Dragon Head Puppet for Shrek the Musical




Introduction: Dragon Head Puppet for Shrek the Musical

About: Hi! A little about me! I graduated BA Hons Modelmaking for Design and Media in 2009 and am now an art technician at a school and loving it. I didnt get into the modelmaking until late (well actually the uni …

H. This is my first instructable. Hope you like!

I started a new job at a school last year as the new Art Technician. For the christmas show the school was doing Shrek the Musical. The students and I produced set and props for the production. Included in this was a puppet head to use for the Dragon character. Here is how it was made :D

This instructable is being entered in the Hurricane Lasers Contest.
Im currently trying to revamp the art dept at the school where I work and part of that I getting a laser cutter. I want to show the students how to design things for the machine and hopefully inspire and inform them of possible options their futures could take in the world of art and design. I also want the students to design and produce things that they can sell for the school to generate more income for the dept.
Right now im currently working on various ways to raise 50k to do up the dept (as you might see from the backgrounds in the pictures its going to take A LOT of work) and winning a laser cutter would be a ginormous help to bring the art dept up to date.

Step 1: Make a Plan

I had to think of what to make the head out of with the resources available to me in the art department. I also had to think about how the puppet was to be used by the kids in the production.
I decided that wire was the best thing to make the frame from as it would be light.

First step - make a plan
Using wire and a glue gun a made a small maquette to work out the form

Step 2: Time to Make It Bigger!

Now I have a plan of what to do I can make the full size version.

Using thick aluminium wire I made a basic frame following the maquette. Thin wire and hot glue held it together.

Step 3: This Dragon Is a Chicken!

Once the supporting frame was made it had to be covered in something light weight and supportive for what will be the skin.

There was a large amount of chicken wire in the materials cupboard that was perfect for this. Using thin wire I was able to attach panels of the chicken wire over the whole head. I could manipulate the wire and 'flesh out' the form.

Step 4: Give It Some Skin

The next step I could get the kids to help. Using paper mache and a load of torn up tracing paper (cheap stuff that doesnt work as tracing paper) we covered the wire.
To make sure the skin was going to be strong enough we put on two layers. By tearing the paper into diamond shapes they could be layered up like scales which gave the skin a great texture.
I went around the edges and made sure there was no sharp bits of wire sticking out anywhere that might hurt anyone later.

Step 5: Tickled Pink

Once again the students were brilliant and helpful by painting the whole thing Shrek Dragon pink!

Step 6: Tone

Once the base colour was dry a darker tone could be put over it. Using a purple and a sponge I added the darker shades.

Step 7: What Big Eyes You Have!

For the eyes I cut out holes for the irises (these would be so someone inside the head can see out).
The rest got painted green and then I cut some card to fit for the eyelids and painted up to match the skin.

Step 8: My What Big Teeth You Have!

For the teeth I had some blue foam scraps and shaped them into two fangs, painted white and hot glued in.

Using red paint I could give dragon her lipstick.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

The eye lashes were long black pipe cleaners glued on from under the eye lids and curled around a cardboard tube for that perfect look!

Where the cut out irises and nostrils were I found some fine black mesh to cover these from the inside so that the person wearing the head could see out and the audience couldnt see in.

So the head could be held and controlled I attached two thick wooden dowels across the head inside.
The inside of the head was also lined with purple and dark pink fabric to make sure the person wearing it was safe from the wire (and vice versa) and so that when the head was on stage there wasnt any of the inside glaringly visable.

The costume was finished of by a huge piece of purple/pink shimmery fabric that went from the back of the head over the person carrying it.
It was a great moment when the dragon first came on stage and the whole audience gasped with awe and surprise at the costume. The kids and staff at the school loved the puppet and it is currently on display in the art dept.

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    7 years ago on Step 4

    fantastic!! I wish the teachers at my kids' high school were as creative! Hope you get your laser cutter....I would sell my kidneys on the black market just to buy one lol!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    It was a huge hit with all the students and families :)

    and we did finally get a laser cutter! Its great to be able to get the kids with completed projects so quickly :D


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    was a huge piece of pink/purple shimmery material to cover a person. Was perfect as the school only has a small stage


    9 years ago on Step 9

    This looks great! Do you have any pictures that you could post of the person actually wearing the costume? We're doing Shrek the Musical and I'm just trying to figure out how we can make a dragon too.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 9

    Sorry I havent but inside behind the eyes is where a persons head goes and the puppet comes to around their shoulders. There is soft fabric and foam so it can actually rest on the head. The wooden dowels are attached parallel further down the nose so can be controlled easily. And then just a large purple shimmery piece of fabric draping over the persons back covers them (they wear colour appropriate clothes to blend in).


    10 years ago on Introduction

    That is an excellent Dragon head. She's even cute IRL! If you'll be making some more awesome projects like this one, consider applying for sponsorship.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    That's fantastic! I love seeing how big pieces like this are built. :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    thank you!
    got a couple more things am going to post up :)