Don’t Try This At Home: The making of DeadPool part 1

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s like we’re artists and this is how we screw ourselves.

— Daria

Hey, remember that time I said I was gonna do a DeadPool act?

One of the best reasons for me to play DeadPool is that my brain kind of hates me.  We fight a lot.  My brain doesn’t so much hate me as it is horribly annoyed by my physical inability to do absolutely everything a human being can do.  And it’s annoyed that I can’t do it all right now.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I come up with at least one act a week.  If I have a specific assignment (i.e. come up with a comic book act) odds are good I will at the very least conceptualize, if not totally choreograph in my head roughly 3 to 5 acts and then choose one. My brain is annoyed that I have not done all of these acts.

My brain is fuzzy on the whole possible/impossible spectrum and difficulty rating scale.  Sometimes it’s obvious that I can’t do something, like an aerial act.  Sometimes it is not so easy to tell.  When my boyfriend said I should do a Heath Ledger Joker act my response was “What?  That’s impossible…. but let’s watch the movie again.”  We watched the movie again, my madness took over, and now it’s my signature act.  However, when I came up with my idea for my DeadPool act, where I would have a full muscle suit that ripped away in sections, no “That’s impossible” alarms went off in my head.  Not even really any “That’s really fucking difficult” alarms went off in my head.  Not one.  I didn’t think it would be easy but I didn’t think it would be that hard.

Guess what, Self-from-a-year-ago, it was THAT FUCKING HARD AND THEN SOME.  IT WAS SO FUCKING HARD I WANT TO KICK YOU IN THE FACE YOU ARROGANT TOOL.  For reals, what was wrong with me?  I estimated that the whole shebang would  take me 60 hours.  In my original estimates the cutting and shaping of muscles out of foam would take 6 hours.  I was so very fucking wrong I could cry.  I lost track of how long it took carving  those things but I think two or three weeks would be a bit more accurate.

If you want to make a muscle suit, my advice to you is Don’t.  Seriously, DON’T.  It’s just not worth it. Buy this and modify as needed.

Still, I’ve decided to document my folly, because maybe I will need to make something else out of foam that can’t be easily bought an modified.  But man, I hope not.  At least not for, like, several years.  Ok, one year.

First I had to make a full body mannequin, which was relatively easy but very time consuming.  I already had a torso mannequin so I put some tights on my legs and arms and had a friend wrap them in duct tape.  Then we cut  them off *very* carefully, taped them back together, stuffed them with newspaper, and taped them to the torso mannequin.  This you CAN do at home but be aware that it’ll take most of day and not the 3 hours I originally expected.  Also, if you can get something less stretchy than tights, like leggings or something, that would be a good idea, but it’s a bit more expensive.

Once I had my mannequin, I wrapped it in newspaper and sketched out on the newspaper where the muscles would be.  Once I took of the newspaper I had a pattern for the shape of the muscles I wanted.  I traced those shapes onto 2 inch upholstery foam (You can probably use 1 inch.  I wish I had) and cut them out with badass kitchen shears.  Easy right?  So far, yes, kinda.  Then it started getting complicated.  See, humans aren’t flat,  they’re curved.   Especially their arms and legs, which was where most of my muscles were going.  So if you want the foam to conform to their curves you need to cut wedgelike channels in the back of the form and then glue the sides of those channels to each other so that the foam has the necessary curve.  The deeper and wider the channel, the tighter the curve.  Odds are good you’ll need more than one channel to get the curve right.  I generally had 3 per piece.  I hope that made sense to anyone who isn’t me because I don’t have pictures.  For glue I recommend spray adhesive.  There was another glue that I used that worked really well but I’m not sure what it was called.  Possibly contact cement?

So now that you have your basic shapes and they conform to the body part you want them to.  Now it’s time to sculpt it into something that actually looks like a muscle.  If you are working under any kind of deadline, kiss the rest of your life goodbye because this will take FOREVER.  I’m not kidding.  FOREVER.  Use the same badass kitchen shears and just start cutting.  Keep a trash can nearby because you will get foam shavings EVERYWHERE.  If you’ve never done subtractive sculpting before (I hadn’t) there are worse materials to learn on.  At the very least it’s cheaper than marble and, I would guess, more forgiving.  If you have no experience with sculpting, try to think of it as a 3D drawing  First you want to get the general shape right, then you get into details.  If you have no experience with sculpting or drawing, you may be screwed.  But maybe not.  I wouldn’t know.  Just try to get a really good 3D mental image of what you’re going for and slowly cut away whatever looks like it shouldn’t be there.


Many times I thought I was finished and found that I was not.  Once I thought I was finished I glued the muscles onto a black body suit I’d already made and put it on the mannequin.  It looked awful and I spent two more weeks sculpting till it was done.  Many times when I thought it was done, I had to put the DeadPool body suit on over it to see if it A: looked awful and B: the suit would fit over it.  And then it was back to sculpting.

Finally it started to look not crappy!

That’s how I made the muscle suit.  I’d like to have some good shots of the full costume and preferably shots of it coming off before I post the rest of the making of.  I’m debuting my act in Portland Oregon this saturday at Geeklesque Saves the World!  at the Bossanova Ballroom If you are in Portland you should come see the show!

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