How to make your own Duct Tape Dummy
Well you did it, you decided to buy or make your own fursuit! One of the things many fursuit makers will tell you that they need from you is a Duct Tape Dummy (DTD). A DTD is used by the maker as a body double for you, and is incredibly important to making sure the body suit fits and looks correctly. I also use a one to help me shape and sculpt my unique body suits so that I can know exactly what they will look like on the future owner. They are an incredibly useful tool and making them correctly is imperative to having a great fursuit!
What you need
2 Hours of Free Time- Its gonna take you somewhere between one and two hours to get this done, so plan accordingly!
1 Willing Participant- In this case, a big thanks to Metric who was the model for the duct tape dummy tutorial.
1 or Two Assistants- Having extra hands Really helps make this job much more bearable, especially for the model. The model needs to be very comfortable with these people as they will be taping them up, and putting them in what could be very uncomfortable situations.
1 One Size Fits Most Painters Coveralls (Walmart or Home Depot or the like)- This is the clothing that will be destroyed in the process of the DTD. You just want something cheap that you don't need to worry about ruining.
2 Rolls of Medium or High Quality Duct Tape (55 yards each)- The amount of duct tape used is different depending on the size of the model, but who doesn't need extra duct tape! Make sure you get medium or high quality tape. Cheap tape WILL NOT STICK very well and end up ruining the dummy. I also recommend Duck brand, as Scotch brand has a horrid scent that just isn't pleasant to be wrapped up in for an hour
4 rolls of WHITE Duct Tape- My duct tape dummies use 2 layers of tape to insure that they dont unravel on me while I am making the suit (This has happened and requires me getting a second dummy made). I choose white because you will be writing on this top layer, and it is easier to see that you have gotten even coverage when the layers are different colors.
2 Plastic Grocery Bags or 10 feet of Seran Wrap- This is for covering the feet ONLY IF you're doing a dummy that includes feet (Digi or custom body suits for me)
Sharpie- For marking the body suit at the top layer
Scissors- Preferably Medical Safety Scissors!! IF you Can get them, DO, as they will make getting cut out of the suit much easier. You Can use normal scissors, you just run the risk of cutting the model.
Floor Lamps or Something to put your arms on to keep them extended longer- You'll understand why later!
Once you have all the items, it is time to start working!
The first step is clearing out an area. We used our living room for this, but you want to have enough room to easily get around the model.
Have the model get into their coveralls. I recommend wearing some cheap underwear as the only clothing underneath, just for modesty sake. Also, the model should put on some fresh deoderant as this can get sweaty and stinky if you're not careful!
Assemble all of your ingredients and put on some smooth jazz, because you're gonna be here a while!
Once the model is ready, have them stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Rip tape strips that are 2-3 feet long and tape up in the crotch area as shown. It is VERY important that the crotch not be baggy, as it will effect the final suit. It is Always important, however, to make sure that the taping is never done too tight. Comfortably snug, like a pair of socks, is the best way to describe the pressure.
Taping the Feet:
The next part is optional, and only for when a model is having a digitigrade suit or custom build that requires padding. When taping up the feet, place a plastic bag over the them and tape them into place starting at the ankle. Then gently place strips of tape around the foot as shown, making sure there is no part of the original plastic bag showing. Please make sure that you have a good overlap of the duct tape, somewhere between 1/2 to 1 inch with each strip.
How to Tape Correctly:
After making a few dummies, I have found the easiest method for taping up large surfaces is simply to wrap the model in one continuous strip. The MOST important thing to remember here is DO NOT TAPE TIGHTLY. I cannot stress this enough. I do this by grabbing the tape near the body, unrolling more tape, and the Setting it on the person. Never pull the tape directly on the person as it tightens the tape to much. You want them to be comfortable, and not to cut off blood flow.
Tape the Legs:
Using the method mentioned before, tape the model up the legs, up to the hips. Use 1 to 2 foot strips for harder to reach areas like the inner thighs. Make sure there are no gaps, and repair any that you do find with additional strips of tape.
Up until now, the model could keep their hands rested down for the most part. At this point, you need to make sure they have something to rest their arms on. I used two lamps, but you could use anything around you to help you out. VERY IMPORTANT- See how his arms are Horizontal? That is a necessity for your duct tape dummy. Anything lower can create a problem with sizing in the shoulders and arms. Once the armpits are taped up, feel free to continue the taping along the body using the same methods as before!
After taping a limb or the torso, I like to run an extra strip of tape along the sides as shown, just to give some reinforcement. I do this on the inside and outside of the legs, top and bottom of the arms, and front, back, and sides of the torso.
2nd Layer and Partial Removal:
After taping the torso with the first layer, it is time for the second! Use the same tactics as before, and work your way up the body. You can see where you missed easily if using white as your second layer. Once I've finished the legs, I like to release the tape along the lower legs of the model. This just makes it much more comfortable for them. I use the sharpie to draw a line where I will cut along the inside of the leg. This line goes from ankle to the lower thigh along the inside of the leg. Before you cut, make SURE you make marks perpendicular to the cut line, called registration marks. These marks help to make sure everything is lined up later when re-taping the dummy. You can see them in the top two pictures to the left. They should be placed every 4-6 inches.
If you HAVE safety scissors, this should be pretty easy. If Not, look at the top right picture to the left, notice how I'm putting my finger in Before the scissors. This pulls the tape away from the body, and allows you to cut without stabbing the model. I have drawn blood on accident by not doing this, so Proceed with Caution.
Shoulders and Arms:
You may see in the pictures that I have an assistant taping the second layer while I am working on the first in areas. This will be really helpful to getting the model freed (and comfortable again) as quickly as possible. After finishing the chest, move to the shoulders and neck. Go up over the shoulders with strips of tape. Pay special attention to the neck, as you need to include that in your dummy. You can use paper towels to extend the coveralls to include the neck. You don't need to do the entire neck, just about half way up.
At this point you're ready to move onto the arms. Often times you'll find that the sleeves of the coveralls have pulled up a bit and they dont reach fully down the wrist. You can use paper towels to extend the arms the rest of the way (as seen to the left). Make sure this goes past the bone in your wrist, so that the arm length is correct. Tape the arms as you did the legs.
Once the arms have received their second layer, you're pretty much done! The next step is one of the most important in the process, as it gives the suit maker guides to where important points are on your body. You will need to mark the following points-
Elbows, just underneath the pectorals, the belly button, a vertical line on the front that runs from your throat to your belly button that marks your center line, a vertical line along your spine to mark your center line, a circle to mark where your tail would start, a pair of marks for your elbow and the crease on the other side, and a pair of marks for your knees. You will also need to put your name and your character's name on this.
At this point, mark the arm just like you did the lower leg, getting ready to cut them out. Make sure to place the registration marks as before! The cut line needs to go from the wrist to a few inches after the elbow. Feel free to cut the lower arms out.
Finally, make registration marks on the chest center line, and cut the dummy starting from the neck down to about the belly button. At this point you should be able to pull the top of like a VERY snug shirt. This will be difficult! If you cannot get the model out, cut a little further along the line where you are having trouble. Once you get the arms out, you can pull the legs off like shorts. Freedom!
After the model is free and has stretched a bit (and found clothing), you can set the dummy aside for a bit to dry. Do not immediately put this in a box for shipping. You don't want to send your maker a sweaty, smelly duct tape dummy! After drying for a night, it should be ready to ship! Make sure to fold it gently and place it in box, and send it off to your maker.
I hope this helps you in your fursuit pursuits!