Dune Stillsuit Cosplay Guide: How to Make Your Own

Dune stillsuit cosplay

Subakh ul kuhar fellow Dune and Stillsuit cosplay lovers.

Frank Herbert and his Dune universe is considered by many as the foundation of the Sci-Fi genre as we now know it. It is easy to see how Dune has heavily inspired some of the most beloved science fiction franchises since, from Star Wars to Mad Max and The Matrix.

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The stillsuit concept is integral to the overarching events of Dune, making life possible on the inhospitable planet of Arrakis for both the Fremen and the great houses. It is a fascinating design, beautifully detailed in the book and faithfully recreated in both movie adaptations.

Stillsuit concept

What is a stillsuit?

A stillsuit is a specialized garment designed specifically to compensate for the inhospitable conditions of the planet Arrakis. It is a full-body suit made to recycle as much of the body’s moisture as possible – namely sweat and urine – and purify it for drinking.

The stillsuit is comprised of several layers of fabric and tubes and includes a mouthpiece for drinking. The suit also has a filter to remove any impurities from the recycled water, making it safe to introduce back into the body.

The stillsuit plays a significant role in the culture of the Arraki-native Fremen – inventors of the original stillsuit – where water is scarce and highly valued.

How is the stillsuit concept described in the books?

Frank Herbert described Stillsuits as hugging the body tight like a second skin with a face mask covering everything aside from the eyes. A hooded cloak further protects the wearer from wind and sand.

It is important that the suit is secured properly by the individual so that water retention can be maximized.

The suit also harnesses kinetic energy from the wearer’s movements to power all the components necessary for its support system.

The Fremen have their own specific way of strapping up their suits, referred to as “desert style”, which is considered to be the optimal approach.

Would a Dune Stillsuit work in real life?

While such a suit may seem far-fetched, there are some elements that are theoretically possible.

For example, the concept of recycling bodily fluids is nothing new. It is already being done in space suits to conserve water and has been since its inception.

Additionally, there are already technologies that can filter and purify even the most contaminated water, which could relatively easily be incorporated into a stillsuit design.

Harnessing kinetic energy to create power is also being incorporated into an increasing number of technologies such as automotive vehicles and industrial machinery.

However, we are a long way from optimizing both processes to the extent seen in Dune, where a stillsuit can reduce water loss to less than “a thimble a day”.

Why do they use swords in Dune?

The use of swords is not directly related to the stillsuits worn in Dune. Rather they are the result of an equally integral piece of technology also utilized by the great houses.

Arrakis inhabitants and beyond often sport personal defense shields (known as a Holtzman personal shield) as an extra layer of protection. This shield is designed to prevent fast-moving projectiles such as bullets from reaching the wearer.

However, the Holtzman shield is much less effective against slower-moving and closer-range objects, such as bladed weapons.

This makes the sword a far more effective weapon against adversaries wearing a shield defense.

That being said, the shield is not without its drawbacks. Out on the open sands of Arrakis, this form of defense is rendered all but useless.

The static generated by the shield acts as a red flag to a bull for the deadly sandworms lurking under the surface; Alerting them to the presence of potential prey and prompting a frenzied attack.

As using a shield in sandworm territory is essentially a death sentence in itself, it is here you are most likely to see less close-range combat and more projectile weapons.

The Fremen, for example, favor a hybrid projectile weapon known as a Maula Pistol. This handheld gun fires poison darts without making a sound. Thus, making them both incredibly stealthy and less likely to attract the unwanted attention of a passing sandworm.

What is a Crysknife in Dune?

The fremen also possess a special bladed weapon known as the Crysknife. Crafted from the tooth of a dead sandworm, the Crysknife was believed to be so sharp and deadly that just to unsheath the weapon meant certain death for everyone who looked upon it (besides the wielder).

A cleansing ritual was required to remove the omen of death from a Crysknife observant.

For anyone who wants to add a Dune Crysknife replica to their Dune cosplay, the officially licensed and hand-painted Crysknife recreation of the movie prop is a true work of art.

Where can I buy a stillsuit cosplay costume?

If you are pressed for time or prefer not to create your own costumes then cosplay costume designers Banbas offer a pretty impressive readymade Dune stillsuit. This is one of the only ‘ready-to-go’ stillsuit costumes we found available for sale.

But if you have the time, wouldn’t you prefer to make something truly special?

These are our top tips for designing and creating your very own Dune stillsuit cosplay.

How to make a ‘Dune Stillsuit’ cosplay

stillsuit armor

Step 1: Armor

You might need:

The stillsuit, as featured in the 2021 movie and upcoming sequel, is intricately designed with tubing, pipes, and armor plates all crisscrossing against a skintight underlayer.

The suit is also all black, which likely helps with heat regulation but also makes it look particularly impressive. Like tactical gear, that you can pee in…Badass.

You will need a pair of black work trousers and a full-length shirt to form the underlayer.

The chest paneling can be recreated cheaply and effectively with the use of high-density cosplay foam.

The brilliant cosplayer Alyson Tabbitha has made the template she used for her own design publicly available. Of course, you could also create your own template too, if you prefer.

The piping effect can be achieved perfectly with narrow PVC tubing, typically used to isolate and protect wiring.

This armor detailing is by far the trickiest step of the whole design so take your time here.

Once you are happy with the design, you can begin to glue the individual components together. When complete, use black spray paint to create a uniform matte finish.

Tactical gloves with built-in knuckle protection such as these are almost identical to the style used on the Dune stillsuit. Though, the Fremen occasionally remove their gloves to complete work that requires greater dexterity, so this could be considered an optional prop.

Finally, your stillsuit costume needs a pair of shoes. Both the Atredies and the fremen wear simple trainers with considerable grip on the soles. A pair of everyday work shoes would be ideal, once they have been scuffed up a little.

Step 2: Mask and nose tube

You might need:

One possible option for creating your Stillsuit mask is to start with a half-face balaclava. Next, use craft wire to create a frame skeleton to add the correct shape and structure to fix the balaclava onto.

The respirator does not hug the face tightly like the rest of the stillsuit does the body, it is designed to be breathable and easily removed when necessary.

When you are happy with the structure, use the same PVC piping and foam method from the previous step to add the finishing touches. Finish by spray painting everything black.

For the nose tube, we recommend using a standard medical cannula. These can be picked up easily and spray-painted black to create a near-identical stillsuit costume design.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to make your Stillsuit mask entirely from scratch, check out this in-depth guide on how to make a Dune respirator from foam, courtesy of SKS Props.

Step 3: The hooded cloak/shawl

You might need:

Paul Atreides’s (Timothée Chalamet) stillsuit features a black cloak worn around the neck. Meanwhile, Chani (Zendaya) wears a tattered beige shawl wrapped around her upper chest and shoulders.

Both appear to be made from a lightweight and thin material. So much so that the harsh light of Arrakis can be seen permeating it in certain scenes.

Linen fabric is ideal for replicating this style. Lightweight, easy to work with, and inexpensive. Choose your preferred color and cut to length.

Alternatively, if fabric work is not your favorite, a men’s draped cardigan is practically a readymade stillsuit shawl. Simply cut off the arms and you are good to go.

Step 4: Your Stillsuit weapon of choice

Options:

As we’ve mentioned, the unique circumstances of life on Arrakis and wider Dune lore mean that the weaponry used is pretty unique.

The ever-present threat of sandworms, who are highly sensitive to and aggravated by noises and vibrations, as well as the existence of high-speed projectile-blocking defense shields effectively render traditional guns useless.

The protectorates of Arrakis (the Atreides family and the Harkonnen before them) overcame these obstacles by adopting a close-range fighting style, favoring bladed weapons and skilled swordsmanship.

The Fremen, native inhabitants of Arrakis, also have a unique selection of weapons purpose-built for their environment. If you want to kit out your Stillsuit cosplay with a little extra firepower, you have a few options:

The Crysknife

The Crysknife is a sacred weapon used predominantly by the Fremen.

It is described as being milk-white, lightly curved, and double-edged. Carved from the tooth of a dead sandworm, they are extremely rare and highly cherished.

As the Fremen are a peaceful race by nature, the weapon largely serves ceremonial purposes during ritualized trials.

Each Fremen is gifted their own Crysknife upon completion of the adolescent trials, a necessary ritual to signify their transition from child to adult within the community.

Although largely meant for ritualistic purposes, they are said to be the sharpest blades in the Dune universe and the Fremen can employ them to deadly effect against their adversaries.

If you are interested in making your own Dune Crysknife, check out this detailed guide from the masters of prop design, SKS Props, as well as their free Crysknife template.

How to make a Dune Crysknife by SKS Props

The House Atreides sword

Dune (2021) gave us a brief glimpse at the bladed weapons used by the current overseers of Arrakis.

Paul Atreides uses a House Atreides training sword briefly during the opening half of the movie. A long and straight black blade with a distinctive 45-degree angled edge.

It is possible Dune costume designers were inspired by the real-world ninjatō (ninja) sword – a straight shortsword with a similarly distinctive (and deadly) angular edge.

(Left) House Atreides training sword. (Right) Real-world ninjatō (ninja) sword

The use of a shortsword (similar to the ninjatō used by ancient Samurais in Japan) actually makes a lot of sense within Dune lore.

These types of smaller-bladed weapons allow for the wielder to be faster and more agile. This, in turn, was particularly useful when trying to get around an adversary’s shielded defense, much like the personal shields used by many characters in Dune.

If you want to make your own sword for your Stillsuit cosplay (and have access to a 3D printer) we found this to be a very impressive sword template.

Dune Maula pistol

As the native inhabitants of Arrakis, the Fremen are far better equipped to handle the harsh realities of their environment than the great houses tasked with overseeing the Spice production.

The Maula Pistol is the perfect projectile weapon for use out on the sand dunes. A variant of the real-world poison blowdart, the Maula pistol is as silent as it is deadly.

Maula Pistol concept art

This weapon can hit a target with a poisonous projectile from a range of up to 40 meters.

Perhaps not particularly effective under normal circumstances, where a personal shield could easily block the fast-moving dart. However, the Maula pistol is perfectly suited to Arrakis warfare, where the sandworms prevent the use of the Holtzman shield.


And that’s how to make your own stillsuit. Or one way at least.

We love to hear all the innovative ways our fellow cosplayers recreate iconic looks. If you have any suggestions or experience creating your own stillsuit we would love to hear about it.

Until next time, remember to stick to the shade and stay hydrated!