Category: inspiration/ideas

Greek God or Goddess Costume for Late Night at the DMA

DIY Greek god or goddess costume.
DIY Greek god or goddess costume.

The Dallas Museum of Art invited me to write a guest blog post on how to create a quick Greek god or goddess costume in honor of this month’s Late Night at the DMA program. The event is celebrating their latest exhibit, The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, so attending in full costume is definitely encouraged. You can read my full step-by-step tutorial on the DMA’s blog Uncrated.

My tutorial also received a great write-up by the Dallas Morning News Arts Blog and they also explain how you can earn DMA Friend rewards points for dressing up. KERA’s Art & Seek blog also featured my tutorial in their Tuesday Morning Roundup.

See you at the DMA, in costume (of course)!

Egyptian and Mehndi-Inspired Body Painting

I had my paints out at an “Arabian Nights”-themed party and painted the night away! I painted 22 people over the course of the evening, but as usual, I started forgetting to snap photos of each one. I’m glad I created the boards of design options, it really helped give people direction. All of the designs done with brush and sponge.

Design Board. Offering limited options is a great way to manage your time with a large group of people.
Design Board (I added more options after taking this photo).

Harpy Costume with Body Paint and Wings

Harpy Costume | By Breanna Cooke

HARPY: Classical Mythology . a ravenous, filthy monster having a woman’s head and a bird’s body.

Below are some instructions on what I did to accomplish this harpy costume for Halloween 2011.

Step 1: Plan It Out

I first started out with a sketch based on some good ol’ Googling of harpies.  I particularly liked the ones in World of Warcraft.  As you can see, my final product evolved a bit differently from the sketch (colored wings became a bit too time consuming):

Harpy Costume Sketch | Breanna Cooke
Harpy Costume Sketch | Breanna Cooke

Step 2: Make Giant Wings

The frame is the most critical part to having awesome wings.  I commissioned the help of an expert in wing-making, Danielle Hurley.  Her craftsmanship is top-notch and the frame fit me perfectly.  I’d highly recommend contacting her if you’d like some wings.  Check out more of her work on her website or her blog.

To support the feathers, I made a frame from chicken wire and glued it onto some black canvas.

Harpy Wings: Chicken wire frame on black canvas.Harpy Wings: Gluing chicken wire on with hot glue.

I used black turkey quills and started applying from the bottom up.  I ordered 500 feathers (250 of each wing side) and probably used about 300-350.  I also used bits of black down from a feather boa to mask the transition of quills at the top of the wings.

Harpy Wings: Adding feathersHarpy Wings: Finished Feathers

Step 3: Make Bird Feet

I built my bird feet on top of an existing pair of boots that I knew were comfortable.  It helped that they already had pointed toes.  I used green craft foam to shape the toes and hot-glued them on.  The talons are fake bear claws. The bear claws were more proportional to my body than fake eagle talons.

Harpy Feet: Craft foam toesHarpy Feet: Toes and talons glued on

I painted the green foam with brown paint so it would all match. Then I covered the boots in tan liquid latex.  In hindsight, this may not have been the best material, but it gave it the rubbery skin-like texture I wanted.

   

I painted the final boots with acrylic paints (again, maybe not the best type of paint since it kept cracking).

Step 4: Paint Yourself

I painted myself with professional grade body paint using a sponge and brush.  I usually use the water activated cakes from the Paradise line by Mehron since I can buy them locally at Norcosto in Dallas. I also order online from Silly Farm when I have more time to spare.

The fangs were from a Halloween shop. I recommend going for the most realistic ones, even if they cost more. The nails were also from the costume shop and glued on with nail glue.

Step 5: Go Scare Small Children or Become an Object of Envy at a ComicCon

Neytiri from Avatar Costume with Body Paint

Apparently blue is my color!

This year’s costume was Neytiri from Avatar.  I decided to use body paint instead of liquid latex like my Mystique costume last year.   I did the majority of painting myself, though I needed help with my back.  Here is the final result, but keep scrolling down if you’d like to see more photos of the process.  The professional photos are courtesy of T.J. Hall Photography.

Breanna Cooke as Neytiri from Avatar with full body paint. Photo by TJ Hall
Photo by TJ Hall Photography
Full body paint costume for Neytiri from Avatar. Photo from T.J. Hall Photography | www.tjhallphotography.com
Neytiri from Avatar with body paint
Backside of body paint.

Body Paint

I purchased a “Pandora Kit” from SillyFarm.com.  The kit included all the blues I needed, and it worked perfectly for painting a full body.  I also purchased some glow-in-the-dark body paint so that the white dots would glow.

1. Apply the light blue all over your body with a sponge. 

Starting out the painting

2. Use the 2-blue combo cake (it should be shimmery) for the stripes. Start by painting stripes with the dark blue, then add a highlight with the light blue right on top of the dark one.

Painting Progress

3. Use white is for adding the dots, then go over them again with glow paint (optional).

Closeup of arm details.

UPDATE 10/10/2012: Check out my tips on how to seal water-based body paint.  This will help prevent your paint from rubbing off on everything.

Costume

I made the beaded arm bands by painting Mardi Gras beads and sewing them onto  elastic bands.

Painting Mardi Gras beads with acrylic paint
Closeup of arm bands.

I purchased the wig online.  If you search for “Deluxe Neytiri wig with ears” you’ll find the same wig from various vendors.  I also glued some feathers into the braids to make it fuller and match Neytiri.

Feathers added to the braids of the wig.

I made the outfit from scraps of fabric and a bikini bra top from the fabric store.  I made the straps by braiding fabric and I stitched fabric on to the front of the bra cups by hand.  The loincloth (not pictured) was  two rectangles of fabric sewn on to a pair of black underwear.

Bra top from fabric store.
Straps made of braided fabric.
Top with fabric attached.

 

Mystique Costume with liquid latex

I fulfilled my dream, I was Mystique from X-men!… I know, I take Halloween WAY too seriously.

I already have red hair, so that was the easy part.  The hard part was painting my body with liquid latex!  I’ve outlined some thoughts on applying liquid latex, so keep scrolling on down!

MystiqueForHalloween_10-31-2009_08_crop
My Mystique costume

MystiqueForHalloween_10-31-2009_05_crop

Reference photos:

I researched a bunch of Mystique images and I opted to follow the face and hair of the movie version.

Reference for Mystique face

And I followed the clothes and body of the comic book version.

Reference_mystique-2
Reference image for Mystique’s clothes

Purchasing Liquid Latex:

This was my first time buying liquid latex.  I purchased liquid latex from www.liquidlatex.com and this was my order:

  • 32 oz. Blue liquid latex – Since I only painted half my body, there was at least half the jar left over.
  • 2 oz. Blue sparkle – I’d highly recommend mixing this in to the latex (rather than applying on top) for your last coat or two.  It gave the latex a really luminous sheen.
  • 4 oz. Body Wash – Highly recommend this too!  At the end of the night, it instantly helped remove the latex that was caught in my hairline and in my arm hair.
  • 4 oz. Shine Spray – Must have! The website FAQs are absolutely correct.  Rubbing on the shine spray as the last coat removed all the tackiness from the latex. Without it, the latex sticks to itself.

Liquid latex application tips:

  • Allow a lot of time! It took me a around 5 hours. That includes application and drying time.
  • Consider a layer of white latex.  Since the latex is translucent, your skin color will show through if you don’t put on enough coats.  In my case, I had to apply 5-6 layers of latex before it stopped looking blue/green.  I think a layer of white latex would help tone down your skin color and only require 3-4 coats of blue.

    MystiqueForHalloween_10-31-2009_15
    2nd coat of liquid latex and it still looks greenish
  • Armpits are tricky. Once you do your armpits, you can’t put your arms down until you’ve applied the Shine Spray. The latex will stick to itself and will start ripping once you lift your arms. I don’t know how to improve that aspect.
  • Wow, it’s stinky. It’s especially hard to apply around your nose and eyes because the ammonia fumes are really harsh. If you’re allergic, it will not be fun for you.
  • A bit of a stranglehold. The latex will shrink and feel like wearing a tight rubber glove. It was a little alarming when the latex on my neck tightened.  If you don’t like wearing chokers, you will not enjoy the feeling of latex on your neck.
  • Comes off fast…for the most part. As long as it’s not in your hair, the latex peels off really quickly. I had some stuck in my hairline, but rubbing on the Body Wash helped rinse it out quickly.

The Mystique Face

To make the scales on my face I cut out pieces of blue craft foam and stuck them onto my face with liquid latex.  Then I painted over the scales with liquid latex.

MystiqueForHalloween_10-31-2009_16
To create the scaly face, I glued blue craft foam on, then painted over with latex.
Closeup of Mystique face
The finished product!

My post-Big (D)esign Conference to-do list

I recently attended the Big (D)esign Conference in Dallas and could not say enough good things about it!  I took pages and pages of notes on web design usability and user behaviour and thoroughly challenged by brain to delve deeper into user experience and interactions.  I’d expected to come away with a long list of design websites to look up…but instead I came away with quite a long reading list of books relating to human psychology.

Here are some of the books mentioned by some of the conference speakers (I’ve linked the titles to the books on Amazon):

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

What Makes Them Click by Susan M. Weinschenk

Designing Web Interfaces by Bill Scott

About Face by Alan Cooper

Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford & Matt Webb

What is Strategy? by Michael Porter

Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen
Phew! That’s quite the summer reading list!

#bigD09