Introduction: 7' Monster Costume
I have long wanted to create a giant monster costume. Fueled from the excitement and fun I had making the Batman costume, I decided to get ambitious.
I drew up the face one day while bored in a meeting and since then my imagination has taken me towards the rest. As such, I knew I wanted it to be big and intimidating, so I decided it would need to be 7' tall. Since I am not 7' tall, I figured stilts would need to be built for this project. Also, in making me a foot taller I knew it would throw of the proportions of my arms, thus facilitating the need to extend my ams/hands somehow. That added extending mechanical hands to the list of things to build. I could quickly see that this would be quite the undertaking, and that would be the whole fun of it.
I hope you enjoy this instructable, and all its many parts, as much as I enjoyed building the costume.
Step 1: Concept Design
So I was sitting in a conference last November, and, as usual, I found myself bored and doodling. This is what I started drawing. After a couple minutes of drawing I started thinking, this would make a really cool Halloween costume. I had recently finished my Batman costume and was still in the creative flow. I turned to my coworker and said, "This is what I am going to be for Halloween next year." He just laughed since I was still a year out. I began doodling other aspects of the costume to try to figure out how to make what was developing in my head to work. I started to get excited, and there was no turning back from there.
Step 2: Materials
A lot went into this project, so this likely won't be a comprehensive list. However, I will do my best to write down the things that went into it.
Hot Glue & Gun
Oil Based Clay
Cloak & Pants:
Black Material of your choosing (about 5 or 6 yards)
Burlap (about 3 yards)
Cheese Cloth (one package)
Full Instructable on this. See [Homemade Stilts]
Full Instrucable on this. See [Mechanical Monster Hands]
Gold & Black spray paint
Step 3: Building the Mask (Eyes)
This is a rather challenging step. I had to do a bit of learning regarding how to heat mold plexiglass. The following is what I learned. I have made some adjustments for what I had to do to make it work better for me.
Heat Molding Plexiglass
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place a plexiglass sheet on large pan and place on the middle oven rack. The large pan prevents the plexiglass from coming into contact with the hot rack, which can distort the plexiglass due to uneven heating.
Heat for approximately 5-10 minutes.
Pull the pan out of the oven with the cotton gloves. The heated plexiglass is now ready for molding.
Mold the plexiglass into the desired shape. Work quickly as the plexiglass will become less malleable as it cools.
Place your plexiglass in the refrigerator to set the shape. You can repeat this process as many times as needed.
In order to get the eyes to be functional and in the right place, I used a cast of my head that I made for this kind of project. Using some oil based clay, I sculpted large eyes directly onto the cast. Comparing with my concept drawing, I made sure they were big enough, positioned correctly and symmetrical. Once this was done, I prepared it to make a mold. I used cardboard and oil based clay to make the well around the eyes. Once this was done, I coated the entire inside with vaseline to prevent the plaster from adhering to itself on my head cast. After my plaster was prepared, I poured it slowly into the form making sure to prevent any air bubbles. Once filled, I let this set for several hours.
I carefully removed the cast from the mold to make sure I didn't disrupt the clay eyes. This is important because this would be the form to press the heated plexiglass in. Since I needed the eyes to be as clear as possible, I couldn't have any weird textures on the plexiglass after the forming. Therefore, I covered the clay and the plaster with felt to give them a smooth surface.
Once all this prep work was done, I heated the plexiglass in my oven as explained in the directions above. When the plexiglass is ready it is nice and floppy. I placed it directly on top of the head with the sculpted eyes. Then I used the cast I had made to press down on top to give the eyes the shape. I had to press down quite hard to get this to work well. You can see in the picture that my form actually broke. Within a minute or two the plexiglass was cooled enough to remove from the press.
I had to clean up a few edges, but overall, this work really well.
Step 4: Building the Mask (Top Form)
With the Plexiglass eyes now formed I could begin working on the rest of the mask. Because I wanted the mouth to be movable, I needed it to be made in two parts.
I started with a large piece of the EVA foam, and with my heat gun, started to shape it into the shape need for the mask. I had to cut a large triangle out to create the form. Once the general shape was achieved, I hot glued it together. Then I was able to put the eyes in place. I carefully measure where they would go and then slowly cut the holes out until the eyes were just able to pop through. Then I glued them into place. With the eyes in the right location I was able to start the part of the top of the mask. This was done similarly to the front, only with more cuts needed to make the shape work. Then I just hot glued it all into place.
Throughout the process I kept tying it on my head to make sure that I would be able to look through the eye holes and have maximum vision. In order to have it rest well on my head and not wiggle around, I built up a framework on the inside using scraps of foam to have it stay secure. The most important part of this was my nose. I created an nice nook that rested right on the bridge of my nose while not obstructing my vision at all.
Once the general form was done I was able to start the more artistic process. Using pieces of foam, I began adding shapes and pieces to the mask to have it replicate my concept drawing. I used my dremel tool to then carve into and shape the foam. I also drilled in to make the nostrils. This was a fun process, though it was also very long. Luckily, I started early and worked on in bit by bit throughout the year.
I had to add pieces to the back to cover up my neck. This ended up working really well to give the head a more complete fill.
I experimented with textures and shapes and came up with some really fun ones. In the process of that, I decided that it would look even cooler if I added horns to the top. To do so, I just drilled holes into the foam to place them where I wanted. It really gave it a more completed look.
Once I had the shaping/sculpting completed I started painting it. I didn't want it to be super flashy, so this was just minimalistic to highlight the ridges and deepen the crevices. I think it turned out rather nicely.
Step 5: Building the Mask (Jaw Form)
I modified her design a bit to make it a little more custom formed. Using the leftover plexiglass from the eyes, I made a jaw piece. I stared by heating in in the oven and then placing over the cast of my head. Then, because I didn't have something to press on top of it to get a perfect shape, I used my head gun to do some spot forming to get it just right. Once formed, I used my dremel to cut out the shape just right.
I then built a wire framework off of this form using baling wire. I drilled holes in strategic locations on the plexiglass that wouldn't dig into my skin at all. Then, measuring how far out the jaw needed to be, I shaped the wire as needed. I tried to make this a sturdy as possible, while still having some flexibility for future shaping.
Now I needed to add the foam. I started by measuring the height and width that would be needed. I aded a little extra to that, just in case. Then I held it up to my jaw form to see where the placement needed to be. Once this was discovered, I cut into the foam where the wires would be. This was so the wires would rest inside the foam to make sure it would be as stable as possible. Then I hot glued the wire into the foam.
Using a heat gun, I started to form the shape of the jaw. This allowed me to curl the lip and form the chin and mandible shape. I had to test it out with the top piece in place to make sure the overall shape was good too. For functionality and overall appearance, I cut down a lot.
I made a strap for the jaw to attach to my head. I simply created some loops on the jaw that would attach to hooks on elastic. I used the double strap method to prevent it from sliding around too much. This is important because without it, the top piece would move the strap every time I put it on.
This is around the time that my kids really started liking the mask. Even my little 2 year old wanted to wear it all the time. It didn't fit quite as snugly on him, but it still looked really cool.
Once I got the general form all set, I was able to add some details. This was one of the moments that I realized how crazy I am. I started by gluing on little strips of foam to add ridges. This definitely added to the look, but it was sapping up precious time. So, I pulled out my dremel with a disc and started to replicate the texture that I was making. This turned out really well and saved me a couple hours of work.
I then drilled holes for the horns and glued in ridges of flesh around where they would go.
Finally, I painted it. Like the top, this was mostly to highlight the rigdges. I added a little more color into this for some variety.
Step 6: Horns & Teeth
A good monster needs creepy horns and teeth to really give it that extra edge. I used Super Sculpey to make mine. It is a nice polymer clay that can be baked to hardness in your oven.
I started with the teeth. I simply rolled out some pointed shapes and then measured them with the mask to make sure they were the right size. Then I baked them in the oven. After that, I hot glued them into place. I had to make sure they weren't just a pristine white (what monster has good oral hygiene?), so I watered down some acrylic paint and gave it a yellowing to make them look older and well used.
The horns were made in basically the same way, however, to look more like proper horns they needed more texture. this was done with a toothpick. I just pushed in little ridges around the whole horn, making them deeper at the base so the tip of the horn would remain smooth. Then I painted them in a similar fashion. With the horns, I added a little more brown to go down into the crevices. Then they were just hot glued into place. I added some extra horns on the jaw to balance things out.
Step 7: Mechanical Hands
I did a full instructable on how I made the hands. Please check it out here [Mechanical Monster Hands]
Once the mechanics were all complete, I needed to create a skin/armor for them. This took quite a bit more time than I expected it would, but turned out rather nicely.
I started by creating templates out of paper for each of the fingers and palms. Once I got those worked out to fit, I cut the shapes out of some thin craft foam. I then hot glued the foam into place. With the joints, I created enough overlap to allow good movement and cover the mechanics.
With all the foam in place, it needed some good alien texture. I used hot glue for this. I simply drew patterns and textures onto the foam with the hot glue. Then, using some black spray paint, I lightly coated the whole thing. I then used a very light dusting with gold spray paint to create some highlights. Again, I think it turned out well.
Step 8: Stilts
I did a full instructable for this as well. You can reference that instructible here [Homemade Stilts]
You can see how they work out with the costume before having the pants portion completed.
Step 9: Cloak and Pants
This is where my most valuable asset came into play; an amazing wife. She is the one who did the hard work here. I know how to sew, but I can't claim to be any sort of good at it.
We didn't really use any sort of pattern for this. We started with just a long piece of black fabric. I put on my shoulder pads and stilts and then held it on my head to get some measurements. We then cut a slit for my head and did the rest of the tailoring from there. My wife sewed some sleeves on (I put my hands on for this so we would get the right measurement) and stitched up the sides. I fringed up the bottom to make it look a bit more used.
Then, we got some cheese cloth and dyed it black. We put this over the shoulders to drape down to give the cloak a little more depth.
We made the pants out of burlap. With my stilts on, my wife measured it out to go from the tops of my knees down to the bottom of the stilts. She sewed each of those and then sewed in some elastic at the top of each leg to keep it on. Then we dyed them black. After the washing, they looked fantastically ragged and worked just right for covering up the stilts.
Step 10: Put It on and Look Awesome
The whole costume turned out really well. It was a big hit at work (freaking out several people) and at the neighborhood Trunk or Treat (freaking out several of the kids).
I still need to get some video of me walking around in it. I will try to add that in the coming weeks.
I hope you enjoyed this one. It was a long project and I'm glad I spread it out over the year so I wasn't so overwhelmed at the end.