In a recent interview with Afropunk, costume designer Ruth E. Carter describes how her team used 3D printing technology to help create the outfits for Marvel Studios’ upcoming superhero film “Black Panther”.
Next month, comic book fans around the world will congregate at their local cinema to catch the highly-anticipated Marvel Studios’ movie Black Panther. The story follows the superhero T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, who is the king and protector of the fictional African nation Wakanda.
Based on the comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the movie portrays a time where the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, returns home and faces a major threat to his kingdom. T’Challa and his fellow Dora Milaje operatives face-off against those conspiring against him.
And, judging from the trailer and movie stills, the costumes of the characters look as breathtaking as the film’s action.
According to the Academy Award-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who is responsible for creating the fierce garb featured in the Black Panther, 3D printing technology played a major role in film’s attire. In a recent interview with Afropunk, Carter explained how her team utilized the technology to bring the unique style of the Wakanda to the big screen.
3D Printing Technology Adds Unique Flair to Black Panther Costumes
In order to add a completely distinctive look to the costume design, Carter and her team used 3D printing in a variety of ways.
Many of the costumes featured in the film utilize African lace, but the 3D printed components adds a new layer of detail to the fabric. In the interview with Afropunk, Carter explains how they used 3D printing to add textures and patterns to clothing of the characters:
“Part of our process was, you know, we used different techniques to create textures and prints and patterns and one of the ways superheroes are created, we 3D print on fabric which allows you to have a surface that could look beaded but it’s actually molded or screens on fabric. It has a hype to it so that you can make it look like anything.”
For instance, Ramonda, the Queen of Wakanda, wears a Zulu-inspired crown and curved mantle that rests on her shoulders. The costume designer states that this extravagant piece was 3D printed with a special flexible material designed by a UCLA professor. They used a professional-grade 3D printer in Belgium to print the prop, which Carter likens to a design by Gareth Pugh, with this material.
In fact, Carter wanted to keep the look of 3D printing intact, deciding not to paint the piece and instead showcasing it in all its additively manufactured glory. The technology also enabled her to focus in on the African lace style while also highlighting the advanced technology that is used by the Wakanda people in the film.
You can catch Black Panther in theaters starting February 16. We’ll be sure to look out for more 3D printed props throughout the film.