A few years ago, I was invited to a themed costume party, "Favorite Fictional Character." I was out of town, living out of a suitcase for three months, and the expectation was I would arrive to the party as Batman. This would have been impossible if I held to any reasonable standard of construction, so I built the entire outfit from a store-bought black t-shirt, a roll of black duct tape, electrical tape, and the cardboard from a Diet Coke box. The only tools used were a Sharpie and my Leatherman. The night before the party.
To make your own superhero/luchador cowl on the cheap, you'll need:
- Trash bag
- Duct tape: Cheapest silver you can find and the main color or colors of your character
- Electrical tape for details (Optional)
- Shoelaces, at least 45"
- Pair of scissors
- Permanent marker
- A trustworthy assistant
Find a comfy chair, play some music your model likes, and say good bye to your model's snappy hair do. Fit the trash bag over their head and down over their shoulders. Figure out where the nose goes and snip a hole for them to breath through. Don't. Snip. Your nose. Laya few pieces of duct tape to set the dimensions through the rest of this process. The first should go around their entire head like a headband. The next ought to go around their jaws vertically like Jacob Marley's bandanna thing. This establishes the general dimensions of your model's skull and keeps the bag from shifting. Once blocked out, lay short (6-8") strips overlapping all over their head. To fit the skull, pull them tight. To preserve details like your eye sockets and nose, don't stretch a footlong piece of tape across their snout. Rip small pieces and tuck them into those hollow parts and up over protrusions like the nose. Pull too tight and the mask won't fit to their eyesockets and stand proud of their nose.
|A liiiitle too tight across the eyes.|
Hand the model the permanent marker and have them feel around on their face for their eyelids: It's surprisingly easy to mark your own eyeholes with a marker using both hands from inside the tape. Otherwise, the assistant can draw them on the model from the outside. To remove the mask, carefully snip up the back of the cowl from the bottom with your scissors. Round ended scissors make a lot of sense for this. WARNING: You will snip a little bit of hair, but the cut is vertical and is impossible to notice once you fluff your hair back into position. I've never had someone with long hair use this method, so I'm not sure what the effect is for them... but I'm sure you can't see it afterward.
|It may not look like much, but its got it where it counts.|
I usually do the mouth opening for the cowl myself, looking through the new eyeholes in front of a mirror. If your assistant has steadier hands and a good eye for symmetry, have them draw it. I'll periodically fold the mask in half and make sure the eye holes and mouth area are the same on both sides, left to right. On my example, the eyeholes were too small, but opening them up to the right size would cut into the original mouth area. Crap. So I put the mask on, slapped some fresh strips of silver tape across my cheekbones and drew a new mouth hole in. I got lucky and could just fold the silver on the drawn line and cover the sticky inner part that way. Otherwise, you'll need to add some tape inside and cover the stickum, unless you like it attaching to your skin and bunching weirdly when you move your head.
|Practice your haunted expression for maximum effect.|
|The shirt is a spraypaint stencil; the utility belt is everyone's tools.|
|The original laces were black. Those ended up in Converse years ago.|
The wing-a-lings (is there an official term?) were made from cereal box cardboard, covered with electrical tape. Once again, a template was made, this time on graph paper, to keep the wing-a-lings even. I also used the graph paper to design a 3" square block letter A. A sheet of clear plastic (from the TARDIS template package) was taped over it and the letter formed out of electrical tape.
|The A is for his middle name, Agnew.|
Laying a few strips of electrical tape on the plastic over my gridded cutting mat meant I could use a compass to trace circles for the wing-a-ling bases. Once those were attached, Captain America was essentially done.
As I was covering and edging Cap, the shoulder parts of the cowl got a little bunchy and weird. Once I got laced into it for the photos here, we snipped along the top of the shoulder to the base of my neck and smoothed it into place, overlapping the excess. A few pieces of duct tape later and the final piece was custom fit to lie smoothly under my t-shirt.
|Until you make one with earholes, you don't know what you're missing.|
|The dainty little bow really adds something.|
Various heroes and costumes benefit from this style of duct tape model. Red for the Flash, blue for Cap, black for Batman. Get the camouflage duct tape for a Duck Dynasty/Deadpool crossover. Go nuts and let us know in the comments which projects come to mind for this style! Have fun, and don't forget to snip the nose hole.