This is a first time Instructables build for me so bear that in mind :-) I never done one of these but i can tell you I have found it SO rewarding and im so happy to give you all the knowledge I have built over the months to now.
I would like to say I, like many of you, totally love instructables and all the amazing things on here. This site is literally my fave site EVER!
I have been dabbling in prop and costume making for the last 5 years, I have always wanted to make my own Batman Returns suit, this out of all of them was my fave, artistic and sleek however I wanted to bind that to the recent Dark Knight Movie too. So here I present to you, the "Stephen Returns/Dark Knight Hybrid Suit".
the whole thing is made of various materials, when I started the project, I set a time limit of Halloween 2015 and I have just about made it in time with only 2 weeks to go!
I am also entering this into the Halloween comp so please vote for me :-)
I did use a couple of small cheats here and there to make things simple in terms of using ready made bits then customizing them totally. I think its important to be honest about that however I don't see any point in complicating things. I have had to customize everything of those bits I bought.
Much to the disapproval of my wife , I took over the kitchen breakfast bar for a good few months. Keep this in mind if you have a partner. Mine is very patient with me and puts up with a lot.
There is a list of things you will need and this project will take time, mine took 10 months to make but that is alongside a full-time job, life..eating..training etc!
Note - The mask in the suit is not made by me it was simply too much to make it too however I have customized and modified it!
Any questions feel free to contact me and I will help as many of you as possible.
- Dremel of some kind and blades, sanders specifically
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Spanner to fit nuts and bolts
- Flat Head Screw driver
- Glue gun and lots of glue sticks
- Stanley/Utility blade + spare blades
- Cutting mat
- Paint Stripper gun/Heat Gunor use a Gas cooker hob (but its risky!)
- Tape Measure
- Black Sharpie Marker
- Gold Paint
- Orange/Orca Colored Acrylic Paint
- Yellow Colored Acrylic Paint
- Black Gloss Paint
- Clamps - lots!
- EVA Foam Mats ( the kind for the gym/workshop) these are 10mm thick and come in packs of 4 normally.
- 5mm EVA Foam Sheet or similar thickness rubber sheet will do
- Cling film
- "Pleather" or some kind of leather looking material - 2mm or so thick only. you will need approximately 7 foot length by 14 foot (to make the same cape as mine which is a 8 panel one like in Batman Returns)
- Various Nuts and bolts - you will need some to be approx 20mm in length and some to be 10mm in length, go for M5 or M6 diameter.
- Velcro - go for the strongest Velcro tape you can afford.
- Super Glue (I recommend Locite Gel)
- Standard Super glue
- Black thread (1 large reel) and Leather needles (they have to be strong enough to sew leather with)
- A small amount of crate foam (ideally) or some kind of dense foam (6" by 6" is all you need.
- Black Wellington boots optional: steel toe cap
- Black Neoprene sheet - A3 size
- Elastic strapping
- Approx 10 ft of black webbing/strapping and snap buckles to fit.
- Black Spray Paint (Matt)
- Black Plastidip X2 Cans (you will need them!)
- EVA Glue ( the cheap school glue)
- A pair of tracksuit bottoms
- A compression shirt
(or a wet suit instead of the 2 items above...- not recommended though)
- Thin Card and A3 Paper
- A Pair of football shin guards
- 2mm Aluminium or hard plastic sheet (A5 size is enough) - these are for the bat gauntlets
- One pair of Black Tactical airsoft/paintball gloves
- One Dark Knight Utility Belt (this will need work done to it though!)
- (optional) "Hard As Nails double sided tape"
Step 1: Blueprints From the Batcave!
I drafted up some ideas of my own combining the Batman Returns Chest Armour and the Dark Knight Armour to form up my own "Blueprints" of how I figured it would come together. Oddly I didn't need to alter this at all.
Getting the measurements for the chest and ab plate was tricky as there isn't a lot out there in terms of actual measurements for the screen used suits. Also you have to keep in mind that Michael Keaton was a small lean guy and I am a 6ft 18 stone guy so scaling up was needed. Luckily I found a prop someone owned from Returns of the whole suit and they gave me all the measurements so I take my hat off to "KeatonKnight" for that.
HOT TIP - Grab a T-shirt that fits you well and spread it across a counter/table then you can draw on paper roughly all your upper armor onto A3 then cut it out. This is a simple yet effective way to get rough dimensions of your body, later on we will form this better.
Cut out all the pieces you need for the various parts of armor, don't rush it - this is really important. I will probably post up all the measurements I used for future ref later.
Try to keep everything symmetrical if you can, the more it is, the better the final look will be.
Step 2: Draw and Cut
Chest Part One -
With the stencils you have made you will need to draw around these onto the 10mm EVA Foam Mats. If you look at my picture you will see I made the Upper Torso out of Two pieces and staggered them to give the carved out, rigid and mechanical look of the armor.
These will later be bolted and glued together.
Once you have drawn these pieces onto the EVA Foam with a black Sharpie, Check them on your body to see if they look about right for fitting, if so - go ahead and cut them out.
The next job is to glue the Pecs upper to the lower stomach area, Simply do this with the Hybrid Locite Gel and then put something really heavy across the whole piece - leave it over night.
these are simple - Simply cut out two very large diamonds that are the width of the wellington boot, from side to side of the Shin area (see pic above) then make three upside down "V" shapes (see pic above) these will be drawn onto the neoprene thin foam and glued onto the large diamond pieces, this all gets glued onto the boot itself after.
Allow plenty of time over night for all pieces to dry before application no matter how tempting it is :-)
This will complete the boots ready for painting - If you want to get these looking really good, then add an extra piece of foam to the upper foot area too as above.
Step 3: Chest - Part 2
Chest Part 2 -
ok so now you should have a very good looking chest/breast plate. It now needs a six pack Ab plate like from Batmen Returns.
This is really simple, just stencil out the pieces after you have marked them out using a blueprint as above.
Then all you have to do is stagger them slightly on top of each other, then I recommend using "Hard As Nails double sided tape and hotglue to attach the upper to the lower piece.
Dry this over night then you can apply it to the center of the Stomach area. - Again leave this to dry overnight with something heavy on it.
I soon discovered that to keep the pieces together, it required a bolt on each side of the chest area as well. (see pics later on in "chest Part 3".
TIP - Now, You will see from my pics above that I laid the Ab-plate slightly lower then the stomach area - this was a mistake ...it should be flush with the bottom of the Armour so do bear that in mind. The best thing to do is lay out all the bits of paper on top of each other before you commit anything to the foam. It does also help to mark on the foam, you will paint over it all later anyway.
Step 4: Bat Gauntlets!
Ok - with this you have a few options - you can do what I did and go for the slightly dangerous metal fins or you can use foam or plastic. Your choice,
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP - These can cut and can hurt someone if you catch them - be careful wearing in public and don't fight anyone in them.
Two downsides to metal though.. I have discovered that as these are sharp, they can pierce the cape you wear which often falls over them and human flesh(!) be careful with this bit.
I cut out some triangulated "fins" from the metal sheet, cut those out and then simply took the dremel to the shin guards and cut slits for them. Next thing was to glue in place using the Locite hybrid Glue. This also left a nice little bead along the edges which looks like solder. I left that for effect and painted over the whole thing in Mat black spray paint then a coat of plasti dip - to be frank, you will be plasti dipping the whole suit anyway later on :-)
I took the air-soft gloves and cut some extra detailing into the fingers and hand uppers. the wrist bands were to loose so I refastened those, moving the Velcro slightly up the band to make them tighter. Again this is all personal preference.
TIP - try to make sure everything is as comfortable as possible for you because wearing this suit is a workout in itself.
Lastly I finished the shin guards by replacing the attaching bands that the guard came with, with some black strapping (25mm size) and a buckle for the upper forearm and the wrist area. this makes them much easier to get on and off.
Step 5: The Cape!
This has to be one of my proudest achievements - I really did battle with this part, I will give you all the shortcuts here for this today.
First thing I need to explain is that I was going for a very high quality 8 Panel Cape, this is the same as the BR version and surrounds you totally.
I made it of Pleather and although it moves like the real thing, looks amazing and is waterproof, it was very heavy. You may want to use something lighter and cheaper - pleather is expensive stuff, luckily I got mine very cheap in a sale.
If I remade the cape again, id lok for something lighter for sure. I was pleased with the final product though.
I took the measurements from a batman forum then scaled everything up so that the cape would slightly trail the ground and also be tall enough for a 6ft guy.
You will need to measure every panel from the tip of each section triangle then to the lowest point. Finally I scalloped the panels to give it the right look, again if your going for accuracy - you will want to do this. It will look so much better than a flat bottom.
first I marked out all the panels in my living room then cut them all out. If anyone wants the exact measurements let me know and I will provide them.
After this I decided to hand-stich all the panels to each other - this was VERY time consuming. It took me 2 weeks to get these all done, a sewing machine would of been far quicker.
If you use a sewing machine, and you have heavy material, make sure you have the right settings and needles.. I dont know anything about sewing machines to be honest but imagine this is important or you may damage the machine.
I reinforced all the edges with hybrid locite gel super glue then I made the neck piece as a wrap around the neck piece. this was then secured with a small bolt and nut which made it easy to get on and off when I needed to.
you will need to use lots and lots of reinforcement on the neck to the panels as there will be a tremendous amount of tension+gravity on the seam.
Note: I have included a couple of objects in the pic so you can the sizing.
Step 6: Chest Part 3 and Biceps + Thighs
Ok so now we go back to the chest armor again...
by now you should have a strong glued and bolted chest/breast plate. If you have experienced any issues with this staying glued, I would suggest you make sure you make a hole the size of the bolts you have (M5) near the edges of the breast plate on each side, I recommend two on each side and one on each (see above picture for locations.
Ideally you want to then attach the webbing/strapping to these bolts before hot gluing on the underside and then threading the nut on. seal it with locite too. I also recommend using washers to hold it in place (See above).
Update - having decided to reinforce the whole thing, I have since gone back and used washers and rivets on these areas of webbing to make them stay in place.
I would suggest holding a piece of A4 paper against each section then drawing around it to get the shape before transferring to EVA foam and cutting out. Next loop some elastic underneath and hot glue in place plus use bolts or rivets if you desire.
You can make shoulders too in this manner if you wish however I did not initially - Now I am thinking of making some:-)
Read on for more about thighs>>>
Step 7: Thighs and Torso
I found out , after some playing around that using 10mm EVA foam on the legs without any straps is tricky to keep on. I tried using "snap on's" at first but they didn't work, they kept coming off.
I was using a pair of black light tracksuit bottoms . I believe these are the best to use. go for breathable ones.
In the end I opted for using sheet rubber (or if you are lucky enough to have once worked in the pub trade - you might have some bar mats laying about to be recycled?) then I used rivets to lock them in place.
The thighs were one piece then the groin area (which was well padded ..ahhmmm) and knee caps with extra foam glued on top. Be creative with this but I tried to keep close to the Dark Knight armor.
Mostly the legs are hidden under the cape, when people look at you, they will be checking out your abs, chest, arms and cowl.
Although we made armour, you will want to get your self some kind of undersuit , some people use wetsuits, I have heard these are ridiculously hot.. I would go for tracksuit bottoms and some kind of compression long sleeve top like I did. Spray paint the whole lot black too.
Step 8: Bat Utility Belt, Cowl and Chest Emblem
Ok .. so we are getting there now.. I Imagine you are wanting to put this altogether by now after all these weeks of work?
We need to cover two of Batman's most important areas.. The utility belt and the cowl.
for this, for ease of use and because of time constraints making everything else from scratch, I bought both from Rubies officially licensed items however they needed much modification >>>>
You have a few options here - I would of loved to have made and cast my own custom fit cowl but I simply didnt have the time or experience to do this in time for Halloween. The cowl has to look right.. if it looks even slightly wrong, you wont be taken seriously.. as such :-)
This means I had 2 obvious options available to me... 1- I buy a high end cowl from online, there are a lot of talented people out there making them, if you want the best - although I don't yet own any of his work, I love Artsee1.com 's work is awesome. you are looking to spend around £100 ++ anything up to £300 for a wearable high end cowl, you do get what you pay for though...
note - I am in no way affiliated with Artsee1.com, I just love his work :-)
Option 2 is to take a low end one and make it as good as it can be, much more affordable/a good stop gap. To be frank Although I like my cowl, I will be getting one from Artsee once I have saved up for it and just for fun, I will dip into making my own next year. For now.. I make do with Rubies Dark Knight Adult cowl.
It needs work though....
Although I like that Rubies are trying to make good quality stuff they do make things rather on the small side, If any of you have tried their Batman Original cowl , it looks amazing, but if you have a head of around 22-24".. forget it.. you wont get it on.
so, the best thing to do is work out which cowl you want , the cowl is a major part of the whole look. It tends to be the first thing people notice after they taken in everything else.
I went for the Rubies Dark Knight cowl as it fits well ( and I have a 23" head (Big lol) and you can adapt it, also very durable PVC/Vinyl type material.
firstly you will need to stretch it out, easiest way is to get a hot air dryer or paint stripper gun, blast the inside of the mask for short 5-8 second spurts of heat, repeat about 2 mins worth then stick a balloon inside and blow it up so its huge. Take care with the mask.. it will retain the heat you been putting in it!
leave it blown up over night and you will want to do this the night before you plan to wear it. I would recommend this for any cowl you get.
Next thing is to give it a good even coating of black plasti dip. give it several layers allowing an hour or so in between each layer.
Ears !! - OMG - the ears on these mass produced cowls are really crap.. to be fair its not the fault of the manufacturer really, how do you get pointed ears to stay up?...Cut some triangle foam out about the same size and stuff them into the ears... there wont be any problems with getting them to point up.
The Belt -
The Dark Knight Utility belt is the least stupid looking of them all. However the paint job is awful and looks like plastic. You will want to take your gold paint and base coat it, black gloss the bat logo in the middle and leave to dry.
Next day , you need to slice of the thread like velcro attachment it comes with and simply loop some 25mm strapping through like you did for the gauntlets. use a big buckle for it too. The great thing is you can custom make the length of the belt to anything you like, so if your on the large side like me, you can make it accommodating.
finally give it some detailing or weathering as desired depending on what kind of look you want to go for.
TIP - remember the main thing is that the front of you looks convincing, the rest is hidden by your massive cape :-)
Chest Emblem -
ok so .. another focal point of the whole suit! again this needs to look right or you suit will scream"fake" and that would be a shame after all this work wouldn't it?
for this I managed to source an emblem from a collector friend and simply made an impression of it into Plasticine then cast it in plaster.
I would probably recommend buying one on an auction site or if you have the bat symbol make your own like me.
follow this up with a good paint job and then use strong Velcro to stick it to your chest.. get it dead center too :-)
Step 9: Finally - Tips for Being Batman on the Streets!
I hope you are all still with me and have managed to get to this point , you should now have a very awesome looking maybe even "intimidating looking" batsuit of your own.
Trust me I cant wait to take this out onto the streets where I live at night but I have been researching some tips that I really think are good. So here I share them with you. You can choose to take them on board or ignore them :-)
Act like batman - You have the look - people are going to expect you to act like the caped crusader.. You can do what you want but.. I plan to stay sober not be acting like my usual self, being serious and moody, with a gruff voice.
Avoid confrontations! -
You might get some idiot who"wants to beat up Batman" so avoid these idiots at all costs. Also Drunks etc.. but this is just common sense. Do not fight anyone.
Responsibility - I know this might sound totally insane, this is a DIY home build project and here I am talking about being responsible - this is just my opinion but keep in mind, when you step out onto the streets, people WILL think you are batman, they wont be able to decipher you from him so, with that be safe, don't take on any challenges or drunks.. remember in all seriousness you are wearing gauntlets that have the potential to hurt people(!) I strongly recommend you have fun, but don't fight or harm anyone. I cant be taken responsible for what you do out there.
Also keep in mind, some younger adults and kids/parents might want you to stop for a photo or talk to their little one, so play the part and keep their dreams true :-)
you might look like batman- but you are not him -
Im sorry to tell you, none of us are as strong or invincible as Bruce Wayne so don't go jumping off buildings or fighting groups of people.
Be Aware of your surroundings! - Some places require motor cyclists to remove headwear, if you think about it, you are totally covered up.. you may have to remove your cowl at times when entering buildings.
Have fun! - this is the most important rule - enjoy your time out ..its going to be a great night for you.
Stay safe and enjoy - you have earn t it :-)
Disclaimer: I cannot take any responsibility for anything you do when dressed (or not dressed!) as Batman, this is just for fun only so enjoy your time as batman but don't do anything you shouldn't or illegal, remember Batman is on the good guys side!
FINALLY - PHEW! -
If I can help any of you out there with making your own suit, message me, I will try to reply to all of you. I can also supply you with all the measurements too if needed. I hope you enjoyed my tutorial.