Introduction: Scorpion Mortal Kombat 11 Costume Build
Scorpion has been on my costume list for a while, finally I built it.
I played the first couple of Mortal Kombat games, always as Scorpion, but I haven't played the latest iterations. I didn't even know there were so many games. My hesitancy with the costume was the simplicity and that I don't have the arms for it. I realized the latest version has a lot of detail apt for costuming and I could just add sleeves.
I started with reference photos. I googled Scorpion Mortal Kombat and started picking out looks I liked. I unknowingly decided on the MK11 version as that has a lot of details that lend itself to costuming. I think Halloween costumes should be creepy and I like to mask my identity. Because of that I decided to make Scorpion's face a skull which pays homage to one of his finishing moves in the original game. In addition to adding sleeves, I'm modifying the belt so it has a skull buckle that's part of an alternate in-game Scorpion. I like the look of it. I typically don't build weapons, while Scorpion does have two tantos on his belt, I'm not going to build those. Plus, I usually don't have the time anyway.
My first step is listing all of the costume pieces. Next I begin detailing the items, noting colors, materials, and individual items. I sketch almost everything first to understand how it works, then I create a paper template to determine the correct size.
I had to dye a lot of leather and cloth. I ran into a few issues with that. For leather, be sure to prepare it by scrubbing aggressively with acetone. I did have one scrap of leather for which this did nothing and it didn't dye at all.
While I've dyed material with good results in a utility sink with just hot water in the past, that did not work this time around. I ended up dyeing on a stove which produced great results. In the utility sink the dye seemed to be half effective. On the cooktop I used just under boiling water with a bit of dish detergent per instructions. I don't know if was the heat, detergent or both that made a difference, but my blacks were gray/purple in the utility sink and vivid black on the cooktop. Same thing with red and yellow. It's baffling as I've dyed reds and burgundys in the utility sink before with fine results.
Purchase List (paid links):
Life size plastic skull
Mini plastic skull
25' of black plastic chain (didn't use)
Wrestling shoes (ninja shoes would be more accurate)
1" poly webbing
(6'-0") 2/0 Welded Zinc Plated Steel Chain
(1) Dye stripper (project dependent)
(1) 1.5” o ring
(4) 1.5” d rings
(4) buckles/2 each arm (opted for plastic tri-glides instead)
6 yards of twisted rope for shoulder cord/tassel
(1) black dye
(1) golden yellow dye
(1) scarlet dye
(1) dark brown dye (project dependent)
EVA foam floor mats (4 pack)
Muslin perm press material
Styrene plastic .04
3/16" pop rivets
1/8" pop rivets
Open ring snap buttons
1" hook & loop non-adhesive velcro
Plasti-dip spray paint (2) cans
Rustoleum spray paint (1) can each (6 total): metallic silver, flat black, flat brown, flat white, flat beige, gloss black Acrylic paints: black, brown, silver
Total: $430 / I spent $205 as I already had a lot of this stuff.
Buying everything will leave you with a lot of material for future projects
Tool/Supply List (paid links):
Pencil (I prefer a lead holder)
Scrap paper for sketching and for protecting work surfaces
Hobby knife with replacement blades
Metal straight edge
3M 77 spray adhesive
Dremel with cut off wheel
Drill with 1/8", 3/16" bits
Sanding block/80 girt paper/220 grit paper
Heat gun to seal foam
Wood burning tool to create battle damage in foam
Sewing machine, black thread, white thread
Leather hole punch
Hot glue/hot glue gun
Wood skewers for stirring contact cement, painting hard to reach crevices
Respirator with organic vapor cartridges - contact cement is toxic, so is spray paint
Step 1: Mask & Hood
The mask is one of the trickier elements as skull masks are typically latex. Plastic ones don't cover the whole face which is what I wanted. I found the largest life size skull I could knowing I'd have cut it up and enlarge it. I bought sunglasses to replace the eyes of the skull so I could still see while maintaining the illusion.
I cut out the back of the skull and below the cheekbones, cutting a bit at a time. I didn't want to cut too much off. I split the skull through each eye and dead center of the head. To widen it I used .040 styrene. Any time I heated the plastic I wore a respirator.
I needed to use CA/crazy glue. I didn't have any and tried Gorilla glue. That didn't work at all. CA glue did the trick. I used a strip of styrene cut to fill the gap and glued edge to edge. Then I used a strip of styrene perpendicular to the seam to bridge the gap and reinforce. I heated it first to shape it to the curves of the mask. Styrene heats quickly but also cools quickly. It gets very hot. I wore gloves to shape the pieces. I used CA glue and clamped the plastic as it didn't dry as quickly as advertised. In the end I didn't need to split the entire skull. I could have just cut up through the eyes and then angled back to the center.
To weld in the seams, I used a wood burning tool and scrap styrene, melting it to fill in the gaps. Wear a respirator with organic cartridge filters! I went slowly and tried to smooth out and feather as best I could. The filled seams are less noticeable than a gap. I used a hobby knife to cut out the eye sockets for a better fit against the sunglasses. It's not perfect, but it's good enough. I added pieces of foam on the inside for padding.
I painted it with a beige as bone is more of a warmer tan than cold gray. I then misted it with flat black to dull the gloss of the tan. I then used a glove finger to rub in the black and dull the color. I sprayed gloss black in the eye sockets to blend in the sunglasses lenses. I used a rag to feather the gloss into the beige. I kept it rough and loose. I want this to look messy. I went back with a black wash to add depth to the crevices. I used acrylic as I didn't want to affect the color of the skull.
I taped the sunglasses lenses in place and then hot glued around them to fill in gaps. The lenses really make the eyes look like a deep pit. Unless you look at it from the right angle, you don't see a seam.
The hood is black exterior/red interior with pleats going down each side. Since my material was thin I did a double black layer. I started with a hood I sewed from a previous costume to get a sense of the right shape.
I sewed the front edge/opening of the black and red together inside out, then I sewed just the black together inside out down the back. My pleats didn't meet in the back, so I had to redo it, lining up the pleats first. I also ended up sewing my pleats together from the backside as they kept expanding. If I had sewn my pleats in from the start I would have had cleaner lines, but the end result isn't bad.
I then turned the hood inside out to sewed the red interior together. The red liner is only sewn to the black at the front opening. I then sewed a line 1" back from the opening to keep the front edge in place, I wanted the black to curl into the opening just .25" and the only way to maintain that is to sew it in place. I did notice the reference hood has a 1" strip around the exterior opening. The pleats don't touch the opening, but I was too far into it to adjust.
The hood has a 'c' shape that drapes over the shoulders and down in the front and back. I used a paper to template to get an idea of the size, then I sewed the hood to this and added open ring snaps in the front to secure it.
The half mask is craft foam. I templated it first. I wasn't entirely happy with it, but time was running short. A curved cut helps creates a curve that wraps my face and chin. I layered foam to create the look, with foam running down the middle and each side. I cut out the cheeks for the perforated metal. It's a speaker grille painted silver with black fabric behind it. I cut the speaker grille with a Dremel. I used hot glue to attach it to the mask.
The half mask is attached to the skull with contact cement. I then glued an elastic band to the plastic skull, sizing it to my head.
Step 2: Tabard
The yellow tabard is classic Scorpion. Without it, it's just not Scorpion. I created a paper template to start getting the scale correct. It's an iterative process as I add and subtract until it looks 'right.' This can change as I template other parts. The costume is an ensemble and adding new parts can make the scale look off for other parts.
I had leftover wool that I wanted to use as I liked the weave pattern and how it drapes. I tried dye stripping it, but I can only guess the gray wool is the natural color as the color remain unchanged.
I found material with an upholstery look which dyed well. I only sewed it at each shoulder.
I then cut and dyed leather for the perimeter edging. I cut leather in 2" strips for the inside edging, folding it over and sewing it with black thread. I didn't have any strips the full length, so I cut them straight and sewed them end to end with a zig zag stitch. I had dyed the leather black, so cutting it exposed a tan edge. I used a sharpie for that. For the outside edge I had cut a 1/2" strip, but such a narrow strip was difficult to fold over and sew. I should have made it at least 3/4" wide. I ended up sewing it right at the edge instead of trying to fold it over. I didn't have time to cut and dye new strips.
The reference photos have additional strips of 1/2" black leather striping. along the inside and outside edges. I didn't have time to add it. The inside strip is spaced 1/2" from the edging. The outside edge has two 1/2" strips that but the edging. They have a basket weave type look that I planned to achieve by just sewing in a strip every 1".
Step 3: Shoulder Pauldrons
The pauldrons are foam floor mats. I created a relief cut on the inside to achieve the flare around the perimeter. I
started with a paper template, like everything else. From my original template I made them 1" wider and 3" longer. I sized it the way I wanted, cut them out, and then tried on the tabard template and realized the pauldrons were just a bit too big. They were 1" too wide, so I cut them back down and redid the relief cuts.
I heated them to shape then to my shoulders, then glued a craft foam strip on the inside down the middle which will help hold the curve. I then cut a double 45 degree divot along the inside border to create the angle of the outside edge. I then glued a thin strip of foam into the divot to help keep the angle.
Running front to back is a cord with tassels. I used 100% cotton rope, as that takes dye better than rope that contains polyester. Due to that I didn't have a choice in size. The cord with loops and tassels took more time than expected. I had a lot of false starts trying to figure out how to get from rope to a three braid cord with two loops and two tassels. I'm very happy with the result. I thought I might have to cheat it and make the parts separately, gluing them together for the final piece, but what I ended up with is basically one big piece.
The rope is (3) strand typical twist braid. I unbraided the rope to create a typical (3) strand braid. I did a typical overhand knot with plenty of extra length. I then took each of the (3) strands and split them so I had (6) equally sized strands. From there I created (2) separate (3) strand braids. I then created two loops and tied them tight to mimic the two loops from the reference photos. I then adjusted the length of the (2) braids and did an overhand knot at the end of the braid. I then created a tassel. On half the tassels I had enough length to fold over to create the strands. On the other half I cut a length of rope, unbraided it, and made it long enough to fold in half to make the tassel. I used thread to tie a knot just above the knot that ends the braid. I folded down the strands and cut them if they had loops. Then I trimmed the end of the tassel to be even. I intended to dip it in black and then yellow dye for a few seconds but forgot. With time running short I sprayed it with gold paint which got the color close to the reference.
The pauldron has a brown leather center with (5) leather strips across the pauldron with rivets. I cut brown leather and leather straps for the pauldrons after silver paint. I used a leather hole punch in the straps for the rivets. I used contact cement on the foam and spray glue on the leather to adhere them. The straps running across the pauldron secures the cord and loops. I put one rivet in the leather straps on each side instead of two as I didn't want to buy more rivets. It would take 40 total per the reference! A strip of 1" leather connects the pauldrons in the back. The 1" strip in the front has a 1.5" metal ring centered. I have velcro on one end that attaches to the back of the pauldron to make removal easier.
Step 4: Undershirt/Gi
I used a button down long sleeve shirt as a starting point. I try not to start from scratch when possible. It seemed about the right size, so I created a template off of that. Using a reference makes creating templates much easier and if you're new to sewing you can also use it as a reference for stitching.
While Scorpion's gi doesn't have sleeves, I need sleeves. They will be black, and I added a diamond stitch pattern for texture. The neck is red, and I'm going to add a red stripe under each arm.
There were ten different pieces to the gi. I was surprised I didn't mess up more than I did. I accidentally twisted the piece from front to back when sewing. Thankfully with fabric, it's easy enough to rip the seam and redo it. I referenced the shirt I took measurements from to determine how to line up my pieces. I tried to line up edges, either one end of the other. I sewed everything inside out to hide the seams. asdf
Before sewing the sleeves together or to the gi, I added a diamond pattern to both sleeves for texture. It's easier to do it before sewing it up. I had to recut the neck to fit better. I hemmed all edges for a finished look. It turned out really nice. The black/red looks really sharp. It's a shame you don't see much of the undershirt. Since it is a gi, and if you look at the reference photos, the collar should have edging which mine doesn't.
Step 5: Belt
The belt is 5" tall EVA foam. I added (2) strips of poly web on the inside for strength with contact cement. Foam can easily tear. Tri-glides on the front act as the buckle.
The front buckle is foam, with a plastic skull, and craft foam trim attached with contact cement to a leather and poly web sleeve that will conceal the tri-glide buckles. I made the craft foam trim one big piece, but should have made it individual pieces to make glue up easier. The belt buckle is foam floor matte with craft foam trim. The skull is a small plastic one that was cut to fit the belt. I painted the buckle with plasti-dip, then painted the trim and skull gold after masking. After the test run, I cut the polyweb straps of the buckle and added velcro to make it easier to add and remove. I added craft foam perpendicular to the poly web at each edge to reinforce it as the polyweb was wanting to separate.
The brown leather I originally planned to use for the belt didn't accept dye at all. I ended up dyeing other pieces. I wrapped the belt in leather that I dyed black, with contact cement. On each side is a leather sleeve with each edge hemmed. They are glued in place and don't move. I used spray glue on the backside of the leather before applying contact cement as this stops the leather from absorbing the contact cement.
I had planned to have plastic chain run inside the sleeves, but I was short on leather so my original idea would have allowed the foam to show. The plastic chain looping around the belt would have been a cool look and fits the character. I thought about instead looping it around the belt, but didn't have time to paint the plastic chain. I opted out of metal to reduce weight.
There are three red/black towels (for lack of a better term) hanging from the belt. The plan was to dye the blue/gray leather I had, but after the tabard not dye stripping I had concerns. I cut the patterns out of a single piece of leather so that the edge would line up perfectly when I reattached from the back.
What absolutely helped was rubbing the smooth side of the leather down with acetone. The better you scrub it the better it will accept the dye. After ten minutes, the smooth side of the leather had turned a purple color. The rough side was full black. I wrote this off as a failure, but did leave it in the dye bath for a full hour as recommended. The end result is that one towel was mostly black. One was kind of purple, and the other look half dyed. I either didn't acetone scrub it or did a poor job. This did give me hope for dyeing the belt black.
I tried again with the red portions of the towels. This time I fully saturated the leather while scrubbing it with acetone. The results were much better, the dye was even and more vivid. I ended up redying the black on the cooktop. It came out much better. I assume because of dyeing on the cooktop, the black leather shrank. I stretched it so that it matched the red, using duct tape on the back. With the need to stretch it to fit, I opted out of contact cement as I didn't think I could get it right on the first time. While all edges line up, the towels do wrinkle as the black wants to return to size. It doesn't look bad. I really like the red/black look. The towels are attached to the belt with contact cement. For some reason the towel in the front is above the tabard and in the back behind it. I didn't glue the last 2" of the towels to the belt in the back so I could just tuck the tabard in front of it.
Step 6: Armor
The bracers, leg armor, shoe armor, and pauldrons are foam floor mats. The half mask is craft foam.
The wrist plate of the bracers is attached to the rest of the bracer with poly web so I can move my wrist. I used leather straps to wrap my wrists. The palm strap is glued at each end with the other two on the forearms using a tri-glide to tighten them down. I wish I had made it velcro as I can't tighten the leather straps down one handed using the tri-glides.
The leg armor is a clam-shell style with polyweb glued to both sides on the outside and polyweb with velcro on the inside. I dyed a length of rope yellow for each side of the leg armor. It sits on the ledge in the front and I hot glued it in place. around the back it sits under the flare. I just did an overhand know on the outside.
The upper arm armor in reference photos attaches to the pauldrons, but I just didn't like the look. It's a double layered foam armor with leather straps and metal d-rings. I used poly web and velcro to strap it to my arm.
Shoe armor is a plate on the top of the foot and heel. Elastic attaches them front to back. Tension keeps it in place. I reinforced the strap to the armor with craft foam.
Step 7: Chain and Kunai
Scorpion's spear is called a kunai. I bought galvanied chain from a big box store and had it sand blasted. I sprayed it with flat black, turning it over to try and get an even coat. Then I wiped it down with a rag. This gives it a darker look that's uneven. It looks much better after weathering.
The kunai is 1/8" plywood. I made this start to finish including paint in fifteen minutes as time was short. I cut the spear shape simultaneously out of two piece of ply. Then slotted the top half of one and bottom half of the other so they fit together. I glued them with wood glue, painted it with primer, then misted it with black. I rubbed it with a glove finger to give it some character. I drilled a hole in the end and used a plastic chain link to attach the spear to the chain.
Step 8: Pants and Shoes
I bought these items. The shoes are wrestling shoes. I wish I had spent more for ninja style shoes with a split toe. The shoes were one of the first things I bought as I found them on sale.
I searched for ninja pants and these were listed. They lace up along the calf and are baggy above creating the ninja look. The reference photos have what seams like a 1/2" leather strip down the front seam, but I didn't have time to add it.
I dyed a 3" wide strip of yellow that wraps around the knee and attaches with velcro.
Step 9: Finish and Paint
All foam gets heat treated before paint. A heat gun pointed at the foam for a few seconds will do it. The foam will become a bit darker and develop a sheen. This seals the foam so it absorbs less paint. You can burn the foam, so be careful.
Once the foam is sealed spray the foam with Plasti-dip. It's a durable, flexible base for the color. There are other options like thinning PVA glue (white Elmer's glue). I've never tried it. I could have, and maybe should have,used acrylic caulk for the seams of the half mask, but I was running out of time. None of the armor had seams so it wasn't necessary.
After the plasti-dip dried I painted the armor was sprayed with metallic silver and the half mask with metallic gold. Before that was fully dry I misted flat black, white, and brown onto the surfaces. At first glance it looks like nothing was added. The subtlety gives it a realistic look. Otherwise it looks like a toy with a uniform surface.
I had planned to weather the armor but ran out of time. I would have used a oil black wash as I like the effect better on silver for a metal texture. It gives it a slightly darker tone, but it provides more of a realistic finish. I would have wiped black paint across the surfaces, wiping it off with a rag. This leaves paint in the cracks and crevices to give it a dirty or used look.
Depending on your base coat and desired effect you may want to use acrylic which wipes off easier and won't change the color.
Step 10: Unbuilt Items
I knew I wouldn't get to the tantos. I did a test run and reinforced and reglued a few items. I wish I had time to go back and make the tabard more realistic, adding the striping and edging.My biggest disappointment is the half mask. It looks like a bird or plague doctor. It sticks out a bit too far coming off the nose. It doesn't match the reference very closely. I just didn't have time to redo it, and shaping something with complex curves gets tricky. It's something that takes a few iterations to detail correctly.
Weathering also would have provided a lot of depth, dark colors in the corners and even some silver dry brush highlights. While I wanted to weather the armor, it doesn't look bad, but it would have been a nice detail
I also wish I had bought ninja split toe shoes instead of wrestling shoes.
Step 11: Conclusion
The shoulder pauldrons might be my favorite part. I love the complexity and look. The braided cord took more time than anticipated, but it's a cool detail. The skull mask came out great and the gloss black eye paint blends with the lenses near seamlessly. The visibility is great in this mask, which often isn't the case with my costumes.
I definitely ran out of time and missed adding a few small details that most people wouldn't even notice.
Participated in the