Costumes and Performances by Tab Kimpton

How to Paint a Space Suit

Hiya! It’s been a while so I’m starting with an easy tutorial to get me back into the flow of things.

Now for the last few years you’ve been able to buy nebula leggings, backpacks, heck I even sell T-shirts myself  but I’m a fancy guy and I wanted to make something which suited me (har har) better.

So last summer I decided to paint a Space Suit.

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I wanted something to go with Christian’s Dr Who coat, but I don’t look like anything from Dr Who, so after several jokes about my ego and cosplaying ‘All of Space and Time’ I bought a £10 suit from ebay that had a bleach stain on it, took the trousers in to actually fit and then began the painting process.

This method can make basically ANY FABRIC into a nebula pattern.

I know, I’m excited too.

 

 

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Firstly I used some half water, half bleach solution to make the suit as light as possible in splotches. I then rinsed the entire thing in water and hung it up to dry to get all of the itchy bleachness out. This step only works if your garment has some natural fibres in it. Try to pick something light to start to get the most vivid results.

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 These are the magical tools I used to make it happen. The most important thing was Acrylic Inks- these are much more flexible than standard acrylic, they’re water tight and permanent. I also have a spray bottle, some regular white acrylic paint, some brushes and a tooth brush. No fancy tools needed here, oh no.

I already had these anyway from past projects, but this setup shouldn’t cost you more than £30. 2014-10-21 11.27.21

Also important is a sheet to cover your floor. This is gonna go EVERYWHERE. 


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I started out with the lightest colours first- I prefer warm tones so I tried to include some yellow but everything looked a bit vomit-ey so I’d stick to blues, greens and pinks if you can.  

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Then I painted some black down in the shadows of the nebula clouds- it helps to have reference photos of space near you to get some shape ideas!

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Here you can see the back taking form.

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With the trousers I made sure the crotch didn’t have a weird stain/anything that might make me look like I’d actually peed myself.

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I mixed up a spray bottle with 1/3 paint to water for each colour and had fun spritzing it on, but slowly over time I just switched to a paintbrush and occasionally smearing it with my (latex glove covered) hands.

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It’s important to stop periodically and let the suit dry out. Wet paint always looks much darker so you don’t get a real feel for the colours unless you let it dry out and come back a few hours later.


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I got tired of the yellows and almost completely covered them with pink instead. Here you can see that I’m darkening the blacks and using white dry brushed on there to increase the contrast in the suit. My art teacher would be so proud.

 

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The nebula on the back starts to take form! To give you a time scale I spent about 1 hour a day over a course of a week painting this thing.

 

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At some point I got tired of the floor and put my kitchen table back.

 

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See how the colour palette has changed to pretty much exclusively pink and blue? It would be possible to do a yellow or red but much harder on fabric that started out grey.

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Time to add stars! I found the easiest way was to mix up a batch of white regular acrylic to ketchup consistency, smear that on a small piece of card and then use the toothbrush to flick it down over the suit. Very satisfying.

 

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The back is my favourite bit.

 

 

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And some finished trousers!

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The final suit was a bit stiff so I then soaked it overnight in some water with a splash of fabric softner inside.

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This is a great costume because I can put anything in the top pocket and cosplay several fandoms close to my heart.

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Or even wear a TARDIS pin and match Christian’s Dr Who Coat.

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Awww yissss

 

This suit has given me a good year worth of wear with no signs of stopping. To clean I febreeze the jacket and hand wash the trousers in warm soapy water then hang to dry. Good luck making your own universes!

 

TLDR

1) Bleach it

2) Use watered down acrylic inks to paint it, starting with the lightest colour first

3) KEEP PAINTING for many days, letting it dry out each time and increasing the contrast between the colours

4) Add highlights and stars with regular white acrylic paint and a toothbrush. Don’t use too much or it will make the fabric too stiff.

5) Soak the finished suit in fabric softener and hang to dry.

6) Wear your space suit and become a walking pun

 

 

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