Introduction: Halloween 2010: Terminator Fail

About: I'm a Canadian animation artist who likes to build things in my spare time, mostly costumes and props. And I love to learn new things.

So this year I was on a bit of a budget.  Spending was limited so I looked around the house to see what I could use.  I got the idea to do one of those T-800 with its face ripped off and set out to do that, but the eye piece didn't turn out like I wanted so I had to change my story to just making a cyborg-soldier-of-the-future type thing.

There are indeed other tutorials out there on how to accomplish this, but everyone approaches it a little differently and I believe it's valuable to share alternate methods so anyone can mix and match and find new ways that suit them better.  Heck, I myself have looked at other walk-throughs for inspiration and modified them to suit me.

Though it didn't turn out like I wanted, I'm still quite happy with the results.  The costume took about one weekend to build and two hours to apply.  Some of the accessories were things I used on my previous Halloween costumes.  I spent less than $20 this year, I think, so it is pretty inexpensive, but be warned: correct application can be tedious and requires patience.

Like my last Instructable, this one will have DAISNAIDs, short footnotes about what I learned in the process and tips to help y'all make something better than what you see here. DAISNAID stands for Do As I Say, Not As I Do :)

The Instructable has been split into three parts, each containing the steps relevant to that stage:
-the eye piece
-the faceplate
-makeup and application

After reading this if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask and, as always, constructive criticism is welcomed.

Step 1: The Eye Piece

Material used:
-water bottle
-old bike reflector
-ping pong ball
-small red LED
-C2032 battery
-scotch tape
-makeup sponge


1- I started by cutting the top of a bottle just below the lip under the cap threads.  This would become the main part of the casing for the eye piece.  I also cut out the concave part from the bottom of the bottle, but this is optional.  I used it later on for an additional piece on the forehead where the skin looks like it was torn.

2- Originally, I had planned on using the bottle cap for the eye but didn't like the look of it.  The threads from the bottle added an interesting design to the eye piece and I thought it was a shame to hide them.  Instead, I cut a ping pong ball in half and drilled a hole through the middle of it.  I then traced the inside of the bottle threads around the hole (so there would be a reference for the diameter) and cut off pieces to create three tabs.  Sorry, no pictures for this bit :(

3- Everything was then painted and sealed at this stage.

4- Some pliers were used to cut up a piece of the reflector which was the glued to the inside of the ping pong ball, smooth side toward the hole.  Once the glue dried, I just bent the tabs and slipped it inside the bottle top.  I chose not to glue it because it held itself in place well enough on its own, and if something should happen where I needed to have a look at the LED that will be in there, I could just pull it out to have access instead of having to pull off the entire prosthetic.

5- As it turns out, the inside diameter of the casing was just big enough to allow a C2032 battery.  I basically followed the Instructable on LED Snowies, but modified it by bending and cutting the prongs as you see on the pictures.  I made sure the LED would be centered on the battery so the light would be as bright as possible on the outside. 
DAISNAID:  You'll need to tape the LED nice and tight to the battery to make it stay connected or find a better way to secure it.  While I thought mine was OK, the light was flickering on and off all day.  I got away with the excuse that it flickered due to battle damage, but that's not really intimidating.  I mean, come on, a tough cyborg can't even keep his creepy eye lit?  Pfffft...

6- To keep everything inside (and away from my naked eyeball), a makeup sponge was cut up to fashion a kind of cork that would fit snugly.  You may consider making some kind of eye patch to use under the mask for added protection.  If you make it big enough, you may not even need to apply black makeup around the eye, as you'll see later.

7- When the faceplate was ready, I just pushed the eye piece through the socket hole and it happened to stay there on it's own, quite solidly I may add.

DAISNAID:  In retrospect, the eye piece is much to long.  Although it works well enough for the cyborg look, the Terminator look requires something entirely different.  You may want to look at some other Terminator Instructables or other tutorials for alternatives.

Step 2: The Faceplate

Material used:
-face cast
-newspaper cut into strips
-paper clay


1- After looking at tons of Terminator reference images, I sketched out the faceplate I wanted to create on my face cast.  I give a brief overview of this in my Comedian Instructable (in the section for the mask), and there are plenty of resources out there to teach you how to make one, so I won't go into it here.

2- I wanted the faceplate to come down over the eye a little so I filled the eye socket of the cast with modeling clay and smoothed the edges to blend with the shape of the rest of the cast.
DAISNAID:  This, my friends, is where it all went wrong.  I didn't take into account the amount of space the eye piece would require.  In order for it to fit like I meant it to, I would have had to gouge out my eye and place the eye piece directly in my socket.  Don't get me wrong, I love Halloween.  Just maybe not enough to go that far.  I only like to pretend I'm a cyborg  :P 
   The solution I found was to add padding underneath the faceplate to raise it further, at the cost of it not being very close to my face when I applied it.  At least the eye piece wasn't pushing my eyeball in as it did initially.
   For those who are looking to take this same approach, here's what I recommend: add more modeling clay to the eye socket and shape it so the mask you create on top will be far enough from you eye to fit the eye piece comfortably.

3- Flour was added to water as I mixed until a thick liquid was formed.  In the process clumps were broken up to keep the solution consistent.  Newspaper strips were dipped in the mixture before applying it on the cast in the general shape of the faceplate.  Two or three layers were sufficient to build the base layer required in my case.  When it's dry, cut it into the desired shape.

4- Paper clay was then applied on top of the paper maché.  I saw it at a craft store.  It's something akin to very soft modeling clay, but made with a paper mixture that can be air dried to harden.  After a good thickness was layered and the outside edges tapered down, I proceeded to carve out the grooves.

5- After two or three days, when I was sure the paper clay had dried, the face plate was painted silver and black was used inside the grooves to accentuate them.

6- When everything was done, the eye piece was simply popped into place.

Step 3: Makeup and Application

Material used:
-spirit gum
-liquid latex
-toilet paper
-black face paint
-makeup sponge
-red makeup
-liquid foundation
-powder cover-up

(Pictures were taken in front of a mirror.  Incidentally, it appears the mask was applied on the wrong side of the face.  I'm too lazy to flip the images :P)

1- To solve the eye piece problem, a makeup sponge was cut and secured to my face with spirit gum.  One piece above the brow and one just below the eye socket.  It was easier and more comfortable to place the padding on my face and the mask over that.  Black face paint was applied around the eye and on the eyelid to make it discreet.  Spirit gum was also used to secure the disc to my forehead.

2- Petroleum jelly was applied to the exposed eyebrow and along the hairline...this time.
DAISNAID: FOLLOW THIS STEP!!!  I neglected this when I tested out the costume and applied the latex too close to the hairline.  When came time to take it off, a chunk of hair came out with it.  Consequently, I now have a dent in my hairline just above the sideburns.  I hear castor oil also works well.

3- Liquid latex was applied to the sponges on my face and along the inside edge of the face plate.  It was then carefully placed and held for the next step.
DAISNAID: It is recommended to get someone to help you.  Doing this alone was kind of tricky and was probably harder than it needed to be.

4- A base layer of liquid latex was applied around the top an side edge of the face plate.  Some people use a brush or sponge, but I prefer to use my finger.  As the latex dries, I can just rub it off as needed.  Any brush or sponge used for this kind of thing will be ruined in the process.  Toilet paper was then placed and held with more liquid latex.  See this Indy Mogul episode for the technique used.  They use putty to blend the plate with the shape of the head, but I've never been able to find the stuff myself, so it couldn't be used.
   I started at the top and worked my way down to the side near my sideburns so the face plate would be able to stay in place without my having to hold it.  It's important for it to stay in the right place from the beginning, as it can easily start drooping down to a point where the eyes no longer align.  Once enough latex has been applied it can be really difficult to correct without having to start from the beginning again.

5- Now, I'm far from being a makeup expert.  In fact, this was the first time I've tried doing something that's more natural, so I could be way off on the following steps.  However, I did do some research and have attempted to apply the little I've learned.  The first thing I did was apply spots of red makeup randomly anywhere with latex.  This helps to simulate the blood vessels underneath the skin and will prevent the makeup from looking too flat.  You may also want to experiment with smaller amounts of blue and green.

6- The next step was to apply liquid foundation using a makeup sponge.  Pour small amounts on the sponge and dab it around everywhere on the face so it all looks more or less the same color.  Make sure to pick a color that matches your skin as much as possible.
DAISNAID: Again, get some help with makeup.  It's very easy to miss spots on your face when you need to apply makeup on the side of you face that your are blind.  In pictures I can see little bits of white where I missed.

7- The last step was to brush on some cover-up to help blend everything together.  Is this really necessary?  I don't know.  The difference was very subtle.  I also found it seems to have brought out the edges of the latex.  You may want to skip this step.  Some would also apply darker colors on the face (browns, purples and greens) to give a bruised up look, but in my opinion, especially in the case of the T-800, synthetic skin shouldn't bruise.  Cyborgs can get away with it because they're partly organic.

8- For added gore, you can do as I did and peel away the latex from the face plate and apply red makeup to the edges.  To push it further, you could put a little bit of fake blood so some of it runs down your face.  Careful not to stain your clothes, though.

Step 4: Conclusion

For accessories I threw on a military cap and green T-shirt, along with black cargo pants and boots.  I strapped on my Comedian guns and wore my Hellboy gloves.  I also carried around an airsoft gun.  Attitude did the rest.

Hopefully this has been educational and enjoyable for y'all.  I love getting feedback, so don't be shy.  Ask your questions and post your comments.
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