Building "The Bloody Hero" a Steampunk Superhero Puppet




About: Hi there! Thanks for checking out my Istructables profile! My name is Matt Ficner. I’ve been very fortunate to follow my creative interests from a very early age. This has led me to a career spanning over...

Hello INSTRUCTABLES!!!  This is my first entry ever on this website. I’ve had a few good friends & colleagues from the world of film and television prop making post things here.  So, I thought I’d give it a try!

My name is Matt Ficner. I’ve worked in film and TV for over 20 years. Primarily, I’m a puppet builder and puppeteer. I’ve been involved with many projects. If any of that is of interest to you, feel free to visit my website to see more “stuff”

Okay, so here is the intro to my first ever Instrucables entry:  Building “the Blood Hero” a Steampunk Superhero Puppet

Even before it was in fashion, I was always a fan of what is now referred to as “Steam Punk”.  The mixture of Victorian aesthetics and science fiction elements.  I am also a big fan of superheroes.  I won’t go into the long and epic story I have invented for this character, but what I will do is show you all how I put him together!

This was a labour of love. I plied all my puppet & prop making skills into this particular puppet creation.


Step 1: Bloody Hero : the Idea for the Character

The character of “The Bloody Hero” himself is a rather brutish, muscular and all round tough guy.  I also wanted to experiment with more “cartoonish” proportions for this hero.  So, firstly I roughed out a quick sketch of how I saw the proportions of the character fitting together.

Step 2: Every Steampunk Hero Needs GOGGLES!!!

Before I even started building the main part of the puppet, I was geeking out to the idea of making puppet sized steampunk goggles.

I used some 1 ½ inch copper pipe as the base of the structure for the goggles. The lenses are plastic magnifying lenses that I picked up at a dollar store.  I used red “stained glass” acrylic paint on the back of them to give them their “bloody” colour.

I finished them with scraps of leather for the strapping. I also used some rubber washers and fittings to add some detail to them.

Before I had anything of the puppet completed, I wanted to put out a “teaser” poster to my fans of “The Creepy Puppet Project” to let them know I was working on something new.

Step 3: Putting Puppet Parts Together

I will, at some point, post an “Instructables” on the process I use for sculpting and casting latex puppet heads.  It’s a pretty involved procedure that warrants it’s own full walkthrough.

For now, I wanted to show you the overall process of putting the Bloody Hero together.

I had sculpted the head first out of clay, cast it in plaster and then cast the final head in latex.  The latex head is what you see here.

I started assembling the upper torso of the body. I used high density foam to pattern out the “barrel” of the puppet’s chest.  I then used heavy nylon stockings over the core of the body to even out it’s surface.  

The arms were assembled in a similar manner.  They are carved high density foam with heavy nylon stockings stretched over them.   This allows them to bend and flex but still maintain their overall shape.

Step 4: Give Him a Hand! or Two...

With the “Bloody Hero’s” proportions being a little more “cartoon-like”  I knew I wanted his hands to be bigger than my normal ¼ puppets.   I wanted the option of puppeteering him both as a “rodded hand” puppet and a “live hand” puppet. I also planned on having the puppet wear leather gloves.

With the gloves being the final “skin” on the hands, I was able to get away with using high density foam covering a sculpture wire frame.  The foam was carved and shaped into fingers .  Yes, I admit there is a bit of duct tape holding some of the foam together, but it was never going to be seen in the finished product.

The “rod” hands can clip on and off and I can insert a matching pair of leather gloves with my own hands for certain camera shot options.

Step 5: Putting Puppet Parts Together Ii

For the lower anatomy of the puppet, I used light weigh pink Styrofoam to shape the legs. They are hinged at the knee and pelvic area with leather.

The majority of the time the puppet is actually going to be puppeteered on screen, the lower half of the puppet wouldn’t be used as much.  So, the puppet can come apart at his waist.

The legs were finished in the same way as the arms, with a heavy nylon covering.

Step 6: The Hero Uniform

With all his body parts put together, I was now able to start creating the costume for this character.

I already had a bit of an “undergarment” base with the nylon stockings I used as part of the construction of the puppet’s limbs. 

I stuck with a colour palette of maroons, browns and deep reds. The colours of clotted and dried blood.  There is more to the reasoning behind that in the back-story I created for this character.

His pants and vest were tailored to look “utilitarian” but still stylish.

Step 7: For the Love of Leather!

Now with the bulk of the puppet together, it was time to have some fun with my newly acquired industrial leather sewing machines!  This was another one of the geek-out moments I had building this puppet. 

I had a heck of a lot of fun stitching and crafting ¼ scale utility belts, holsters and gadgets for the hero.

Step 8: Paint 'em Up!

With most of the costume completed, it was time for the last bit of detail work on the puppet.   I painted up his face using a combination of latex painting techniques.

For some of the detail I used permanent ink through an airbrush.  I also use the old recipe with oil paint, rubber cement and naphtha.

Step 9: Putting Puppet Parts Together Iii

I now had all the bits and pieces I wanted for putting the hero together!!

Step 10: And Here He Is to Save the Day!

And the Bloody Hero rises! 

You can check out a short film "teaser" I did withthe Bloody Hero here.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of the strange stuff that I do with you.
I'll try to make my next instructables even more in depth.




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    25 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 7

    Welcome to instructables. I can see that you have a lot of expertise in making, most of the individual steps could be a valuable lesson by themselves. If you're up for a follow up, I would love to see some instructions on making the gadgets.

    4 replies
    Matt Ficnerjoy2b

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the welcome! When I documented this build, it was quite some time ago and I had not even considered posting to this site at the time. What I did document I was able to share here. When I get to my next "gadget" build, I will record more of the steps I use and will happily share them here.

    gedion4000Matt Ficner

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 7

    A little bit less of the "my name is Matt and i made this" type border on every picture next time will be good too lol. Nice work though.

    Matt Ficnergedion4000

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 7

    Thanks gedion400! Yes, I know I have a stamp on my pics. It's what I've had to do with my professional work when posting online. Unfortunatley I've had a lot of my work used without my permission.

    gedion4000Matt Ficner

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 7

    its pretty much imposable to do that though. if someone wants to use it as there own they can cut and paste it away. id use a border that was way less then 1/4 the image too. even a watermark can go away with Photoshop and it only detracts from your awesome work. that being said. if i was this talented id have my name on it too lol

    ahoudiniMatt Ficner

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 10

    Wow! Amazing as always! I anxiously await more info, but, for now, can you share the make and model of your leather-sewing machine?

    Is it just me or is there some Ron Perlman in Bloody Hero? :)

    Thanks, so much, for posting!


    Matt Ficnerahoudini

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Steve! My sewing machines are and ADLER 467 model and a beautiful old Singer patcher machine. and YES, a bit of Perlman in the Bloody Hero... how could you not put the influence of such a great actor into a character like this! CHEERS!