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04 September 2008 @ 02:43 pm
Beware the Weeping Angels  
Y'all might have noticed that your friendly community moderator has been slacking a bit lately. No updates. No organizing. What the heck was she doing that kept her so busy elsewhere?!


(I don't know who to credit for this picture - my brother-in-law emailed it to me. If you recognize it, please let me know so I can credit!)


This past weekend I went to DragonCon, one of the largest sci-fi conventions in the world. It's absolutely massive, and filled with some of the best, most talented costumers you could imagine. I wanted to make something nifty, challenging, and Doctor Who. I love the episode Blink, so despite being a little intimidated, I decided to give it a try.

I don't know how many on this community are costumers, but the following is a far-too-detailed breakdown of how I made the costume. If you want, you can
skip this and go to the 'in-costume' post over here on dw_cosplay.

The Dress
Materials: Polyester suiting fabric, acrylic/fabric-medium paint, hula hoop, velcro

The dress is constructed from two layers. The first layer is an underdress that provides structure and support to the overdres. It is basically fitted, with a zip up the back, then flares out towards the bottom in a cone shape. A hula-hoop sewn into the bottom hem provides rigid support.

The fabric I used was a dark grey polyester suiting from the dollar bin. It's got a nice smooth finish (no woven texture) and has enough body to hold the folds well.

The overdress is made from two full widths of fabric sewn into a giant tube and draped onto the underdress.

The down-side of sturdy fabric is that it doesn't drape very well. All those folds are held into place with dozens of individual stitches.

The back has a secret panel that will hide the center support of the wings.

And here it is painted. The paint used was basic acrylic craft paint, with fabric medium added to make it flexible and washable. To create the impression of stone, I used the old trick of highlights and lowlights. First the entire dress got a coat of the darkest grey paint. The I went back with the medium grey and painted most of it, leaving dark grey in the shadows and recesses. Finally I used the lightest grey paint to just hit the highlights.

The effect is pretty convincing - people kept coming up and asking to touch the dress so they could feel that it wasn't stone! For all those who asked me how flexible it is: here's a picture of it in a heap:

And on the inside, we have one of the most important parts o any costume - hidden pockets. Wallet and phone go in one, and a bottle of water went in the other.

From the back, you can see how the hidden wing panel blends right in.

And a little touch all my own. I figured any statue is going to end up with graffiti, right?

The Wings
Materials: Foamcore posterboard, craft foam, galvanized wire, foam, hot glue, acrylic paint, backpack strapping and buckles

Here's a peak into the work behind the work: reference images. To get the wings accurate, I went by screencaptures. I saw how far the wings extended on the actreesses, then measured myself to get the proportionally right size. Guidelines drawn onto the reference image help me design the wings to the right size and shape.

Patterns were drawn on newspaper, then transferred to my wing base. The core of the wings is foamcore board. Normal sheets of foamcore were too small, but fortunately there are giant display boards designed for kids' science fairs. Those have folds in them, but by using two layers of foamcore and lining the folds up so that they wanted to fold in opposite directions, they cancelled each other out and remained sturdy.

Each wing has two pieces: front and back.

The pattern was cut apart into individual feathers, with enough extra added to each feather so that the pieces could overlap nicely. The feathers themselves are made from craft foam and glued to the foamcore.

The support structure for the wings runs between the layers of foamcore. The panel between the wings was made from two layers of a stiff upholstery-type foam. Sewn between the layers and extending out on both sides was galvanized wire.

Fabric was draped over the whole structure and sewn on, then the excess fabric was cut away. The fabric gives the glue something to grip.

Massive amounts of glue were applied to the wing halves, and the wire supports were sandwiched between them. I was very lucky to have the perfect thing to weight them with while they dried - a marble-topped coffee table.

Once they were fully assembled, I draped a little extra fabric from the dress around the base of each wing, to help the base blend in with the dress.

Painting used the same highlight/lowlight technique as the dress, and the same paint, just minus the fabric medium. You can also see here how I cut notches into the foam feathers to make them look more real.

Finished wings:

Strap assembly. I'm going to redo this so that it's possible to get into the wings/dress without assistance.

The Mask
Materials: Paper-mache mask, paperclay, acrylic paint, Elmer's glue, plastic gumball machine thingys, pantyhose

For the masks, I started with pre-made paper maches masks, then sculpted onto them with paperclay. I hadn't ever sculpted before, so that was a challenge!

The eyes are made by cutting lenses out of those plastic capsules you get from gumball machines. I covered them with grey pantyhose and hot-glued them into place. The inside of the mask is painted black to cut down on light reflection.

To give you some idea of the resulting visibility - here's a shot of my neighbor's car through one eye in broad daylight. The visibility was MUCH worse at night. But I could see enough to function.

The masks were painted using the same technique mentioned earlier, though I used a little more care since the face would get more attention. Note that I glued the lenses in AFTER they were painted.

The mask just goes on with an elastic strap. I plan on remaking the mask - it looks pretty decent on the mannequin, but it's just plain too small for my fat head.

The Wig
Materials: Pantyhose, yarn, acrylic paint/fabric-medium, fabric

I'm sorry I don't have any in-construction photos of the wig - I was getting pressed for time and forgot. Basically, I cut the legs off a pair of pantyhose and sewed the rest into a cap-shape, then stitched yarn down the center seam. The yarn was then styled and held in place with 2.5 bottles of fabric glue, and a fabric hairband added. Painted with acrylic paint w/ fabric medium.

A shot to show the internal construction:

I'm planning on remaking the wig. It ended up too small for me and too inaccurate. I think I'll try sculpting a wig next time.

Arms, neck, feet
Materials: Opaque tights, acrylic paint/fabric-medium, nail polish, artificial nails, toe-socks, thrift-store sandals

I know I don't have any makeup skills, so I wanted some sort of gloves for the arms. I bought two different pairs of gloves before giving up and making my own.

First, I took a pair of ladies' opaque tights and cut out the crotch. This became the neck-hole. I pulled them on, one arm down each sleeve, then used pins to mark the divisions between my fingers.

I cut along the pins, then sewed the fingers together by hand using a whipstitch. After that, I took a little tuck in the wrist area of the gloves to smooth out some wrinkles.

As soon as you pull the gloves on after this, dab some nail polish along the seams - this will stabilize them and prevent the tights from running. Then turn the gloves inside-out so that the seams are on the inside (at this point, the right glove will become the left glove and vice-versa).

To increase the illusion of fingers, I glued artificial nails to the gloves. You have to do this while the gloves are on to get the correct placement - to prevent the glue from sticking to you, rub some oil or lotion into your fingertips/nails before you pull the gloves on.

Paint the gloves while you are wearing them and let them dry on you, otherwise they will shrink. I used the same old acrylic paint/fabric medium mix. Before painting the gloves, I gave the nails several coats of silver nailpolish so that they wouldn't show pink if the paint scratched.

They look really freaky when you aren't wearing them.

But once on, the illusion is very convincing.

The neck area is covered by a sleeve made from another pair of tights. Again, use nailpolish to control running.

And in one of those touches no one will notice: just in case anyone caught a glimpse of my feet, I added some fake toenails to a pair of grey toe-socks. The sandals came from a thrift store and were given a coat of grey paint.

And if you made it this far, that's pretty much it! Now maybe I can get back to being a halfway-decent moderator. :)

This is the 'making-of' post - if you want to read the 'in-costume' post, it's over here on dw_cosplay.
Leish: squee ashleishpod on April 16th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
wow. that is just incredible. kudos!
chayna1ukchayna1uk on April 25th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
WOW! I love how you put it all together and know how much work must have gone into it all.
slickiedooslickiedoo on May 21st, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
I am so incredibly impressed. This is amazing! You've inspired me to find a character I can pull off. Outstanding!!
wattle_girlwattle_girl on May 25th, 2010 07:05 am (UTC)

Just found this via google and I must say it's AMAZING.

I just wish I had more than a few hours to make my costume and access to some of the materials you have used.
I just want to say again that this is incredible.
teef_chanteef_chan on June 22nd, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
ILYOUR AWESOMENESS. That is an amazing costume.
(Anonymous) on January 10th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
This is incredible. The Weeping Angel is hopefully going to be my next Halloween costume, and this is VERY helpful.
that_carlygirl on March 4th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
this is absolutely bloody amazing.
I am in total awe of thus. I struggle to make put together a costume and you've made something like this. It's amazing.

question; showed this to a friend (who is much better at making costumes than me) and she was wondering if you would mind if she used this as a guide to make her own Weeping Angel costume for a con here in Australia.
penwiper337penwiper337 on March 4th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Of course she's welcome to use this as a guide! That's why I put it up here! But there are definitely better ways to do some of this than what I've laid out here - I've already remade my mask and wig using paperclay over a paper mache base, for instance. So do experiment!

Glad you like it!
gwen666: Generalgwen666 on March 5th, 2011 05:12 am (UTC)
Your costume is great ! It is convincing enough without costing a fortune in time and materials. What real costuming should be. Did you see the Dr.Who behind-the-scenes extra that showed the creation of the 'angels' ?
alias_kino on April 15th, 2011 07:51 am (UTC)
Quick question
Wow, this is a really amazing cosplay! I really love that skin effect you used with the pantyhose and I'm thinking of adapting that technique for another cosplay.
How difficult was that part to make (when you were sewing/cutting/using nailpolish)? I'm a bit of a novice and I'm afraid I might be biting off more than I can chew if I attempt this.
penwiper337penwiper337 on April 15th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Quick question
Well, I know at least two people who were not very experienced at all who successfully made gloves using that method, so I think you'd probably do just fine. Be sure to use nice sturdy tights, not pantyhose, and just use lots of little overcast stitches to help keep it from raveling, and you'll be fine.
Alan James KeoghAlan James Keogh on April 22nd, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
This is perhaps, the greatest costume I have ever seen on any one ever.

the detail is just so astoundingly amazing, I couldn't even begin to figure out how to make something so awesome, even if I followed the pictures so how you created it with no guidence is astounding.

also, Blink has to be my faviourite episode of Dr. Who.
haunts-of-goblin-men.blogspot.com on April 28th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely awesome. Am sharing. I found it on twitter.
Hildekittensandsteam on July 22nd, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
That's absolutely FANTASTIC!
Lucca: Hitoshura -human at heartlucca_ashtear on August 18th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I know this is an old post, I was linked here through cosplay.com and was floored by the ingenuity shown in creating this.

I plan on giving the tights method a try for the legs of an upcoming costume. However, I was curious, did the paint seep through to your skin during painting? If so, how long did you wear the tights before they were dry enough to remove?
penwiper337penwiper337 on August 19th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
Good questions! Yes, the paint did seep through - my arms were almost as grey as the tights when I peeled them off. Fortunately, acrylic paint washes off very easily. As for the amount of time... urg. That's a good question. Not crazy-long or anything, as far as I remember, so definitely under an hour and probably more like 15-30 minutes. I used a hair dryer and that made it go faster. The major thing is to make sure the hands are dry so that they don't shrink up. If the arms are still slightly damp when you pull them off, it doesn't matter too much.

I can't recommend the tights method enough. It's more work ahead of time, but it's so much faster than full-body makeup at the con, and it doesn't wear off the minute you handle a doorknob. :)
(no subject) - lucca_ashtear on August 23rd, 2011 05:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
Alright In Sort Of A Limited Way For An Off-Nightgrammardog on August 19th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
This is geedee amazing, and I don't even know what a tardis is. The gloves!!! Mindblowing.
Cassiecassinator on August 19th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
2010 Pic
I think I have a pic of your update wig from last year's Dragon*Con. I was referred here from the CRAFT magazine (kudos, by the way).