Last Christmas I promised a couple of my friends I would make them Dark Knight costumes for Halloween. It seemed like a long time away but I ended up needing every minute of it.
This is my first time ever sculpting and making molds. I hope I can offer some insight on the process. First tip : It is going to take you WAY longer that you think.
This could litterally have hundreds of steps so I am going to show you the things that have to be made. Each piece could be a separate intructable. If you have any questions on any one step just ask.
I am going to organize the steps in order for them to make sense but I was sort of making all these things at the same time.
What you need:
Lots of space
Oil based clay (I used about ten pounds of Monster makers clay and 10 pounds Chevont clay plastiline)
150lbs Ultra cal
5 gallons Black liquid latex (about 2.5 Gallons per suit)
Loctite Professional Super glue (dont even try with any other super glue)
5 yards Black Mesh (for the mesh undersuit)
5 yards black Velvet (Jo-anns)
longs sleeve black compression shirt and pants (for the screen printed undersuit)
Screen Printing tools (optional)
Duct tape Maniquin
Three Rubies adult Dark knight belts
Gotham 100 boots
Purchased screen accurate Cowl
a very supportive and patient wife.
Step 1: Under Suit
I made two different undesuits. One is mesh and is more screen accurate. The other is screen printed compression gear and is more comfortable.
I had no experience in sewing so I looked to a family friend to help. Basically a full body mesh undersuit has to be made and all the armor is going to be glued to it. We used a pattern from a womens jumpsuit.
The under suit has to be skin tight. Since the material has give but no stretch it basically had to be sewn on him. This is the way to go if you have the skills to do so. We added spandex in the crotch and waistline in order to give it stretch where it needed to be.
The other option is to just use compression shirt and pants as the undersuit. Luckily for me I own a screen printing press so I was able to add the pattern to the shirt and pants.
Step 2: Sculpting
I am going to guess that there are over a hundred pieces that have to be sculpted. Each one as important as the next. I will try and hit the high points of things to look for.
First off. I purchased a quality cowl for both the suits so I did not sculpt those.
Things to think about:
Sculpting take a ton of time.
Have a plan and make templates so that you know it will fit the person.
test everything in paper so the proportions make sense next to the other pieces
I don't have a picture of everything that I sculpted but Here is the general idea.
Things that have to be sculpted:
gauntlet triangle blades
I added the template I made for the leg armor layout. For these I just cut each shape out of craft foam and glued it to a base. So i didn't actually have to sculpt the legs I just Made the molds from the foam templates. It was a Huge time saver.
If I had to guess I would say all the sculpting took about 100 hours of work. This could be its own tutorial but since I was teaching myself as I went I figured i was in no place to start teaching.
Step 3: Molds
I then had to create molds from all the sculptures I made.
I was very nervous because I had never worked with plaster before. Since this is a costume build and not a mold making tutorial, please go watch other tutorials on how to do this because it is a fairly complicated process.
I used Ultracal for this process. If you can find a local dealer it is fairly inexpensive. If you have to order it, it can get very pricy because it weighs a lot.
The general Idea behind making a mold is to cover your sculpt in layers of Ultracal and letting it harden before adding more layers. I built mine up to about two or three inches think and added Burlap to reinforce it.
I dont have very many pictures of the molds because I was normaly covered in plaster while doing these steps. All i have is this picture of the gauntlet with latex in it
Step 4: Casting
Now that the molds are made it is time to fill the molds with latex.
The general Idea is to brush in a thin layer of latex and letting it dry. Once it is dry brush in another layer on top of the first. Repeat until desired thickness is achieved. Some times I would get impatient and do thick layers but be warned it is a greater chance to ruin the cast.
All of these pieces have to be washed trimmed and painted with Plastidip to give it that deep black color.
A few things to note. The triangle blades were sculpted with foam then covered in a temporary flexible mold from Micheals. Then cast in polyester resin. So they are plastic.
The under arm straps are made out of non slip stair covers. They had the right pattern so I just cut them up and glued them to it. Huge time saver.
Step 5: Assembling and Cape
Up until this point you will just have hundreds of pieces scattered all over your house. Seriously this took up my garage, basement, craftroom, screen printing room and bathroom. There are so many pieces.
The chest, shoulder bells and upper arm all get tied together by gluing sholaces to the underside of the pieces and using elastic bands to tie them together. They will go on like a pair of hockey shoulder pads (these aren't hockey pads)
Add velcro to the gauntlets and they will strap to your forearms independently.
Attempt to gather all your pieces and begin to glue it all to the undersuit. The abs, ribs, and legs all get glued directly to the suit.
If you missed what I said earlier USE LOCTITE PROFESSIONAL super glue. It is the only glue that worked for me.
At this point you will need to used your ductape maniquin or a really patient friend who doesn't mind of you glue him to your costume. We lost a lot of good skin making the bat.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR TIME. This is crucial. At this point it is very easy to hurry so you can see your finished work. PLEASE SLOW DOWN. The difference between a killer Dark Knight Suit and a guy looking like he slapped it together is all the parts being in the right place.
Things to keep in mind:
Make the cod piece lift up and have a place to use the bathroom.
Make the abs extend from the bottom of the chest to the belt line. The bottom abs should be partially covered by the belt.
The Knees and the hips are your measure points for the leg armor. The rest just fall into place.
cover your mannequin or person in plastic wrap before gluing things to it. It is easy to rip off if the glue sticks. Skin is not
The cap was very easy. measured how long I wanted my cape and made four 4 inch pleats on each side and sewed them at the point where it mounts. That way it drapes properly. Drill two holes right above the collar bone on the chest. Mount a shoelace to the cape and put it through the holes. Tie the cape together under the chest. That way no one can see the attachment.
Step 6: Putting It on and Being Batman
If you have followed all the steps up until this point it will fit you like a glove but be careful the first time you put it on. Small adjustments will have to be made. Here is the finish product of the two suits. I hope you like it