Sketch Costume Building – Hellboy part 1

Okay, so I was invited out to a fancy dress party a while back, the theme being superheroes and comics… I kinda left it late to make a decision but eventually decided on one of my fave comic heroes, Hellboy.

So at some point last week I began fiddling with an old two litre milk-carton and with some brown paper, double-sided sticky-tape, corrugated card and the dispenser for the tape I made this sketch model of a large gun to stand in for Hellboy’s large side arm…

Work then got in the way and I didn’t really do anything else to it until this weekend just gone, when I decided to papier-mache the prop to seal it and make it easier to paint… (see below)

For the papier-mache I used a half and half mixture of PVA and water with newspaper strips.

This of course was going on at the same time I was having my head papier-mache’d… Thanks to Sarah for all the help with this… I bet this time last summer she hadn’t thought that this would be how she might be spending her weekends, laughs.


… even lunch didn’t interfere too much with the process.

Mmmm! Beef stew, tasty! This is such a great look for me…


After that it was just a case of waiting for these to dry…

So Monday comes around and after working with the students all day I spend an hour or so quick prototyping the crazy oversize right arm Hellboy wields… This was going to be tough getting this to look right.

Especially as I wanted the fingers to work.

I’d worked on something similar as a student and thought I could work out a Heath-Robinson style puppet/animatronic set of pull strings that would give me control of the oversize fingers and thumb.


This all came together quickly enough over the next few evenings…The main body of the the costume arm was made with corrugated card, stitched with 2mm aluminium wire (I prefer mechanical fixings where possible) and tricked out with double-sided tape and brown paper in places.

– NOTE: There is nothing quite like a peice of 2mm, scissor-cut wire, or the removable plastic strip from double-sided tape, JAMMED UP THE FINGERNAIL to make you remember you are alive and the owner of a nervous system. –

The pulleys were made with string fixed to the digit tip and running through a set of three hoops or eyes to give a subtle movement…

…with elastic running across the back of the digits to act as a tendon to pull the digit out again when released.


Once I’d got the basic system for the fingers working and following a couple of tests it was just a case of repeating the exercise for each of the clunky digits.


The simple pulleys to draw the fingers closed…

You can see the first two fingers working together here… (above)

Following that I went home and finished the other digits… where, it quickly became apparent that my ad hoc approach to this prototype had been rushed at the concept stage…

I almost gave up trying to get it all to work.

But this morning after some sleep, I got into the studio early and solved the issues from the night before (I hope)… and pushed on…

Taking the finished hand and forearm section down to the workshop and spraying them up in the college paint-booths.



I added the broken horns to the skull cap at lunch and sprayed the lot… The papier-mache might need a couple of coats to hide the newsprint… the brown paper on the other hand worked a treat, something to remember for next time I guess.

Papier-mache with brown paper, NOT newsprint.


Then after the afternoon session with my animators today I sprayed up the gun…


…and I guess thats where I’m at…


I guess this wouldn’t be a bad place to be if the fancy dress party was next week… but it’s tomorrow night…

Oh s**t… Hellboy has a tail!!!

~ by hesir on January 26, 2012.

3 Responses to “Sketch Costume Building – Hellboy part 1”

  1. Fantastic… very very profesh job, well done. A man of my own heart, just the kind of thing I would do, and on the same time scale with no time to spare!!!! Tail – sprayed card board toblerone shape cut to give a nice coil at the end? Alttached to a belt around your waist, can’t go wrong with gaffa tape and rivits! Post pictures of finished costume please.

  2. […] One can be found here if you missed […]

  3. Thanks so much for showing me the part one of your post , once I typed the keyword, Google directed me to your 2nd page for some reason.
    And I would never thought of a better way to make Hellboy’s gun hah!
    Thanks for the great costume tutorial. Will definitely try to create it this Halloween!

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