Duct Tape Dummy Tutorial

What is a duct tape dummy?

A duct tape dummy (or DTD) is an accurate 3D representation of a person’s body shape.

Why do I need one?

By having a DTD with which to work, we can quite easily make complicated costumes perfectly custom fit to the owner. It's the equivalent of using thousands of measurements.

What do I need to make one?

Supplies needed:

Materials needed
  • Several rolls of duct tape (cheaper brands seem to work best)
    Note: It doesn't matter what color you use, but please limit it to
    one color.
  • Scissors
  • A black sharpie
  • Toilet paper or some paper towels
  • Clothing:

    You will be cutting away your outer layer of clothing in the last step. Be sure to wear old or unwanted clothes, as they will be destroyed. Thin, easily cuttable clothing works the best. We recommend pajama or sweat pants, and a long sleeved collard shirt. Avoid denim. You can also use painter coveralls. These are very cheap and can be purchased at any hardware or paint store.

Before you begin, get as many people as you can to help. You can not do this on your own. The process will take 20-60 minutes. Don't forget to use the restroom beforehand!

The Process

Throughout the entire process, you may move around a little for your own comfort. You should be able to bend slightly, wobble around on your feet and move your arms. Do not overstretch, but you should be able to have a little freedom of movement. The DTD should be a few layers thick. When you move around and create holes, just fill them over with more duct tape.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Subject in disposable clothing, two small strips of duct tape stuck to torso.

Step One

Tuck in you shirt into your pants. With your helpers, start tearing the duct tape into 6-10 inch pieces and start wrapping the person. Start in the mid section of the person and work your way down.


Subject in disposable clothing, wrapped in duct tape from lower torso to ankles.

Step Two

Be sure to place the duct tape onto the person so that it fits to their body rather then the loose fitting clothing. The clothing is just there so the duct tape can be cut off easily from the person. Be sure to not wrap it too tightly that it will be uncomfortable or cut off blood circulation.


Close-up of lower leg- emphasis on snug contours and clothing underlap from beneath tape on ankles.

Step Three

Start working your way down to the ankles or as far as the clothing you are wearing allows.


Close-up of neck- emphasis on underlap of clothing from beneath the duct tape.

Step Four

Now start wrapping the upper body all the way up to the neck. When you start wrapping your chest, make sure you have a nice full breath so you do not constrict your breathing. If you have a collar, go ahead and pop it up and tape up to the neck.


Close-up of outstretched arm, clothing too short to reach wrist.

Step Five

Hold your arms straight out and begin working your way from the shoulder towards the wrist. You may rest your hands on someone's shoulders if your arms start to get tired. Again, be sure to tape the person's body shape, and not the loose fitting clothing. This is especially important under the arms.


Close-up of arm, paper towel covering what clothing missed.

Step Six

While taping your arms and legs, the clothing you have worn may have been pulled or stretched. If you were not able to tape all the down to your wrist and ankles, wrap the rest of yourself with toilet paper or a paper towel and then duct tape over it.


Subject wrapped neck to writs to ankles in duct tape, limbs reaching out.

Step Seven

When you are all done, it should look like this.


Close-up of leg, black lines running down with x-marks periodically.

Step Eight

Once you are done with the taping, have your helpers draw down both sides of your body with a marker. Placing an "X" every few inches will help us be able to tape the dummy back together after you are cut out.


Shipping

When shipping, fold your dummy carefully and place it into a box.