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Buckram Guide for Creature Suit Eyes by CanineHybrid Buckram Guide for Creature Suit Eyes by CanineHybrid
This was a gif that :iconsgtknifeman: and I made as part of our Beginner Creature Costume panel presentations we host at fan conventions. I thought I'd share it here to add to a collection of useful tips and tutorials for people unfamiliar with the art of costume making. This is unicorn buckram colored with a prismacolor marker.


Buckram

Buckram is a cloth material used for stiffening clothes or covering books. However it is now commonly used in creature costumes for eyes because it has even, tiny holes all over its surface making it see-through. There is a wide list of materials to use for eyes, but buckram is easily one of the most popular choices. Buckram is easy to color and has a lot more holes per square inch that are smaller than a similar material called aida cloth (used for cross-stitching). Perforated plastic works too though it will need to be primed in order to paint. Window film or sunglasses have been used for eyes but they tend to fog up; perforated materials allow more airflow. I have also seen interfacing and chiffon used with varying results.


Buckram can be colored with markers, painted, dyed, and even printed on. In general, you need to avoid contact with water as the colors will run. If you ever wash your suit head by fully submerging it in water, you need to remove the eyes first.

The rule of thumb is that white is the hardest to see through and black is the easiest to see through. It works so well for eyes because it filters light- it will appear more solid to the audience since the light is being reflected back to the viewer, but for the wearer who is viewing it from a dark environment sees through it like a window because their eyes are right up against it looking into a lighter environment. Many people ask what is it like to wear a suit head and to see, so because it filters light, it's comparable to looking through a foggy pair of sunglasses.



It can be purchased at fabric stores or online, also available at FursuitSupplies.com. JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores carries it in the utility fabrics section under the name "Unicorn Buckram" (which is the product demonstrated in the GIF). It also comes in various weaves and both have a trade-off: looser weaves are much easier to see through, but because the holes are bigger they are more noticeable. Tighter weaves are harder to see through but the holes are less obvious. Often it is more important that you can see properly because it is safer, so use a tighter weave at your own risk.



Eyes can be made entirely of buckram, though the holes will be much more obvious, the benefit is that you can see through the entire eye:


Or what is much more common is a combination of smooth, shiny plastic to act as the sclera (whites of the eyes) with a hole cut from it for the pupil/iris to be made from buckram, but you will have a smaller vision hole:




Even though buckram is stiff, it is still recommended that you make a plastic frame to stretch the cloth over to keep it taught. The plastic for eyes is most commonly cut from a cheap bowl or a thin plastic (styrene) sheet. I have also seen foamies used for the sclera (or eyeshines) but they won't give you the support like plastic will. The advantage of buckram is that you can see through both the pupil and the iris because you can color them how you wish, but alternatively you can paint the plastic around the buckram pupil to be the iris color. In this case you don't necessarily need to use buckram as there are many other see-through materials that are solid black. Here is an example:
Tutorial and close up images here: www.matrices.net/eyes.asp

If the sclera of your eye is not present (or is a different color other than white) and you don't want to use buckram on the entire eye, you can get this effect by painting the plastic a color or finding it pre-colored: This eye does not have buckram for the pupil, it is plastic canvas but same principal






If there are any more questions about it, feel free to ask below and I will help you out or add it to the description here!



Ideas for eye shapes/styles:


Tutorial for making buckram eyes:



Eyes made with plastic canvas:
:thumb351983642:
Add a Comment:
 
:iconponyportal:
PonyPortal Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconmountaindewplz: give me the mountain dew!
Reply
:iconthatsnarkydragon:
ThatSnarkyDragon Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Student General Artist
I want to use buckram for the eyes, but I would also like to put resin over to make them shinier. Do you know if there would still be good visibility?
Reply
:iconsephinta:
Sephinta Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
EXACTLY what I've been looking for! I've been wondering what vision out of buckram eyes would look like (I'd like to know before I switch over from plastic mesh) and couldn't seem to find any pictures or descriptions. Thanks for posting this!
Reply
:iconsonnochi-kun:
sonnochi-kun Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Quick question: Can you use buckram in like a hoodie or a hat?
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:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
Sure, I don't see why not. Just remember if you paint/color it, you can't get it wet
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:iconsonnochi-kun:
sonnochi-kun Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Right, got it. Many thanks. :iconsupertighthugplz:
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:iconsgtknifeman:
sgtknifeman Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
one of the best gifs ever!
Reply
:iconsilverfang98:
Silverfang98 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Honnestly, I couldn't find buckram like that.

The one I got was entirely different...

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:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
Not all buckram is created equal surely; perhaps you can share where you got yours and the results it gave you?
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:iconsilverfang98:
Silverfang98 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Sure thing! :)
Also, how do you color the buckram?  What would YOU support?  'Cause I just can't get it to work.
Reply
:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
I've been using prismacolor markers because they are much easier for me to manipulate (I've never been much of a painter) and I have so many colors. I've gotten nice effects with them like here: www.flickr.com/photos/caninehy…

If you're using paint, you have to be careful to not plug up the holes with thick paint; you may do better to thin down the paints and build up layers or use an airbrush. Paint can also get the fabric damp from the water. But I have a feeling that paint will be more vibrant and more resistant to bleeding (course that's only a theory).
Reply
:iconsilverfang98:
Silverfang98 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, thanks so much for all the help, Ry!  Means a lot!
Reply
:iconthever0-1:
TheVeR0-1 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013

I go through a great deal of hassle to seal buckram eyes, I haven't found a sealant that I'm totally satisfied with, but the whole process is touch and go.  I even sealed the painted foamies, mostly to keep them from running, but how well it will hold up to hot days and sunlight remains to be seen.

 

I always value a tutorial, even if I'm set with a method, I still want to see if there's anything new that can help. But I am still struggling to handpaws.  oh my sorrow

Reply
:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
You can't really seal buckram, no. What you may be able to do is an idea that just came to me though... perhaps you could laminate them with iron-on vinyl. It would make them shiny but could seal out moisture. However because it's so porous it may be difficult to do and it may blur vision further, but it might be worth a test. At that point I may worry about fogging up from the heat produced inside the mask and it would be no different than using sunglasses lens- the porous properties of buckram for airflow are useful and this would effectively kill that.
I'll try to remember to pick some up at work tomorrow and test it out. If I get good results I'll post about them on the Fursuit LJ community and l'll let you know how it stands up to testing.
Reply
:iconthever0-1:
TheVeR0-1 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013

If you find something that works, I'd be happy to check it out.  At one point I was so frustrated with the running effects of gloss sprays I used, I had thought of trying mod podge paint on, but that would be similar to laminate and like you said the airflow is so important, plus vision would be null.  I think what I've been using was a mod podge (spellfail) gloss spray, that had the least amount of running if I sprayed gently after each use of the colored markers.  But you can't alter the colors once they've been treated, being waterproof and all

I think any sort of waterproof acrylic spray does the job if done right, but like I said it can be hit or miss, the colors have a tendency to run if the material's left slanted, or clumps.  But once they're treated the threat of sweat ruining them is null.  I've seen a few tutorials where builders have mentioned treating the eyes, but I've never asked what they use.

 

Good luck, I hope you find something that implements all the advantages of waterproof eyes.  I hate spending an hour or something with the colors only to have it ruined with the running mess.

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:iconsgtknifeman:
sgtknifeman Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
what you could try is using createx airbrush paints and heat sealing them. 
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:iconthever0-1:
TheVeR0-1 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2013
does it work like the laminate?  And would the buckram get damaged by the heat needed to seal the eyes?  I checked for a tutorial for eyes, but haven't found one
Reply
:iconsgtknifeman:
sgtknifeman Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013
Sorry it took me forever to reply. Createx paint was designed to beheatsealed with a hairdryer, so no it should not harm the buckram. And I am not familiar with the laminate. 
Reply
:iconinnocentstranger:
InnocentStranger Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Woah the material is so cool! :O
Reply
:iconpeaceloveandpaws:
peaceloveandpaws Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013
i have a few questions about buckram :) were can you buy it online? (i went to a fabric store and they had the wrong kind) and when painting it do you paint the outside first and then paint the back black?
Reply
:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
I mentioned in the description that you can get it from FursuitSupplies.com, otherwise you just need to do a search yourself
Ah good question, I'll add this in there- yes paint the outside first. You definitely need to color the inside/backside of the buckram too in order to see through it, but I would caution against painting it all black because you can risk the black bleeding through to the good side. Therefore to be safe I recommend coloring it the same as the eye, keeping the black on only the pupil and coloring the same or a slightly darker shade of whatever the iris color is on the area the iris covers. Otherwise you can try to make the entire backside black but be careful, this is likely more of a problem with markers than it is paint.
Reply
:iconpeaceloveandpaws:
peaceloveandpaws Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
thanks :D
Reply
:iconviolethybrid:
VioletHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Student Filmographer
The best thing ever
Is there is a Moutain Dew drink out there XD
I think that is... Moutain Dew?
Reply
:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yes, indeed it is a Mountain Dew bottle. It does a fantastic job at modeling for us :)
Reply
:iconviolethybrid:
VioletHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Student Filmographer
XD lolz~ Well that's one good Mountain Dew bottle.
That bottle had to take years and years of pratice to be a out-standing model :meow: :iconyayzplz:
Reply
:iconcaninehybrid:
CanineHybrid Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Mtn Dew bites the bullet and he DOES IT
Reply
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