Instructables

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Picture of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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Last year I completed my personal favorite turtle, Mikey.  It took me 1 year to complete the costume, but there couldn't be just one turtle.  SO, it was a must that I complete his three counterparts.  After 2 years from the birth of the idea to create the ninja turtles, they are finally finished and ready to clean up the streets!
 
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Step 1: Research


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.   All the movies are amazing but I had to go with the first movie's costumes.  The nostalgic value and just awesomeness of the original costumes can't be beat.

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. 
 

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

Material List
Most of the products used were from Smooth-on. Great quality products.

Lifecasting
Alja-Safe® Skin Safe Crystalline-Silica Free Alginate
Plaster of Paris

Sculpting
Chavant NSP Soft
EM-217 (WED) Clay
Sculpting tools

Molding
Rebound 25
Silicone thinner
Silicone thickner
Ease Release 200
Sonite Wax
Plasti-paste

Casting
Ease Release 200
Dragon Skin 10 fast
**Shell**
Ease Release 2831

Painting
Hobby Fabric Paint
Psycho-Paint (silicone paint base)
Silc-Pig  (silicone pigment)
NOVOCS (silicone thinner)







 

Step 3: Armatures

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An armature is the base used for sculpting. It is used to save time and the amount of clay used. It also helps ensure the proper size for each piece. It would be awful to sculpt a piece that would not fit later.

Options for armatures include:

• Lifecasting- A process used to get an exact replica of the body part. Expensive but guarantees proper sizing.
http://www.youtube.com/embed/ES6BOZ-N9dM

• Duct Tape Dummy- A cheap alternative but not as accurate.
http://youtu.be/TFD1IRWnnj8

• 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 4: Sculpting

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Sculpting

This is the creative step. There are several types of clays out there and each has their pros and cons. For everything except the shell, I used Chavant NSP soft clay. For the shell I used a water-based clay.

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.

Sculpting takes practice but is forgiving.  Nothing is permanent and can be redone in the sculpting stage.

Step 5: Molding

To turn the sculpt in to a usable or wearable piece it must first be molded.
Here is the steps that I personally used.

Silicone Mold

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
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCIO_2J1gF0&feature=youtu.be
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fxk7zNn1hec&feature=youtu.be

Step 6: Casting

Now that the molds are finished it is time to cast in the desired material for the final product. For my build I used dragon-skin fast silicone. The material is flexible and long lasting. Perfect for all the ninja moves that Mikey will be performing!

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 7: Painting

Painting

Now that you have all the pieces casted it is time to bring them to life.  For all the silicone pieces you must you a silicone paint.  The reason being that the only thing that bonds to silicone is silicone. 

For the foam pieces a fabric paint works great.

Painting  Silicone

1) Clean the casting first.  A paint thinner or mineral spirits will work.

2) Mix your base color.  For a silicone paint, you will mix the equal parts of psycho-paint parts A and B with the Silc-Pigments.  (The silicone pigments only come in the standard colors so you will have to practice at mixing pigments to make the desired color.)  Then mix in the NOVOCS silicone paint thinner.  Now it is ready to be airbrushed on.

3) Add accent colors (yellow)

4) Added shadowing and details(brown)

5) Blend the colors with another coat of green.

*Note
Silicone paint is transparent so be bold with your colors as they will blend with each additional coat.


Painting Foam

Just like painting any fabric.... pretty straight forward.

Step 8: Accessories and details

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To finish off the costume add the 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.

Weapons:
Purchased some dummy weapons and added paint and leather to them.

Step 9: Harnessing

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Harnessing is fairly simple with this build, but is still important. You want to make sure everything stays where it should be.

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.

Step 10: Suit up or put them out for display for everyone to enjoy on Halloween!

After 2 years of work, the Ninja Turtles raided downtown Dallas!
Photo Credit: Jacob King http://www.appleguyofdallas.com
Mikey: Nathanial Hummel
Raph: Casey Womack
Don: Daniel Hooberry
Leo: Leonel Urias
 
whisper02429 days ago
Since you have all the molds already done, would you ever make one to sell? And if so, how much? Great work!
pie201020111 month ago
Bet your excited for TMNT coming out in 2014!!!!

Awesome costumes! This is actually my goal. Crazy question, but how did you see out of the costumes? It just doesn't look like you'd have much vision there.

ALECIALLEY2 months ago

Incredible

kreator3 months ago
super win!
Jazzy134 months ago

amazing, I'm going to make one for the premier in August. How much did it cost u to make the costume though?

LadyBarbara5 months ago

I love the costume and would love to make them for my grandsons (this my third time around with turtles my two sons where turtle fans about 11 years apart in playing with them can't even figure out the instructions --what a great job love them

mediodia8 months ago
Awesome! When I saw the photo I thought it was the originals! Great work! Go ninja! Go ninja! GO!
poofrabbit8 months ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween costume contest! Can’t wait to see if you win good luck!
Cerealius8 months ago
Omg you are my new hero. These are awesome! Thank you for sharing.
areyes398 months ago
Awesome work! Any chance the turtles will pop up again around town?
sokiboi788 months ago
GO TURTLES!
Nice job.!!.check out mine what u think? out cardboards lol
Can you add more detail for how to make the shell because it seems difficult and looks great
dericrw (author)  interestedturtle8 months ago
I sure will. Give me a day or two to look up the pictures and type something up.
ArturoG8 months ago
Much amaze
NegativeIndex8 months ago
Beyond cool. Def following this guy
SebasSebas8 months ago
MASTER!!!.

Halloween Level Boss!
mr.frob8 months ago
Wow! Great job!
You could also make a Casey jones or even splinter
mrsben8 months ago
Totally amazing and impressive. The step-by-step procedure was very informative and enlightening. GREAT JOB and such talent!!!!!! ☺
Tess Lucetram8 months ago
OMG! You are amazing. I too loved the turtles as a kid and these costumes are awesome. The time and patience involved are just... wow. Kudos to you for getting all four done.
jgderuvo8 months ago
WOW
dericrw (author) 8 months ago
Thanks everyone! The goal was to replicate the original movie from the 90's.
To answer the question...
Cost: didn't keep track and don't want to remind myself but in the thousands I'm sure. Don't let the cost be a discouragement though. There are cheaper materials that can be used and a smaller project cuts the cost tremendously.

Beebop and Rock Steady: who knows... I'm currently trying to decide my costume/s for next year and I'm not counting them out!

wmorey378 months ago
awesome job! I also wish I had the tools and funds to explore these types of builds. can you make Beebop an Rock Steady next year? lol
Katalina Kat8 months ago
Dude, those are awesome costumes and pieces of art to be proud of making. Who cares about cost when it is something you love.
I agree! And I am voting!
HollyMann8 months ago
You are AMAZING!!!! I'm in awe of the work you put into these and how incredible they look - wow!!!!! My brother who is 32 still loves the ninja turtles too. I remember watching the movies and playing the video games too....really awesome!
hockyplaer8 months ago
Out of control amazing and impressive. Congrats on the outcome!
You should try to make the '80s cartoon I think that would be pretty awesome
They look more like the costumes from the final movie.
I am probably the biggest ninja turtles fan great job! One question though how much does this all cost ( tools included?)
candie1018 months ago
I so want to make these!!!
hkennedy19758 months ago
Holy Crap!!! Incredible job dude! You pretty much have replicated the costumes from the first movie! Epic win!!!!
jbarber88 months ago
great job man! especially for not having any sculpting experience, you took on a HUGE build and came out successful. My buddy Casey at thepropshopsite.com also did the full suits. Check out his work, it is very impressive...
Wow
chuntito248 months ago
Very epic costumes, sadly I have neither the skills or funds to replicate your feat. Great job.