fatkraken (fatkraken) wrote in fursuit,

A terribly long post about construction

right. just posted a head, and for once got a pretty good series of progress pics, especially of the early stages. so what follows is a "how Fatkraken makes a fursuit, with moving jaw" type...thing. there are missing stages; I don't go into the eyes, or much of the detailing, since that's specific to the suit and anyway, is recorded elsewhere. but for the basic constructions, I've not seen tutorials that are quite like this, plenty are similar and this is just another option to be used, abused and altered as people see fit.

I start off with a lifecast of my head (solid plaster, weighs a TON but is one of the most useful things I own) and over this I make a balaclava (as I'm too cheap to buy them, but I'm sure bought ones work just as well) the face hols covers the mouth but leaves the nose and eyes free.


essentially, the basis of my heads is a balaclava based "helmet" made of half inch foam. a long strip around 5 inches high (with a slot cut out for the nose) goes around the head, joining at the back, and strips are laid across the top in a cross. I glue the edges of the foam where the pieces touch and also glue foam to the balaclava, so everything ends up really solid and secure.

after this, four triangular holes remain, these are filled in with more half inch foam. I cut it approximately to shape by eye, the, trim it exactly buy laying it in place and shaving slivers off until it fits. 

so by now, I'll have the top and sides of the head in place, but no jaw. since this is an articulated jaw, I begin by slitting the balaclava across the mouth and right up to the corners. 

after this, I build the lower jaw; a roughly cresent shaped piece on the bottom, and a strip around the front and sides. I leave a small gap at the corner of the "mouth"  so the lower jaw can move freely

to stop the jaw mech flopping around all over the place, a thiick piece of elastic is used, over the top of the foam work so far. it's glued with a bit of extension already in it, so the jaw is reasonably firm, and I sew it at the top aswell. at some point I've poked in a couple of small eye holes, and at this stage I take the thing off the lifecast and try it on to make sure everything works OK.

So, that's the base made, now is the fun/scary bit, building the face. my methods are based on fairly large pieces carved from thich blocke of foam, and little bitd of filler to make the joins nicer. I start off with cardboard patterns which are traced onto the foam, on both sides as well lined up as possible, and the pieces are cut out with an electric carving knife, scissors and scalpels . in this poarticular head, the "snout" and the sides of the face were a single piece, so a big slot was cut in the middle to make space for the base

as you can see, the initial carving is messy and looks pretty scrappy, there's a lot of broad and fine shaping with the scissors before it's ready to fur.

I glue the pieces into place as I make them, with as much shaping as possible done before attachment. in this case, there was still a fair bit of adjustment after the snout was stuck on (including slicing a couple inches off the tip and the attendant reshaping). one thing with heads, nothing is sacred. if you've attached a piece and don't think it looks right, attack it with the scissors until you're happy. if you DO take off too much no harm, there's always more foam. wonkiness and asymmetry should be attacked without mercy.

the lower jaw, again carved from a block rather than built from smaller pieces. there's a bit of a curve on the profile, makes it look far more organic than a flat block.

atached. there are several more small pieces of foam here, between the upper and lower laws, behing the eye and on the bridge of the nose. they're shaped before attachemnt and shaped again afterwards to make the joins smooth and sleek. the tuck is jsut a scrap, I like to check how stuff is gonna look as I go along.

an ear, cut from a 1 inch piece, trimmed with scissors and scalpel into a smooth shape.

and the finalised foam work. as you can see, the nose is muchshorter than it originally was, and there are several "extra" small bits that bring the shape together.

now the foam work is done, it's time for the fur

on this head, the furring was done in large sections glued down from the centre outwards, forcing it into the shape as I go. the long pile of the fur hides and minor muckers, and gently pulling it and stretching as I go minimises these in any case.

Ears first......

then the face

I trim and fold over the edges as I go. right now, he looks like crap, but that's because I've yet to get to work with my trimmers.

getting better, but still needs work. I trim with a cheap set of electric hair trimmers, gradually taking off fur until I get the shape I'm after. even when it's done, it still needs to be brushed into shape to look good, it's the nature of this particular fur to sit where you brush it but to gradually go fuzzy, so maintainence is essential.

after everything is attached and trimmed as necessary, it's time for the shading. I work with cheap ass acrylic paints and even cheaper ass pound shop toothbrushes (12 for a pound, WIN). watered down acrylic, painted roughly into place, then brushed well into the fur with the toothbrushes.

one colour (for some reason, it looks FAR bluer in the image than it really was, believe me, it's purple in life.

more colours; a blacker purple and a pale highlight colour, again brushed in to give softer edges and a smooth appearence.

And that is pretty much it. head hair, detailing, teeth, the neck piece, I didn't record these in detail as they were pretty specific to the head so fairly pointless to make a tutorial on. in any case, head hair is cones of fur, trimmed, some of which have foam inserts for shaping, the neck is fleece with a sewn on backing, lightly stuffed, eyes are plastic bowl sections, ear lining fleece.....                                                

so that's how he was done. the jaw mechanism is reasonably good, not the most sensitive but comfortable and durable. on cavaet, it will probably only work on a mask with a "deep" mouth, where the joint between upper and lower jaw is quite a long way back so that it matches the hinge created by the elastic andfoam getup underneath, otherwise moving the jaw will yank apart the foam. 

but anyway, hope people find this useful

Tags: balaclavas, foam, heads, moving jaw, tutorials
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