How to Make a Cobra "Storm Shadow" Costume: Version 2.0

About: I'm a kid in a candy store when it comes to creating things. I love learning different versions of art, whatever medium it may be. Feel free to like the official site on Facebook to keep up with past, pres...

Swift, Agile, Deceptive, and Merciless!!! Storm Shadow is the iconic white ninja from your favorite 80's military cartoon - GI Joe. The origin story of this costume was that I made this costume as a surprise present for my bestie at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo several years ago.

Fast forward- I was invited to the San Diego Comic Con for my doctoral dissertation and was allowed a plus one. Who better to nerd out with than your bestie, right? Well, if you're gonna go to the swankiest party, you need the right clothes! So, I took the original costume and wanted to put more of a tactical/ armor feel to it. Here's how I did it!

Supplies:

-white long sleeve underarmor shirt

-white fabric

-white karate pants

-white shoes (best are be kung fu shoes)

-white balaclava

-black gloves

-red fabric pen

- Measuring tape

- cobra iron on patch

-black computer strap

-black large and small plastic buckles

-EVA foam

-heat gun

-Hot glue or contact cement

-elastic

-exacto knives

- black accessory pouches (can be from miscellaneous pouches from things like a leatherman tool, canteen, etc)

-metal thumbtacks

-white shoe laces

-metal washers

-sewing machine

-Super glue

-Soldering Iron

-roll of scratch paper

-Black stretch fabric

-fake throwing stars

-fake nunchucks

-2 fake samurai swords with sheaths

-double sided velcro

- red foam

-card board

-faux black leather for arrow case

-10-12 skinny dowel rods for arrows

-styrofoam

-hot glue

-fake feathers

-black foam

-wood squares

-4 metal rectangles approx 2x4” (home depot)

-4 feet of wood trimming (bow)

-DAP caulk

-twine

-screw

-magnet

-metal tube

-2 metal slabs (kinda like a metal ruler)

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Step 1: Reference Pictures

Before I ever start ANY costume, I look up a ton of reference photos from various sources and put it in a folder. The more pictures from different angles, the better. For this particular build, we wanted to upgrade the suit without making a completely new one from scratch.

Look up:

1. Actual photos of the character from its source (movies, comics, action figure, etc)

2. Cosplay pictures. You can see what has been done, what you like, what you don't like, how to improve on a design. You can also start getting an idea of different poses you think you'd like to do.

3. I start looking at art work. I usually look up things via google images, deviant art, tumblr, etc. This way, you can see different renditions of a character through a new perspective and once again, start thinking about what you like, don't like, etc.

4. Use your own imagination. Think about what you want, how to make it your own original design, what are some tricks you think you'd like to incorporate.. perhaps you want to try out a new technique with this build, etc

Optional: 5. If you can draw, I sometimes will take all my reference sources and start drawing out my own design.

Step 2: Clothing

For this upgraded version, we need to start with the foundation.

Shirt

1. We used long sleeve white underarmor shirt as the base as these shirts have somewhat of a little collar. (pic 1)

2. We carefully took off the sleeves and used the material to created sew a higher turtle neck.

3. We took the white fabric and made a mood. Draw the shape out on your scratch paper according to the size you need. Then cut two pieces of fabric out and sew the two haves together at the top. Then sew the bottom onto within the collar of the shirt (pic 2)

Insignia

1. I used the red fabric pen to draw the cobra logo.. if you don’t trust yourself, try it on the sleeves your ripped off for practice…

2. I used masking tape to make a square to help with the sizing. (pic 3+4)

Balaclava

1. I ordered a white balaclava online. If you don't want to order, you might have enough material from the sleeves to create your own. (pic 5)

2. I ordered an iron on cobra patch and ironed it onto the mask. You can secure it even more with some thread in certain placed areas. (pic 6 + 7)

Pants, shoes, & gloves

1. I bought some white karate pants from the local chinatown (pic 8)

2. I also bought some white kung fu shoes.. You can order some tabs shoes.. in a pinch, you can get away with white, grey, or black shoes. (pic 9)

3. Get some type of black and/or white glove. Just remember that it will look better as something sleek.. He's a ninja, not a boxer (pic 10)

Belt

1. instead of a cloth white wrap, i had plenty of nylon straps laying around so i used a black plastic buckle and created a new belt. I had miscellaneous pockets and pouches from things like canteens, pocket knives, etc that i could use as pouches.

Step 3: Shoulder Fins

For the upgrade, we wanted to add these these black shoulder fins.

1. While having my friend wear the shirt, I took my tape measure and measured how long of a strip i wanted and how wide to make it.

2. I transferred the measurement onto paper and drew out the design (pic 1)

3. I cut the whole piece out of EVA foam and did this twice. I wanted to create an elevated layer so i cut out little tiles for more EVA foam. There are little indicator marks on the fins as to where i would glue the tiles. (pic 2)

3. I figured it would be difficult to paint the fins (without damaging the white shirt) IF they were already attached to the shirt.. So i prepped the foam by spraying it with Plasti-dip, then painted it black, and then sealed it with a clear coat.

4. To attach the fins to the shirt, I took a strip of black stretch fabric and sewed them onto the arms of the sleeves. Then i hot glued the EVA to the black strips. That way, I could technically just cut the thread from the black fabric IF i ever needed to remove the fins. (pic 3)

Step 4: Forearms

Base

1. Start with grabbing your measurements. Use your tape measure with length from your wrist to wherever on your forearm you want the gauntlet to end. Then i take a rough estimate measurement of how wide to make it.

2. Transfer those measurements to a piece of rectangular paper and fold length ways in half. Folding it and drawing the design on the half will allow for symmetry once you cut it out and unfold the pieces. Draw your design on the half piece of paper, cut it out, and then unfold(pic 1)

3. Use that paper template from step 2 and trace it onto the EVA foam. Cut it out. (pic 1)

4. Heat the cut EVA foam piece with your heat gun and then curve it. Hold in place until cool. it will retain it's form. (pic 1). you now have your gauntlet base

Indentations

1. I wanted lines running throughout the gauntlet just to add some texture and detail. I took my exact knife and ran int across the foam BUT NOT DEEP ENOUGH TO CUT THROUGH.. you are only make a superficial cut. (pic 2)

2. Apply heat to the cut and it will expand, causing a deep groove. Try this on a piece of scrap foam first.

Details

1. I wanted to add a white plate to the backs of the gauntlets so i took a measurement, transferred it on to paper, and drew out my design. Then i cut it out of EVA foam and glued it onto the gauntlet itself.

2. I also wanted a thinner strap that wrapped around the gauntlet so i used some craft foam for it. I knew the final color would be white, so i decided to use some white craft foam. (pic 3)

3. If you look closely, you can see where i put the holes to tie the gauntlet together. I used a hot soldering iron and poked the holes into the gauntlet

4. I superglued my metal washers over the holes. This gives it an actual gauntlet feel, but also somewhat protects the foam from tearing when you lace them up with the shoe laces. (pic 4)

Step 5: Shins and Feet

Shins

1. Similar to the gauntlets, i measured out how long and wide i wanted the shin guards to be. I transferred the measurements to the paper, cut out a the rectangle and folded it in half to draw out the design.

2. I wanted the shins to have an edge to them so i took my soldering iron and burned a line down the back on either side.

3. I glued the sides together and held in place to cool off (pic 1)

4. I then took my paper template and i cut out the middle layer. I cut this in half and transferred it on to thin craft foam. (pic 2)

5. I glued the craft foam onto the shin guards, and i added an edge around the entire gauntlet. I did this by cutting out a thin strip of EVA foam and then dremeling it to create a rounded edge. (pic 3)

6. I created a set of straps around the top and bottom of the shin guard. they close by using plastic buckles (pic 3)

Feet covers

1. i measured out how long and wide i wanted the shin guards to be. I transferred the measurements to the paper, cut out a the rectangle and folded it in half to draw out the design. (pic 4)

2. Transfer it onto EVA foam and cut out. I added that rounded edge again so it would match the shins.

3. Once everything was prepped and painted, i used a piece of the black stretch fabric to attach the feet coves to the shin covers.

Step 6: Knee Pads, Elbow Pads, Bicep Bands

Knee Pads

1. i measured out how long and wide i wanted the knee pads to be. I transferred the measurements to the paper, cut out a the rectangle and folded it in half to draw out the design.

2. transfer the design to EVA foam and cut out.

3. Heat the EVA foam and once warm and malleable, push into a deep bowl and allow to cool in order to create a dome shape. (pic 1)

4. Cut in your details and then use your original paper template to cut out the second layer (the snake face)

5. reheat in the bowl, and cut out the mouth. Glue onto the knee pad (pic 2)

Elbow Pads

1. i measured out how long and wide i wanted the elbow pads to be. I transferred the measurements to the paper, cut out a the rectangle and folded it in half to draw out the design.

2. cut out paper template, transfer the design to EVA foam, and cut out from the EVA foam.

3. Heat the EVA foam and once warm and malleable, push into a deep bowl and allow to cool in order to create a dome shape. (pic 3)

4. Cut in your details and then use your original paper template to cut out the second layer (the border)

5. Glue onto the elbow pad (pic 3)

6. I had to seal, paint, and finish the elbow pads prior to glueing them onto some black bands.

Bicep Bands

1. i measured out how long and wide i wanted the elbow pads to be. I transferred the measurements to the paper, cut out a the rectangle and folded it in half to draw out the design.

2. cut out paper template, transfer the design to EVA foam, and cut out from the EVA foam.

3. I used my exacto knife and carefully cut in the cobra insignias into the bands. I heated them up to expand (pic 4)

Step 7: Arrows

Fake Arrows

1. Cut all the dowels into 7’ inches and paint black (pic 1)

2. Attach feathers to all ends . I used hot glue to stiffen the feathers and then i attached them the dowels with super glue. (pic 2)

3. Grab two rectangles of styrofoam and glue each dowel in place. the two styrofoam blocks are to hold the dowels in place and separate them. (pic 3)

Full Length Arrow

1. I wanted a full length arrow, but i needed it to be collapsable for travel purposes. So, i had two dowel rods. I glued a magnet to one end, and put in a tiny screw into the other. 2. I got a pipe that was slightly larger in diameter and used it as a bridge for both dowel rods to insert into. If you find that it's too tight, take some sandpaper and sand the ends of the dowels until they comfortably fit. You may not even need the magnet if you can get it snug enough. (pic 8) 3. Don't forget to glue in your feathers 4. I made an arrow head from some cardboard

Step 8: Quiver

1. Measure and cut cardboard to the approximate size of the arrow case, but allow enough room that the arrows can slide into the top. You are essentially creating a rectangular box. (pic 1). DO NOT PUT ON THE FACE COVER YET.

2. i cut a “tunnel” into the side of the arrow case so that the full length arrow could sit there. the lower styrofoam is to prevent the full length arrow from sliding to the bottom of the case.

3. Then i took the black textured fabric and encased the entire case. (pic 2)

Emblem

1. Here is the Arashikage symbol (pic 3)

2. The first version of this costume used craft foam for the symbol. However, i upgraded to covering the foam with fabric, which made it look significantly better. (pic 4)

3. Glue directly onto your quiver (pic 5 + 6)

Step 9: Harness

Harness:Storm Shadow has a harness that can hold two swords, a bow, and a case of arrows.. For this upgrade, we made it so we could have an "X" style with both the swords and the quiver, or just the swords. (pic 1)

1. Grab the two metal bars (approximately 2 1/2 feet long) and the metal rectangles, wood squares

2. Take one bar (pic A), and attach a metal rectangle to each end. once attached, attach three strips of velcro per end. (because it is double sided, you can roll the velcro into itself when not in use) ..

3. the two swords can now be strapped on each end. (pic 2)

4 For the other bar (pic B). attach wood square in between metal rectangle and metal bar. The wood square elevates the arrow case so it rests on top of the swords. i screwed in the metal plates to the back of the quiver.

5. Then, i took a belt and screwed that into the sword bar (pic 4 + 5)

6. i put double sided straps on two corners so that the bow could be strapped in. (pic 6 + 7)

7. To put attach the quiver and the sword bar, i lash it in the middle bars with a black rope. (pic 1)

Step 10: Bow and Arrow

Bow

1. Find a picture of a bow you like. I wanted something that was not going to be too intricate (pic 1)

2.Soak your wood trim in some hot water for about an hour

3. cut to size and then cut some notches on either end.

4. attach your string and bend into shape. Let it dry for a day (pic 2)

5. Lay your dry bow on a piece of paper and draw out your handle to it's actual size and shape. (pic 3 + 4)

6.cut out your paper template and use it to create 5 -7 (depending on how thick you want the handle) pieces of cardboard. Sandwich all the cardboard around the wood trim bow. (pic 5)

7. Cover with comic book cardboard or foam to give it a nice clean look. You can even add EVA foam or screws for details such as a grip. (pic 6)

8. I wanted to make the bow collapsable for travel purposes, so i cut the end off and drilled two holes in that connected with nuts and screws. (pic 7. The picture shows a broken bow and me describing how to fix it)

Step 11: Painting, Sealing, and Finished!

Painting

1. If you have any pieces that have not been prepped, make sure you seal them with plastic-dip

2. Once dry, paint with acrylic paint, dry, and then seal with a clear coat.

Finished

Don't be afraid to find other GI joe/ cobra characters. If you can find a Snake Eyes, that would be ideal!

Thanks for paying attention and checking out this Instructable! Feel free to find more on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and youtube for more current projects. Most of the costumes in the photos already have instructables written about them within my homepage on instructables.

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