Friday, July 29, 2011

The complete break down of my AVATAR costume

Photo from
I'm putting all the ins and outs about my AVATAR costume in one place. So all aspiring avatar costumers/cosplayers who ask me questions will have all the information I can give in a complete form.

I am now an amazon associate which means amazon will give me money if you buy amazon stuff through my links. So expect shameless plugs on related items from me, the unemployed college student. Feel no obligation to buy it.

Table of Contents:
Paint Application
Wig Application
Loin Cloth
Head Peice

In each section I mention which items I'll take commissions for, but honestly, I'll probably take commissions for nearly anything I make here. Please email me at if interested with "commission" as the subject, or leave a comment. I plan to start an Etsy soon, where I'll have some sample items available for browsing and purchase.

I used water-based cake makeup from Mehron and the specific type was Paradise professional size. From this type of make-up I used a container of the color 'light blue' and two of 'lagoon blue'. This is the way I normally do it, but there is a more convenient color to use. I recommend a container of "sky" and "lagoon blue" for those who want to deal with less hassle.

I bought these makeups from a costume store near my house. Here's the mehron website since amazon doesn't sell the right colors: Paradise Makeup AQ- Professional Size

To make the base color I took a container of light blue and lagoon blue and took and exacto-knife to them. I cut each cake of make up in half, and swapped 1 of each of the half circles to the other container. Now I have 2 containers that have half lagoon blue, and half light blue. The reason I'm doing this is because one blue is too light for the base and the other is too dark.

Mehron now has a new color called "sky," and it doesn't need to be premixed, like above.

The reason I slightly prefer my home mix over "sky" is because it seems to apply on just a little more thinly than my mix, but with careful application it's fine. Both of these leg applications were put on thickly and fairly slowly, you'll need to do the same to achieve the same saturation. As for the color you get to can compare them side by side, and pick the one you prefer, "sky" is certainly less hassle than buying different kinds to then mix yourself.

Paint Application:
To apply the base I use a two inch wide paint brush. To use mehron's cake makeup you add water, then paint it on. Don't add too much water or it gets runny and the colors are weak. For the stripes I use assorted paintbrush sizes. Being good and fast at paint application is really a matter of practice. I can now paint the base and stripes in 4 hours, and I don't think I'll ever get much faster.
 To paint larger stripes that taper off into a point you use a flat brush and turn it sideways as you go, then do it again on the other side. For smaller stripes, like facial stripes, I use the smaller brushes. I do the majority of the paint myself, including my entire base color, and all the stripes except the ones on my back that I have a friend do.
The 2 pictures below are the by Mikko Wilson from and are my luminescent dots under a blacklight, they glow in the dark too, but it works much better under a blacklight.
 I bought the portable blacklight I used for the photo is from amazon.
The glow in the dark make up I use is Mehron Liquid MakeUp Glow In The Dark 4.5oz, and I apply it with some of the smaller brushes I have, or sometimes Q-tips.

After all the painting is done I coat myself with either hairspray or barrier spray hairspray is easier for me. A light coat is best, if you put too much on, the huge amount spray will stick to the paint and it'll flake off.

Other tips for painting: don't get wet, carry around some paint and brushes for touch up later if possible. Doing touch ups over hairsprayed areas doesn't work too well, but you won't need to do as many touch ups with the hairspray, so it's a trade off.

I bought my wig from the french quarter in a wig store called Fi Fi Mahony's. I can't find my specific wig on their website though. I'm not sure what it's made of, but I'm pretty sure it's high quality synthetic since she said I can't use blow driers or curlers or it'll melt. Not that I'd ever curl it anyway. It cost about 50$.

When buying a wig, really the best thing to do is to go to a proper wig store, most general costume stores only sell lesser quality wigs because most people don't care how good their one time Halloween costume is. Fi Fi Mahony's caters to a lot of drag queens who take their wigs very seriously. It's also very important to physically touch the wig and possibly try it on before buying it, so I'd still suggest a store opposed to buying one online.

Also: groom your wig, it's going to get tangled after wearing it, comb it before wearing it again.
This wig needs grooming

After combing the damn thing out, (it takes a while) put the hair in sections  so it doesn't get all tangled again.

For the queue I use yaki pony hair extensions from Sally's Beauty Supply, the don't sell them on their site. I think they're 27 inches long, I'm not near the label right now as I write this, so I'm just judging by the picture. Anyway, you need 3 of them. Take them out of the package, line them up, rubberband the ends together and braid.

Braid it tightly or it will snag on things later on. My feet are in a lot of these pictures. I should've groomed my toe nails first. Too late now.

I attach the queue, and this may vary by your taste and wig, on two braids in the front that wrap around to the back and are banded with those tiny braiding bands.

 Then I attach the feather decoration I made and cover the uglies with some brown fabric.

 This picture isn't terribly good, I'd tuck in the jute twine when I actually wear it, but it serves its purpose.

Wig Application:
With a wig you need to wear a wig cap to keep all your hair in. If you have long hair, you need to braid it and pin it to your head before putting the wig cap on. If someone else is helping you, you can do many sections, or put it up in twists. I just stick with Pipi-Long-Stocking braids, curl them around my head, pin them down with a ton of bobby pins, then put the wig cap over it.
With and without contacts
I've bought these: Yellow Contact Lenses | Avatar Contact Lenses

The circumference was too big for my eyes, so they wiggled around like googly-eyes, once you blinked though, they would realign. They made my eye look smaller since the pupil was smaller. Also you could constantly see the yellow in the peripheral, it was weird but kind of cool.They're uncomfortable at first but I just have a low threshold of dealing with contacts. I hate my regular contacts too. I got used to them as the night went on.

I ordered some other contacts in preparation for the exhibit opening.Yellow Contact Lenses | i-Glow Eclipse Contact Lenses (Pair) but they kept rolling into the back of my head, and the contact solution was washing off my already applied make up, and I was very testy from sleeping very little. So I took them out and gave up, since I didn't want to spend anymore time fiddling with it and further ruining the make up on my hands and arms. Also, put in contacts before you put on make up. Or wear gloves until the end, put in the contacts THEN paint your hands. Both of these methods work better than trying to put in contacts as an after thought.

Also the contacts are non-prescription, which is why I put my prescription lenses into my headpiece. U.S. stores, physical or online, are not allowed to sell contacts without a prescription, prescription contacts are so much more expensive which is why I order costume contacts from Europe.


For teeth I wear Scarecrow brand vampire fangs, size small, if you're a larger male, consider buying the Regular size they're too big for me, but fit larger toothed people. They come with wax you mold over your regular teeth. They are pretty comfortable and fairly realistic for the reasonable price. Keep in mind they're reusable, I've had my first pair for a year. If something happens to the wax on the inside you just order wax refills and reset them.

I'd actually recommend buying these though amazon, please use my link just above if you do, I bought mine at a costume store because I didn't have time to wait around for them to come in the mail, which would've saved me 5$.

Swim Suit
I wear a brown swimsuit I bought from K-mart a year ago. 

Loin Cloth
I sewn my own loincloth, it was pretty easy, just two long rectangles sewn to a fabric strip. You need to wrap the fabric strip around yourself first to figure out where you want the rectangles to be.

 The circle is the EMP|SFM sticker!

The ears are latex ears adhered with spirit gum. They don't come in blue so you just paint them when you're painting your real ears.

The tail is a thin felt tube with a wire looped through it, and stuffed with cotton. The Hair tuft at the bottom is a piece of old wig sewn on. It's clips on to pants or loin cloth with the modified clip from a clip on tie. I'll take commissions for Na'vi Tails like the one in the picture.


My jewelry consists of a choker and a larger feather necklace. Making jewelry's not terrible difficult, it's beads on string really. I use small wooden beads, fang-like beads, small turquoise beads, peacock feathers, and guinea hen feathers. The guinea hen feathers weren't colorful enough for me so I painted them with McCormick Food Coloring, just paint on a layer then let it dry. It makes the feathers more colorful, without looking as artificial as the bleached and dyed feathers more commonly used.

 Head Piece:
To make the head piece you first need to figure out what shape you want the fabric to be. Look at reference pictures and draw some doodles maybe. When you know what you want, draw the basic shape out on some paper and cut it out. If you're having trouble getting the shape symmetrical, fold the paper in half and cut it out that way. Next, hold the paper up to your face to make sure the size and shape work well on your face. It might be too big or too small or just not quite right, and now's the time to fix it. You might end up cutting out a few different ones till you get it right, I did. This paper is now your pattern.

Next, get the fabric you want to use. If it's soft, the sewing will be easier. I used some thick fake crocodile skin and sewing the stitches took some effort. Now trace the pattern with chalk onto the backside of the fabric. Cut out the fabric at LEAST a 1/4inch away from the chalk line. This is your seam allowance. Do NOT cut out on the chalk line. If you do, when you start sewing, the piece will end up too small.

Start sewing the stitches with a needle and thread. Fold the seam allowance down, so the crease in the fabric matches your chalk line, and start sewing this together. I used something called "braiding cord" instead of thread because I wanted the stitches nice and visible like they are in the movie. Brown yarn would be a good substitute too.As you get to curved parts in the fabric, you'll need to cut slits into the seam allowance, allowing the newly made flaps to fold down, allowing the seam to curve. This is sort of hard to explain so try and look at the pictures, and gleam what you can.

 The lenses are my own perscription I got from some of my old broken glasses and superglued it on. I used acrylic paint to paint the venation. The lenses kept squishing my face so I needed to sew in a wire to the back for structure.

 I'll take commissions for head pieces as well.

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