Introduction: School Portrait Costume

Picture of School Portrait Costume

In need of an easy, quick, and funny costume? Get old-school and make yourself into a school portrait. In just an afternoon, and with the help of a thrift shop / clothes hidden in the back of your closet, you get a second chance at elementary school. 

Plus, you'll gain respect on the playground this year after your mom springs the extra $4 for a laser background....

Step 1: Print Background

Picture of Print Background

I've saved you the hard work with photoshop, and have attached the pre-sliced images of this rad laser background. I used a 24x32 sheet of corrugated plastic, so this is sized to fit with a little bit of wiggle room. Cardboard would also work fine as a backing. 

Simply print out these 12 images and lay them out to find where they go. Be sure to print each 100% to scale (see my screenshot for reference), without letting your printer re-size to fit the page. Chop and glue each piece to each other first. Then, once satisfied with your paper sheet, carefully use spray adhesive to attach to your backing. 

**note: there's a little bit of overlap with these images, but not much. Be sure to work meticulously so your pieces all line up. 

Step 2: Assemble

Picture of Assemble
While holding up the freshly mounted backdrop behind you, have a friend mark where your shoulders and armpits are. 

Align each of those dots, and carefully cut a set of holes around each. I used zip-ties to make little loops. Then, between these two loops, I tied some yarn that matched my shirt, so I was wearing the sign like a backpack. 

Feel like adding some braces to the mix? Jeannie Mai show you how: 

And you're done! Trim any edges, throw on your retro gear, and rock out in your costume! Celebrating your success with a pudding cup: optional, but encouraged. 


Kladybug78 (author)2016-10-18

I need help!!! I can't get these images to print big. Do I select each image and print separately?

amurray78 (author)Kladybug782017-10-27

Did you figure it out? I can't even download the image files!

amurray78 (author)2017-10-27

I can't download these laser images as pdf files? It's telling me I have to sign up for a $35 membership with instructables to download? Is that the case?

sjeverett75 (author)2017-09-19

haha reminds me of 8th grade

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-17

very good ideas

emilyshore (author)2013-07-25

I love this project!! I want to make it for my friend's bachelorette party - we'll be bringing back our late 80's early 90's middle school look!! Thanks for posting!

HollyMann (author)2012-12-01

You look so cute! Miss those time growing up in...

poofrabbit (author)2012-11-08

This is the funniest costume!! It made me think of Glamor Shots, lol...well done!

pokiespout (author)2012-10-27

This is great! Oh, but Mr. Devoid, I have to say that there was ONE OTHER OPTION for school portrait backgrounds... and that was pitch black, with a spooky profile of your own face gazing heavenward.

silverkatt (author)pokiespout2012-10-31

My family started School Pictures, Inc. in the 40's and it was the first and largest school picture company. The shot you are describing is called a "reflection" and I took thousands of them! Twice the work and it was really awful when the person blinked on the second shot. Got to start all over. I remember the laser background well. This is great!

pokiespout (author)silverkatt2012-11-01

That's fantastic! I never had one of that style myself, and I recall being quite jealous of those who did in the early eighties. It seemed so classy then!

demxod8 (author)pokiespout2012-10-30

yeah, that's a pretty awesome idea.

funkypam (author)pokiespout2012-10-28

YES!!! I am SO doing it but with the profile silhouette background!!! Bahahahahahaaaa

sempei13 (author)2012-10-31

Wow, I dated her in college. Maybe not, but a girl who wore her hair just like that; I never saw the laser background, though.

Great costume; reminds me of the late 80s and early 90s.

SQLGuru (author)2012-10-30

I love the idea, but a simpler way to do the background would have been to use wrapping paper.......the size should minimize cutting, too.

Did you by any chance post a photo up on Jezebel or Gawker? I'm pretty sure I saw a photo there haha

amandaggogo (author)2012-10-29

Such a funny costume! I love this idea!!

ATTILAtheHUNgry (author)2012-10-29

This is AMAZING. One of the best costume ideas I've seen in a long time.

jennadillon84 (author)2012-10-29

Love this!

Beergnome (author)2012-10-28

Is it strange that I know how to do that background effect with an actual Airbrush?

Treknology (author)2012-10-28

I think this is clever and cheeky.

evilangelgirl (author)2012-10-28

That is awesome! In fact, my parents have a picture of my from my junior year with that exact background! And that was from '90. Oh, memories...

dimdiode (author)2012-10-28

not being negative, as such (at least I hope you don't think I'm being mean,) but - wouldn't this be easier with green screen & do the laser background in the computer?

Just askin'

johnrnyquist (author)dimdiode2012-10-28

She didn't make a school portrait, she made herself into a walking school portrait, which is why you couldn't green screen it. I missed that at first glance, too (I think I was distracted by the old glasses that looked all too familiar).

billytkid (author)dimdiode2012-10-28

I'm thinking you've missed the point that this is a costume to wear, rather than a setup to take the photo :)

imboox2 (author)dimdiode2012-10-28

You're missing the point. This is the costume, she is a walking and talking school picture. She didn't do this to take a picture of herself.

applesaucemodifier (author)2012-10-28

First thing that came to my mind was the new music video "Let's Go" by Matt and Kim. Love the Costume!

kderevan (author)2012-10-28

P.S. Excellent pose--you have to pause and do that hand-to-chin shot every few steps.

kderevan (author)2012-10-28

Oh my! I am way too old to have had the laser background option, but I love it anyway. Our backgrounds were mottled blue cheesy fabric--and not Photoshopped in, since Photoshop hadn't been invented yet.

I hate dressing in costumes, but this one actually appeals to me!

kmpres (author)2012-10-28

I must have played hooky that day.  I never heard of the neon laser school picture background, but then, when I was in high school, the PDP8/i was the King of the Hill.  

kintekobo (author)kmpres2012-10-28

PDP8/i .... Wow I used to own one of them. It was the old Japan Airlines bookings computer which I bought for a couple of hundred pounds. Used to keep it in the bedroom even though it was in a 6ft rack as I had a VERY understanding GF at the time.

Sorry about the detour here .... Just a stroll down memory lane.

Nick70587 (author)2012-10-27

Oh that brings back memories. My senior pictures had the same neon laser background or neon star burst....and that was in 98!!! Awesome costume.

mikeasaurus (author)2012-10-27

This is my favourite costume this year!

depotdevoid (author)2012-10-27

That is amazing and brilliant! I was just telling my daughter that back in my day we only had two options for school picture backgrounds: regular and NEON LASER!

canida (author)2012-10-27

Oh no, i remember having my school portrait taken on that background!
Brilliant idea.

wold630 (author)2012-10-27

Love it! My son just got his school pictures back and I can attest that the cheesiness hasn't gone away since I was in school. Great costume!

senriquez-bell (author)2012-10-27

LOL takes me right back to my school years!

jessyratfink (author)2012-10-27

Oh my lord, so much more awesome than I ever imagined. :O

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Instructables employee. Living in San Francisco amidst the fog. I love getting my hands dirty by taking on new projects, developing unique skills and ... More »
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