I found out recently that we would be attending a Halloween event for kids and they hoped that we would wear costumes too. Their theme for the evening will be superheroes and it was requested that I dress as Green Lantern and Melanie dress as Catwoman. We didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on the costumes but we wanted them to at least be decent. This article will detail how I made my Green Lantern costume. I’ll write a separate article for Melanie’s costume.
It didn’t take much thinking to realize that my costume should be quick and easy to make. The members of the Green Lantern Corps come in all shapes, sizes and colors and so do their costumes. This meant my costume could pretty much look like anything as long as I had an emblem on me somewhere and wore a power ring. Hal Jordan is my favorite lantern and he actually wears one of my favorite superhero costumes so I decided to try and look somewhat like him – maybe his cousin, Sal Jordan.
MASK – Heat-Formed Sheet Foam Cut to Shape and Glued on with Spirit Gum
Hal wears a simple green mask that is “held on by his willpower” without any strings or straps. I thought this would be a neat opportunity to experiment with spirit gum, the special effects glue that is used to hold on fake beards, Klingon head lobsters and such. I haven’t actually tried that part out yet since it is a one-shot deal but if it doesn’t work, I’ll just punch two little holes and attach the mask to my face using black string.
I knew that it needed to be lightweight, so cheap options included paper, fabric and a cool sheet foam material I’d tried out recently when I made a Golden Ticket. I also found this video which details how to turn a sheet of this material into a mask. How simple. Decision made!
I made my mask out of green Foamies sheet foam. It cost about $1.50 for a roughly 12”x18” 2mm or 3mm sheet. It comes in various thicknesses, sizes, colors and is available at most art supply and craft stores. They only had one shade of green when I was looking. It would have been nice if it was a little darker, but for $1.50, I’m not complaining.
Alternatively, the mask could be done away with completely or drawn on with green face paint.
Step One – Make Mold
Because I was unwilling to spend the money on two adult Batman masks as detailed in the how-to video, I had to make my own mold. A trip to the Halloween isle at the dollar store got me this hard plastic face mask.
I then determined the size and shape of the beak portion of the mask with paper.
Next the paper pattern was transferred to a more sturdy mat board and taped to the mask.
Step Two – Heat Sheet Foam and Form on Mold
Next I cut a roughly six inch piece of sheet foam and placed it in a 250 degree oven for about four minutes. Basically, what you are trying to do is let the foam get hot enough to begin to slump but not so hot that it melts or burns (I don’t think it would do either at this temperature).
Incidentally, I don’t know if this material gives off any harmful gasses when heated, but I didn’t detect any odd smells or notice a change in the material other than it softened (unlike vacuum forming plastic). I would guess that it is completely safe but, since I don’t know for sure, you should work in a well-ventilated area and wear a high-end respirator mask that blocks out all fumes and toxins just to be safe.
Once the foam sheet softened, I removed it from the oven with a wooden spoon (the foam wasn’t that hot but the rack in the oven was). Working quickly, I placed the foam on the mold and used my hands to press it in place. I held it for about a minute at which point the foam was cool and had taken on its new shape. Simple, fast, cheap!
Step Three – Figure Out Eye Holes and Mask Shape
Then I measured my eyes center to center and made small cuts in the foam at these points. I enlarged these holes enough to determine exactly where my eye holes needed to be.
From there I sketched out paper patterns and put them on my face to finalize the shape and size of the mask. Of both costumes, this was surprisingly the single most time consuming step and I went through several iterations. If you opt to use the double Batman mask molding option from the video, it will be much easier as all of the details will be pressed right into the foam.
Step Four – Transfer Pattern to Foam and Cut Out with Scissors
From there, I just laid the pattern over the formed foam, lining up the eye holes on the pattern with the eye holes on foam and traced it with a pen.
Finally, I used a pair of scissors to cut the mask to its final shape.
RING – Buy a Toy
I looked into building my own but when I discovered that they make both kid and adult-sized movie prop replicas that light up for less than $5, I was sold. I couldn’t make a decent copy that cheap. Apparently the ones you see in most stores that come packed with a little plastic mask are kid-sized. The one I ordered came individually packaged and fits my normal-to-slender adult-sized finger. It lights up and is brighter than I expected but the battery isn’t replaceable and it only stays lit for a few seconds each time the button is pressed. I was sad that it wasn’t eligible for Amazon’s Super Saver shipping because it ended up costing just as much to ship it as to buy it.
UNIFORM – Buy a Green Lantern Shirt and Wear Dark Clothes Under It
To finish things off, I bought a shirt with a Green Lantern logo on it. I had one of these years ago and this new one is a much nicer darker green than the old bright green one I had. My biggest problem with it is that the green in the insignia is screen printed on and it isn’t exactly the same color as the shirt. It isn’t the end of the world though and now I’ll be able to wear the shirt even after Halloween.
If you don’t want to spend $14 on the shirt, you could easily cut the emblem out of sheet foam, felt or paper and just sew or pin it to a shirt.
For my base layer I’ll wear a black long sleeve running shirt that I already own. It has a cool futuristic weave to the material which enhances the look. I have some grey running pants and black hiking boots that I will also wear.
There you have it. An affordable Green Lantern costume you can make in a weekend.