Frequently Asked Questions are divided up into several sections for your convenience. (CURRENTLY A WORK IN PROGRES. Thanks for your patience) Last updated November 17, 2011
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Q: Is it ok to make my own Pokémon costume that looks like yours? Can I use your costume designs or progress photos to help me? Can I make similar patterns? Etc.
A: Yes! I highly encourage others to use my concept design and progress photos as inspiration and ideas for creating their own, unique projects. The techniques I show are the important part; they can be helpful in any creature costume of any design. But keep in mind that in the artisan world directly copying my work "to a T"- attempting to make the same patterns and following my design as exactly as you can- is no different from tracing... and people will probably call you out on it.
So if your Pokémon costume will be heavily influenced in its aesthetic design to my concept art and creations- then I simply ask that you do me the honor of crediting my work by stating it was "based off/inspired by the original costume by CanineHybrid". A link would be appreciated too. I get messages all the time linking me to yet ANOTHER Lugia costume that looks exactly like mine and the creator doesn't acknowledge the source material. I really appreciate the flattery guys! I'm not gonna bite if you copy my work because I love to see what you come up with too- but I'll like you, and your art, a whole lot better if you aren't afraid to support my art too
Other than that, best of luck with your project! (And please share your work with me, I'd love to see)
Q: What kind of foam do you use and where can I find it?
A: Urethane upholstery foam used in couch and chair cushions. It comes in two varieties: normal and high density (green color usually means high density). The foam is an incredibly forgiving medium to work in, is easily shaped, and very squishy. You can find foam at most fabric stores (for USA try Jo~Ann, Hancock Fabrics, or Hobby Lobby). Other helpful places to look are upholstery repair and/or supply stores as well as automotive/boat repair. Or simply search the keywords "upholstery foam" online.
There is also a specialty foam known as reticulated foam that is especially porous, great for airflow and it doesn't hold water which is ideal in costumery. It cannot be found in stores open to the public and therefore must be ordered online or bought wholesale. Both upholstery and reticulated foams are known as "open cell" foam- there is also a closed cell foam. These are hard, dense, and rubbery- think of the material of children's crafts foam, or a thick puzzle floor mat. These can be used in costumery as well for various applications and structures.
Q: What size of foam do I need?
A: This varies greatly depending on what project you're doing, there is no perfect number. I've found that is commonly comes in 24" width in fabric stores and anything 2" or thicker is much harder to work with and cut evenly (in half or otherwise) For this reason I suggest 1" foam to start with, and you can easily double it up to make 2" pieces. You'll rarely need anything thicker than 2". I also love using 1/2" foam as a final cover over large rough patches of my shaped foamwork to help smooth it out.
You commonly buy foam by the yard (some come pre-packaged, or online in set lengths) and when I make a standard size head, usually 1 yard of foam in a half sheet is plenty (36"x24"). Most projects do not require large amounts of foam; I tend to buy it in large quantities so I'm always stocked. Typically the only parts that require foam are heads and toes, possibly extended to include fingers and tails, maybe some spikes. Digitigrade leg padding and body sculpting will require a lot of foam however. If you don't have enough, you can always buy more so no worries. And save your scraps! If nothing else you can shred it down to use as a stuffing inside your tail or other projects. (Homemade LovSac anyone?)
Q: What brand of foam do you use?
A: You don't need a specific brand to make your project work, but it may help you search for it online. "Airtex" is found at Jo~Ann, "Confortaire", "Sew Perfect's 'Make It Green'" line and currently "AIR LITE" is at Hancock Fabrics, and "Polyfoam" is the brand Hobby Lobby carries. Common name for reticulated/treated outdoor foam I've seen as "Dryfast Foam".
Q: What do you cut foam with?
A: For large carving or cutting out shapes from a foam slab, use an electric kitchen knife. An exacto knife/box cutter will also work. The main carving tool is simply a pair of standard scissors. A hot-wire cutter can be used, but it is very dangerous, can give off toxic fumes, and not recommended. Hot knifes may be a little easier to work with, but still just as dangerous. I do not know of a builder who needs anything more than scissors and electric knives to do their job- just stick to that.
Q: How do you sculpt foam?
A: You use the same methods as if you were creating a sculpture: combining additive and subtractive techniques. Gluing several pieces together (additive) builds up your structures or makes them one larger piece to work with. Each one of your pieces will start as blocky objects and you must smooth and round it with small snips from the scissors: gradually cutting off the 90° edges and corners, beveling them more and more (subtractive). With practice you'll learn how to properly shape your foam pieces efficiently. I'll try to cover different foam sculpting techniques in future videos.
Q: How do you attach foam together?
A: Hot glue is the standard adhesive for foam projects. Both high temp or low temp will work, but it's recommended that you use low temp to avoid melting the foam and of course burning yourself. High temp bonds stronger but takes longer to cool insider the naturally insulating foam as well as risk melting and more severe burns. Also you WILL burn yourself, it's almost unavoidable, so be extra extra cautious. My favorite gun is a industrial gun from Home Depot because it melts glue very fast so it's always ready to go and because of the larger size more is melted at a time. The trigger is extremely comfortable and easy to squeeze because it's a whole hand lever and not a little finger trigger.
Mini and full size glueguns work fine as many people like having several different guns, including smaller ones to get into harder-to-reach places, but I recommend an industrial/full sized glue gun that can be found at home improvement stores rather than the cheap $5 ones at craft and hobby stores. Cheap guns may break or short out more easily, but any gun is at risk... though it IS rare. Use multi-temp gluesticks, the melting point for these kind is ideal and you can use them in any gun without worry... but not all brands are created equal. Experiment to find one you like at the pricetag you can live with. The potential downside to using hot glue however is that when it dries, it leaves a hard clump of glue between your foam pieces...it is also not very efficient for attaching large pieces together.
The alternative to hot glue is spray adhesive: it takes an hour or so to completely dry, but they are very helpful in bonding foam together smoothly and covering large areas. Their downside is that the fumes are toxic so please spray it outside or in a well ventilated area. If you're using this glue in any part of your costume head, be extra cautious about airing it out- the foam can hold onto the toxic fumes for weeks or even months and you don't want to be exposing that on yourself for long periods of time while wearing the costume.
Q: I'm completely new costume building and don't know where to start. Can you help me?
A: You're in luck! sgtknifeman and I recently released a video series on my YouTube channel that covers all the basic topics to help get you started in making your own creature costumes!
- Part 1: Design & Planning
- Part 2: Materials
- Part 3: Tools, Duct Tape Dummies, and Foam
- Part 4: Patterns, Fabric, and Tips for Heads
- Part 5: Head, Moving Jaws, and Eyes
- Part 6: Finishing, Performance, Safety, and Care
I also document all of my building process of my costume projects, they can be found on my Flickr gallery here: www.flickr.com/photos/caninehy…
Q: Where is the best place online to find tutorials or people to help me?
A: Hands down, the best place out there is the Fursuit Community on LiveJournal; no other resource can I more highly recommend than this website- fursuit.livejournal.com/profil…
Coming soon (check out the Creature Costuming video tutorials and Flickr photos for now: caninehybrid.deviantart.com/jo…)
If you feel that your question was not answered here, you are more than welcome to submit a new question! Click here to ask me anything you'd like; I try to respond to all of them. If your question is good enough I'll include it permanently into the FAQ :3