Realistic Alien Costume




Introduction: Realistic Alien Costume

This Instructable is for a "Gray-style" alien, a la the movie Signs. The sorta alien you'd expect to see in Roswell, New Mexico.

The video is a short film we made using this costume (as well as another costume).

Before you make this costume, realize that it is striking, kinda scary and very form-fitting. For these reasons this is great for clubbing, public events, parties with adults, or maybe for a haunted house. Although it won't show any skin, almost every nook and cranny of your body will be visible. Personally I would feel uncomfortable wearing this to a church or school Halloween party. And if you're self-conscious about your body, this costume is not for you.

This instructable was made after-the-fact, which means I don't have many step-by-step photos. Fortunately, superpants made a version of this same costume and has a lot of helpful photos which you can use to help you make the mask.

What You Need


1. Body stocking (zentai suit)
That's all!

HEAD (mask):

1. Large uninflated balloon. (couldn't hurt to have a few extra in case it pops.)
2. Flat-bottomed dish or cake pan
3. Newspaper (lots!)
4. Flour
5. Salt dough
6. Utility knife
7. A pair of novelty alien sunglasses
8. Acrylic paints
9. Cotton Batting


1. Store-bought alien mask
(LAME! but much easier)

total cost: about $50

Step 1: The Body Stocking

1. Find your suit.

The body stocking is what really makes this suit stand out. Rather than looking like you're wearing a costume, it will appear that you are just walking around in your own green skin! But it is important to find the right one.

For some reason Asia is really into these things. There are dozens of websites where you can buy them. In Japan they are called "Zentai" suits. A quick search online should yield many options. Add "wholesale" to find several sites that offer wholesale prices, even if you only buy one! I recommend using the safe-search feature on your browser to avoid a lot of, um, unusual websites that tend to come up when searching the term "zentai".

Some American and British sites offer this same product, but as something to wear to football games rather than as a generic costume base. Be careful with these as some will print their ugly logos on them.

A zentai is the way to go since it covers the entire body including the hands, feet, head, and face! It is usually made of lycra. If you don't want to buy one you could probably use some under-armor, a dance leotard, or some onesie pajamas. This will greatly reduce the alien effect though.

2. Order your suit.

I spent a lot of time searching and bought mine on sale. It cost about $35 once I had paid for shipping and everything. Most sites will charge closer to $50 and up, but look around for a bargain.

Order it well in advance since it usually takes two weeks or longer to arrive from China or wherever.

Some sites also offer a custom sizing option. You send in 8 or so different measurements and they make it to your size. This is the way I did it and I was very pleased with the result. Some sites charge extra for this service and others don't.

Choose your color. Mine was green. Other colors that would be cool are gray, blue, or even metallic green or silver. Keep in mind that you will need to match this color exactly when you paint your mask.

It can be hard to tell exactly how it will look from the pictures, so be prepared for a slightly different color than you see in the photos. And wait until after you have your suit to paint the mask.

3. Cut open the face.

When the suit arrives, you will need to cut out the face in order to see, breathe, eat, etc. Start small. You can always cut more out if you decide to.

4. What else?

You could leave it at that, but I wore some water shoes with thin green socks over them to keep from wearing out the feet. I also wore some seamless athletic boxer-briefs under the suit.

Step 2: Papier Mache Mask Foundation

If you decide to go the store-bought mask route, it will be very difficult to match the color of mask with the color of your suit. Try to get one that will take acrylic paint so that you can change the color of the mask.

I am very new to papier mache, and I'm sure there are dozens of great instructables on how to do it better than I did. That said, I made this alien mask as my first ever papier mache and it took A LOT of time but turned out great. Here is how I did it.

1. Fully inflate balloon and set aside.

2. Mix flour and water in flat-bottomed dish or cake pan. Mix to the consistency of chocolate syrup.

3. Dip strips of newspaper in mixture until saturated.

4. Apply to balloon until covered. Cover the whole thing, even the tied-off tail of the balloon.

5. Make many layers. At least four.

6. Leave in sun or dry place to dry.

I inflated the balloon to full size. My first two popped while the papier mache was drying, but the third time was a charm. I did about seven layers because I wanted a strong mask that would last.

Step 3: Cutting the Head Hole

Once its completely dry (takes a couple days), its time to cut a head opening. Use the utility knife and start near the "chin" (the chin is the peaked bottom of the balloon, where you would tie the string.) Cut a teardrop shape (The peak of the tear being near the chin). Stop often to test the size with your head. Don't make the hole any bigger than needed!

Step 4: Eyes

The genius of the mask is in the eyes. You can find these novelty alien sunglasses online or at the costume shop. Mine cost about $5, plus $5 shipping. Then I found another one-dollar pair at the thrift store.

1. Cut the lenses apart, and cut off the arms.

I used a rotary tool for this. You might also be able to use some heavy duty shears or a hacksaw. I don't recommend trying to snap them with your hands. You might crack the frames around the lenses.

You should now have two separate, individual lenses still framed by their plastic rims.

2. Sand off the nubs.

I used a the rotary tool.

3. Decide where to place your lenses and trace them onto the mask.

Stick your head into the mask and use a sharpie to mark where your eyes are. Center the lenses on the dots to maximize your visibility.

I rotated the lenses 180 degrees so the "pointy" end was down rather than up. It looked less feminine that way.

4. Cut out the eyes of the mask.

Cut them smaller than the lenses so that the lenses will still have a small shelf to rest on when you attach them.

5. Attach the eyes!

Line the rim of the eye holes with a ribbon of salt dough and press each lens onto the salt dough. Let it dry for several hours or all day.

If you like, you can leave a gap in the ribbons of salt dough to allow some ventilation of the eyes so they don't fog up during your Halloween 5k. Unfortunately I didn't think of this until after.

6. Once dried, cover the lens frames with papier mache.

Mix up some more papier mache mixture and add some strips around the lens frames to blend the eyes into your mask. This will allow you to paint right up to the edge of the lenses later.

Step 5: Cheekbones, Mouth, Etc.

1. Mouth

Probably the easiest step of all. Cut a small slit for a mouth. Try the mask on when you are marking the mouth so that it will be as close as possible to your real mouth.

At this point, I thought the head looked a little too balloony, so I cut under the eyes to make "cheekbones" and a prominent skull ridge.

2. Draw the contour line(s) that you want.

Make sure to make it as symmetrical as possible!

3. Cut!

You might feel like you're ruining your mask, but the contours add a LOT in terms of realism.

4. Recess and seal.

Once you've cut the lines you want, push the lower "skull plate" under the upper one. Now stick salt dough into the crack to seal it up. Cover it all with more layers of new papier mache.

Again, this is another opportunity to leave some gaps for ventilation, hearing, etc. You can also cut some small holes near the ears to let sound in if you like.

5. Other ideas

As you can see on my mask, I added some bulging veins on the cranium and eight bony nubs on the forehead. This (and other things) can be done simply by sculpting the desired facial features out of salt dough and sticking them onto the mask. You might need to wet the mask or the dough to make it stick. Then papier mache over the salt dough with one or two layers.

You can also experiment with noses, teeth, ears, brow ridges, and skull flanges. As you can see, mine has none of those, but I think they would be cool if done right.

Step 6: Sand & Prep

1. Put fresh strips of papier mache over the ragged edges of the head hole and the mouth where you cut. Allow them to dry.

2. Sand down any big dried lumps of paste.

3. Coat the entire surface (minus the lenses) with leftover flour-and-water paste, elmer's glue, or decoupage paste. Allow it to dry.

Step 7: Paint!

This is the funnest part! Are you ready?

1. Get the color right.

Buy some acrylic paint. Take your Zentai suit to the craft store with you so you can compare it to paint colors. Ultimately you will probably have to mix colors to get it perfect. If you don't know what colors to mix, bring an artist friend with you to the store who has an eye for that sort of thing. Or ask someone at the store. I ended up mixing christmas green with a little bit of purple and gold to get the right shine.

Shading will add a lot to the facial features, so get some black or dark gray which you will mix with your base color to blend it in. I used white and the base color on the bony nubs, and added some purple to the base color for painting the veins. I painted the inside of the mouth slit black.

2. Paint!

You can always paint over parts you don't like. The exception, obviously, is the lenses. Try not to get paint on them and wipe it off with a damp cloth if you do.

3. Take time.

After all the work you've done so far, it is worth spending plenty of time getting the color and details the way you want them. Paint over parts you don't like.

4. (Optional) Cover the whole thing in decoupage paste or other clear sealant. Allow it to dry.

Step 8: Padding

Once its dry, put a bunch of cotton batting (available at the fabric store, or inside of an old stuffed animal) inside of the top of the mask. Add a little bit by the chin. The padding should hold the mask onto your head where you want it.

The rough texture of the unfinished papier mache inside the mask should hold the cotton batting in. You can also try gluing it down. Alternatively you could build some sort of frame inside similar to a hard hat.

Step 9: Extras!

1. Ray gun. Spraypaint a futuristic-looking water pistol with metallic paint. Better yet, make a Plasma-powered Death Ray.

2. Probe. Carry around a curtain rod with one end removed. Poke people.

2. Alien voice. Install a small voice altering machine into the bottom of the mask near the mouth slit. I never tried this, so let me know how it turns out if you do!

3. Make some long slender bones out of wood or mold-able plastic . Attach them  to some under-armor and wear it under the zentai suit for an alien skeleton effect.

4. Feet. If you're indoors, you can get away with just wearing the zentai since it is footed. But outdoors it will wear thru very quickly. Get some low-profile shoes and some thin socks of the same or similar color as your suit. Pull the socks over your shoes. Or just wear a pair of socks over the footed zentai without shoes. Another idea I had but didn't try was to get some flip-flop sandals, cut off the straps, and try to use some temporary adhesive to get them to stick to my feet. You could also wear some green converse and be a fashionable alien.

5. Hot Astronaut Nemesis: The best accessory of all!

Step 10: Invade!

Make this instructable! I have yet to find a limit to the potential for this great costume. So far, I have used it for:

-Clubbing on Halloween
-Winning 2 costume contests
-a costume 5k
-Used it in a short sci-fi film. (B movie quality. Maybe B+.)
-Used it for an alien prank/scare
-Been complimented constantly everywhere I go

It could also be used for a movie opening, a political protest (immigration reform?), critical mass, cosmic bowling, burning man, art festivals, comiccon, or anytime you want to be both conspicuous and anonymous.

1. Stay away from velcro! It will shred the tips of your lycra-covered fingers if you touch it!
2. Your visibility is reduced. Be very careful crossing the street and don't wear the mask while driving a car or flying saucer.
3. If you're going to be outside in the cold, wear some under-armor underneath. The suit has no insulation is not nearly as warm as it appears.
4. Stay in character! This is the key to really being an alien and not just a guy in a suit. Don't speak to people. Or if you do, use an alien voice and only say things about how useless Earth and humankind are. If someone says "nice costume", say "what is the meaning of this Earthling word costume?" Notice how all great costumes are worn by people who are in character.
5. Wear it grocery shopping sometime. Why not?
6. Bring a photographer friend with you on your invasions. This a very photogenic costume!
7. **MOST IMPORTANTLY** Post photos of your costume and your invasions! Post feedback to improve this instructable!

Halloween Easy Costumes Challenge

Participated in the
Halloween Easy Costumes Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

      Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge
    • Super-Size Speed Challenge

      Super-Size Speed Challenge
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    39 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for making this Instructable! I love my costume and I will wear it next year too!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Great work, and thanks for posting the photos! It makes my day! I wish Instructables still did patches, so I could give you one!


    3 years ago

    What size balloon did you use?


    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm not really sure. Large I guess??


    3 years ago

    Hi! I' m planning in making one, resembling a classic grey alien from X Files, I have uploaded a drawing I made of what I want him to look like. I' m going to make an X Files fan short film. Looks great, I like the lenses idea. Keep up the good work! :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for a great instructable. Based on your concept I have made my own version. This was worn at the recent 'Secret Garden Party' festival.

    The really enjoyed the video too!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! Very happy to see another one of these. I'm going to put a link to it in my instructable since I don't have any photos of the process in mine. Thanks.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Great! I thought it might be helpful to have some in process pics, even if they aren't identical!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm fairly new to paper mache myself but I have a few suggestions. Skip the 'flour and salt' formula, its only plus is it's safe to eat. The downside of that is, it's a breeding ground for insect pests, bacteria, molds and fungi. But its worst fault is it is weak and crumbly. Try a mix of Golden Harvest wallpaper paste and Weldbond glue (find both at Ace Hardware) mixed to the consistency of heavy cream. Weldbond is great stuff; glues almost anything, very strong, dries clear, thins with water, no fumes and can be used by itself for a tough final glaze. Newspaper is cheap and plentiful but not very strong. Tear up strips of kraft paper or brown paper bags, soak them in your glue mix, strip off excess glue with your fingers and smooth them on to your balloon or whatever you are using for your form. Let it dry between layers. A half-dozen layers of strips and you'll have a tough, rock-hard mask.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I'll be using papier mache again this year, and I will try these tips out. Thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I also meant to say that this is really a wonderful costume and a very entertaining, well written Instructable.


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Great use of papier mache! I have tried it several times and i'm never able to get it smooth enough. This on you first try is... More than amazing.
    Hope you keep doing papier mache creations!

    If I might offer some advice, wear tight underwear if your male, or else you might find yourself with an unsightly bulge :)