Introduction: Watchmen Rorschach Costume With Changing Mask
I would say that overall this costume is easy to put together and to wear. The hard part is getting all of the clothing together. I will say that the mask is the hardest part by far. But it was not all that difficult to make. It just takes some time and effort.
This costume is not exactly comic book or movie accurate, but it is kind of a merging of the two looks. Despite the popularity of Watchmen, it was kind of hard to find good reference images for figuring out the specific colors of some items of clothing. (For example, sometimes Rorschach's pants look black while other times bright purple. It just depends on lighting conditions.)
If you are lucky enough, you might be able to find most of this costume in a thrift store, garage sale, or at Goodwill. This would cut down the cost significantly. I live in a small town in Louisiana, so I did not have a large selection of clothing that fit my needs. Because of this, I had to turn to the Internet for my items.
Also, this costume was made in a rush, so there are a few steps that I forgot to take pictures for.
Step 1: Gathering Materials
Here is the list of parts for the costume along with the approximate prices (including shipping) and where I bought them from:
Fedora - $18 - Ebay
(First Fedora - $27 - Ebay)
Trench Coat - $63 - Ebay
Scarf - $10 - Ebay
Gloves - $15 - Ebay
Pants - $35 - Ebay
Shoes - $10 - Ebay
White 4-Way Stretch Lycra Material - $14 - Ebay (several yards of fabric)
Black to Clear Temperature Changing Pigment - $55 - www.paintwithpearl.com
Speedball Fabric and Acrylic Transparent Base - $19 - www.jerrysartarama.com (2 - 8oz.bottles)
Black Fabric Paint and Foam Brushes - about $10 - Michaels/Hobby Lobby
Black Mesh - about $5 - Michaels/Hobby Lobby
Total Cost - about $280 (including mistakes and extra paint/fabric)
That is not exactly a cheap costume, but if you can find the items at a thrift store, garage sale, or at Goodwill it will cut down the cost significantly. Also many of the items could easily become parts of future costumes. The pants would also work as part of a Joker costume. Also I could see the trench coat, scarf, shoes, and gloves becoming something interesting ... I'm thinking Steampunk. And who doesn't need a fedora or two laying around?
I do plan to use the rest of the white Lycra to make a lot of Rorschach masks and sell them to try and make back some of the money spent on the pigment and other mask materials.
Step 2: Mixing the Paint
Since the color changing paint comes in powdered pigment form, you need a nice base to mix it into. I chose "Speedball Fabric and Acrylic Transparent Base" for two reasons. It was meant for fabrics and it was clear. (I could have tried a white base, but I was worried it would make my paint gray instead of black.)
To mix it all up I scooped the Speedball base into a large bowl and carefully added the pigment. I stirred it in gradually to be sure it would mix well. When the mixing was done, I transferred the paint back into the Speedball containers and thoroughly washed the bowl out.
(Sorry, but I apparently didn't take pictures of the mixing process.)
Now my color changing paint was ready whenever I needed it.
Step 3: Making the Mask (Part 1 - Fabric Pattern)
The mask actually turned out to be much easier than I expected it to be. I wanted a white mask with black changing ink blot patterns. The easiest solution seemed to be to make two patterns. One in black paint and the other in color changing paint. That way when you breathe out the color changing paint fades to white due to the heat. This reveals the black pattern underneath. Then when you breathe in the color changing paint darkens again and the other pattern comes back.
The first thing I did was figure out an easy pattern for the mask itself. I used an old t-shirt so I would not waste any of my lycra. I simply wrapped the shirt around my head and bunched up the extra material behind my head until it fit right. Then I cut the extra material off (while trying not to cut my hair, head, or hands) with a pair of scissors. The pattern looked a little odd to me, but it seemed to work very well!
After I had my pattern, I traced it onto some cardboard. Then I pinned some lycra to it and traced the pattern onto the fabric. After that, I simply cut it out and started sewing. I had to sew my mask by hand, because I did not have a sewing machine at the time. That took a while, but it worked. After slipping the mask on and off a few times, I decided it would work and it fit pretty well. This rarely happens for me on the first try!
Step 4: Making the Mask (Part 2 - Ink Blots)
The next step was to figure out the two ink blot patterns to use for the black parts of the mask. I used some images of Rorschach's mask to try and be as authentic as possible. I think I found about 6 decent ink blot patterns and traced over them. Then started playing around with layering to see what patterns would look good together.
I picked the two that seemed to lay on top of each other the best. Then I made some stencils out of poster board. I did not trust myself to cut out a perfectly symmetrical pattern, so I only cut out half of each ink blot design. That way I could flip it over and have both halves look exactly the same (or close enough).
After that was finished, I made a cardboard dummy head so that the paint would not bleed through onto the back of the mask. To do this I laid down on top of a box and traced the basic outline of my head. Then I cut out the "head" and added some thickness to the back so that the fabric would be stretched out for easier painting. It was not fully stretched out though, just enough to simulate my head underneath.
That didn't work out too well, so I ended up just making a rectangle with two rounded corners on one end. That stretched the fabric out in a way that would work better.
Step 5: Making the Mask (Part 3 - Painting)
I started with the smaller of the ink blot designs. I tried to center it onto the face area to the best of my ability. Then I painted both halves with plain black fabric paint. I waited for the paint to dry overnight to make sure I didn't mess up the ink blot design.
For the second ink blot design, I chose one that had a similar shape to the first, but was larger and could contain the first design inside of itself. Then I put the stencil in place. This time I only painted the areas where the white of mask material was exposed. This was because the first design would always be black, so there was no sense in wasting the color changing paint. I painted both sides of the second design and left it to dry for a while.
Unfortunately, the layer of color changing paint was a little thin, so it looked gray instead of black when it dried. So I put another thin coat on top of it and let that dry. After that I just had to touch up a few small portions of the design that still looked a little gray. I accidentally touched up one side a little too much, so I had to even the design out to maintain symmetry. It ended up being a big blob when I was finished instead of the design I planned ...
Step 6: Making the Mask (Part 4 - the End Is Nigh)
The next day I could finally try it out. I tried the mask on and the painted section felt a little weird, but not as bad as I expected. Then I centered the design as best as I could and marked the eye hole positions with some chalk. Cutting the eye holes involved a little bit of trial and error, but I eventually got it figured out. Then I tested the mask in front of a mirror to see how it worked. It looked awesome! So I glued some black mesh behind the eye holes and once it dried the mask was finished!
I took a picture to show how everything looks while looking through the eye hole mesh.
I think I may have made the color changing paint a little thick, but it works just fine. I might try to make it a little thinner in future masks and see if the colors shifts better when breathing.
I do plan to use the rest of the white Lycra to make a lot of Rorschach masks and sell them to try and make back some of the money spent on the pigment and other mask materials. I just need to figure out a good way to mass produce them. I am thinking that a set of thin metal stencils would work the best for painting the designs. Also I have a sewing machine now which will make the masks easier to make.
Step 7: Put It All Together!
With everything together, it just looks awesome! This is the best costume I've ever made. (Though I didn't actually "make" most of it...)
I took video of the mask colors changing, but it won't upload for some reason.
Someday I may try to make Rorschach's grappling hook gun. But for now I am calling this costume finished!