Digitigrade illusion for your character's legs
So you want your character to have the illusion of
so it appears to be walking on its toes? This tutorial is an advanced
tutorial and it assumes that you know a little bit on how to sew, and that
you know how to carve and attach foam, and apply fur.
It is also full of useful tips for creating a costume with padding, but
primarily shows creating an animal shape that looks like it is walking
on its toes. Please be aware costumes with padding can be HOT to wear
and a little more difficult to move around in.
|When creating padding for your
costume it is important to know a little about the animal
you are creating before you commit. Not all animals walk on
their toes, some walk on their whole foot, and others walk
Each have a different name relating to the
locomotion of the animal:
- Walking on toes, like a dog or cat
Unguligrade - Walking on hooves, or the "toenail" of
the animal like a horse or zebra
Plantigrade - Walking on the whole foot, like a bear
or red panda - and of course human.
Each of these forms of locomotion can be
padded and shaped to match the body of the animal you are
creating. However not all of these are considered "digitigrade"
-- only walking on toes is. These terms are also
commonly misspelled or mis-used, so be sure you are using
the proper term to describe your critter!
- Fake fur in the color of your choice
- Stretchy fabric, such as Lycra
- Cluster-type stuffing
- Upholstery foam
- Sewing Machine
- Slip-on Shoes
- Scrap Cardboard for patterning
- Hot Glue &
- Bodysuit Pattern (to modify based
on this how-to)
- Razor Knife
- Your preferred paw pad material
- Your preferred claw material
- Non-stretchy fabric
- Needle & Thread
- Tape (for making a tape pattern)
- Fur Clippers
E6000 glue (or similar adhesive.)
Make your body pattern using an existing standard
straight-legged bodysuit pattern, except when you get to the legs,
make them wider and the same width all the way to the ankle.
- Sew the pieces together according to your pattern's directions.
- Flatten your sewn legs halfway, so your seams touch.
- Measure (or estimate) where the wearer's knees go and mark it on
your sewn pattern pieces, just below there is where the bottom of your
digitigrade leg will be and the start of your digitigrade foot is. Use
it as a reference point to draw your leg's shape. The
ditigigrade shape consists
of a simplified knee and a heel (or hock).
Alter your shape to match the animal you are creating if it has a
different form of locomotion, such as unguligrade or plantigrade.
of the illustrated lines have curves and do not come to points.
- Sew along your drawn lines. You can try on the pieces inside out to
make sure the wearer's legs will fit through and you are
satisfied. Pull all the fur trapped in the seams and trim away
the excess material.
- What makes the illusion is definitely the padding. Use cluster-type
stuffing for the best results, it is my preference
but other kinds of stuffing works as well. The padding pillows' sizes are all approximate
since depending on the wearer's height and body type, you may need
longer or shorter pieces or even different shapes!
You can create these shapes by using either only
stretchy (lycra) fabric or you can use stretchy fabric along with a
non-stretch fabric. The point of the padding being stretchy
is so it fills the
tailored cavity without
using expensive foam or harder to move-with materials,
it the stuffed stretchy fabric will conform to your shape as you move in the costume. It can
manage to fill the space by containing the stuffing
while stretching to fit around your legs.
However, if you want to have some more
specific guides to your shapes, you can sew
your lycra to a non-stretchy backing to give the piece limits.
When placing the padding,
make sure it is stuffed well enough to conform to the costume's leg shapes as you move.
- "Knee Padding" Cut a rounded teardrop approximately
the length from the wearer's hip bone to a little below their
knee. Make two pieces from stretchy fabric, and two pieces from
non-stretch fabric. Sew one stretchy to one non-stretch and stuff
- "Heel Padding" This can be a stuffed pillow, or if you
prefer a more rigid shape, carved foam. If choosing to make the
stuffed piece, cut two tear drop shaped pieces approximately 12
inches long from the non-stretch material. Then cut 4 angled
pieces from stretchy material. Sew two of the angled
stretch-fabric pieces together, along the angled edge, then sew
their straight edges to the one non-stretch teardrop shape (orient
the pieces so they taper at the bottom), stuff
- If you don't have much "natural" butt padding, you'll
need to make some rear padding to complete the digitigrade
illusion. Cut an oval shape at least 12 inches long, or longer
depending on how tall the wearer is. Make two pieces from stretchy
material, two from non-stretch material. Sew one stretchy to one
non-stretchy piece and stuff.
- Once you have your padding made you can leave it loose (to share
between other costumes, be able to adjust as needed, or to store separately
between wearings/cleanings) or you can hand stitch it in place to the
inside of your costume or to an undersuit.
Tip: If you find your padding slipping around, you can solve
the problem a few different ways. You can stuff the shape more, or make
it larger to fill the space. You can also add a button to the padding
and a loop sewn to the inside of the bodysuit and you can anchor it
inside. Use more than one button and loop to anchor larger shapes.
- Select comfortable shoes you can slip in and out of. Cut a template
by laying one shoe on a piece of scrap cardboard and trace the toe
pattern around it. If you are making the
digitigrade illusion, the shoe will become one of the middle toes. Use
the same template for both feet.
(Left foot template shown, flip it over for the right foot
Make sure your foot pattern is round on the back, if not it will break
the illusion and not look right.
- Using upholstery foam, build up the toes
around and over the shoe using the cardboard template as a guide. Make
the toes taper up, like illustrated, narrowing towards the top. You
can use some of the leftover stretchy or non-stretch fabric to line
the inside of the paw.
(Left foot shown.)
When shaping the toes its OK to cut into the sole of the shoe to help
round it. It may even be necessary to cut some of it away, especially
on the front and back.
- Once you are satisfied with the shape of your toes, make a tape
pattern and apply your paw pads and fur. The direction the fur
lays on the feet should be down towards the tips of the toes. Due to
the shape of the feet, it is possible to have huge paw pads that cover
the whole bottom of the foot if you want!
- Add details to your toe-paws such as claws and trimming the fur.
Attach the claws with e-6000 adhesive, and shave the fur between the
toes for more definition.
- Put on your costume and admire your handiwork! When putting it on
the legs should overlap the toe-paws.
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