Introduction: Dragon Costume
I made a Head-hunter dragon wearing a severed head necklace but you can use this instructable to build any creature you want. I had a lot of what i needed already so this costume cost under $100. It does take a lot of TIME, though. So if you have more time than money, this is the project for you!
Many of the techniques I used came from Gourmetpapermache.com. It's a great website, check it out.
Costume weighed about 25 lbs and took me 2 months to make working on it a couple of hours a day.
Step 1: Materials
10' pvc pipe 1.5" diameter
2- 90° pvc elbows
pvc T connection
3- 90° pvc curved elbows
pvc cutters or saw
glowing floating pool balls*
blanket and/or sheets
white glue (elmers)*
backpack with frame
* indicates optional items
Step 2: Support Structure
I started by cutting two lengths of pvc pipe that would be the part of the support that's tied to the backpack, about 2.5 feet each. Connect a 90° elbow to each piece. Wait to glue the connections until everything is assembled. Measure how far apart the supports need to be and cut two more small pieces of pipe, connect them with the T pipe connection in the middle, and attach the 90° elbows on either side. This is the shoulders.
To make the neck, cut a length of pipe to come out of the top of the T pipe. connect a soft curve elbow, another length of pipe, elbow curve, pipe, elbow curve.
when everything is proportioned the way you want it, glue the pipes together. Allow the glue to dry and attach the pipe structure to the backpack with plenty of duct tape.
Step 3: Create the Head
I found these glowing balls in the pool section of Walmart that change color and i knew i wanted to use them.
On a side note: a ping pong ball attached to an LED "candle" is just as effective if you want smaller eyes.
With the newspaper and masking tape, build a head. I wadded a lump of newspaper, stuck the eyes on either side and literally built the skull around them. Dont be shy with the masking tape, either. And don't worry too much about horns or details like lips, as those can be added later. You just need a solid base for now.
I made some teeth out of Fimo, baked them and hot glued those in the mouth.
For the tongue: I clipped a wire hanger into two sections, wrapped each section with masking tape. Make one end slightly thicker than the other. Put the two pieces side by side and start taping them together, making sure to push the tape in the crease between the wires. Stop a few inches from the end and flare the two wires away from each other for a nice forked tongue. Then just shove the whole thing into the back of the throat.
I didnt attach the tongue until the very end for ease of painting the inside of the mouth.
To attach the head to the neck, cut a hole in the back of the head and pull out a little newspaper. Stick it on the end of the pvc pipe and duct tape it.
Step 4: Neck and Body
Strap the laundry basket to the frame of the backpack to form the dragons back. You could also use a cardboard box or just a ton of newspaper for this step. The shape of the basket will be hidden under newspaper and fabric so anything light with lots of empty space will work.
Next cut a section of pool noodle and attach it with duct tape to form the shoulders. The hole in the noodle will be used to attach the arms later.
Now grab some newspaper and masking tape and get to work filling in the form of the dragon. Don't be shy with the tape.
As the form smooths out, start to add larger details like horns, spikes and tendrils. At this point it should be looking MOSTLY like the finished dragon but if you decide it needs more later its easy to adjust. I moved the horns several times before I settled on placement.
Step 5: Paper Mache
I started with a method of dipping cloth in elmers glue and applying it like paper mache. I wanted skin-like wrinkles and the cloth does this effect really well. This was the first time I've tried this method and it's very messy and takes a bit of patience to get it just right but it's worth it. I used this for around the eyes, lips, neck curves and breast plates. I also used it to make wings but I'll describe those later.
No need to get fancy with the paste. Flour and water do just fine. I like mine the consistancy of lumpy gravy. Dip the strip of paper into the paste, wipe off excess and apply. Repeat.
I only applied a thin layer of newspaper over the whole thing and i wish i had made it thicker. Maybe even applied a second layer afer the first one dried. Still, it held up pretty well.
This is the time to get in all the final details. If u want scales or bumps or whatever.
I felt the end product was a little rough (I could see the outline of the strips of paper and cloth) so i went back with some celluclay (powdered paper) to smooth the edges and fill in holes.
To make the nostrils i cut a hole in the snout, pulled out a little newspaper and patched in with the celluclay.
Let everything dry and you're ready for paint.
Step 6: Hands
Wad some newspaper into fingers and build a hand, wrapping it with more masking tape. Use a small piece of pool noodle for the wrist and attach it with duct tape. I also made some claws out of fimo and attached those with hot glue.
Make a handle with the duct tape and attach it to the end. This will connect the hand to the arm later. Paper mache the whole thing, letting the handle poke out. Be sure to secure the claws by wrapping a strip of mache around the base of the claw.
Step 7: Wings
I started by making a wire frame with the hangers and wrapping it with masking tape. Then I tied string to the ends and suspended it over newspaper.
Cut a piece of fabric large enough to drape and have plenty of overhang.
Pour a generous amount of white glue into a bucket (i used an aluminum pie plate). Dip the fabric into the glue and wipe off access glue. Now drape the fabric over the wire frame.
Its a frustrating process so be patient as you pull the fabric this way and that. Cut away some of the fabric but leave some overhang and allow to dry.
Once dry, cut the wing shape with regular scissors. Wrap the overhang around the wire and put small glue dipped fabric strips along the seam to bond. be sure to cover any holes.
The wings were the very last thing i attached so I'll explain that in a later step.
Step 8: Paint
Now that you have all your body parts, tape off the teeth and claws. Spray a base of white with some killz spraypaint. Now paint it.
For THIS dragon, I wanted it to look okd so I started with "classic gray" spray paint. Then i lightly sprayed it with "hammered steel".
I mixed a dusty blue acrylic paint with bkack and used this for shading between wrinkles and for a pattern on the neck. The inside of the mouth is dark green and the tongue is ojra with a burnt unber tip. I also used the okra color to dirty the teeth, claws, breastplates and chin spike. Black was used one the horns and spikes on the spine.
The same colors are used for the hands and wings.
Step 9: Attaching Arms
Cut sections of pool noodle for the bicep and forearm. Pad the bicep with a little newspaper and duct tape since it wont be seen. I forgot to take a picture so i drew a diagram of how the pieces go together.
Run the rope through the noodle used for the shoulders so there's equal length on each side. Thread the biceps on the rope like giant beads. Forearms next, then through the loop you made on the hands and back up to the "elbow" and tie a knot. Keep the rope as tight and tie the other side.
I imagine there are better ways to do this, I just used what I had. It works.
Step 10: The Robe
I was given this blanket and it was literally falling apart. Luckily the worst of the damage is gidden around the collar. Since there was already a gaping hole, i made that the hoke for the head. I rolled the edges down, pinned it and hot glued it into place.
A blanket is remarkably similar to a robe so it was just a matter of getting it draped just right and hot glueing into place. I hot glued the ends of the sleeves directly to the wrist of the dragon and glued the sleeves closed (instead of sewing).
It was a little bulky in the front so i cut away the extra fabric that wasnt goung to be seen anyway and hot glued it together.
Once the robe, well, looked like a robe, I draped some creepy fabric over the shoulders to look like a tattered shawl and hot glued it into place. I used the same fabric to make a belt by pinning it around the "waist" and hot glueing it.
To hide your legs, get a sheet and pin it to the underside of the robe so that it just touches the floor. I also added some creepy fabric to this so it would match the top.
Step 11: Attaching the Wings
choose a spot on the back of the dragon to poke the wire of the wing through. There wasn't much material to poke the wire into so i bent the wire so that it ran along the underside of the "skin" and hot glued it.
Once you have them sitting the way you want, lay another layer of creepy fabric around the wings and hot glue into place.
Step 12: Create a Bloody Neck
This is to add to the headless look. Get a couple of pipe cleaners (I happen to have red) and connect them so they fit around your neck. Now hang them over newspaper so you can drape fabric over them. Its going to be messy.
Cut some fabric into strips. I made them in the shape of large blood drips but trimmed it down later so I'm not sure actual shape matters at this point.
Squirt a couple of shades of red into a container (again i used a pie plate). Squirt some white glue in the mix. Now dip the fabric in the glue/paint mix, wipe off the excess paint just like it's paper mache. Drape the cloth over the pipe cleaners. Repeat until there are strips all the way across. Now grab some pieces of kreepy fabric and do the same with it, dipping it in paint and laying over the cloth strips. Let dry overnight and trim it to look however you want.
Step 13: Final Details
To complete the look, put the fake chain around the dragons neck. For the headless princess necklace i wore a tiara and tied my hair to the chain. I used wound tattoos to give myself claw and tooth marks on my face too. Put the bloody neck on and a sword in the dragons belt and you're ready!