Intro: Hooves From Comfy Shoes (No High Heels!)
Sometimes the best part of a costume is a little attention to detail. If your costume has hooves, why not make a pair of shoes into durable, realistic-looking hooves to add a little something extra to your outfit?
In this Instructable, I will go over the materials and steps required to make hooves out of a beat-up pair of old, comfy shoes or sneakers. To make them the "long way" that I did, you should start TWO WEEKS before when you'll need them. There is also a "quick way" that I'll annotate in the instructions, which can be made in just a day or two. The "quick way" hooves may break if you are rough on your feet because they are not reinforced with cast plaster like the "long way" pair. In fact, the "long way" pair that I made survived a weekend convention and an hour jumping up and down at a concert with only minor nicking. They will last you a very long time!
I have also written an Instructable on how to make the digitigrade animal legs as well. Please check it out if you'd like the whole outfit!
Step 1: Purchase and Gather Supplies
These shoes do require a few materials, some of which may be tricky to find if you're not familiar with craft stores. Conversely, a lot of the materials you should already have laying around the house and they could probably be done the "quick way" for no cost if you have all the materials.
The Quick Way
- Old Shoes - You should be able to slip into them and walk around without tying them. Laces or other tightening methods may not work once they're covered.
- Sneakers are PERFECT - comfortable and still look fine.
- Sandals could be used but are not recommended.
- Other tutorials use heels- I do not use heels in my tutorial. While they reduce the size of the hoof-foot, they are a pain to walk around in and would be more for show than wearing around. If you do try using heels with this method, please let me know how they turn out!
- If you purchase foam, there are always coupons for craft stores such as Joann Fabrics, Michaels, AC Moore, etc.
The Long and Sturdy Way
- All of the above, and...
- Duct tape (optional - I used black)
- 1-2 packages of plaster gauze strips.
- If you can do plaster of Paris or a similar material without the gauze, then feel free to do it your way.
- Bucket that can get dirty with plaster
- Old, disposable sponge
- Tarp or "dirty" workspace
- Spray paint in the base color of the hooves you want
- Craft paint in the accent color for your hooves (silver, black, brown, tan, etc).
- Paint brushes
- Acrylic paint sealer or glaze (optional)
Fur or fabric to place over the hoof and around the heel.
Step 2: Cut Foam and Glue Onto Shoes for Hoof Base
To make the shoe into a hoof shape, we're going to carve or cut our Styrofoam to fit on the shoe. They can be as big as you want, but the smallest they can be is the footprint of the shoe, which is what I made. I purchased a "cake form" for this project, which was firm but porous, and also was curved. I ended up trimming it, so a square or sphere form might have worked better.
To begin, draw a half circle on the foam to get an idea for how big the foam cut will need to be. It only needs to cover the toes of the shoe.
- If you have flower foam, I found the easiest way to cut is with a knife and to scoop out hollow areas with a spoon. If you use soft craft foam, cutting it with scissors is easiest.
- I recommend using Styrofoam for this, as it is a bit more sturdy and also dries faster after you plaster it.
- Be careful, as these do cut unevenly and there is potential to injure yourself.
If you want cloven hooves, read the next step - the size of the foam depends on the hoof shape you desire.
When making the foam to place over the shoe, there were two methods I used - Tetris-ing together cut pieces to cover the shoe, and scooping out a large piece until it fit on top of the shoe as one piece. To be honest, I haven't noticed a difference in the "long way" shoes after a weekend's wear. I have a feeling the "Quick Way" shoes may fall apart if you tried to glue smaller pieces together. Instead, try to just use one solid piece.
Once the pieces are cut, glue them together with the glue gun, and then glue it to the shoe. If you want to try tightening the laces when they're done, be sure not to glue to the laces. You want to use as much glue as possible to adhere the foam to the shoe, though.
They don't have to be perfectly mirrored as in the next few steps we'll do a few things to make them look more identical.
Step 3: Shape Glued Foam Into Hooves
Using your carving skills, shape the odd foam form into hooves. It may be good to look at reference images for this. This will be messy!
Generally hooves slope at a curved angle down to the foot. If both aren't exactly the same size or slope, you can try to fix it here, but you'll also have another chance when you plaster to even them out.
For these, it was a cloven hoof, so I carved out the toe area down to the shoe. Note that because of how small I made my hooves, the shoe "sticks out" at the bottom. This will be "hidden" later, but if you want a full cloven area, have the foam extend out past the shoe toe.
Step 4: Duct Tape FTW
The Quick Way
This is pretty much the end for the "quick way". Duct tape the bottom of the shoe to the foam to hold the pieces in place. You could then duct tape over the foam and have a silver hoof. Duct tape around the backs of the shoes in a different color to hide the shoe. In this example, you could duct tape black trim at the edge of the hoof to give it the appearance of my final hooves. If you wanted to add fur, skip to step 10.
I got fancy and put the duct tape on the sole of the shoe in the shape of a horseshoe. This isn't needed, but I thought it looked sweet.
The Long Way
For the "long way", you still want to duct tape, but only the parts pictured. Leave the foam as is, besides where we are taping it to the sole.
Step 5: Get Plastered
The Long Way
Now for the fun part - plaster casting the hooves for added durability.
- Work on a tarp or outside because it is very messy.
- One pack of plaster and mesh should be enough for both shoes, so cut it in half and do half on each shoe.
- If you want larger hooves you may need more plaster.
I've learned that you cut the strips into hoof-size pieces and smaller before touching the water.
Read the instructions on the cast packaging. When you're ready, quickly dunk a strip into the water, then run it between two fingers to squeeze out excess water. Lay the strip on the hoof Styrofoam and rub it down with the wet sponge. You'll repeat this many times, so any area not covered will be smooth before you're done.
Once a few pieces are on the hoof, you can begin to really smooth the plaster out, either with your fingers or the sponge. This will smooth out the casting mesh and really hide the fabric, to make it look like a smooth clay surface. Be sure to press in the edges if you have a cleft hoof, and also wrap a bit around and under the foam, as pictured. You'll know you're done when you've got it smooth and pretty.
- It will feel warm to the touch due to chemical reactions of the cast bonding. This is OK but feel free to keep an eye on it... there may be a type of foam that melts under this warmth... but it was fine for the hooves I made.
- This will take 4 days to a week to dry - maybe more if you used furniture/craft foam instead of Styrofoam.
Step 6: Spray Paint the Hooves
The Long Way
Make sure the hooves are dry! You should be able to feel that it is totally dry and the hooves should sound hollow when you knock on them.
Once dry, spray paint them in a safe area to the color you want the hoof to be.
Step 7: Accent Paint (optional)
The Longer Long Way and optional on the Quick Way
Add accent paint to make the hooves look more realistic. Look at images of hooves to pick up colors and patterns you like. I used white and black striations, which I lightly painted on using acrylic paints and a thin brush. I then blended them using an Opaline top coat to bring back more silver and dull the black.
If you want, you can also seal or glaze once they are painted. I used a decoupage sealer on mine.
- The second picture shows how I thinned out the paint by brushing it on paper until just a little was on the brush.
- To make the cloven hoof look deeper, I painted the depression black.
Try to blend the bottom of the hoof with the duct tape bottom, if you can. It'll make it look more realistic and is easier to repair if it's all black or silver.
Step 8: Nearly There!
By now, you should be wanting to tromp around in these shoes. You can, and likely some paint and plaster will chip off the first few times you wear them, so clean the floors and touch up any areas that need it.
Step 9: Even Out the Hooves
The Long Way
Any parts that weren't even before can be evened out now with more foam. This will be covered with fur in the next step. Glue gun the foam onto the hoof and make it as nice as you want.
Step 10: Glue on the Fur or Fabric
The Long Way and optional for the Quick Way
If you have fur or fabric to cover the back of the shoe, lay it around the shoe to get an idea of how much you need to use. I glued my strip on, and then cut it down to size, but if you prefer, you can cut it closer to fit over the shoe.
Once the fur is glued on, you can trim the bottom and glue the edges down. Also trim the fur on the top and edges of the hoof to make them even on both hooves.
- As you glue, have A LOT of glue sticks at hand!
- The best part about fur is that it is SO FLUFFY! If you mess up or don't have enough, you can just glue more fur over the mistake or gap, and the fur will blend together to hide any imperfections.
- Note: patterned fur may be more difficult to blend, but black is easy-peasy.
- Fluffy also means messy; cutting fur can leave a lot of hairballs to clean up.
Step 11: Clean-up
Re-do any fur or duct tape you need to. They should look like this once you're done!
Step 12: Completed Hooves!
Congratulations! You have hooves that should last a long time, and will really get a lot of attention as you tromp around.
I'd love to see any pictures of hooves you make using these. Either reply or message me here, or you can send me a note at "RiftwingDesigns" on Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.
You may have noticed I made legs for my costume as well. They are not in this Instructable, but if you are interested, please check out its instructable here!
Thank you, and enjoy!