This year is a year of firsts. My first full time job, my first 3D printer, my first youtube channel, and my first time doing Cosplay! I attended DragonCon 2014, and in addition to printing a Pipboy 3000 for a Fallout: New Vegas costume, I also went as Ant-Man!
Before starting this costume, I didn’t know much about helmet construction, spandex sewing, or even who Ant-Man was. The group of friends I was going with had an interest in a group Avengers costume. After the well known ones from the movie were claimed, I decided to go with Ant-Man, and instantly grew to like the character. The emotional depth and character development that happens in the comics, combined with a cool looking costume and props made it a great first attempt at a cosplay. I pulled together all the references I could find of Ant-Man, from comics, fan art, teasers for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. Anything that had anything to do with Ant-Man went into a reference folder on my computer. With two months left before DragonCon, I dove in.
After looking around for ideas on where to start, I stumbled upon this tutorial for a cardboard helmet. After grabbing my hot glue gun and some cardboard, a few minutes later I had a functional prototype. From there, I created my plan.
I decided to make the base structure out of cardboard, following the instructions I linked to above. From there, I would use expanding foam to give the helmet it’s shape. The expanding foam is great, because its light weight, easy to trim into shape, and forgiving in the sense that if you cut too much off, you can always just spray more. It took some time to get the shape that I wanted, especially in the manibles.
The mouthpiece was 3D printed. This was a couple months after I bought my Makerfarm Prusa i3v, and I wanted to use it for some part of this costume. I quickly designed the part in Solidworks, printed it out, and attached it to the cardboard and foam helmet with an ample amount of hot glue.
After the foam was shaped, and the mouthpiece attached, it was time for the most tedious part. Bondo. Bondo is great to work with, because its easy to spread, fast curing, and can be sanded to a very smooth finish. Bondo is also terrible to work with because it can be sanded to a very smooth finish. And that sanding generates more dust than you’d find in all of Tattoine. Hours and hours of applying bondo and sanding eventually lead to the finished shape of the helmet. All the details were created in the bondo, including the shape of the eyebrows.
There was one detail left before I could paint and clearcoat. The antennas. The shafts of the antennas were simply some old paint brush handles I had lying around. The tips were 3d printed, simply two small plasic balls glued onto the paint brush handles. Finally they were epoxied onto the bondo of the helmet.
The painting consisted of a few coats of spray primer, a few coats of normal spray paint, and a few more coats of clearcoat. The clearcoat I used was a satin finish, I think if I were to do it again I would go with gloss just to give it more of that wow-factor.
The Body Suit
The body suit was simply a red spandex body suit, with some black spandex fabric sewed onto it. It can be tough to sew onto stretchable fabric, but if you are liberal with your use of pins then it isn’t too terrible. I made sure to cut off the head portion of the body suit, as well as the hands and feet. The helmet would cover the head, and I had gloves and shoes to cover my feet. The less cover I had on me, the more bearable the Atlanta Summer would be.
The last detail was Ant-Man’s Belt. The belt was formed out of floor-mat foam you can find at Lowes or Home Depot. I measured my waist, traced out a shape and cut it out. Using a heat gun, I bent the foam into a belt shape. Foam has a tendency to soak up paint, so a mixture of glue and water was used to seat the pores of the foam. 3 coats of that down, I started applying two coats of black plasti-dip that became the final covering. I designed the front emblem in Solidworks and 3D printed it. Finally, I hot glued some velcro on the ends of the belt, and a pouch on the inside of the belt so I could carry around my ID and phone. And thats it!
The convention was great. I learned a lot from the sessions, and the number of amazing costumes was staggering. Everywhere you look is a costume that you can tell someone poured their heart and soul into making. And Ant-Man was well received by the convention, I ended up being stopped just over 80 times for pictures. For a first costume, I’ll gladly take that!
Well thats it for today, be sure to check out some of my other projects for some more awesome content like this! I’m sure there will be plenty for fun cosplays happening in the future!