View Full Version : How to make a Lifesize fiberglass character?

01-22-2012, 07:51 PM
Ok so my friend is an artist and im better at the hands on making of stuff. I have experience making molds of masks and lifecasts and what not. He asked me if I could take one of his drawings and turn it into like a 5 1/2 - 6 foot statue out of fiberglass. My question is how do i go about doing this? Do i have to sculpt a 6 foot monster and make a HUUUUGE mold or what? Any help would be amazing! Id like to have it finished by summer.


01-22-2012, 08:53 PM
You could just sculpt it in Styrofoam/ EPS foam then coat it in fiberglass. You will have to cover the sculpted foam in aluminum foil before coating it with fiberglass. The fiberglass resin will eat the foam if you do not. Or if it doesn't have to be fiberglass you could use something else to coat the foam that wouldn't melt it, but would give you a relatively hard coat.

Jim Warfield
01-23-2012, 01:50 AM
Investigate the need for a resperator when doing fiberglass. Liver damage? death? Play safe.

01-23-2012, 02:11 AM
I'd definitely recommend making it out of coated eps over fiberglass if you have that option, you'll be able to do more detail with far less work. Fiberglass you'd definitely want to make a mold first if you want the surface to be uniform. and TOTALLY take jims advice on the respirator... eye protection while you're mixing too. ive heard some horror stories of shop assistants going blind from the catylist. *shudder*

I work with fiberglass quite regularly now, but a year ago i had never touched it. ITS NOT FUN STUFF. at all. in fact, its the only thing about fx work that i hate.

Allen H
01-23-2012, 09:49 AM
I have switched almost exclusively to resin, not quite twice the price but NO FUMES!
Can you show us a picture of the character so we can give better advice?

01-23-2012, 10:55 AM
Im interested lol! what kind of resin are you using? and just resin or are you imbedding fiberglass or some kind of filler in there to strengthen it? If i can find a viable alternative to fiberglass work i'm totally going to take it. HATE the stuff. (slivers and fumes specifically.)

01-23-2012, 08:27 PM
I think Allen is referring to epoxy resin rather than polyester or vinylester resin that is typically used with fiberglass matting. You use epoxy resin the with fiberglass matting the same way. It is just less stinky and more expensive, but worth it.

01-23-2012, 09:31 PM
Ah i'm on track again here lol. Actually thats what i've been using, specifically epoxymate 101 fast from smooth-on/reynolds advanced materials... i still find it HORRIBLY stinky, headache inducing, noxiously fumy, poentially-extremely-hazardous stuff. cant even imagine the worse, but boy do i love my respirator! LOL

I thought he was doing like a quickcast epoxy resin pour-on/brush-on type mold minus the matting... which sounds like a dream, i just cant really afford to waste my roll of matting and gallon of laminating resin to complete and total abandonment LOL! If anyone knows of a rubber mold material compatable with dragonskin LET ME KNOW! PLEASE!!! id totally rather be using a minimally flexible rubber/plastic vs fiberglass for my mask molds but the thought of trial and error doesnt sound fun or cheap.

back to the thread topic though... any chance we could get a rough sketch of what you're trying to do? it would be a whole lot easier to advise you, like allen mentioned, if we had some sort of visual...

01-23-2012, 09:56 PM
I assume that is what he was talking about.
Sorry to veer off topic, but if you are making molds for masks, and you want to avoid the toxic funk, I suggest you try making your molds out of hydrocal FGR and a fiberglass matting that is designed to break down its bonds in gypsum such as Aqua-Veil. You can make molds that are a half to 3/4 inch thick and they hold up pretty well. I wouldn't use it for large production runs, but it is what I use to make silicone masks for my haunt. Bob Gorman the guy who makes the costumes for Gwar told me about it. That is how he makes all the slip cast molds for the Gwar costumes.

01-23-2012, 10:07 PM
not a bad idea at all. Ive never heard of Aquaveil. Ususally i use burlap or hemp in my gypsum molds. Im, unexpectedly and suddenly, in talks with an established haunt vendor to distribute my masks and props, so i really cant afford to chance it with a gypsum mold for these. for small runs sure, gypsum is awesome! lol but these are going to have to last for as long as humanly possible. for now its gonna be a few more weeks of fumes and slivers. LOL

Allen H
01-24-2012, 12:38 AM
This is what Im talking about- NO FUMES.
and it wont eat styrofoam so it is still on topic. I do use FG mat with it. Also the pump system is amazing- 1 pump from A and then 1 pump from B- no counting drops and all that stuff.

01-24-2012, 01:26 AM
is there anywhere to buy that online? allen, can you pm me a link if there is? that stuff sounds like a couple bottles of heaven.

Allen H
01-24-2012, 08:55 AM
As you wish....

01-25-2012, 09:06 PM
Heres some drawings of the fella. I also need to know what would be the best way to make a base for it? He will be a little top heavy

also if i sculpt him in foam and coat him in resin will i be able to sculpt wrinkles and whatever in the resin as its drying? thats my main concern is losing all those subtle details i want in it.


01-30-2012, 07:39 AM
Looks like Ren from "Ren and Stimpy" The facial expressions it has :) Good luck with it, looks like you have some work ahead of you!

02-03-2012, 01:30 PM
Man, that looks like it'll be fairly easy. However, I don't think I'd go 6' with it. I'd keep it at about 4.5', just because that char's nature, it looks like a hilariously evil, little creature!

Anyways, my first thoughts:

1. flat stock of steel, somewhere around 12 ga steel, test before buying to make sure it'll be sturdy enough. Thin for light weight, but thick enough to not bend easily with the creature mounted. Take a few pieces of steel rod that'll fit inside a 1" pvc pipe. Use this for your legs. Welding is required for this part.

2. Get 1" pvc pipe and slide down the shafts. (Make sure your shafts are about the way you want your legs) and build from there. Get the skelly made out so you can build on it.

3. I'd get some chicken wire for the chest and shoulder cavities. Build and sculpt till you're satisfied with it. Take some paper mache and make a bowl at the bottom of chest cavity. Duct tape would work too but a mache bottom leaks less in my experience.

4. I'd duct tape the cavity up about half way. Fill in with foam! Shape / trim foam that comes out any cracks or top. Great stuff would work but best to use an industrial foam for this. Smooth on I hear works great!

5. Once I got my chest done I'd work on the neck and head mounting.

6. Use great stuff foam for the legs and arms. Since they're so stick like, should be easy. Get some gloves and someone to spray the foam into your hands. Wait till it starts to foam up just a bit and start rubbing it on the legs. Build it up past your desired radius. Let set for a full day.

7. I'd start shaping the arms and legs with a wood raft and plastic box cutter. Get the cheap kind that the blades really long and you break them off as they get dull. Extend it all the way out to get wider areas.

8. Get bandaids for all your cuts and pokes.

9. Then I'd resin coat the body. Whichever way you go with, use a mask! Even odorless, if you're using any kind of fibreglass matting or dust, always protect your lungs! I'm speaking from experience (auto body shop... was a painter)

10. I'd rest, set back and look at everything. You can always sand down and add / remove as you needed.

Then come back here and get more advice on the head. I'd get stacks of 2" foam from Home Depot and glue them together, then shape it all out.

You can use a cheap heat gun from harbor freight to heat up the pvc and bend as you needed. I wish I had pics of a creature I did once using this method I mentioned. I'm no pro at all, but this worked fine for me and the monster I made lasted for a few years before breaking, and even then, I don't think it's the creation's fault that a dumb kid tackled it!

Have fun and be safe! Post pics if you start this project, I'm interested in seeing it come to life.
Hope some of this is somewhat helpful.



Steel plate for stand.
Metal rods welded where legs will be to help hold it upright.
PvC skeleton made with fittings and heating / bending as needed.
Wire mesh / chicken wire sculp of cavity areas.
Fill with foam.
Shape / trim
Resin coat
Sand / reform / recoat till satisfied.

Should be about 45lbs when finished. Depending on what height you go with.

02-11-2012, 01:30 AM
You guys are awesome! Will definitely be using what has been recommended. I'll post progress pictures as we go along! I'm going to sculpt out a small (maybe 10") of the fella then go from there. We have decided to go for about 4-4.5 feet. We just aren't ready to go full sie, but we are going to get started in the next week or so and I will post pictures as we make progress!

Hallows Keep Creations
04-08-2012, 02:13 PM
Good luck with him, if you need any pointers on sculpting, molding, casting, painting, etc let me know...don't be afraid to ask...

I would go with making a sculpture, mold that, cast him up, seam him, and paint him...good luck...if you go the long route let me know if you need any advice.

If you mold him remember it has to be a flexible mold (silicon, rubbers, etc) and a rigid jacket (watch for undercuts!!!) if your casting him up in fiberglass (or any rigid medium), making full sized body molds can be a bugger if you need help..just holler!

just two more things...release, release, release your molds....and safety first! too many of 'Hollywood' fx monster makers are now growing 'monsters' internally like cancer, universal toxicity syndrome, permanent nerve damage, etc...always use OPEN VENTILATION with fans or use a hood...full respirators and gloves!!! don't breathe it don't touch it with your bare hands, read all your material data safety sheets!...not kidding!!! respect this science and its chemicals or it can kill or disfigure you for life!...SAFETY FIRST!..everything else second...