Duct Tape Dummy Tutorial

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I had a few discussions with some of the other members here in the Noob forum and I could only find one other post that referenced how to make a duct tape dummy. I thought I could help with some pictures and a step by step process to make this easier to understand.

Here is what you will need.

1. 5 rolls of duct tape - I used the $2.75 stuff from Home Depot. I am 6' tall and weith 180 so if you are smaller / larger compensate. Just make sure you have extra because you don't want to run out!

2. Old clothes - I used some tight fitting clothes I bought from a thrift store. You basically don't want baggy or over sized clothes as it will mask the true shape of your body. Stay away from spandex, it is too tight! Remember you need to cut this off in the end.

3. Scissors - rounded medical scissor would be the best.

4. PVC pipe and fittings - I used two 10' pieces of 1" pipe and 8 - 90 degree bends and 8 - 'T' couplers.(Stay with me the pictures are coming)

5. Old pillows or stuffed animals. Get as many as you can. Again you can find this stuff at thrift stores for cheap.

6. Helpers! These should be family or REALLY good friends. You will understand later why. By the end of this you will not be able to move much so make sure you can trust them.

Total process took us almost 2 hours so plan some time.

For this project I picked out some 'sporty' matching clothes.


Tape the leg to sock area first. This will keep it together and prevent skin to tape contact. Remember that is a bad thing so if you feel it fix it right away.


I also tape the waist and shirt together. Again tape to skin contact is a bad thing.


You will then have your helpers cut the tape into strips about 15" to 18" long. These are easy to manage and don't tangle when you handle them. You will use these and constant wrapping throughout the entire process.


I have my helper start in the torso area. This will allow them to get a feeling for this wrapping process and you can easily tell if it is too tight as you will not be able to take a breath.


Make sure you stand up straight and keep your arms and legs somewhat apart. This will allow you to mount the armor easier and gives you access to get inside with a brush to apply the resin later when your dummy is complete. This photo shows the spiral wrapping down my leg, this is fine but make sure you don't have them pull it too tight. Also bend your need a bit so your don't faint. It's a long process.


We run tape from the front to the back in the sensitive 'Cod' area. Use the strips. Now you know why you need family or "REALLY" good friends. You can still help with this area if necessary but you should try to avoid moving too much.


Continue down the body and complete the legs. Once you spiral wrap one layer then go back over and run tape strips up and down to add support and build layers.


For this dummy I wrapped the feet also. Normally I stopped at the ankle but this time I wanted to make sure the feet were there for reference later. This is your choice.


Build up several layers on the lower body then move up to the arms and shoulders.


I used a long sleeve shirt with a collar and this worked out well. I pulled the collar up and taped the neck. For this dummy I didn't plan on adding a head but you can add this on later. I would not recommend doing your head on the first try. Do the same process later but just with your head and neck then tape it on to your existing dummy.



Keep wrapping the shoulders and arms and remember to keep the position like what I have shown. If you arms are too close to your torso you will have a mess fitting the armor. People may come up to you and draw funny pictures on you when you can't move. This is normal.


OK the taping is complete. You should look like this and not be able to move.


Now comes the fun part. You need to cut this off your body without cutting your body. I would avoid letting someone use pointed scissors, look for some rounded point or medical scissors. If you do use pointed scissors you may be in for an occasional surprise.


I start on the back and cut down. Go all the way down until you get through the waist on your pants. This should allow you enough room to slide out in a bit.


Remember you have to cut through the clothing and tape at the same time so you will come out with just underwear on if they cut right. If they don't then you will loose the underwear.


Then cut up the arms. You will know how far you need to go by realizing you can slide your arm out.


Pull the suit off your arm and slide the upper part of your body out of the suit.


Do the same thing on the lower legs and come halfway up your calf or until you can slide your feet out. One one leg we cut up the front and the other leg we tried up the back. It doesn't matter.


Now you should be able to slide the suit off and have a tape shell with clothing stuck to the inside.


Now time to make the PVC frame to help this thing stand up. Here are some photos to help you understand how to build it. You will have to cut the pipe so it fits your dummy. I then make a square base to put the legs into and help it stand up. I glue the red areas but not the blue or green so I can take them out later if necessary.


Base - The green sections are where the legs go into. Again don't glue this fitting to the legs. This makes removing leg armor difficult.


The rest of the process is simple. Put the PVC inside the shell and start stuffing with the pillows and other stuffing. Tear the pillow case apart and pull the material inside apart. This will allow you to cram the stuffing down the legs and arms. You want to make sure you really pack the suit full and it should end up really hard. I use a broom stick to help cram the stuffing down the limbs. Tape up the slits you made earlier with more duct tape and simply align the cut lines back together to maintain your original shape. Try to keep the PVC centered in the shell and finish stuffing. When you are done your dummy will be ready for a name and armor. My kids called my first dummy 'Bob'


When you mount the armor I glued some of it to the dummy with hot glue to keep the shape. Just a small dab will hold it. Then added resin and let it dry. When your done you can pop the resin free from the dummy by flexing the dummy behind the pep pieces. It should come right off. If not simply cut it and repair the dummy with more tape later. It should last a long time.

I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing some really good fitting armor after you read this.

If you have any further questions feel free to send me a PM. Good luck.


Thanks again for the detailed instructions! cant wait to build this next weekend so i can finally put my iron man armor up in my room. I wonder what pose ill do....


Active Member
Pretty neat tutorial. Been wanting to build one of these for a while for various projects. This will surely come in handy. Thanks and nice job on the tutorial.

Yogi Ben

Jr Member
this is great cant wait to try this. could u do it with expanding foam instead of pillows? that way u could make moulds and do loads of dummys... just a suggestion


Active Member
Yogi-Ben said:
this is great cant wait to try this. could u do it with expanding foam instead of pillows? that way u could make moulds and do loads of dummys... just a suggestion

all that molding material cost to mass produce armor dummies? :S

its cheaper to take 2 hours and scratch build it like this.
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Sr Member
I you are really careful you could save the clothes you are wearing. Did something like this at school during art class a few years ago using packing tape, and we managed not to cut our clothes. Unfortunately we never filled them up with anything but air, so they broke easily.

I like this tutorial. I need to build a mannequin for myself that way I can have a Spartan standing in a corner of my room or an entryway sentry, or a guardian of the entertainment center, or... You get the point. Pure awesome!


Jr Member
ok, i think this is one of the coolest tuts i have seen. I MUST make myself one, simply because its duct tape. a wonderful presentation, and very clear. have a cookie, you rock!


Yogi-Ben, I have not tried expanding foam but another post in this forum talked about the foam not curing because it can't get enough air to react and it remains a sticky mess so I wouldn't try it. Another brother suggested to use a small amount of foam at a time but the pillows work best I think.


Active Member
I hear nothing but good things about these, except that after awhile they start to warp, but it's not like they aren't dirt cheap to make. I keep meaning to make one myself.

Thanks for posting this! :D


Haven't heard that but I'll keep an eye on sagging. It does come with age. I was hoping the resin will help preserve it or maybe just a yearly new layer of duct tape to keep the skin fresh. Maybe a bit of reverse 'lipostuffing' to keep the firmness up also. :D
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