Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered last week and the internet has been abuzz ever since, talking about the fiery introduction of Ghost Rider. The Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider is a fresh take, driving a Hellcharger instead of the Hellcycle. This new Ghost Rider was introduced first in the comics by Creator Felipe Smith, who we recently interviewed at Long Beach Comic Con. A later time slot has also allowed the show to take on some darker twists and turns, so be prepared for some Ghost Rider badassery in the weeks to come.
As soon as the promotional photos for the television version of Ghost Rider (which pretty much looks exactly like the comic book character) hit the internet, cosplayers went to work recreating the look. While it may seem difficult to add white stripes to a black leather jacket, it’s actually quite simple. I’m here to show you just how it’s done. Firstly, you should consider the best way to soften leather so that it’s in peak condition.
First let’s start with our source image. Here is one of the promotional photos of actor Gabriel Luna as the Ghost Rider on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The first step is to decide on a leather jacket. You won’t find this exact jacket anywhere, as the show’s Costume Designer Ann Foley has said on Twitter that it was a custom made jacket for Luna to wear on the show. The good news is, it’s a pretty plain jacket with no real features that stand out. I was doing this project for my son Gavin, and we found a jacket at Burlington Coat Factory that worked for us. The picture on their website is not accurate, it’s a black leather jacket.
So you have your leather jacket, but how the heck to you put white stripes on a black leather jacket? Leather is very flexible, won’t the paint crack and peel? Well you may not know this, but there actually is leather paint. The paint is flexible when it dries, unlike more traditional paint that dries hard (and definitely would crack and peel).
The best leather paint out there is Angelus. You can find it on Ebay or Amazon, but odds are you’ll easily be able to find a leather shop in your town that sells it off the shelf. I went with flat white (they also have a glossy white, but I’m not a fan of glossy paints in general).
Now that we are ready to start, let’s go back to that initial photo of the real Ghost Rider. Notice that the vertical stripes aren’t straight, they angle in toward the center a little. Also those stripes don’t go all the way to the bottom of the jacket, and they are pointed at the bottom. We want to be accurate if possible.
The first thing we want to do with the jacket is make the actual stripes using masking tape. I started by putting the horizontal stripe across the top and making sure it was level and centered on the zipper. Then I added the two vertical stripes. The important thing here is to make sure that they are even. Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure from the zipper to the stripes and make sure the distance is the same as you go down the jacket. The two white stripes are nearly parallel with the zipper, so if they’re crooked or misaligned, it will show. I used 1″ masking tape. Remember this is a kid’s jacket so on an adult sized jacket you may want wider stripes, therefore use wider tape.
Using the masking tape as a guide, tape around it. I used painters tape (because, duh, this is exactly what it’s made for) but since the leather is not a flat, hard surface make sure you use tape that is sticky and adheres well to the jacket. Painters tape is made to be removed, so it’s typically not as sticky as some tape. You could actually use masking tape for this, as another option. If you’re painting a wall, you would be worried about pulling paint off when you remove the tape. But that isn’t a concern here.
Next just remove the masking tape. Take some medium grit sand paper and carefully sand the area you’ll be painting. You can also use acetone, but that is more likely to be messy and get on parts of the jacket where you don’t want it, so I went with sandpaper. You’re doing this to rough up the leather a little bit, which will cause the paint the adhere better.
Before you start painting, make sure the tape is stuck well to the jacket. We don’t want paint seeping underneath the tape. Take a minute to go all the way around and make sure it’s stuck against the jacket.
Now start painting. It’s very important to take your time and be patient, as this is the most critical step. Here are some tips:
- Don’t slop the paint on. Use the paint a little bit at a time. I would dab a little bit of paint on my brush, then wipe some of it off on the side of the jar. The sloppier, wetter the paint, the more likely you’ll get some under the tape and it will look bad.
- Brush in a direction that won’t make the paint go under the tape. Brush along the tape lines, not perpendicular to them. Again, this helps keep the paint from going under the tape.
- Be especially careful in areas where there are bumps in the jacket, like where you go over a zipper or a pocket. The tape will especially want to pull up there, and it will be much easier to get paint under the tape.
It’s going to take several coats of paint before the white stripe is solid, I think I wound up using five coats. Let each coat dry for at least thirty minutes before the next coat. Here is mine after three or four coats.
Next, carefully peel up the tape. While mine looked pretty good, there were a few spots where a little paint got underneath my tape. I would recommend letting it sit overnight before you wear it, or do any more work on it.
If your lines aren’t perfectly clean, don’t get discouraged. Most people have a “ten foot rule”, and you’re not going to see little imperfections like this from a short distance away.
However, I did want it to look as clean as possible. So I started trying to remove the imperfections with a medium grit sandpaper. It was not easy – this leather paint certainly does it’s job. I was able to clean it up, using a metal ruler (to protect the stripe that I wanted to keep) and sand off the imperfections.
But using the sandpaper not only removed the paint, it also roughed up the leather. So what I did next was I roughed up the whole jacket using a rougher sandpaper. This way the rough spots along the stripe didn’t stand out at all. And come on, we don’t expect Ghost Rider to wear a perfectly clean, brand new jacket, do we?
I finally showed my son and he loved it. He put it on, grabbed his plastic chains (Halloween Store) and went out side pretending to be Ghost Rider. We shared a few pics on social media and one of the VFX guys from the show actually dropped a Ghost Rider head on it for us! Thanks Kevin!!
Hopefully this helps you create your own Ghost Rider jacket. If you make one, be sure to share it with us!