Intro: Foam Robot Costume, Beep Bebop of Robit Riddle
For this years costume we decided to make a character from a game that I am bringing to market. The game is, Robit Riddle, and is currently on Kickstarter. The character is called Beep Bebop, a friendly robot that loves to tinker.
The build used the following tools and materials:
- Foam floor tiles
- Thin craft foam
- Hot glue sticks
- Elastic straps
- Nylon straps
- Bag clips
- Black thread
- Silver spandex
- Aqua cotton fabric & thread
- Grey Plastidip spray paint
- Hammered silver spray paint
- Blue spray paint
- Metalic acrylic paint
- Masking tape
- Drop cloth
- Water valve handles
- Nuts & bolts
- Wood dowel rod
- Plastic bottle caps
- 2 amber LEDs
- Battery holder
- Shrink wrap
- 2 AA Batteries
Step 1: Rough Shapes for All Pieces
Setting Ratio/Scale of Costume
I first took measurements from the source piece of artwork. Then I took measurements from my son. Using these two sets of measurements I found a ratio so I can build the costume as close to scale as possible.
Using this information I design the most complicated thing on the computer in Sketchup. The only thing that I used Sketchup for was the head. I wanted to make sure it looked close to what the artwork showed and that it was proportional.
After building it out, I used the unwrap and flatten extension to make all the pieces flat. It was a little tricky but if you play with it for a bit, it starts to make sense. For the rounded form I only needed one of the sections. The bottom of the face I created another piece so that it would form a hard edge.
From there I took these pieces and printed them to scale. I trimmed the paper print off to the lines and traced the forms on the foam. Using the utility knife I cut everything out. I then shaped all the pieces of foam with a heat gun. Then used the hot glue gun to attach all the pieces together.
The top of the head I left until everything was glued together. Then I just traced the missing piece at the top of the helmet. I did this twice so I could have the thickness I needed at the top, and also for protection from the metal water valve assembly.
Rest of Foam Pieces
For the rest of the pieces of the robot I used the ratio figured out above then measured off the artists rendering and marked the shapes directly on the foam. Using the utility knife, exacto knife, and scissors to create the shapes. Again using a heat gun and glue gun as necessary to create the shapes.
Step 2: Detailing the Foam
After the basic components where all done I worked on detailing each piece. For some of the details I would add thin craft foam, for others I would use the wood burning tool to engrave on the item.
Adding Craft Foam
The craft foam you can pick up at any craft store. This was easy to cut with scissors and was much more flexible. I used it for anything that needed to be slightly raised from the main surface of the component. And since it was more flexible I used it where at joints. In this costume that was only the hands and wrists for the bracer like components.
Before touching your costume components practice on scrape pieces. It took some getting used to how the wood burning tool would make its way through the foam. It would also get gummed up pretty easily and required frequent cleaning. However I really like the results. The lines were not perfect or clean, but that added to the look of our costume.
The engraver came with different bits that you could use. I played around with many of them, but settled on one or two that were my favorites depending on what I was trying to do. The only special one I used was this round button looking bit that was perfect for the eyes on the helmet. I didn't want to cut the eyes all the way through since we could easily see out of the head through the mouth area. So the eyes were just circles burned half-way into the foam.
The only special attachments for the costume was the water knobs on the helmet. I wish I would have tried to recreate these with the foam, because the metal was just super heavy. However they are easily recognizable and made for an interesting conversation piece about the costume. The way we mounted them was to have a washer on two sides of a piece of foam and a bolt holding everything together. That piece of foam then got glued in place on the helmet.
Step 3: Painting
I setup a spray area in my garage. I moved my vehicles far away (to avoid overspray getting on them). I put down drop cloth and made stands out of all the scrap wood I had laying around. Make sure where ever you are going to glue does not get any paint on it, otherwise the glue will not stick.
To be able to paint on the foam you need to first put something on it that will attach to the foam and then accept the paint on it. This wondrous material is Plastidip. You should be able to get it at any home improvement store and comes in many different forms. I used the gray spray can kind. Gray because of that is the most metal looking and I wouldn't have to worry about overspray. Also my foam floor tile was gray.
After two coats of the Plastidip, I put on the base color. Since this is a metal robot a base silver was sprayed over everything. This silver had a hammered look to is so it wasn't so smooth and clean. It also hide any mistakes like runs pretty well.
Since there was a good amount of blue on components I masked of the parts that I wanted to remain silver. I did this with the blue painters tape, again found at any home improvement store. I then sprayed the blue over top of the silver.
After putting on the blue the components looked fake because they were too clean. To make the costume look a little more aged and worn I took a metal and black acrylic paint and watered it down. I used this mixture as a wash over the whole costume. This made the blue paint look like metal and filled in all the cracks with a darker color.
Step 4: Mounting & Wiring & Cloths
The helmet of course was the hardest to mount. I first mounted the jaw onto the head via the wood dowel rods. I wrapped part of the rods with the craft foam. (These were all prepped and painted in the last step). Using these rods I glued the jaw in place.
With the extra strips of foam I made a headband with velcro so both the boys and I could wear the head. Again this was all hot glued into place.
You can also see I added another piece of foam where the tops of our heads would hit to soften the touch of the water knob bolt.
For the chest piece I used the nylon bands and the backpack clips. There were straps that went over the shoulders and others with the clips that went around the waist. Again to attach the straps to the foam I just used hot glue. Again, make sure there is no paint where you attach, otherwise the hot glue will not stick.
For the rest of the pieces I used the elastic strapping and velcro.
To finish the helmet I added wiring for the LED eyes. I stuck the LED leads through the eye sockets that I burned into the helmet. Wiring everything up I attached a switch and battery pack that got mounted behind the head on the inside of the helmet. To finish I glued the plastic bottle caps over the LEDs.
I will admit, I bought the shirt and pants. I just didn't have the time to finish that bit, as I am not a great tailor. The gloves I made from silver spandex. I just traced my sons hand and used that as a pattern.