Introduction: Make Your Own Arkham Batman Cowl

Create your own batman costume using similar, if not the same steps as I myself use.

I've had a lot of batman fans ask if I can make them a "batcostume" of some form, my response is usually "make it yourself, I'll help", though for some people who are over seas from myself makes giving advice and instruction difficult.

In this Instructable you will learn the basic techniques to taking and batman, or batgirl cowl, and bringing it to real life for sculptures, and latex mask making.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

I know from experience that some materials are particularly difficult to come by in some parts of the world, so for that reason I have made this with generally pretty easy to find materials.

Tools - 

- Basic Sculpting tools - All together I only used 5 for this build as they are particularly user friendly.

- Heat gun - These can be brought at almost all hardware stores for as little as $12, take note though, if you are getting a cheap    
                       one, make sure it has a warrentee, this way if it breaks, you can just go swap it no hassle.

Box cutting knife - This knife I personally used for cutting up the sculpting material and taking large chunks of sculpture.

Cooking spray - This is used for smoothing out the sculpting material, it is great because it stops the material from gripping your
                       skin when you are doing major finishing touches.

Materials - 

- Plasticine or sculpting clay - I would personally recommend using plasticine, It does not shrink compared to most clays; It is a
                       very solid material until faced with heat or movement, And it doesnt need to be constently re hydrated for sculpts that
                       take long periods of time.

Plaster Of Paris - General plaster of paris can be brought for cheap in 20kg bags from most hardware stores for about $12,
                       definitively  worth it, I used a fine jib plaster which doesn't set very fast unfortunately, but I made do.

Polystyrene head - the closer to your head shape the better.

Duct Tape - Tis Good stuff

Solid Piece of wood - This is used for a sculpting base and is very important later on when It comes time to casting this out of

And Liquid Latex.

Step 2: 3D Reference

The best way to get a digital image from a game is to find someone who can get you a 3D rendering of the image from the original file.

If you cant get a 3D rendering, the next best thing is to make a wall of pictures with good detail from the game or movie,  for when you do your sculpt, I highly put thes in a place where it is easy to look up from your work for a reference. 

Step 3: Starting the Sculpt

First thing you want to do is take your polystyrene head, Using some plaster of paris, you may need to build up the head a bit to make it match your own head.

Take your polystyrene head, you are going to mount it roughly in the middle of your board, using the duct tape.

The final step befor you can start sculpting is to put a little bit of plaster where the shoulders and trapezius would be located in relation to match your build.  (Note: this is not something you need to be perfect about, it is just to allow you to save some plasticine by not having to build it up so much.

Step 4: Start Sculpting

Now, the sculpting can begin, Id recommend doing as I did by drawing the lines where the cowl is open around the mouth.

When starting with the sculpting material you want to apply it in patches no bigger than an inch in diameter and 8mm thick.  You would usually cut off a small bit of plaster, roll it around to soften it, then apply it to your mannequin head.

Applying it in small softened blobs is to make it easy to smooth-en out and manipulate the pasticine later on, it feels a bit tedious, but its much much faster and less stressful in the end.

Once you have gotten the majority of the head covered, you want to start placing it around the edges of the eyes and the mouth on the head.

Step 5: Bat Ears

Now there is no right way of doing this, if you want to use tools and tempplates to make the perfect shape then "Go for gold".

For this part I really just built the ears by rolling up a large piece of plasticine into a cone shape, then flattening sides to get the desired affect, then repeating in revers for the corresponding ear.

NOTE: The ears are a very tricky part, they can make or brake the appearance of your cowl, as you will see my ears have to take a little bit of a trim to get them to the desired shape.

Step 6: Trapezius and Sternocleidomastiod Detail..... (Neck)

Ok, so the neck is another major part of the cowl that brings it together, without it, it'd look very un-intimidating.

As I am making the Arkham City Batman, these muscles are huge, so I had to use a large amount of plasticine, But just do whatever looks best.

Up until this point, the cowls detail has been very minimal, just make sure you keep that in mind when your doing your build, because as you start doing the minor detail you will be amazed at how quickly it will come to life, And on that note, if something isnt working for you, dot be afraid to cut it or go over it completely with the sculpt.

Step 7: Eyebrows and Temple and Ear Detail

This is wear the magic begins :D 

The trick to almost any batman mask is big eye brows, sharp cheek bones, and a large solid forehead.

Once you have added the eyebrows and other detail, I would then recommend to cut down or add to the ears, to make everything look good and balanced.
Once you have these on your head in a rough placement, you can give it a quick blast with your heat gun to soften it a bit for smoothness.

Note: The heat gun will melt your polystyrene where it is exposed to the cowl, be careful.

Step 8: Final Details

If you are happy with how your cowls looking, then Its time to start smoothing out and sharpening.

The smoothing is best done by spraying the model with the cooking spray, you then just need smooth out the surfaces by moving your fingers in a circular motion.

Sharpening is for when your doing the edges of the ears, eyes, under the lip of your cowls base etc, its usually just taking a good edge to the Plasticine, the best way I found was to heat up the tool tip with the heat gun, making it a much smoother and faster job.

All in all, the more time you spend on finishing up your design, will determine how well your cowl will come up.

I will be uploading the "part 2" on how to cast this cowl out of latex in about 2 weeks.

I hope that I have answered any questions that anyone has, and if not please feel free to ask questions.


Step 9: Materials for Casting

Now to make the mold and cast :D

You will Need:

Plaster of paris

Canola cooking oil spray


Step 10: Making a Frame

The first step is to make a border around your mask, the reason for this is to make sure your mold has a clean user friendly finish,

Now unfortunately I did not take a picture of this, but I found a good example from another sculptor, and how he does it in the link below.

..... I really dont need to show you any more about this.

Ps. Make sure to spray your sculptor with a good amount of cooking oil to make sure it doesn't stick, and make sure to get out as many air bubbles from the plaster before poring.

Step 11: Breaking Your Mold Open

Now that you'v finished your 2 parts of your plaster mold on each side, then you are going to have to pry the mold open little by little until it comes open.

Your next step is to simply remove any of the existing sculpture inside, be warned, this can be a heart breaking sight.

Once youv done that you need to go through and fill any small air-pockets that may have formed from the bubbles in the plaster.

Step 12: Pouring Your Latex

The final step to this tutorial is to take your mold pieces, line the inside of the mold with cooking spray to stop sticking.

When youv put the mold back together you need to place it upside down, fill it completely with liquid latex, And let it sit for about 4 hours.

Latex dries from the outside in, and the plaster absorbs a lot of the moisture from the latex, which speeds up the process, after this is done, drain the latex and let it dry for about 16- 20 hours, or until dry, if you want it thicker then repeat to desired thickness.

Make sure to do the casting in a well ventilated area as the ammonia from the latex is strong stuff and not good for your lungs.

Step 13: Cleaning After Removing From the Mold

Now that youv let your latex dry, You want to blow some talcum powder inside the mask, this will stop the latex from sticking to itself, this part is very important.

Once youv removed your casting from the mold, you really simply just have to clean it using soap and water.

Make sure to just take your time and be patient, I shall upload finished clean pictures shortly.
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