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Hi, I'm Markus G. Nowak (AKA Tioh). I've written several german tutorials on how to make fursuits on my webside (http://www.tioh.de/). Some english speaking friends constantly reminded me of the fact that the english translation is missing. I can't translate them all - sorry, got to much else to do -, so I decided to mend all the useful information into one document. Keep in mind that the pictures shown belong to different fursuits.
There are several ways to build a fursuit. The following is my favourite - somebody else might like other construcion-techniques better.
How to build a fursuit
I always start with the head. Most of the time without sketches and without an idea what it's going to be. I decide the species and what fake-fur is to be used after the muzzle has been build.
Materials for the head
- 50x50cm plastic mesh (it's used to filter leaves out of rainwater - it's sold under the name PolyNet LeafGuard)
- A foam rubber mat (30x20cm)
- A 3mm diameter aluminum staff (50cm)
- An aluminum profile 20x3mm (30cm)
- A bungee cord (50cm)
- Very flexible plasic-mesh (50x10cm)
- Cable support-clips (50cm)
- A role strong linen thread
- A role wire or fishing line
- Isolation-foam for waterpipes (50cm)
- Window colors (Transparent, peel-off paint, water based for glass) in black, white and eyecolor
- Black duct-tape
- FIMO (in black and white) or Polycaprolactone  (Hand Moldable Plastic, Mold-Your-Own Grips, InstaMorph, Shapelock, Friendly Plastic, Polymorph or Plaast)
Materials for the body
- Fake-fur (minimum 3 x 1.4 meters in total)
- 4 roles linen thread in the color of the fur (I use a overlock-sewing-machine)
- Stretching fabric, preferable the same color then the fur (or you can buy a unitard - I prefer to build it myself)
- Several zippers (front, legs,...)
- Foam mat for the paddings
Where to get the materials
I get most of the material (excluding the fake-fur) from shops selling craftsman-supplies und decoration-material. Can't go into detail, because I do not know how these Shops are named in english.
Building the Head
I only do some sketches of the head and the fur-patterns if I want to build a certain character. I did it for Spotty (version 2), Wolfy and Tioh. Anchyubee and Fussel were made without them.
For my first fursuits I used a wire-mesh to make the head. It took lots of time.
Following method is much faster:
I always make the lower jaw moveable. Some of my suits can snarl too.
How to move the jaw - two options:
Example: Head with moving jaw and detachable fur-cover:
The eyes consist of transparent plastic hemispheres (sold as christmas ornaments). A transparent plastic foil is glued into them with window color and the sides are painted with it.
The eyelids consist of two parts. In the front is an aluminum handle that has been bend to semicircular - larger than the diameter of the eye - and felt.
Eyelidlid made of Polycaprolacton
Example for an ear, that can be bend in the middle
Cut a 4-6mm thin bungee cord or a drive belt in the length for the outer rim of the ear.
Three aluminum pipes - inside diameter suitably the diameter of the rubber - form the base and the tip of the ear.
The tip has to be bent with the rubber inside. A hot-glue-stick can be used to stabilize the structure till it's strengthened with a rubber-mat at the back of the ear. The hot-glue-stick can be removed afterwards. A hauling cable goes to the tip of the ear. The ear can be bend by pulling on it (manually, thru a motor or servo).
Example for ear, eyelid and eyebrow movement:
Example for snarling by lifting a section of the muzzle with the nose:
Example for snarling by pulling on felxible libs:
Building the body
For my first suits I used a flexible tube as the base and made it more stable by wrapping with foam, cloth and wire. These tails can be bend and they hold the pose.
My first animatronic-tail has a flexible tube in the middle with 4 strings going throu small glued on tubes. The opposing strings are attached to a servo.
The idea for Fussels tail started with a flat tire on my bicycle. I had a tube that was only damaged in one tiny spot. So I cut it in two parts and used one half to make a tail.
Glued one side airtight and in the other a valve. I attached elastic bands to keep the tail curved. That tail is light, can be deflated and is even comfortable to sit upon.
Sewing the fur
I use the same materials a shoemaker uses. The material from which heels are made of is available in larger plates (I asked a local shoemaker and bought it from him: 1cm thick 45x60cm, 20Euro). I cut the soles with a very shark carpet-knife, round off the edges, glue pads on and a rubber-mat (5mm thick) on the underside to protect the soles even more.