Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DIY Batman Costume: Mask Part II

For Part I of this mask, go here.  For the rest of the costume, go here
Since the original post, I added a layer of Plasti Dip to much of the front of the mask to give it a better texture and make the color a little more matte.  It also helps keep the tape from turning up at the edges.
In this second installment, I changed the mask from a fun decoration to a more wearable mask.  I needed to change the chin strap, which was neither functional nor aesthetically correct, and I also needed to make a way to fasten the back of the mask together.

The back of the mask was easy.  I simply cut slits into either side of the back of the mask and used a single loop of velcro to close the gap.

Once the velcro loop was in, I realized the original chin strap no longer helped keep the mask together, so I cut it out.  However, there is definitely a chin strap in the actual mask, and the sides of the mask tend to balloon out unless they are held in somehow.  So I made a new chinstrap, and this time made it in two pieces that fasten together with Velcro.  To make this, I first made a strap using two pieces of duct tape. (A) I put the smaller piece face down onto the larger piece so that I essentially had a piece of duct-tape where only the very ends were sticky.  (B) Then, while wearing the mask, I stuck one end to one cheek of the mask, and  (C) brought it around and stuck the other side on the other cheek.  This pretty much re-created the original chin strap, but since I made it once the mask was already on, it fit much closer to my chin.  Then I cut the strap in the middle.  Next (D) I added a small piece of duct tape to one of the now two straps, and folded it over to make a little tab which extends the strap.  This allows me (E) to add Velcro to the end of each strap and keep the original length of the single piece strap.  That's it! (F).

Having completed the chin strap, I realized that the back of the mask was still flaring out.  After a bit of trial and error, I realized another strap like the chin strap but behind my neck was necessary.  I made this strap in the same way I made the chin strap, but this time behind my head.  Both straps ended up getting a bit of trimming so that they do not stab into the back of my head or my neck.  For the cowl I ended up just sewing a piece of black rayon/spandex into a neck gaiter (tube) which works well.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Music Art

Played drums for a fundraiser for a scholarship for my mother at Hamline University.  It was a rockin' fun time.  Thanks to Pam for the video!  Also note WMPT on keyboard!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DIY Batman Costume: Bat Belt

The full costume here. Traditionally, batman has a gold belt, but I thought it would be better to make the belt black to fit in.  To start I took a strip of black fake leather and cut two holes into either end.  These are wide enough to fit a strip of Velcro, and I threaded that through all four holes to make a clasp.

For a 'belt buckle' I made another batarang and then put a strip of one-sided sticky velcro onto it.  It can then stick onto the front velcro clasp of the belt.

To accompany the buckle, I also found a cheap used black leather cell phone case and put two more holes into the belt and added a small loop of Velcro that can hold a flashlight or what-have-you.

For the sides of the belt I took strips of black plastic and cut them into rough V shapes and then attached them with Goop.  
Or if you want to just buy one:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DIY (do it yourself) Batman Costume: Chest Plate

This was by far the most difficult thing to make so far for the costume, but it is essentially the same concept as the batman mask taken to a larger level.  Very satisfying to have finished, and I'm quite happy with the results.  The chest plate (or more correctly breastplate) is made primarily of duct tape (silver and black) and paper grocery bags.  I also used a plastic trash bag, some 14 gauge Cerro wire (any flexible wire would work, and is optional anyways), cardboard, and Plasti Dip.  The rest of the costume is here
To start, I cut head and arm holes in a plastic trash bag, put it on, and then wrapped duct tape around my chest (a few layers).  I also added strips over my shoulders.  At this point, it didn't look like much.  Unlike the helmet, which was able to hold its own form at this point, the chest plate is so large it just collapses into a pancake.  Unfortunately I did not make this initial form long enough, and later in the project I had to extend the front of the chest plate, so I definitely recommend wrapping from just below your neck to the top of your hips to make sure the torso is long enough.  To get out of the duct tape, you can use a scissors to cut along the sides from the bottom to under your arms (carefully of course).  This leaves the front and back separated except for over the shoulders.  Now that you have the basic shape, draw on where you want the accents (muscles) to go.  You may need to put the chest plate back on to figure out exactly where things need to go.

To make the muscle accents, fold pieces of grocery bag into the desired shapes, and then cover with duct tape.  It may take a few pieces to get enough depth.  You can keep the paper fairly loosely folded (it doesn’t need to be squished together) and it will still keep form once the duct tape is put over it.  If you have lots of black duct tape, I would recommend using it here so that you don’t have to go over the silver duct tape again later.  If you don’t have a ton of black duct tape (it’s more expensive usually), keep using silver duct tape for now.

Once I had added the pectoral accents, I cut slits on the sides of the chest plate and used short strips of Velcro to fasten the front and back together.  You could do this before or after doing muscle accents, it doesn’t really matter, but it can be useful to help you get an idea of where things should go.  To make them, cut a slit about half an inch from the edge of the chest plate on the front half of the chest plate, and another slit in the same location but on the back half of the chest plate.  The slit will need to be long enough to thread the Velcro strip through. 
I used about three inches of Velcro for each fastener.  You will need to make multiple fasteners on each side.  If you don’t have them every few inches, the duct tape will warp out of shape.  I ended up with three to a side; one just below the arm, one in the middle, and one by the bottom.  I reinforced the duct tape between the edge and the fastener to make sure it didn’t stretch or break.

Once the fasteners were in, I realized my chest plate still did not have the structural integrity I was hoping for.  To remedy this, I bought some 14 gauge Cerro wire (electrical wiring with a rubber coating) and essentially made a frame for the chest plate.  The frame went along all the edges of the chest plate, plus down the center line on the front of the plate.  I simply bent the wire into roughly the shape I needed, duct taped it onto the frame, and then adjusted the entire chest plate to the correct shape.  The wire is very flexible, which is important since it requires tinkering to get the right shape.  I also at this point made an extension to the front half of the chest plate because mine was not long enough to actually accommodate all the muscle pieces and stopped somewhere in the middle of my belly.

Once the chest plate had been lengthened and the wire had been set in place, it was time to draw on the next muscle pieces.  I added in the six abdominal muscles, and then took a moment to realize I had made the pectorals into very sharp diamond shapes. 

This was remedied with some extra grocery bag extensions, and I also added in two oblique muscles on either side.

With all the structure in place, it was now time to cover the silver duct tape with black duct tape.  This took awhile, and was not particularly enjoyable.  When you add the layer of black over silver, you lose some of the definition.  This led to a need to re-accent most of the pieces with extra grocery bag. 
Amy was willing to cover the back of the chest plate with black duct tape for me (this pretty much requires a second person as you need to be wearing it to make sure it shapes correctly).  Had I used black duct tape in the first place this rather long extra step could have been avoided.

Finally all the duct taping was done, and it was time to add the final touches.  First was the bat across the chest.  I cut a bat out of cardboard, and then made a few slits in the neck and tail so that it could conform to the shape of the chest plate.  I taped the bat down using rolls of tape under each wing.

Lastly, I added a layer of Plasti Dip over the muscles of the chest plate.  Had I been able to wear the suit while doing this I would have had it completely covered in Plasti Dip, but Plasti Dip is very toxic while in its liquid state, so
  I brought the suit outside, and since I could not guarantee the suit was bent correctly, I only added Plasti Dip onto the muscles.  This way all of the flexible areas in-between remained flexible so that when I put the suit back on it will be the correct shape.  The Plasti Dip gives a nice semi-matte finish to the muscles (and bat) and also helps hold down the duct tape which will otherwise come off slightly over time.  In all the effect is very cool.

The next day the Plasti Dip was completely dried, and my chest plate was finished!  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

DIY Batman Costume: Leg Armor

Here's the full costume . One of the trickiest things so far in this costume has been coming up with an idea for how to make leg armor.  After debating several different ideas for how to make pants that had the armor built into them, I finally decided on using Velcro and attaching armor plates to the outside of the costume.  The nice thing about this idea is that you can make as many pieces as you want, and try out different arrangements for the pieces.

To start, I found used football pad inserts at a local used sporting goods store.  They were 50 cents each.  If you can't find them used, they are still pretty cheap new.  I covered these with duct tape and then coated the front with Plasti Dip.

For pants, I am using an old pair of ski leggings.  I wrapped double sided Velcro around my leg in three places with the fuzzy side out and the hooks side in.  The Velcro sticks slightly to the leggings, which means the bands won't slip and I don't have to make them too tight, but it will also come off easily.
Then, using Velcro that is sticky on one side, I attached Velcro (hooks side out) to the insides of the pads.  I use two strips for each pad to make sure they will stay attached well and not flap around.

I tried using this technique for knee pads, but found it did not work well.  Instead, I bought cheap foam knee pads at Menards, and covered them in a layer of Plasti Dip.  They come with an elastic band, and I just wear them the way they are supposed to be worn (which is a first for this costume).  For boots I found a fairly cheap pair of black rubber gardening boots (steel toed for about $5 extra, just for kicks).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DIY Batman Costume: Gauntlets

A batman costume of course needs batman gauntlets with spikes, but I didn't want to make something that might accidentally by a hazard to my health or those around me.
At the same time I didn't want to rely on cardboard or something like that, so I spent awhile looking around.  Eventually I was lucky and found an old cassette box that was made of a soft rubbery black plastic.  I cut the spikes with tin snips and made them one solid piece to keep them lined up.
I found a cheap pair of kids shin-guards that fit around my arm, and colored in the fabric black and put black duct tape over the rest.

To cut a groove in the shin-guard for the spikes, I drew a line down the center with highlighter (something which actually shows up on black duct tape) and used a Dremel drill to cut into it.
I put the spikes in, and sealed them in with Goop, which is amazingly strong.
To finish it all off, I used the same liquid rubber (Plasti Dip) from the batarang to cover up the plastic that had been exposed in cutting and give it a consistent finish.

Finding gloves to wear over them proved tricky.  There are lots of good work gloves with padding that would look right, but I couldn't find any that are all black.  In the end I bought a black and red pair and just used permanent marker to make it all black (I tried fabric dye but the gloves are 100% unnatural so the dye didn't stay).
  See all of the batman costume here