Posted: May 22, 2012
The Best Duct Tape Dummy Tutorial
Often times when making costumes, there is a need for a body cast or a body part cast. This body cast can be used to make armor, as a dress form, to sculpt on, etc…
The process of making a body cast can often times be expensive, time consuming and it usually takes at least two people. The cheap way that people have been doing this over the last several years is by making what is called a “Duct Tap Dummy”.
A duct tape dummy is for the most part inexpensive ($40-$80) and can really be done by anyone. I do recommend using heavy duty duct tape though, too cheap and it won’t hold up and the whole project will be a waste of time.
If you search the web and YouTube, you will find many tutorials. We have tried them all and found them to be hit and miss. Then one day while researching the technique of using plaster bandages to make a body cast I saw something that I thought could be useful. Plastic wrap.
Most duct tape dummy tutorials recommend getting a cheap zentai body suit or wearing tight fitting long johns or pajamas, this can result in extra bulk and ultimately a dummy that is less accurate. My thought would be to use the plastic wrap instead and have the person being in underwear. The less clothing the better in my opinion.
In this case, Abby Dark Star needed a dummy that could be used for her “Mistress Chief Project” and we needed to ship it off to the maker. So we needed something cheap and light weight. The person working on this project needed a bicep, a thigh and a torso. Duct tape would be perfect for this, but we needed to capture her curves, so this would certainly be a challenge.
We started with the chest and back. Abby has comic book character proportions (except height lol) so this was one of the most important areas.
Abby was watching Doctor Who during the entire process.
In order to do this right, the first piece of tape went under the bust line and then an X was made across the chest. Basically the chest support was created so you get a more accurate frame.
As I continued to build the chest, Abby marked where the armor chest line should sit with a pen. This would help the armor maker later.
Finally, the chest and back was complete, onto the other parts.
Next up, I finished the arm. The part I like about using the plastic wrap is that you can add more as you go to what you need. For me, it felt more precise.
With some additional time, I was able to finish her legs and back…
We were pleased with the results and detail, especially in typically hard to shape areas like the bust and buttocks.
Please note and make sure that the plastic wrap covers any skin that is exposed to the tape. So none of the sticky side is on her skin, thus making it hard and more painful to remove.
When it came time to cut Abby out, I grabbed my trusty medical bandage scissors and cut along the outside of the leg and sides… basically enough so she could wiggle out of it.
You can get scissors like this from Amazon.
Once you have the dummy completed and the model out of it, go through it and inspect it for weak spots. I use a flashlight or hold it up to the light, you can see light through any thin spots. Just add a little more tape in those spots.
You then tape it back up where you made the cut. This process can take a little time but you want to make sure that the seam line is strong.
The finished dummy will look something like this.
People often ask what you would fill the dummy with and that answer will vary. I have seen people fill it with stuffing by closing off the ends and filling an open one, others use news paper or plastic bags from the super market…. and some will use expandable foam. What you fill your dummy with will depend on your need and budget.
This is how the dummy would be used and you can do it too!
Feel free to post any questions in the comments section.