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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All. I have been comissoned to help with our Zoo's Halloween event this year. I don't think I could have ever been given a greater event to work with. For my "haunt" I'm creating a monster, not going to give it away just yet, that is going to be worn by an actor. I've already started on the arms units and such, but when it comes down to actually creating the skin and covers, I don't know what to do. It's reptilian, so I was wondering how am I going to give this thing skin, cheaply. That and I really would love to recreate the eyeshine effect in the back of its, well, eye. Anyone have any ideas?? Thank you!!
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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A lot depends on how the costume is going to be seen. How close are people going to get? What will the lighting be like? What kind of movement do you hope to get from the costume? How are you hoping to cover the costume? Are you, or do you have access to, a seamstress?

If you're prepared to sew together a "skin" I would recomend you go to the fabric store and take a look at all the unique fabrics and materials they have. You can get everything from a reptilian looking cotton/polyester to faux scales, to marine vinyl. Each material type will require slightly different skills and needles to work with.

If you're going with latex (pricey) than you just need to build the pieces, sculpt, set, and paint. This avenue is time consuming, requires a lot of talent and patience, and can be expensive.

Another option is to go "ol' school" and use the master tool of men everywhere - duct tape! Built your basic shapes and then wrap in duct tape. For your final layers, you can even scallop the tape to give a scale texture.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts without really knowing the costume design.

If this really is a costume for an actor, you might want to post this question in the "Halloween Costume Ideas" section.
 

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livin Halloween every day
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Another option to add scales and such would be to use plasticard and cut the scales out of that. They would be very durable, lightweight and you could paint them any way you wish. Plasticard is a thin sheet of plastic available at most hobby shops, i used to use it alot building dioramas for war games. Aslo another cheap easy way if you dont want to use plasticard you could use liquid laundry detergent plastic bottles. I have made eyes and other halloween stuff out of these bottles after they have been used up.You can cut out the sides of the bottles and it will give you enough plastic to make some scales. I suppose you could even use milk cartons to a degree.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for Ideas guys! It's a "costume" but mostly animatronic. It has moreso an alien type of "reptilian" skin. I myself am a "seamster" a.k.a. seamstress. There will be little lighting for it except for the occasional flashlight sighting. I wish I could get my hands on those little motors and metal pieces. Just don't know where or how to get them.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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I'd love to help, but it's hard to provide adive and/or experience when the concept is sketchy.

If you're talking about a Stan Winston "Alien" then I would suggest foam shapes sewn onto a bodysuit. You can use nylon over oval and cresent shapes to give a smooth exoskeleton look. If you're looking for more of a gloss, then a thin, thin vinyl will work, but you're going to sacrifice some finer corners. This technique can give you most organic shapes including ribs, muscle shapes, etc. To add to the alien/reptilian look, you can never incorporate enough piping. Good for underbelly, veins, joints, etc.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
ok, I guess I have to give the ol' meister away, it's el chupacabra we're doing for the Zoo event. Reptilian like skin but smooth, no scales, the quills on it's back are like those of a porcupine. here's a preliminary sketch.



Instead of being a piece attached to the back, it'll be more or less attached just to the actors head. the hands are my biggest concern. we've already created one, but it's too clunky and tough to work with.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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I would build the whole thing out of paper mache! It should be light, but durable, and you can paint and mold to give proper shape. You can secure a piece of wood or styrofoam down the spine to secure the quills.

I'm sure you've seen Stolloween's stuff before, but he's a real artist and his site is loaded is info and experience.

STOLLOWEEN: imagination + paper mache



 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow, that's a lot of awesome stuff!! I love how everyone bashes paper mache, but in fact, like monster mud, simple processes to get the job done. I love it! Thanks! With the whole arm movement though, paper mache wouldn't let the person move their arms, I was thinkin along the lines of stretching fabric over it then either painting it with Latex or Acrylic, any ideas?
 

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livin Halloween every day
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I wonder if light weight burlap type material could be used with the paper mache to give a bit of added strength? I have never tried this but seems it might work. I would get some liquid latex and mix the paint base color right into that and paint the paper mache.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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Ooh! That sounds like an interesting experiment. Definitely worth a try.

My main concern would be weight. If an actor is going to be wearing this, it can't be too heavy. One nice thing about paper mache is you can build your shape out of newspaper and bags and then remove it once the exterior shell is dry. that saves a lot on internal framing and weight.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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Wow, that's a lot of awesome stuff!! I love how everyone bashes paper mache, but in fact, like monster mud, simple processes to get the job done. I love it! Thanks! With the whole arm movement though, paper mache wouldn't let the person move their arms, I was thinkin along the lines of stretching fabric over it then either painting it with Latex or Acrylic, any ideas?
Don't be afraid of paper mache. You can build several pieces, and attach them to a fabric body suit if you need to. You could even build the head/neck in two or three pieces that fit together, allowing for more articulated movements.

The great thing about paper mache is it's dirt cheap! Even if you wind up going a different direction -- taking a weekend (or a week of evening) and building your shapes out of mache will give you a lot to go on for a final build.
 

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Obssessed Haunter
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I am making a werewolf costume and the lower arms were made by attaching foam ( upholstery type) to a long sleeved shirt with hot glue. Shape the foam in the desired shape. Then glue on the fabric with hot glue. In my case it was fur but for you I would use a fabric with a smooth surface or texture you like and in a color close to what you want your final 'skin' to be. I would then use fabric paints for highlights.... If you buy the less dense foam, it will bend pretty well with the arm movement.
Use gloves on the hands and attach foam to the gloves and shape...
For the werewolf, I make 'claws' out of hot glue. I first made a mold or shape out of plaster of paris. In the mold I added a few drops of acrylic paint then added the hot glue and mixed (quickly). I then removed it from the mold and used the hot tip of the gun to round over the 'flat' side of the claw. This gave me a claw that would not break and it had color all the way through so the paint wouldnt peel off the surface. Those were then hot glued to the foam on the fingers.... ( a small hole was cut into the foam so the claw could be inserted in to the foam a little, and the hot glue was put into the hole and then the claw added.) This made for a very strong bond!

Anyway, a similar process could be done for your costume and I think you could get pretty good results. This can be a little pricey, but if you can find cheap foam and fabric its fairly cheap....

The face was done with armature wire bent into your shape. foam attached to that and cut into shape.... then celluclay added to the foam.... but this would be similar to just the papermache... you could add celluclay as the final coat of mache.. you can get pretty good detail with it.. its light weight and sandable!

Sorry for rambling, hope this made sense. I have a couple pics of the start to the werewolf mask on here... I have the fur attached now, and the paws and feet done so you can see the results you get with foam and fabric... I'll add the updated pics tommorrow!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Lynn: The Nail thing sounds like a great idea, we're going to have to make a whole bunch of finger nails and quills. When I made my candelabra I got really good at using hot glue so that sounds pretty easy to make. Though pics would help for sure:D

TK421: Yeah, it looks like this going to take a little more then couple weekends, lol. But I think I'm going to end up using paper mache for a good majority of the body and it sounds like a great plan for the skull, he has a funky one! Hopefully today I'll be getting money for this project, finally..... I'll keep y'all updated!
 
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