Mad Max/Wastelander Inspired Cosplay




Introduction: Mad Max/Wastelander Inspired Cosplay

About: I currently make things as a hobby but really want to turn it into a career. Most of my builds are accessible to the everyday person at home with a small tool set and a large amount of ingenuity. One day I'd …

This project was not supposed to turn out as it did. When I started I wanted to make a cyber-punk gas mask style thing with lights etc. That changed when I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road (brilliant film, saw it twice to make sure..), I loved the aesthetics of that universe and really wanted to create something that would fit in with the costumes in the movie. The build turned out like a marriage between Fallout and Mad Max. Surprisingly this project was fairly straightforward and stress free, probably because I had no expectations when I first started. I plan to create a full costume for comicon and so will add updates as they happen.

Given some of the bits and pieces I used were just lying around the house/shed/scrapyard you may not be able to completely replicate what I've made. As with my other instructables, I would encourage you to take inspiration from what I've done and create something unique to you. For me this is the most rewarding part of the process.

Step 1: Things You Need:


1. A Dremmel- It took me a while to invest in one of these but it was definitely worth it. It makes most tasks 200% quicker. For this project I used the sanding wheel and the drill bit that came with the tool. The drill bit size will depend on what diameter of EL-Wire you use (I'll explain later)

2. Scissors- for cutting the Hessian cloth and tin

3. Super glue

4. Pliers (just in case)

5. Paintbrushes of varying size (but mainly small, fine brushes)


1. A base mask- I had a bit of a disaster with fibreglass over Christmas trying to make another mask, I was also pretty short of time so settled for something easy to work with. Any plain plastic mask will do but I prefer these due to their strength and thickness:

2. Welding goggles- I found a pair made of metal (I'm not a fan of the chepo plastic ones painted to look like metal) The eye cups should screw out allowing changes to be made to the lenses

3. Hessian cloth or sack cloth- This can be found pretty cheap online, you only need a square meter or so. I used an old 'bag for life'

4. EL Wire- The standard stuff comes in 2.3mm but some sites offer customisation options. I used 1m wire but you may wish to buy longer to give more room for error or different designs. I picked green wire but the colour is completely up to you

5. Tin cans- I used these to modify the eye sockets of the goggles

6. A respirator- I paid a bit more for the one I used, but you can pick them up for a couple of pounds. Depends what you're willing to spend. The one I used can be found here:

7. Paints: Again I cracked out the ever faithful Warhammer paints. I used Chainmail, Blood Red and Chaos Black (as a spray paint base coat). I used a clearcoat enamel spray to preserve the paint work I'd done afterwards

8. A helmet and/or hat- I had an old fibreglassed pepakura helmet lying around so used it for the back of the mask. There are so many pep. tutorials out there I won't go into details in this 'Ible, however if you have an old bike helmet of hat then these would be suitable

7. Foam- To line the mask to make it comfy

8. Novelty holographic sunglasses- I popped one of the lenses out to use for the welding goggles

Step 2: Mark Out What You Want

With the blank mask, goggles, respirator and anything else you want to add, mark out in pencil where you want things to go. I also marked the positions the holes for the EL wire, which will be threaded through (a bit like a shoelace) the holes once painting is finished.

The original idea was for the respirator to be permanently attached and for the goggles to be worn behind the mask. This changed later, but widening the eye holes still allowed the goggles to sit better on the mask.

Step 3: Widen the Eyes

I traced roughly round the eye cups of the goggles onto the mask to give me and idea of how much material I needed to take off. Using the sanding wheel on the dremmel, I sanded away the plastic until the goggles fitted through on both sides. Because of the set contours of the mask achieving even eye holes on both sides is fairly easy. I'm usually a symmetry freak but this worked out well.

Step 4: Take Another Look...

Happy with the look you've planned? This was the original design I was going for, but then decided to change it up a bit. Don't be afraid to change your design and go bolder.

Step 5: Spray Paint

Make sure you do this in a well ventilated area (ideally outside) and line the area with newspaper or a plastic cover. Remove all pieces you do not want paint on from the base mask and give it a few coats of black primer paint. The respirator I bought had a detachable front panel so I sprayed that too. Sorry I have no pictures of this bit, but It is pretty straight forward

Step 6: Goggles

While your paint dries, you can work on the welding goggles. These are what really give the mask character so going for something striking is always good. Unscrew the lens caps and remove the darkened glass (keep these just in case you want to actually do some welding later).

For the right eye I used the bottom of a tin of peaches. I cut the bottom off the tin using scissors and then traced round one of the original goggle glasses with a marker pen. I cut out the circle and then used the dremmel drill bit to put holes in it so I could see out. The metal was not an exact fit so I used a bit of blu tak to fix it in place (it was inside the eye cup so not visible from the outside).

For the left eye, I popped out the lens from a pair of novelty holographic glasses that had been sitting around for years. It was too small to fit in the eye cup by itself so I marked and cut out some ring shaped bits of tin can to sandwich the lens in place when the cup is screwed down. The rough look turned out great (you'll notice the common theme with this project, I improvise and it turns out a lot better than expected :p )

I had a ring of glow in the dark tape from who knows where so I added it to one eye of the goggles. I think similar tapes can be found on cheap compound bow sights on the internet.

Step 7: More Painting

Once the primer coat has dried, add a layer of silver/chainmail paint. I use a technique called dry-brushing as it's effortless and looks very effective. Take a small amount of paint on your brush and smear it widely over the mask. Allow bits of the base coat to show through, the 'metal' should look worn and tarnished.

If you wish, you can add citadel washes to create the effect of rust or dirt after the silver has dried. Again, don't be afraid to mix things up, you could go for a bronze colour or anything you think would look nice and post-apocalyptical-y.

Once you're happy, spray the mask with a couple of coats of clearcoat enamel spray to preserve your paint job.

Step 8: Hessian

For the cloth I used an old 'bag for life' that had been dropped in an oily puddle so was no longer useable. You can find hessian or sack cloth very cheap online. This was an improvised, rough job. Cut strips out of the cloth, don't be afraid to add rough edges, rough is what makes it look effective. Use paper clips and blu tak to hold the cloth in place while you decide the look, before using super glue or epoxy to fix it in place permanently.

I used the scissors to put holes in the cloth to add to the wear and tear look.

Step 9: Add the EL-Wire

Having pre-drilled the holes this step is as easy as threading the wire through the holes. If you need to remove the end cap from the wire, make sure you keep it safe for later. The end caps prevent moisture from entering the wire and damaging it. It also stops you electrocuting your face as I found out later...

Any spare wire can either be left inside the mask out of sight or trimmed off (this doesn't affect the wire, just remember the end cap.

Once you're happy with the configuration, tape or glue down the wire in place. The battery pack for the wire can just clip on to the head band of the mask, or can be disconnected so it's out of the way until later.

Step 10: Have Another Look

Still happy with your design? At this stage I decided the mask needed more stuff on it. I also painted parts of the respirator silver.

I glued on a bottle cap (nod to the Fallout games) and threaded elastic bands through where the straps were on the respirator. Through these I threaded paper clips which were used to attach to the mask. This meant the respirator is removable (sorry I found wording this bit a tad tricky, if I haven't been clear please comment below and I'll try and get back to you ASAP)

Step 11: More Decoration

After I painted the first symbol on the bottle cap, I though it'd be cool to put symbols all over the mask. I looked up 'language of the Primes' from the Bayformers universe (I confess, I actually quite like the first two films, please don't shoot me down in the comments).

I used Chaos black paint to add the symbols on the hessian and the respirator. As the respirator was partly rubber, I had to add clear coat spray to preserve the paint work I'd done.

The bolts in the 'nose' of the respirator were added by piercing small holes in the rubber with scissors and then forcing the bolts in.

I then added some citadel washes to add more of a dirt effect to the hessian.

Finally, I threaded an old bullet key chain round the grill of the respirator for an extra trinket (nod to The Bullet Farmer)

Step 12: You Could Finish Here...

I nearly called it a day once I reached this stage of the project. I was incredibly happy with the look I had achieved and couldn't think of anything else to do. However I went to see Mad Max again and had another brain wave.

Step 13: The Necklace

After I chose to continue the project and develop it into a full costume (eventually), I went to work. I thought about what kind of stuff you'd pick up in the wasteland and how you'd turn it into a trinket. I had a rat skull I had kept in a box from when I was a kid (don't ask me why), some nuts, electrical wire, string and another pre-made skull and crossbones necklace.

I threaded the main piece of string through the eye sockets of the skull, threaded on the nuts and wrapped bits of wire and string at intervals around the main string.

Step 14: The Back

Part of the effectiveness of the build was the parrot-like hessian work I did at the back. I had an old pepakura helmet lying around so I used that. As I explained earlier, there are thousands of pep. tutorials out there so if you want to persue this route, please google it and then come back here. You can try and use a bike helmet or some kind of hard hat instead.

I cut the rest of my 'bag for life' into strips of varying length. I started layering the hessian from the very bottom of the helmet and worked my way up, attaching each individual piece with super glue,

Step 15: Finish Layering

I layered the hessian until it reached the front edge of the helmet. The glue kept the pieces on well and I had no problems with bits falling off (although hessian does shed fibres badly). If you've fibreglassed your helmet then you'll want to add foam on the inside to prevent fibreglass splinters (I haven't done this yet, but will add this step once I've done it).

Step 16: Combine the Two Pieces!

You're done! My advice for putting this on is to put the back helmet on first and then loop the straps of the mask and welding goggles over the back bit.

The mask can be worn in a variety of combinations, with the respirator and/or the goggles up or down. On my display torso I also added a shemaq desert scarf and the necklace for extra effect.

I took some photos in the dark and the EL Wire is really effective. The advantage of not fully covering the wire inside the mask is that the area around the eyes is illuminated.

I had a serious amount of fun doing this and plan to add more to create a full costume which I will add as I go along. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, any questions, please ask.

Step 17: Making It a Costume

This step has been a bit longer in the making, as I wanted to get the costume almost perfect before I added anything more.

First of all I bought a military flight suit from an army surplus store for around £15. It's good as it's quite a versatile piece of clothing and acted as a blank canvas for what I wanted to do. I tried the jumpsuit without any extras and wasn't really happy with the look. I decided to bide my time in order to collect more stuff to add to it. I also decided to seek an alternative to the fibreglass helmet, it was too bulky and too warm (comicon is apparently boiling at the best of times) and I didn't particularly want to bring it to London.

I also replaced the straps on my welding goggles and the mask with leather belts, firstly to add a more authentic look (I picked up the behind the scenes book for Mad Max: Fury Road, the designers used as few plastics as possible for the costumes as it would have decomposed away after so long), and secondly so I didn't disturb the fabric on the back of the helmet (when I do decide I want to use it).

Step 18: Adding Extras

Most of the extras I added were, in true wasteland style, genuinely scavenged. A relative of mine has shed loads of old machine scraps and other very useful parts that all are genuinely weathered. I'd recommend you look at tips and scrapyards for cool looking parts to add to your costume. I did away with the back of the helmet in favor of a cowl. It's easier to put on, hides the battery box for the EL wire and isn't as hot.

The chestplate that really makes the costume is genuine metal, I think it must be from a tractor or lawnmower. I wrapped green wire round it to bring out some highlights. I attached straps that cross over my back (more photos soon) that are part rubber part cloth. This is handy as it allows the weapon props I made to be slotted between the straps for carry. The length of chain was another scavenged item, which I tied to the chestplate with more wire.

The knee pad that I re purposed as a shoulder pad is attached in a similar fashion. Again I will try and add some clearer photos so you can see how it all attaches together.

The belts were old and scavenged. Look in charity shops and army surplus. You can weather them by whipping the belts against a brick wall (a corner does the best job).

The fabric for the cowl was bought fresh from Hobbycraft. I tea stained it (boil your kettle, put 4 tea bags in a bucket, add the water, let it stew for a few minutes, add some cold water, soak your fabric for 30 mins, leave it out to dry), dirtied it with wet modelling clay (brown) and rubbed it in real dirt (while it's wet, the fabric will take on mud stains semi-permenantly). Cutting the edges roughly will allow the fabric to fray over time making it look more distressed. I used the 'whip it against the wall' technique to fray it further.

For the bandages I used decorator's cleaning cloth (it came in a large roll) and applied the same distressing technique as for the cowl.

Step 19: The Blaster

Every wasteland desperado needs an iconic blaster. I made mine and was thrilled with it. It's genuinely lovely to hold and I'm super proud of the level of detail on it.

Here's the link to the Instructable I made on it:

Unfortunately because it's made of scraps I found I couldn't really give a detailed account of how it was made.

Step 20: The Shotgun

Again, every wastelander needs a shotgun to ward off radioactive nasties and bandits.

Again this was made from scraps, hence why I've just given it a small section here.

The stock was an old stool leg, the barrels are copper pipe, the trigger guard is a hosepipe clip that I cut open and hammered into shape, the trigger and other metal bits I stuck on are all metal scraps. For the look I took inspiration from an antique musket my friend has, as well as modern firearms. I think it very much suits the look of something that was concocted by a citadel weaponsmith out of new and old gun parts.

Again this was constructed with the help of the Fury Road behind the scenes book, there were lots of tasty reference photos to get inspiration for this build.

The cloth wrap is more decorator's cloth. I threw it about a bit in the garden to get some genuine dirt on it.

The shotgun slides very nicely into the back of the shoulder straps for my chestplate. Again more photos to follow once I find somewhere suitably post-apocalyptically to shoot.

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    7 years ago

    How well can you see


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Here's a photo of the mask with the goggles up.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Surprisingly well, the glass lens does steam up a bit though. In full daylight it's fine but at night it gets a bit trickier so I just rest the goggles up on the forehead. The actual eyeholes are pretty wide so it gives almost completely normal visibility.


    7 years ago on Step 16

    This is fantastic! I am inspired.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 16

    Thanks very much!


    7 years ago

    sick nd cool mask!