OK, so I’ve seen a lot of people asking how to put LEDs into pre-made fursuit eyes and not a whole lot of answers, so this is a quick n dirty tutorial about how I did it for Volibear. This method also works for installing light-up panels, like my Volibear chest piece and Iron Man arc reactors.
You Will Need
- Material to be lit (resin eye, plastic eye, plastic plate, whatever)
- Aluminum tape (it’s a shiny tape like aluminum foil, can be found in hardware stores in the duct work section)
- Craft foam
- scissors or a knife
- hot glue gun and glue
I buy my LEDs in pre-wired strings from Amazon. It’s a string of 20 lights attached to a battery pack with an on/off switch that takes 3 AA batteries and costs just under $7. I buy them from this seller and they work great. One set of has lasted me a whole weekend at a con and a few different suit-ups that lasted a few hours each. You can also get them in a variety of colors (but might need to get them from other sellers for more variety)
These are just some of the colors you can find! I recommend looking around and getting what best matches your needs.
Now for the tutorial
- Cut out a thin strip of craft foam long enough to go around the perimeter of your eye (or whatever glowing element you’re making), about 1/4 inch thick. Actual thickness does not matter that much, but you need a little depth. You might want to make it just a bit longer because you can always trim it later. If you’re making a set of eyes, make two and do all of the listed steps twice, once for each eye.
- Carefully glue the strip around the perimeter of your eye, doing just a little bit at a time so you can keep the glue from getting everywhere. Keep the foam flush with the edge of your eye so nothing peeks out and ruins the curved look.
this is a bit thicker than it needs to be, but this is about what the foam perimeter should look like.
- Using a thin strip of aluminum tape, line the inside of the foam. Do this after gluing to the eye because aluminum foil does not play nicely with glue.
- Attach LEDs to the perimeter of foam. I tucked mine just into the dip so the back of my eye is flush. You can attach them with glue or aluminum tape, whichever is easiest. If you just bought one LED for each eye, try and get the light close to the center of the eye wire leading out. If you have something like the battery packs I recommended, put in 3-4 LEDs lining the perimeter of the eye. For two eyes, give yourself a few inches of space (skip 1-2 LEDs on the strand), and line the second eye with 3-4 LEDs like the first. You can cover the lose LEDs with tape once the eyes are installed in your head.
- Cover the back with aluminum tape. If you want something more durable, you can cut a piece of craft foam the size of your eye, put aluminum tape on one side, then attach it to your eye, aluminum side in. The aluminum tape reflects the light within the area you’ve made, making the source of light less visible when looking at the costume. If you have 3-4 lights per eye, the light will actually be really bright and the LEDs almost impossible to see.
The crappy camera helps hide the LEDs, but it’s really bright and near impossible to see the individual lights and wires.
I lined my wires inside the eye along the edge of the foam and covered them with aluminum tape. If you do that, just make sure they are secured. It might be better to line the outside of the foam with the wire. I also did not put foam on the back of my eyes and I would not recommend making that mistake. The craft foam will make your LED rig harder to access, but more secure so there should be less reason to mess with it.
- Now you’re done! You just have to install the eye into your head! I did mine using hot glue and E6000. The extra length of wire and battery pack will just need to be installed into your head. I built a little pouch with upholstery foam for mine so the loose LEDs are covered and don’t make everything glow.
This method really works for a lot of different props and glowing elements. I’ve used it for a lot of different light up elements with great results!