Fabric Paint TMNT Costume Shirt: Attempt One

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Every year, the convention I attend, CONvergence, has a theme that relates to the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Panels are built around it, and cosplayers are encouraged to make related costumes. This years is dystopia.

Since my friends and I are big TMNT fans, we’ve been going as our own versions. This year, we’re doing dystopian versions. Should be fun, right?

Last year, our Leo and I tried Punk!TMNT, which I don’t think a lot of people recognized, since we didn’t really look very turtle-ish from the front. This year, I’m thinking I want to try for a plastron look on a shirt.

At first, I thought I’d find one of those costume shirts at a low price and just use something from my Generation T book to alter it. After looking around online, the least expensive I could find was $15.99, and I didn’t care for the pattern.

If I’m going to cut a shirt up, I’m not paying over $10 for it. So, unless I can find something I like in that price range, I’ll be trying my hand at painting a tank-top or shirt. Today, I figured I’d give it a try on a tank-top I’d delegated to the rag bin.

It doesn’t look too bad in this pic, but it’s threadbare and has holes in it.

I pulled out my old fabric paints (got most of ’em from Target), spread newspaper out on a table, and pulled the tank top down over a Coca Cola box sacrificed to craft. Since I’d already had sponges in the box, I figured I’d give them a try instead of hunting down my brush set.

First, I mixed orange, tan, red/pink and black to make brown, and dabbed a rough outline on.

At this point, I realized I should have cut the cardboard larger, but oh well. This is an experiment, after all.

I then tried mixing the paint to a shade lighter.

I’m no expert with paint. In fact, I’m pretty sub-par when it comes to visual art in general, but I can figure out how to mix colors together.

From there, I dabbed paint inside each square, progressively getting lighter as I got to the center.

This is what I ended up with:

Meh. It…sort of looked ok.

After some deliberation, I picked up my black puff paint, hoping I still had enough, and outlined each square with black.

I then blended the black paint in an attempt to create the illusion of shadows between the “plates” and around the outside. That done, I dabbed lighter colored paint in the center of each section and gradually blended it out.

Here’s what I finally wound up with:

That’s…actually not terrible.

If I can find a dark green tank top, I think I’ll give this another try, but this time, I’ll do the edges with an actual brush, so there will be a cleaner look.

As it is, I will try this one on, once it’s dry. Depending on how it fits, maybe I’ll go with it? I don’t know yet.

If you do decide to try this yourself, be forewarned – you WILL make a mess, and your hands will get full of paint, so put newspaper down beforehand and wear something you don’t mind getting paint on.

Fortunately, this paint washes off pretty easily, and what doesn’t wash off will peel off.

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