and then plunged into the water for about 15 seconds. The folds were then checked to see if they were steep enough. The mountain folds match to the space above your actual knuckles inside the glove and the valley should fit in between your knuckles. If the shape is still quite flat, repeat the heat then cool procedure.
Step 6: Paint the Foam
Initially, I stuck each piece with the outer surface down onto a piece of newspaper. I then gave the insides a quick primer coat followed by a fairly even black coat of paint. This might seem a bit redundant painting a black thing black again but I wanted some protection for the foam on all surfaces. Remember, light coats are good here - they dry more evenly and faster.
After leaving all of them to dry thoroughly, I went onto the next stage. For each group of foam pieces (each finger, each thumb and each wrist set), I stuck the group onto a bamboo skewer with double-sided tape. This made keeping things more organised a lot easier. Then it was primer, black coat and then a light misting of silver paint (hammered effect). A suitable time was left between each coat to dry adequately - read the instruction on the can for how long you should leave yours.
After the paint has dried and you have the finish you want with respect to the paint, take the pieces off of the skewers and lay them out in the right places. This will make the next step easier.
Step 7: Glue the Foam Onto the Gloves
This can be dangerous - please read all of this step before continuing.
While wearing a glove, put a small mark where your knuckles are. There should be three for each finger and two for the thumb. Then put marks halfway between each of the marks you've just made. Put a final mark halfway between the fingertip knuckle and the end of the glove.
I was lucky to get thick leather gloves so heat wasn't conducted very well through the material. As such, I wore one glove while using the other hand to apply hot glue and then attach a foam part. The aim is to attach the base of each foam piece to the relevant part of the glove. This allow for more movement and has a nice effect too. The order I glue the pieces on are detailed below:
- Starting with the little finger of my left hand, apply a small bead of hot glue across the mark at the end of the finger on the glove. Quickly put the flat, bottom edge of the Fingertip foam piece for that finger onto the bead of glue.
- Repeat step 1 with the next mark and the Penultimate foam piece and the fingertip knuckle mark. This will make the foam pieces overlap. Do not glue the foam pieces to each other.
- Using the marks as a guide, glue the rest of the pieces of that finger to the next mark on that finger.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 for the other fingers. Try to keep the distances between each of the foam segments even. This can be a little tricky for the middle finger since there's more pieces - just try to keep the distance between the base of each foam piece to be fairly constant and it'll look good.
- For the thumb, put the tip on first (as with the fingers), then the other parts except for the last part. For the last part, I lined up the edge with the seam of the glove. It will depend on what glove you have but I set up the cardboard for this to happen. It seems to fit nicely so that's why I did it.
- Line up the panel that is furthest away from your fingers with the end of the glove. Glue the entire panel in place.
- Lay the next panel over the panel from step 6 by about 5 cm. Glue only the side that is nearest to the fingers.
- Repeat step 7 with the last panel and this should leave a gap of about 5 cm between this panel and the end of the foam knuckles. Adjust as appropriate before gluing down the last panel.
- Using the band of knuckles section, line up the valleys with the gaps between your knuckles. Hot glue one of the tabs at the end to the side of the glove. The, one by one, hot glue each valley onto the glove in the knuckle gaps. You should have the mountain bits higher than the glued down sections. Finally, glue the tab down in the inside edge of your hand.
- Repeat steps 1 to 9 with the other glove.
If you use this method, be careful. I was wearing the glove and applying hot glue directly to the glove - this did get quite warm but not unbearably hot. You might not be so fortunate with your gloves. If you're unsure, apply the glue while you're hand is not in the glove. The shaping of the foam should make it follow the contours of the glove fairly well. I would recommend going slowly and checking that everything is still going fine after gluing a few pieces.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
To make the surface look a little less smooth, I applied hot glue over the wrist panels, taking care not to attach them to each other. Then, a small amount of dry brushing was done over the hot glue bead with the glossy silver paint to make them look like shiny silver highlights.
Using more of the glossy silver paint, more dry brushing happened on each of the angled edges to make those edges appear to have highlights and look a bit polished due to wear.
Dry brushing did take quite some time but it added interest to the gauntlets and made them look quite a lot better. As with quite a lot of painting, don't over do it too much or it will spoil the effect. There are plenty of other tutorials on good techniques for dry brushing and / or weathering so I won't go into them here.
Step 9: Conclusion, Improvements and References
I am very happy with these and how they turned out. They have a reasonable amount of mobility and look good when the fingers are flexed.
- Use more glue - this would ensure that the foam would stay in place really well rather than fairly well.
- Use more sections for the wrist part - this would allow smoother movement for when you moved your wrist.
- Maybe better fitting gloves - the gardening gloves work well and the leather prevented too much heat being transferred to my skin while hot gluing the foam onto them. But closer fitting gloves might have been more comfortable for longer term use.
Credit should go to these people as well since I referenced quite a lot of their material while making these gauntlets. I'm pretty sure it's not a complete list but it is most of them. I apologise if you I have left someone out.