Because of my costumes the last couple years, my office and neighbors have high expectations for me in my Halloween costume each year. This year, I literally had people asking me in April if I knew what I was going to be for Halloween yet. And my response... (stated somewhat timidly) "Yes."
You see, I took my son to go see How To Train Your Dragon 2 at the dollar theaters last year. This was prior to having finished my Monster Costume. The moment I saw Hiccup on the big screen with his fancy new armor I knew. In my head I said the words, "There is next year's Halloween costume." It was so cool I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try and make it myself.
Yet life didn't cooperate with getting a head start on it so October wouldn't be the mad stress of trying to get costumes all done in time. I didn't get started until September, and my wife and I decided to do a couple's costume with her being Astrid. I should have forced her to take more pictures so she could write up and instructable on that one. So with two big costume builds and only about a month and a half to do it, things got a little bit crazy at the end. I'm still trying to catch up on sleep.
Needless to say, I am quite pleased with the result (even if it isn't totally done... it will be before ComicCon). If you like it too, please take the time to vote for me in the Costume Contest.
Step 1: Materials
There was a lot that went into the process of this build, but I tried to keep the materials rather simple. I learned a lot on this build and look forward to future ones to apply all the things that I learned. Some of it comes from what I learned. So here is the list:
- EVA foam tiles 1/2"
- 5 mm craft foam
- 2 mm craft foam
- Barge Cement (this stuff is awesome... way better than hot glue)
- Tin Foil
- Cling Wrap
- Duct Tape
- Poster Board
- The body you will be putting the costume on
- A head cast
- Old shirt
- Heat Gun
- Sharp Utility Knives
- Dremel (you gotta have one of these)
- Metal Ruler
- Sewing Machine
- Some sort of cool leather looking stuff (I used a pleather crock skin material)
- Green denimy type stuff for the pants
- Paper Clay
- Spray Paint
- Brads & Tacks
- Old belts
- An awesome, amazing, patient and beautiful wife (these are very handy)
- Leather string
Step 2: Gather Resource Material
This was pretty critical for me to be able to see how things look on screen. I tried to get as many angles as possible to see the details and shapes to get it right.
Step 3: Make Pattern for Upper Armor
There are many great tutorials on line for making your own patterns. I decided to use the "cover your body in duct tape and then draw it out" method. It proved effective, but I learned some things along the way.
First, cover your body in something like Saran Wrap so the tape doesn't stick to your body. Reasons for this should be fairly obvious. It was helpful to have a super handy wife around to reach the parts I couldn't see or reach. When starting to apply the duct tape, make sure to take a full breath as you will want to be able to breath once the costume is made. (If I had to do it over again, I would even add extra to compensate for the thickness of the material. Many times during the process I wished I had done that as the pattern was still a little too tight.)
Once you are covered in tape, draw out the design. Then, cut the tape off. I had a great spot in the back to cut it off that matched the design of the costume. Once it is off you can cut out the pattern. I had to add some material around the flap in front so that it would actually overlap something. I just added more tape once I cut out the pattern. Then, lay out the patterns on the EVA foam. I found I couldn't really fit it on the tiles, so I had to cut each side in half knowing I would have to place a seam on the shoulders.
After cutting out the foam pieces, heat molding and gluing them (next step) I worked on the pattern for the collar. To do this, I pinned a piece of paper to the edge of the neck hole. This allowed me to draw out the design as it matched together. Then I cut out the pattern and applied it to the foam.
Step 4: Shape and Glue Foam
Once the pieces are cut out of the foam, get the heat gun out to start shaping them to the right form. Be careful not to leave the gun in one spot for too long as it will burn the foam. Eventually you will notice the foam becoming more pliable. At this point, bend and stretch the foam. I wanted the edges where the shoulders met to come together easily before gluing, so I curved and held them to the right angle until it cooled. I also did this with the back and the front so it matched my profile more closely.
Next comes the gluing. I used Barge Cement for the first time on this project and I am converted. The stuff is great. To use it, apply a thin layer to both sides being glued. Wait 5 minutes and then stick them together. It's an easy, strong connection that you don't have to sit there and hold together. Some tips: It is helpful to put hash marks on the pieces being glued together so you can make sure they match up correctly. This comes in especially handy when there are rounded pieces. Once the sides touch, it is hard to separate them.
After the pieces were glued, I got my dremel out to do a little shaping. I wanted to have the edges be a little thinner around the neck. I also worked to make an edge that looked like it was worked leather with stitching. Next time I would have done it differently. I would have used the technique I used on the helmet... see later steps.
Step 5: Shoulder Pauldrons
I think these are some of the coolest parts of the costume. The pauldrons on Hiccup's costume are not the same design or shape. I started with the big one (right shoulder) with the dragon design.
To get the right size, I placed a towel on my shoulder, covered it with saran wrap, and then covered it with duct tape. I was then able to draw the shape onto the duct tape to get the right size and positioning. I was then able to draw out the design and use this as the pattern.
To get the pattern to lay (mostly) flat I cut a dart in the top where there was the most curve. I then drew this out onto the 1/2" thick EVA foam. After cutting it out, I used a heat gun to shape it and then glued the dart together using the Barge Cement. This worked fairly well.
Then, using some 2 mm craft foam I cut out the outer layer. Again, I used Barge Cement to put this on. The 2 mm craft foam is pretty stretchy so it was a little more forgiving. With this attached I could get a good sense of where the line across the pauldron would be. I used a disc cutter on my dremel to cut this into the foam.
Once I had this all ready it was time for the black PlastiDip. I put about 3 coats on to get a good smooth, uniform finish. Follow the instructions on the can for how much time between coats.
Next I used the design I drew out on the duct tape for the dragon pattern. It wasn't symmetrical, so I drew it out onto some paper, folded it in half and got a nice shape. Then I tested it on the pauldron to see if it was a good size. I had to make a few adjustments before it was ready. Then I cut out the shape from some 2 mm red craft foam. I then glued it on.
Once it was on I had to do some aging. I used a thinned down white acrylic paint to give it a worn look. I built this up with some layers. After this was done I coated it in modge podge. This gave it a more of a congruent look as the craft foam was more dull and the PlastiDip more shiny.
I used a similar approach with the other shoulder. However, with this one I drew out a pattern on some poster board to get the right size and shape first. Then, rather than cutting a dart, I used the heat gun and stretched the foam over my knee to get the desired shape. This worked very well. I rounded the edges with my dremel and then sprayed it with several layers of PlastiDip. Then I cut a slice out of the bottom, drilled holes, and stitched it up with black leather lacing.
Both pauldrons has a brown studded leather looking under padding. To achieve this look I used 5 mm brown craft foam. I sized out the shape using poster board until it looked right. Then I cut the shape out of the foam. I used an X-acto knife to do a shallow cut to simulate the stitching. Once those cuts were heated with the heat gun they became more clear and pronounced. I also shaped them to the right curvature for my arm. Then I used little scrapbooking brads to be the metal studs. It worked perfectly with the foam. Then, I added a strap on the inside of this that would loop the pauldrons around my arm. These were glued on with Barge Cement and then a self adhesive velcro dot was added as the fastener.
Step 6: Straps and Buckles
Using real leather for the strap and finding real buckles would have been rather expensive. Luckily, 5 mm craft foam, when heated, ends up looking a lot like leather. I also figured I could make the buckles myself (since I never would have been able to find a custom buckle like Hiccup's) out of InstaMorph.
To get started, I drew out the design directly onto the foam. This ended up serving as my pattern for the straps and buckles. I then cut my 5mm black foam to size and shape. I used 2 mm foam for the loop strap. I sliced through the chest piece, threaded it through, and then glued it onto the inside. After that dried I sprayed it with a couple coats of PlastiDip. I then placed my 5 mm straps into place and figured out where they would fold over. Using my heat gun I made the fold stay folded in the right place.
Then I got out my InstaMorph. This is fun stuff. Simply heat up some water (I do it in the microwave) to the point of boiling (be careful, boiling water is not kind to skin), and the drop the little pellets in. Once they are clear they are ready to mash together and start working with. I was able to shape the buckle this way. If it starts cooling it gets harder, but you can just heat it back up (preferably in the water) until it is pliable. It is not as easy to work with as regular clay, but it is a pretty cool material to work with.
Once the buckles were shaped, I sprayed them with a metalic silver spray paint. After that dried, I used some black acrylic paint to age it. They turned out looking really nice.
These were then glued into the straps and the straps were glued into place on the chest piece. Again, I used some brads in the foam to add to the look of authenticity.
For the little design on the strap, I simply sketched it out on paper based on the size I would need. I used that as my template and then cut it out of foam. This was then glued to the strap.
Step 7: Arm Bracers
I started with making patterns out of poster board. These were measured up against my arms and drawn out based on the reference photos. I started with the 1/2 EVA foam as the base. I glued the edges together and tried it on. Once I had it fitting just right I sprayed it with a couple of coats of PlastiDip. This gave me reference for where to position the hand covering. I used a similar technique as I did with the under padding on the pauldron. Using an Xacto knife I cut the patterns into the foam, heated and then shaped it to my hand. This was then glued into the base..
Next was the over straps. I cut the slats in this and used a dremel on the edges to smooth out the cuts. Then, using 2 mm craft foam, I created the straps for this. They were sprayed with PlastiDip so they would be black and look like leather. These were then weaved in and out of the holes. Then this was glued to the base, I also continued the straps around the base and added brads to look like attachment points.
All the brown 5 mm craft foam was given a coat of modge podge. This helped give it all more of a leather look and feel.
Once this was all completed I began working on some of the details that are added to each bracer.
Step 8: Details for Bracers
Each bracer has its own instrument. The right one has a compass and the left one has a knife. This is where InstaMorph comes in handy.
For the compass, I just sculpted it out. I sprayed it with the metalic spray paint, added straps and glued the whole thing down.
For the knife, I was really hoping to find a good dollar store knife. I didn't really have any luck with this, but we did find a Sai. I cut off the outer edges and melted them into shape. Then, using InstaMorph, I fashioned a hilt to look like Hiccup's knife. Once I had the shape figured out, I sprayed the whole thing with the metallic spray paint. I created the sheath using 5mm black craft foam.
Step 9: Vest
This was the ambitious part for me. I haven't really ever had to make clothing before. Enter Amazing Wife. I must add that while I was trying to make this she was sick and only wanted to get up for about 15 min. at a time. My sewing skills are sub par, so I had to be very careful in all my planning so I could maximize her time up.
I started by taking my measurements to get a sense of the size for my pattern. Hiccup's vest is very form fitting, so I wanted to get it right. I got an old shirt out and used it to draw on the pattern. I then sewed and cut the shirt to see if I had gotten the pattern right. This turned out to be a pretty good tactic. I cut out the pattern from the shirt and laid it on my pleather. I was careful to make sure the patterns matched up to each other for continuity purposes. I got it all cut out and called in the wife. She sewed it all together for the basic vest.
This is where we ran into a problem. The vest fit well against my upper chest, but not my waist. My wife, being the brilliant woman that she is, suggested that we put darts in the back to tailor the vest to my body. I went along with her genius. We turned the vest inside out and she pulled and pinned two darts to get the custom fit. Once that was done we took it apart to make sure we got them centered and uniform. She then sewed in the darts with amazing results. If fit perfectly snug.
With this done, I punched holes every inch up the front of the vest opening. Then I used black leather lacing to lace it up. I must admit, it felt a little bit like I was putting on a corset. I can't complain though, because it looked great and I could still breathe.
Step 10: Helmet
Hiccup's helmet was one of the whole reasons that I wanted to make the costume in the first place. It is so awesome I just had to make it.
I made the pattern for this using my handy dandy head cast. I covered the whole thing with aluminum foil and then duct tape. Once the duct tape was on, I drew out the pattern based on the reference photos. I only drew one side to save time. I then cut out the pieces from my head. I then drew these out onto 5 mm black craft foam. Each piece was heated and shaped. Reference marks were used for the gluing process as curved shapes are a little more tricky to match up. I got both sides matched up for the main front.
The back has these cool collapsible dragon scaly looking things. This part turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I tried to draw and cut out the pattern, but had a few fails with this. I finally got it figured out though. One of the cool techniques I used was to dremel the edges where the middle points would meet to 45 degree angles. This allowed for the peaking to be very smooth. Once I had all the shapes figured out, I glued them into place. I only glued the sides and left the centers free to move so it would have some collapsability. This worked really well.
Around the eye holes is some cool leather stitching. To get this effect, I used strips of 2 mm craft foam and glued it around the edges. Then I used an Xacto blade to cut a seam in where the stitching would be. I then sprayed everything in a few layers of PlastiDip. I was very impressed with the result as it really looked like leather.
With this done, I put the helmet on my head, stuck some posterboard up in it and drew a pattern for the bottom part of the mask. I made a good template and then cut it out of 5 mm brown craft foam. The breathing holes were cut and smoothed, lines were cut for stitching and then it was heated into shape. Once this was done I was able to glue it into place.
To complete the form, I had to do the center strips. These were made from 5 mm black craft foam. I drew patterns on posterboard, tested out the sizing, and then cut them out of the foam. Cuts were made to simulate stitching, brads were added, and they they were heated to shape. Then I glued them down.
The horns took me a long time and I did it during crunch time. I had to finish before Friday the 30th for the office costume show off session. I was up until 3:30 am getting it done.
I used a paper clay to make these. Each horn was shaped, and then put on a cooking sheet and placed in the oven at 190 degrees (to speed up the drying process). They were all then painted with acrylic paint and put back in the oven to dry. Once dry I started placing them on the helmet. The ones on the side appear to be coming up through the leather, so I had to cut into the foam and then glue them into place. This was a slow process since you have to wait 5 min with the glue once it is applied. The center spikes were easier and I could just glue then directly to the foam. I dremel the bottoms of each of those to get a nice, smooth, rounded surface for gluing.
Overall, as expected, this is my favorite part of the costume. It turned out super well, even if I only did get 4 hours of sleep that night.
Step 11: Put It on and Look Awesome
Needless to say, the costume was a big hit. It looked super awesome with my wife's Astrid costume (sorry no instructable) and my son's Toothless (my wife did her first instructable) costume. We had a blast going around at the local trunk or treat.
If you like the costume, please vote for me in the costume contest.