Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
I wanted to be Frank the Bunny for a long time, and finally decided to go as him for Halloween 2010.

The mask and the claws were sculpted out of clay, molded in silicone, and finally cast in resin. They were spray painted, with details added in acrylics. The fur suit was based on Simplicity pattern 2853 with some modifications.The shoes were picked up from Superstore, had a label removed and were painted and dirtied to give them more of a worn effect.

This was my first time working with brush-on silicone, second time working with resin (got some disastrous results, but nothing that wasn't fixed with a dremel and glue gun) and this somehow managed to be the clothing/costume that I first put a zipper into!

Step 1: Supplies

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
I've broken down the supply list by the step they're used in (some supplies overlap). You may choose to omit some steps (often people don't do a head mold/cast and used a pre-made head base). If you choose to use different materials, please do your research! And some tests! And remember, safety first. For almost all the steps, I recommend wearing a dust mask, gloves and goggles as you'll be working with materials that are hazardous to your health, and working outside/in a well ventilated area.

For the HEAD CAST/MOLD, you'll need:
Plaster of Paris Strips/Bandages. NOT just a tub of Plaster of Paris. That is dangerous and dumb. Don't do it. Go to the craft-store and get a roll of bandages. Cut them into strips 1-2 inches wide and about half-the-size-of-your-head long, give or take. You will also need some tiny strips for getting into smaller spaces.
Vaseline. To be used as a release agent. Drug/grocery store will have this.
Bald Cap and Spirit Gum (and Spirit Gum Remover). You can get these online or at a local costume store.
Straws. For easy breathing.
Plasticine Or any oil based clay.
Rubbing Alcohol (and cotton balls)
Scissors, tub of warm water, a few friends/family members. Stuff I'm sure you already have at home. You don't need the extra help, but it does make things go quicker (and it's more fun)
A Good Shower Afterwards.
Ultra Cal 30 Try a special effects store, hardware or construction store.
Water
Bucket
Duct Tape
Drill with Big Mixing Bit
Support system For Making Cast
Stand for Armature Something to put your head on so you can sculpt on it
Metal File

For SCULPTING THE MASK you'll need:
Plasticine Or any sulfur free oil based clay
Frank the Bunny Reference Picture Yay internets
Sculpting Tools Craft stores will have these, you can also make your own if you like. I like experimenting with different tools.
Vaseline You can never have enough.
Aluminum foil
Tape
Your Imagination

For the SILICONE AND MOTHERMOLD you'll need:
Plasticine
Goggles and gloves
Mold Making Silicone Kit We used Smooth-On Mold Max
Silicone Thickener Specifically, Thi-Vex
Clean plastic measuring cups
Clean plastic cups for mixing
Stir sticks (We got our cups, sticks and silicone all from a local supplier)
Silicone Brush
Ultra Cal 30
Cheesecloth Try your fabric store!

For making the RESIN MASK you'll need:
Resin
Resin Catalyst
Glass Bubbles
Small Exact-o Knife
Drill and small drill bit

For PAINTING THE MASK you'll need:
Sandpaper
Silver-gray spray paint
White, yellow, red and black acrylic paint
Paint sealer
Brushes

For making the BUNNY SUIT you'll need:
Simplicity Pattern 2853 Or some other adult one-piece animal costume.
Medium-to-short length faux fur
Long white fur
Scissors
Suede, silk, or "your choice" of grey fabirc For the palms of the hands.
Thread
Sewing Machine (Or a needle. But believe me, that will take a really long time!)

And for the FINAL TOUCHES you'll need:
Glue Gun and glue
STRONG elastic

Step 2: Life Cast of Head

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
First you'll need a copy of your head to sculpt your mask onto. I'm not going to explain that here as I've already done so two other times.

In a nut shell, you're making a plaster-of-paris bandaged mold of your head and a final ultra cal 30 cast using that mold. Some people omit this step (not everybody can sit still for that long, including my most recent self) and use a foam head or buy a sculpting armature.

Step 3: Sculpt Mask and Claws

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Once you have your Ultra Cal 30 head cast (or other armature) you can begin the sculpting stage.

First make an armature base for the ears by scrunching up aluminum foil and "sticking" them to your head using tape and plasticine. Using your oil-based sulfur-free modeling clay (plasticine!) cover your cast with a thin layer of clay. You want to be sure to cover beyond where your mask will end. Block in details with more clay. Sculpt away to your heart's content, using your sculpting tools, fingers, and some vaseline to smooth everything down.

Be aware of undercuts, which will complicate your casting and molding stages. I have 'free-standing' teeth, and instead I should have made sure there was clay behind the teeth. When I made my mold and cast, I ended up having to chip and dremel pieces of resin out from under the teeth.

Don't forget to sculpt a claw while you're at it! (The last picture shows a claw alongside two other sculpts from another costume project. Free cookies if you can guess from what!)

Step 4: Silicone and Mother Mold

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Using a brush-on technique, make the silicone mold (I used Mold Max 30 and Thi-VEx II, a thickening agent). The most important instruction is to read the instructions. It's quite simple; you buy the silicone from a shop or online, and you read the directions on the packaging. Twice. At least. You want enough for ALL of your mask.

After mixing all of the required elements (the two silicone agents, plus the thickener) spread the silicone over the sculpt (I used a stir stick)
Let that cure.

Once the silicone dries, make a mothermold out of ultra cal and cheesecloth - this will prevent the silicone mold from flopping around when you pour the resin into it. (So right now, I still haven't seen what the inside of the silicon mold looks like, it has yet to be removed from the clay.) You'll be making the mask in at least 3 pieces - the right half, the left half, and the back of the ears. Depending on your sculpt and cuts, you may break it up further. Separate your sections with plasticine, and complete one section at a time.

Cut up your cheesecloth into small squares. Mix a bit of ultra cal 30 with a bit of water, until you get a 'river mud' consistency. "Paint" the UC mix onto the squares, and cover the silicone with this UC30 and cheesecloth patchwork. Do about 2-4 layers (depending on how strong you want the mothermold to be). Do one section at a time and wait for the UC layer to cure before doing another section - remove the plasticine wall and apply vaseline to the first UC section's edges, then work on the next section. For a more in-depth explanation of making UC30 molds, check out this instructables.


After everything has cured completely (give it a day or two) you can carefully remove the mothermold and silicone mold.
My silicone mold turned out ok. I didn't get the silicone to the very back of the mouth behind the teeth, so when I cast the resin, there was a chunk of resin I had to dremel away. There were also some small holes and it was very thin in places; that's because I didn't have enough silicone to work with (we used a lot on my brother-in-law's terminator mask, as we weren't doing a brush-on method). Of course, you'll do better, right?

I kept the mothermold pieces separate and when working on the resin I held them in place with tape and some plaster. You'll have to disassemble the mothermold one you cast the resin, so don't permanently merge the pieces together.

Step 5: Resin Mask (and claws!)

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Unfortunately I have no pictures for this step. I was pretty sick for the week and a half when this step took place so I was in no mood to take progress pics. Resin fumes probably didn't help either.

The instructions are very simple, very similar to the silicone cast. You get your resin, the appropriate resin cast, and you read the instructions on the package, hooray! Make sure to keep a CLOSE eye on the resin after you mix and pour it into your silicone mold, as you don't want it setting on you in one clump before you can get it into the ears.

Once the resin cures, you can pull it from the mold and tweak it a bit. Scrap off raw edges with an exact-o knife or dremel, drill eye holes (they go above the big eyeball, and right under the brow in the corner) and sand the entire mask to prep it for painting.


So here's a picture of my spray-painted resin mask, after casting it, sanding it, taking the dremel to it, making small repairs with glue gun, getting the eye-holes drilled - woot.

The claws were made just like the mask! From right to left, we have a little pink silicone mold of a sculpted claw, then some raw resin claws, some sanded claws, and finally the final painted ones. I didn't do a mothermold for these guys because they were so light and tiny and the silicone so thick.

Step 6: Paint

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
So after sanding down your resin mask (and claws) and making any and all repairs, spray paint it silvery-grey. A few coats are a good idea.Paint the eyes white, and using red, yellow and white, mix up some light cream and pink colours to use for the teeth. You can mix some silver and black together and paint along edges to really pull out shadows.

Don't forget to paint your claws! Black acrylic paint should do the trick.

Here you can see my final mask, all painted and ready to go! I see (not very well) out of small slits above the big off-white eyes. Some of the teeth are "sculpted hot glue" as I dremelled bits of them away when I was trying to remove the huge hunk of resin at the back of the mouth.

Step 7: Bunny Suit

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Take your sewing pattern and fur, and sew up a bunny suit! For mine, (using the Simplicity pattern) I didn't do the booties and I made the gloves-and-sleeve one piece. I made the gloves by tracing an outline of my hand and adding seam allowance. Do a couple of mock-ups if you go this route - sewing gloves like this can be a bit tricky. You could sew a glove the "proper" way, but I don't think Frank would have bought a pattern and fussed over gussets, so 'trace-a-hand' works just as well! After I had my hand pattern, I joined it with the suit pattern, and cut out the glove/sleeve in one piece, with the palms left open. The palm pads were made out of grey silk (I needed something shiny, and thought it looked better than a grey or black vinyl. I'm not sure what they used in the movie but I tried to get fabric that resembled Frank's suit palms.)

You may or may not want to have detachable, separate gloves. I wanted mine to look just like the movie, so I made it one piece. If you frequently go to the bathroom, you may want gloves!

Add a back zipper to your suit. Appliqu a giant piece of white fur onto the chest. Make a hood out of fur (you may have to modify a pattern hood, depending on what pattern you buy. I had to modify mine to widen out at the bottom). Make sure you can easily pull the hood over your head. Keep in mind you'll be adding a hard resin mask to the front of it, so you may need to cut a slit or add a zipper.

Hot glue gun your claws onto the suit fingertips. Buy a cheap pair of white running shoes, and scuff them up a bit. And your suit is done!

I'm still not 100% happy with my fur -it's too short, but I think it's better than being too long. Frank's costume looks like the grain of the fur runs in the 'wrong' direction, but because of the material I got, I chose to cut the grain "the right way" as it looked funny upside-down. Compare your fur to the movie costume to determine which way you want your grain to run.

Step 8: Final Touches

Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
Make a Frank Costume from Donnie Darko
And to finish off your project, attach your mask to your fur hood. My mask was hot-glued to the fur hood around the edges, and I glued two elastic bands on the inside to help it stay on my head. Depending on your head shape, you may need to fiddle around with it a bit and try different method.

I recommend practicing walking around with the mask on as it'll probably be a bit difficult to see in. Luckily Frank doesn't do a lot of walking, so you can just stand in one spot and look spooky!
 
 

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