How do I make myself look like Archer for Halloween?
October 13, 2012 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Make me look like Sterling Archer for Halloween. I want to look just like the "animated" version of him. I don't just want to wear a tux and color my hair. Need tips on "animating" a suit, painting my face, getting contact lenses, and getting my hair just right.

Here's Sterling Archer in a suit that I want to imitate:

And a face shot:

I'm looking to go all out on this.

I want to get a suit from a thrift store, and paint it, or otherwise transform it so that it has that look of the thick black lines on the seams and around the edges. Any technical advice on this would be useful - what type of paint to use, or maybe an alternative idea on how to do it.

I'm also looking to get facepaint or makeup or whatever, and will be doing the lines and probably eyebrows. I have absolutely no idea how to use makeup, so very basic advice here would be helpful, and is the part I need the most help with. A basic question I need an answer to is, do I just put a layer of light colored base on, and then paint over that with black? Or do I need to leave the black areas clean of any base and paint straight on skin?

Any makeup-artists in San Francisco that want to help me out with this?

As far as contacts go, I'm looking specifically for light blue contacts that have a flat, fake look, and a black ring around the outside. Anyone know of a good source for those?

Finally, I'm going to be coloring my hair. Again, I have no idea what to do here. I don't really want to be black-haired permanently but its OK if that's what it takes to pull this off. Also, there's definitely some blue highlights on Archer's hair, is there a way to simulate that in real life? Are there certain hair dyes/coloring products that I should seek out or avoid?

Thanks a lot in advance, I'll try to post a link to some pictures here afterwards.
posted by farmersckn to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
These contacts don't have the black ring on the outside and they will run you $50 (get 20% off with coupon code SPOOKY) but they are very flat/fake looking.
posted by kate blank at 4:29 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are handbags that have this aesthetic. I think their effect is possible because they are pretty much two-dimensional and don't have any continuous rounded parts, like a person's shoulders or head. You're going to have a problem putting a black "outline" on your body, because people standing in different locations will see different parts of you as constituting the border. I'm not sure that just putting thick black lines on the seams will give the right effect. It's the outlines that matter. I guess it's worth a shot, but it's probably also worth thinking about whether there's a way to solve this problem.

For the face, I would close your eyes and paint Sterling's cartoon eyes right on your eyelids, like this or this. The eyes won't look right otherwise. Sterling has really intense, piercing eyes, so I bet doing this will be strikingly effective and get you most of the way there.
posted by painquale at 4:32 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

You might get some good tips by looking at people who have done Roy Lichtenstein costumes for 2D makeup, outlining the face, etc.

And be sure to carry six gummy bears and some scotch.
posted by bcwinters at 4:40 PM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Is there a reason you want to color your hair instead of wear a wig? A wig can be styled and locked into place, made to look plasticy-smooth and painted with unnatural highlights. Your actual hair, to get a lighter blue streak, would have to be meticulously bleached and then dyed with a blue pigment (and blue is the least permanent and most fickle of hair colors) and then all the other parts of your hair would have to be dyed black, and then you would need to use copious hair gel to keep it Archer-y that could get easily ruined by sweat and rain and whatever else is going on in your Halloween adventure. Also, if you're putting so much effort into a costume, if you have the wig lying around, you can rewear it any time, regardless of what your actual hair looks like.

Makeup basics: If you use oil based theatrical makeup what you do is clean your skin and make sure it's nice and dry. Apply the flat foundation color with a sponge in an even layer all over. Start thin and build it up in thin layers until you have the flat color you want. Then, you set it with clear powder. You can buy the powder in the same place you buy the makeup, generally speaking. The powder acts as a sort of barrier between layers of makeup. Then, with an angle brush, you paint on your sharp black lines, and set those with clear powder as well. You can practice on your arm or somewhere to get comfortable with the materials.

I think you'll likely want to get two shades of foundation, one that is actually your skin tone and a noticeably darker one. You'd start with your actual skin tone and then apply the darker areas on top. Use the darker one around your eye sockets and beneath your jaw, along one side of your nose and beneath the cheekbones, and at your temples. This is basic face contouring that stage actors and dragqueens and anybody interesting in giving the illusion of a differently-shaped face would use, only instead of blending the transition areas between light and dark, you would then emphasize them, by painting the black lines in some of those areas. I think doing one side of your nose, the dimple of the chin, the line of the jaw, the cheekbones, the lines at the eyes, the shells of your ears, and the big honking eyebrows would work for the lines.

Don't forget your hands! You can put foundation on the backs of your hands, but leave your palms clean. You could maybe paint a black line around the edge, like where the seams of a glove would be? But that is kind of freaky weird. Maybe pose with a glass of scotch in the mirror and do a line along the edge that you see, for the moneyshot photo.
posted by Mizu at 5:07 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Think about defining the edges and contours of your face with black lines, a la this Roy Lichtenstein makeup, minus the dots. Define the nose too, and use a darker skin-colored makeup to further shape your face.
posted by mostlymartha at 5:32 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

look at this bag!

It's amazing and I would think you could do something similar. I would do to a seamstress with clothes you want to wear. Draw chalk lines where you want the trim to be.
posted by beccaj at 6:29 PM on October 13, 2012

Shiny pomade will take care of the hair.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 AM on October 14, 2012

You may want to take a look at Alexa Meade's work for inspiration. Here's her Flickr stream.
posted by googly at 5:36 AM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

If your hair is blond to begin with, and you dye it black with a blue-black dye, it will come out with blue highlights rather than being deep black. (Although perhaps this is merely anecdotal. I did this to myself by accident in college. Once a bit of the dye washed out, I had navy hair for a couple of weeks before it faded to a light blue-grey. I think I used L'Oreal Feria dye.)
posted by felix grundy at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

As far as the outlines on clothes and such go - thick black lines could easily be accomplished with electrical tape or something similar. If you use the concept of the bag beccaj posted about, you could probably get something close to what you're looking for with the suit.

As far as contacts - there are A LOT of places out there to order them from. If you're not already a contacts wearer, please go talk to an eye doctor and BE CAREFUL where you're ordering from. Even if you are, still be careful - and most sites now ask for your perscription info even for halloween fx contacts - and will contact your eye doctor to verify.

For your hair - a wig is your best bet. It will look cartoon-y b/c it will give you a solid hair line. I'd consider looking for an Elvis wig or something close to that you could trim down and play with. Elvis will also give you more of a slicked back look (trim off any sideburns), as well as room to shape it the way you want. Nthing the shiny pomade or a really glossy looking gel. They make blue hair gel (and its usually out this time of year) that you could definitely use to insert blue highlights in the wig. This also makes for easier cleanup at the end of your day and black hair dye on any color hair requires maintenance, so unless you're looking to have have it recolored by a salon (stripped and dyed close to your natural), I'd avoid hair color (Note: I've been dying my hair for the past 8 years, black is a PAIN to get right if you've never done it before).

Also nthing the Roy Lichtenstein ideas previously proposed, sans dots. There are a lot of good ideas in there. You might also try looking at a bunch of different shots of Archer and using those as reference (head on, side view, profile) - what lines are the same, what are different, what shadows are different? That could help you develop a good concept of what to actually focus on, and what changes too much to worry about.

This sounds awesome and has inspired me to really get my butt in gear on a halloween costume! Good luck!!!
posted by bleachandink at 12:25 PM on October 16, 2012

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