Monday, September 27, 2010

Past Project: Predator Costume

Since Halloween's coming up, I've decided to do writeups about some of my old costume projects.  First up: the Predator.

For Halloween 2005 I decided to go as the creature from the Predator movies.  I built this costume in my woodshop over about two months worth of nights and weekends.  If you'd like to do the same, follow these simple steps.

To begin, build a body double. You'll need a set of easily cut, disposable clothes and about 5 rolls of duct tape. Have an assistant wrap you in duct tape until it feels like you can't move anymore. Ideally, you'll look something like this:
Then cut off the duct tape and the clothes it's attached to, get dressed, and tape the seams of your duct tape mannequin. Stuff the duct tape skin with newspaper or something similarly lightweight. Then dress it with the bodysuits that will become the foundation of your musclesuit. Now it's time to start sculpting the muscle masses out of upholstery foam:
When you've built your musculature enough for it to be convincing, it's time to coat it with liquid latex. It took me five coats to get a skin like this:

In hindsight, I should have made the arms separate from the torso. This would have allowed for a greater freedom of movement and the armor could've been designed to hide the seams. Oh well.

Once the latex skin has dried thorougly, it's time to paint. First I painted just the lightest and darkest parts (black and a mixture of flesh, white, and yellow colors) and then blended them in with some brown shading:

The next step is where you'll end up with carpal tunnel syndrome. To really bring this character to life I started adding the spots:

And then a clearcoat to make it look wet:

The same process was used to make the legs for the musclesuit.

The feet were made the same way only they were built on top of a pair of cheap high-heel boots that I destroyed for the purpose. These were mounted to a couple of pieces of 3/4" plywood which would become the soles of the creature's feet:

And built up they looked like this:

The claws were made from Sculpey brand polymer clay, and the armor plate was made using Sintra brand PVC sheet. The rest of the armor plates were made the same way.

Essentially, Sintra is cut to shape and bent using a heat gun to soften it. Once the desired shape is made, the edges are sculpted using an epoxy putty. When the putty has cured, the parts are primed, painted, and weathered. Then they look like this:

I also needed hands. These were a custom sculpt over a lifecast of a friend's hands. Once I had finished the sculpt I made a mold and cast them in latex. I would've preferred to have them start in the same pose, but my hand model took direction poorly:

The hands were painted in the same way as the musclesuit and feet.

At this point I was starting to run out of time, so I found another similarly deranged person online and bought a raw latex cast of a head sculpt he had made. When I received the head, it looked like this:

When I had finished adding dreadlocks (pre-caulking foam filler rod), quills, teeth and paint, it looked about like this:

At this point I had also been working on the gauntlets. I stripped the working parts out of an LED belt buckle for the computer readout on the left side. For the right side, I ground some aluminum stock into a pair of blades. You can't see it, but there's a notch in one of them so I can use it as a bottle opener. I also have them mounted on a track so that I can extend them with a flick of the wrist and retract them via a spring mechanism. The gauntlets open in clamshell fashion with a pin that keeps them closed when worn:

The only thing that was left at this point was the fishnets, the leather work and the loincloth. The leather was bought at a local saddle shop. They cut me about four feet worth of 1-inch strap for a very modest price. The loincloth was a piece of faux suede that a friend of mine hemmed to make it look a little more substantial. The fishnets proved to be a bit more difficult than I'd anticipated. It turns out that what I was looking for wasn't fishnet, but "industrial net" with bigger holes. The biggest holes are found in "fence net." Now you know as much as I do about women's hosiery.

For the Predator I managed to order an industrial net catsuit (one size fits all, with "convenience crotch") that only barely fit over the massive biceps and shoulders of the assembled costume. With the addition of a few little bones and teeth, the whole assembled costume looked about like this:

It added at least six inches to my height and managed to impress just about everyone that saw it. The only drawback was that with all of the foam and rubber built into it, it was about as cozy as a two inch thick wetsuit. Suffice it to say that I was a bit warm. The shoes were a bit uncomfortable, so I couldn't walk for very long distances. The only other part that was uncomfortable was the contacts:

If for some sick reason you'd like to do this to yourself, the following websites will be helpful:

The Hunter's Lair: http://www.thehunterslair.com

Enjoy.

39 comments:

  1. you are an awesome moron

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  2. BOSS!

    Why aren't you working for one of those
    special effects departments?

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  3. That's so kool!!! I admire your drive. i only dream of being able to make something so kool. Thank you for the details you included now I will start planning my on costume for next year.

    hunters.moon22@yahoo.com

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  4. You sir are a masterworks costume engineer! Absolutely fantastic work. Thank you for documenting the process and sharing these photo's!

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  5. The pics just show a photobucket bandwidth error.

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  6. I've fixed the photobucket problem. Should be all good now.

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  7. How do you get into the costume?

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  8. Getting into the costume starts with donning the bodysuit. The sculpted legs slide on like a pair of pants with a drawstring at the waist. Then the torso and arms go on like a long-sleeved t-shirt with a thong strap to hold it down. Then the loincloth covers the seam between the two halves. After that, it's just a question of pulling on the various armor parts. The mask slides on just like any Halloween mask, but it has a rigid structure underneath to keep it straight.

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  9. love ur work !!! im going to try making one, this year. but im having trouble finding a mask like the one you have. any help on getting one like yours?

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  10. If you can't find one on ebay, look around at http://thehunterslair.com

    Lots of members there that occasionally have pieces and parts to sell.

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  11. i could'nt find anything that i liked on ebay, i'll try the link. thanks for your input.

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  12. I'm curious where you go your bodysuit. I'm having a little bit of a hard time finding one.

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  13. Congratulations, is a greath job...I like maked for my...regrads of Chile

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  14. can you send me the email address, to where you got the mask? I'll just have him mail me one. I've been working on the bodysuit, it looks good. need to coat it with liquid latex though. is there a certain kind to get?

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  15. Anonymous,

    I don't remember exactly who I got the mask from. This was over three and a half years ago.

    The bodysuit that I used for a base for the musclesuit came from a local dance shop. It's really not that hard to find one.

    Good luck.

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  16. k thanks, i did find a mask on hunters lair. again thanks for your help.

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  17. Awesome, I was just getting ready to call up my local dance shop...thanks for the inspiration and tutorial. Keep up the good work and God speed.

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  18. AS paint latex???...please tell me what is a home-made solution???..thanks

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  19. Not sure what you're asking me. Go to www.monstermakers.com for latex mask makign supplies. That's what I used. Their website is very helpful.

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  20. How did you sculpt the upholstery foam? Did you use a wood planer?

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  21. are you selling your costume at all? the predator 1?

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  22. hey, id like to work on a project with you. Please get ahold of me if youre interested. Check me out on FB. My name is Sasha Mullins

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    Replies
    1. There are dozens of Sasha Mullinses on Facebook. Shoot me an email and tell me what you have in mind.

      Delete
  23. hi this is del from manchester when u made the suit did u leave the duct tape on after stuffing it and then added a second suit or did u take the tape of and just added muscle on to a stuffed bit ov clothing can u pls get intouch asap

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  24. could u tell me weather u left the duct tape on after you have finished stuffing it .and then applied another suite over that and the muscle

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  25. how do u glue your foam to your dummy i mean with what kind ov glue .ps and was it sculpting foam or furnitcher foam

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  26. hey how long does it take to make a predator costume

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    Replies
    1. I actually answered this question in the fourth sentence in the article.

      Thanks for taking the time to read it.

      Delete
  27. Hey, I'm actually considering making one line this for my next Comic Con. I didn't see anywhere in the article where you mentioned where you got the gauntlets. They look to be resin cast. Did you make them or buy them from somewhere? Any additional info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    -Matt

    Email: Mzimmerman@live.com

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    Replies
    1. If memory serves, I found them on ebay. I don't recall the seller's name, but if I did I would recommend avoiding them. The casts were horribly flawed and required a lot of cleanup work in order to make them useable.

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  28. how did you get the suit off of the ductape body?

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    1. With scissors. It's the first line after the picture, "Then cut off the duct tape and the clothes it's attached to..."

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  29. Yeah and then it says to stuff your ducktape suit with foam or such and dress it with a bodysuit that will become the foundation of the musclesuit. how did you get that one of? :)

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    Replies
    1. The White unitard I used as a base had a zipper that ran down the back. The tan tights were just tights.

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  30. First off incredible job!!! My question to you is what types of paints and clear coat did you use to paint the suit? I am in the process of constructing one for my 11 year old son and I airbrushed a muscle suit for the upper body and am getting ready to do the legs but am now worrying about him possibly sweating and having the paint mess up on the pants as I am using waterbased paints.
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. The paint I used was latex mask paint from monstermakers.com. I also used their "Perma-wet" clearcoat. I hope this helps.

      Delete
  31. These liquid latex body paint pictures are looking great. These technologies are very much used in the movies.

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  32. These pictures are amazing . Now a days in many movies uses these kind of pictures.
    liquid latex body paint

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