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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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
This painting was created as a birthday present for a musical friend. Above is the finished product and below are some of the process images. The painting was done on scrap particle board with Liquitex Acrylic paints.
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.
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.
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.
3. Use white is for adding the dots, then go over them again with glow paint (optional).
I made the beaded arm bands by painting Mardi Gras beads and sewing them onto elastic 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.
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.
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!
I researched a bunch of Mystique images and I opted to follow the face and hair of the movie version.
And I followed the clothes and body of the comic book version.
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.
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.
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):