How It Was Made: Dr Doom
January 26, 2018
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By now, it should be pretty obvious that I’m really into two things when it comes to my own projects:

  • Original concepts and re-designs
  • Working with a mix of materials, especially foam

So, for my latest experimental project, I’ve decided to put together an original concept Dr. Doom. The last foam-heavy project before this to get started was the Southern Cross ATAC armor. Which is still in progress and will continue. However, that’s a direct recreation of the art and I was keen to do another original design. Thus, DOOM!

I began by working up some new templates for the upper body. I’ve been tinkering with some new patterns and thought this would be a good project to use the latest. The chest and back are also being used for the ATAC armor mentioned above. I did a base chest, one shoulder, neck and biceps as a test. The chest and shoulder templates were drafted by me and the neck was modified from an Iron Man template.

It was fine, but not quite what I wanted. For this project, the chest piece was just too massive. It was too low and straight at the bottom, much too wide and restricted arm movement too much. I needed something more ‘light’ that would give the effect but also not end up looking like a box under the fabric part of the costume that will come later.

In looking around, I found some very nice templates from Sean Xieng on Etsy. So, I decided to purchase his Batman Beyond template and see if it might help me. The template is very nice, very well laid out and easy to follow. It also makes some nice forms and fits together very well. I decided to base the new chest and torso off these shapes and modify it to fit the details that I wanted to include.

I assembled the chest piece and then began mapping out the details. I sketched out some general lines on the foam with a sharpie and then used Swedish tracing paper to better define the detail pieces. To make the detail pieces I very lightly dusted the tracing paper with Super 77, tacked it to the foam, traced out the lines and then, when it was removed, used a ruler to straighten and shore up the lines.

The pieces were then cut from 2mm craft foam and contact cemented to the chest. I’m going to have green lights in certain spots on the costume, so I needed to punch the holes for these before coating the pieces. I used a size 0 grommet punch to make the holes all the way through the foam. I also used an Xacto knife to cut out the groove details and my dremel to create the ‘rivets’.

The lights I’m planning to use are 3mm green LED lights wired in sections to switches and coin battery packs. All of these supplies can be found at Evan Designs and I highly recommend them.

With scribbles all over the place and lots of grooves carved in, I wanted to see the chest ‘clean’. So, I decided to put a couple of thin coats of PlastiDip on at this point to get a good idea of my direction. Once I was able to see the chest with the neck aligned and the lights tucked into their places, I decided that I was happy with the concept so far and pressed on.

The next step was to add the shoulders and back to the chest. The back of this costume will be predominately open and consist of all the straps and closures as the cape and the rest of the fabric parts will cover the back and part of the sides. The neck was glued down and the whole section was then given a couple more coats of PlastiDip to even it all out.

I then moved on to detailing the shoulders. I decided to use the shoulder pieces that I drafted myself and used the same method as the chest for creating and applying the details.

There were some messy seams on the neck and a couple of spots on the chest that I wanted to clean up, so I used some ElastoPatch to fill in these areas.

I then moved on to the torso. I want the torso to have some decent flexibility so that I’ll be able to move and pose in the costume so I decided to make the base of the torso out of a metallic fabric backed with headliner foam. I stitched some detail lines into the pieces to serve two functions:

  • Provide some detail behind the foam pieces to be applied
  • Stabilize the pieces so that the fabric wouldn’t delaminate from the headliner when the heavier foam pieces were added to the outside

The fabric looks quite ‘sparkly’ in the images, but it’s actually a gunmetal silver and will also be detail painted in the end, which will knock down the color and make it much more subtle. Once I had the front shape settled, I finished all the edges and made the side pieces that will attach and wrap around the back.

I then made a template in tracing paper and sketched out the designs for the ‘abs’. These were cut from varying thicknesses of foam and detailed similarly to the chest and shoulders. Note the holes punched through the upper piece for the lights.

Here’s a quick test of all the body pieces pinned together on the form.

I moved to the biceps next. Using a simple template, I sketched out the details. I cut the base biceps, traced the detail placement lines and pre-formed them with heat. I then cut out and added all the detail pieces using the same method as the rest of the upper body.

At this point, I decided I wanted to tackle the helmet. I began the helmet using the base helmet pattern I originally drafted for Captain America and then made into a more generic version for use on the ATAC armor. This template is six pieces: two center front pieces, two center top/back pieces and two sides. After cutting the pieces from 6mm foam, I set to using my head form to pre-shape them.

This step is important. A helmet is basically just one big complex curve and using heat to pre-shape the pieces will not only make gluing the pieces together easier, it will give you a much better curve that’s not lopsided. I use my Ed Head from MonsterMakers to shape the pieces. I love this armature – it’s fully life size, is lightweight, relatively inexpensive and has the full neck and part of the shoulders and chest. It’s my go-to for any type of collar, helmet, hood, cowl, etc pattern. And, they have a female version. OK, advert over.

The base pieces were pre-shaped and then assembled.

Next, I needed to work up the faceplate. For the face, I had some definite ideas on what I wanted. I wanted it to have the feel and character of the iconic mask, but I also wanted it to reflect the original concept and flow with the tech look of the body. After a lot of Pinterest surfing, I narrowed my inspiration to the Sideshow legendary scale statue and this Destiny helmet.

I misted Ed with some spray mount and wrapped him in plastic wrap, pressing it into the facial details (the spray mount ensures the plastic takes to the details) and then covered that in masking tape. It’s the basic ‘duct-tape-dummy’ technique, but for the face and it’s much thinner and easier to work with to get the details.

Once he was taped up, I sketched the faceplate onto Ed and then cut it off him and transferred it to paper. I then cut it from foam, heat shaped it and glued it together to test it out.

I added the jaw pieces to the base helmet, fit the test faceplate and traced around it to mark how it should fit.

Off to a good start, it fits fine and has the right proportion, but needs design enhancement. I revamped the lines to be more angular and less ‘organic’ and added in seam lines inspired by the Destiny helmet and the pieces that I’d already created for the body.

The seams were created simply by making Xacto cuts about halfway through the foam and then using the heat gun on them. When the heat hits the cut foam, the slices spread open to create fine seam lines. The deeper the cut and the more heat, the wider the seam line. You just have to be careful not to cut too deeply through the foam so that it tears or scorch it with the heat. Also, all the seam lines were done while the foam was flat and the heat used to open them served as the heat needed to shape the pieces on the form.

Here’s a side-by-side – the original on the right and new version on the left.

I then began on the rest of the helmet details. I created the ‘ears’ that align to the sides of the face and some pieces that will align to the temples. I have some rubber furniture feet that I’m thinking about adding to the ears before I coat the helmet. I’m still deciding on that, but included one in the image below. These were created using 6mm foam and heat shaped before applying. The rest of the details will be made out of 2mm foam.

Here’s what the helmet looks like at this point with the chin added and a couple of 2mm foam details added to the top of the base.

I had some goggles with green lenses from an old Pied Piper costume. I took out the lenses and I’m thinking about cutting these down and lighting them from the back in an Iron Man style.

Here’s a test run of all the pieces together as they are now.

Next, I added the straps to the underside of the chest. These are made of 2″ elastic bands covered with the same silver material as the lower torso.

They were attached to the lower sides of the chest with contact cement. Velcro closures were also added to the back of the chest and neck. I then decided to spray some silver on the chest to get a good look at all the seams and see what needed attention.

Before I did that, though, I realized that the shoulders were a little too low and caused the entire piece to rise too high on the neck and chest. So, I used some tracing paper and drafted an area to cut out.

With this section removed, the chest piece sits properly on my shoulders and I have better range of motion. The fact that this area is cut out won’t matter when the entire project is complete as it will be covered by the fabric parts of the costume.

I then turned to fixing the seams. There were a couple of construction seams that needed filler and I also wasn’t happy with how deep the decorative seams were. So, I filled them in a little as well with my ElastoPatch.

While the filler was drying, I decided to give the helmet a couple of coats of PlastiDip so I could get a good, clean look at it.

Once the filler on the chest was dry, I gave it another coat of PlastiDip and also coated the shoulders and biceps. Here’s a test fit of all the coated pieces so far.

Next up – the forearms, hands and lower body get underway. Stay tuned!