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DTD 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 to work with, 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?

  • Several rolls of duct tape. It doesn’t matter what color you use, but please limit it to
    one solid color.
  • Scissors
  • A black sharpie
  • Paper towels or toilet paper
  • Clothing or painter coveralls

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, easy to cut 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 over-stretch, but you should be able to have a little freedom of movement. The DTD should about 2 layers thick. When you move around and create holes, just fill them over with more duct tape.

Step One

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

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

Step Two

Be sure to place the duct tape onto the person so that it fits to their body rather than the loose fitting clothing. The clothing is just there so the duct tape can be cut off easily from the person. Be sure not to wrap it so tightly that it will be uncomfortable or cut off blood circulation. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.  (The feet are a little too far apart in this photo)

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.

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.

Step Five

Hold your arms straight out and begin working your way from the shoulder towards the wrist. Your arms need to be straight, not bent, and parallel to the ground like a “T” pose. Do not let your arms point towards the ground. 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 clothing. This is especially important under the arms.

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 way down to your wrists and ankles, wrap the rest of yourself with toilet paper or a paper towel and then duct tape over it.

Step Seven

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

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. This is very important, so be sure not to forget!

Carefully cut the person out of the DTD, following the drawn lines. Go slowly, and make sure not to pinch them or cut their skin. Only cut just enough so that you can slide out of the DTD. All DTD’s get taped back together in our workshop, so the less parts to tape back together, the better.

Write your name or character name somewhere on the DTD and box.


For shipping, the DTD can be folded or rolled up and placed into a small box.