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


  1. Ana says:

    I was going to make a a harpy cosines myself I had a few questions of yours
    What shoes did you use for the feet (any old pair of boots)
    Secondly what did you use for the talons (claws if my spelling is shit)
    And third I went to the website where the wing frames should be, the lady has taken a pause on selling them…. Any sugestions on what to do for wings?

  2. Stacy says:

    This is unbelievably awesome! My friends and I always have a themed Halloween party. All the good female costumes were taken aside from your typical Goddesses, so I chose a harpy. I was not sure how in the world I was going to pull it off, but thanks to this blog I know now what I can do. I really needed help with the body paint and feet as my wings will be attached to my arms. On that note, where on earth do you get fake bear claws?

  3. kelsey says:

    I really want to know how you made your talons I got the green foam, boots n bear claws but how did you cut out the foam to shape the feet.

  4. Vetle Baumeyer says:

    Thank you! I will be using some materials and tips for both the wings and feet for my Papi The Harpy cosplay! This will be exciting 😀

  5. Tabby says:

    How does it cope with water? Is it Suitable for walking? Have you tested it for walking distances or weather conditions? Because I am trying to make a pair of these bird feet boots and I just want to try make the best of them I can.

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