The first part of the suit that I made was the torso. I didn’t know anything about the real suit at the time and I sculpted the entire torso in one pice, which was so very very wrong.
I also sculpted it way too small. So this was the way it looked for the first couple of years.
I work in the film industry and I used to be a special effects make-up artist. A couple of years ago I was talking to a friend who works in a big FX house in the US and he mentioned that he had a friend who worked in another FX house who had worked on one of the Nolan films. About a month later I got an email from the guy, telling me that he had two non-screen-used Dark Knight suit parts that had come out of the moulds with blemishes, so he nabbed them as souvenirs (which he probably shouldn’t have done, but it’s too late now and I won’t blow his anonymity here). One of the parts he had was the upper chest/back which I needed to remake for my suit, so he kindly gave me a ton of measurements for reference. He then offered to send me a silicone mould of his piece, so that I could make my
master from an accurate piece, although he warned that the piece was in poor condition. About 2 months later a silicone mould and a plaster bandage mother mould turned up at my office in a very large, very heavy box. I was blown away with the kindness of a person who I had never met before, and not only that, but he wanted nothing in return, he was just helping out a fellow Batman fan because he was impressed at what I had built!
PLEASE NOTE: I am writing this after working on making a clean master of the chest for almost two years (off and on) from the mould he sent. I should comment that although the allure of having the chest piece with film heritage has kept me going, I am constantly reminded that it would have been both quicker, easier and cheaper to sculpt this from scratch with the
measurements I was given, than to rebuild this piece from this mould. I have ended up virtually replacing every surface of the piece to try and fix distortions and correct for symmetry, including cutting large pieces away and sculpting them back in with filler and fibreglass freehand. If I was starting over, I would have used the mould as a reference only and sculpted in clay, but… you live and learn and after the hours I have put in to this thing, It’s too late to stop now.
The first step was actually the hardest, I needed to get some epoxy resin in to the mould, but the weight of the silicone made the mould collapse on itself. so with it propped open with a stick and clipped together with clamps, I put in the fist layer of thickened epoxy resin. When it was set, I rotated the mould slightly and poured the next section until I had the whole thing coated in a thin coat of resin.
The finished resin piece.
This is where I realised I had bitten off more than I could chew. The thought of having a piece moulded from a screen accurate piece was so exciting (at first), but the down side was that the piece was distorted from storage, wear, damage and now even more from the moulding process. My resin master looked shockingly bad! I had two choices, I either kept it as a reference and sculpted it from scratch in clay or I tried to make something usable out of this distorted resin piece. I decided to truck on with my resin piece. I heated it with a blowtorch to soften areas that were distorted and pushed them out from the inside. This worked to a point with some of the really bad areas, but it was only the first step.
With the piece still collapsing constantly, I added some bracing and fibreglassed the side openings to give the structure support, including a flashing on the bottom edge which will help with the moulding later.
Now the real work begins, I had to build up all the Areas that were too low with builders fill, then sand them back. I also added the two clavicle armoured plates which on the real suit are a separate piece, but I want them to be included.
One shoulder was totally different from the other. I am not sure if there were errors in the studio’s master (I doubt it), but this doesn’t even look like just distortion, it actually looks like it started out wrong, so I cut one shoulder out completely and rebuilt it in the right shape with fibreglass and resin.
Endless filling and sanding has me up to this point. From the next picture, you can see the pink parts where I have added filler and the parts without any grey colour are where I had to sand back. Only the grey areas are the original surfaces.
Using coats of primer every now and then lets me see how even it is and where I need to do more work.
When I was finally happy with the finish, shape and symmetry, a final coat of primer to make it look nice and it was ready to mould.
I poured a coat of silicone, making sure to get it right under the undercuts (which there are a lot of on this piece.
Using some thickened silicone, I applied it in to all the undercuts, so that the subsequent coats of silicone could run down the piece and coat the whole piece.
i made a two piece mother mould jacket out of plaster to support the silicone when I remove it from the master.
I removed the mother mould and silicone from the master.
I applied a layer of mould release to the surface of the silicone negative.
I brushed in several layers of alternating colour silicone to make a silicone positive. The alternating colours make it easier to see where you have applied the silicone and how thick the layer is.
I then filled the mould with soft expanding foam.
I put a plastic tray over the opening so the foam would be forced in to all the gaps inside and the opening would have a flat surface.
When it was all set, I removed the foam core and removed the silicone positive.
Then replaced the foam core back in the positive.
I now have a silicone reproduction of the master, with a soft core that can be removed. The reason behind all this is to end up with a one piece plaster negative to pour the latex in to, so by removing the foam core, it allows the silicone positive to be peeled out of the plaster positive.
I then covered the silicone positive in plaster to make a one piece plaster negative, which I could pour the black latex in to, to make the final piece.
When the final latex piece is out of the mould, it is trimmed and painted with black Plasti-Dip to finish.
I applied some blobs of thickened latex to each corner of the cuts, where the cape goes through the torso, to stop it tearing.
Then to give the breasts rigidity, I added some foam pads on the inside.
With the velcro closures in place and the side straps attached, the torso is finished.