Webinar: Superhero Balloon Twisting With Josh Clark: Line Work Designs

Thank you everyone that joined us on Zoom and on Facebook live for this superhero balloon twisting tutorial with Balloon Josh!

So the goal today, is we're going to be doing some different superhero designs, and we're going to start with what I consider to be the easiest, most basic one, and then move to more advanced, more time consuming ones.

The goal with all of these is for them to be line work. The goal for these is not to be sculpture pieces, but rather line work, where you have a line of 50 to 100 kids, and you're trying to get through as many as you possibly can! And they're asking for things like Black Panther, Superman, Flash, and you don't want to say no, and that's what this is for - to teach you how to make fast line work, easily recognizable superheroes.

Generic Balloon Superhero Design
Generic Balloon Superhero Design

The first design we're going to be doing is my generic design that I use for any humanoid figure. I use this for ninjas, aliens, my basic superhero design, and this is what it is (see above image).

It requires two balloons, three if you include a head piece, and you don't have to use a head, because as you can see for the Silver Surfer, it's just two balloons for the body, and I used one for the surf board. But again, same design as the basic superhero, I just added an extra loop twist for the Silver Surfer's head.

Silver Surfer Balloon Art

This would be my line work Black Panther. They do make Black Panther print heads, they look okay, but the problem is you can't buy just the Black Panther print heads by themselves, you have to buy them with the Black Widow, the Wasp, and Ant Man print heads, which you'll never really use. So I use the ninja faces instead, and then I just draw some details to make it look like Black Panther.

In this webinar, we'll be looking at how to make Black Panther, Silver Surfer, Spiderman, Ironman, Batman, the Flash, and the Incredible Hulk.

Spiderman Balloon Design
Spiderman Balloon Design

This is the most popular balloon design I get asked to make, hands down above everything else, and it's #1 for boys. Unicorns are #1 for girls.

We're going to use a red balloon and a blue balloon for this design. We're not going to use the whole thing, but you want to leave about a hand's width length of uninflated balloon. I am using Betallatex balloons.

So you have two balloons (one red, and one blue) inflated, with roughly four inches or a hand width uninflated at the end. You're going to start with the foot (red balloon), and you want this to be about an inch and a half bubble, followed by another half inch bubble, and don't make this too small.

You're going to fold it over, pinch it, and flip it. If your pinch twist looks too small, or your pinch twist looks too big, now would be the time to fix that. This design is basically all pinch twists, so if your pinch twists are off from the beginning, you should fix that as soon as possible.

Then we're going to do a 3 finger bubble, or about two inches (this will be his shin), and then we'll do another half inch bubble, you're going to fold it over, pinch it, and twist it. Then you have his foot, ankle, shin, and knee. Now you're going to do the quads, which are going to be just a little bit longer than his foot, and shorter than his shin. I pinch it, and then twist it, and I twist it about 3-4 times. If you just twist it once, sometimes you go to do the pinch twist, and the air will come out, and it will get smaller as you pinch it. Then you fold it over, pinch it, and flip it. So there's one leg.

Now we'll do the other balloon. So again, do about an inch and a half bubble, pinch it, twist it, followed  by  a half inch bubble, fold it over, pinch, twist, You want about two inches now, follow by a half inch bubble, fold it over, smaller bubble, fold it over, and pinch.

So now we have our two legs. You're going to put these together, take the two buttcheeks, and you just do a full 180 rotation, all the way around, and that will lock it together.

Sometimes, when you do the 180 twist, your bubbles can pop, so I'm going to show you another way of doing this. Be sure that the two buttcheeks are vertical and not horizontal. Instead of twisting the buttcheeks, you can twist the body part. Although this is an easier way to do this, it's also more likely to come undone.

After you've twisted it, you come up, and you take about a hand and a half, or about five inches, and twist. After you do that, now you have his body, and this is going to be his torso. Now you have two options: if you're doing the Silver Surfer, or if you ran out of Spiderman heads, you could do a loop twist here and then make your arm.

But I like the way the Spiderman heads looks, so I'm going to do it like that. So I'm just going to be making a bubble, a smaller bubble, which will be his elbow, pinch, twist, and do the same thing on the other side.

Now I'm going to show you two different ways to do this next step.

First, I'm going to show you the easier way. You'll do a pinch twist, followed immdiately by another pinch twist, and you break off the extra balloon. To break off the balloon, you want to get it flat and wide and just push it out and away quickly.

The other way to do it, is you're just going to do one pinch twist. But then you'll do a split twist or a thumb roll. You're going to roll this pinch twist, so that you can see the knot there, and as you roll it, it's going to split it in half, so this turns into two. I find this to be faster at events. However, if you're just starting out, this tends to be a little more difficult.

So then you have this little Spiderman face balloon. Then you're going to attach it right where his arms are. What I like to do, is make sure I switch the sides so that whatever side his blue leg is on, his blue arm is on the opposite side.

The arms are going to naturally want to spread out, but you're going to grab the middle and wedge the arms down in there a little bit. Then I'll just take a marker and draw the spider onto his chest. For the spider, I draw a diamond, followed by an elongated diamond, and then I make lines for the spider legs.

If I have enough time at an event, I'll wrap a white balloon around my fingers, and blow it up like that. This will give him a web that I can easily add onto the balloon sculpture to give him more detail.

So we've learned how to do the Spiderman balloon design, and I'm not going to teach you the Black Panther design, because if you'll notice, it is exactly identical to what we just did.

One thing I encourage you to do as artists, is if you're going to be making superheroes, do your research. It's helpful to look at what those characters look like.

This is my Batman, and again, exact same design that we did for Spiderman, the only difference is the Bat drawing.

Batman Cape Balloon Design

I'm going to show you how to do a superhero cape - it's really easy! All I'm going to do is two loop twists, and there's a little bit extra, so I'm just going to squeeze to loosen it up a little bit, and then just tie it around the loop twists, leaving about three inches. Then you're going to go to the bottom of it, and try to make it into a rectangle, squeezing the air out of it. Then I'm going to grab it in the middle and squeeze it, so it looks like the cape is flowing in the wind. Then all you do is wrap the head around the cape, and now you have Black Panther with the cape.

I'm not going to show you the Silver Surfer, because it's identical to the one we just worked on. All I did was instead of doing the head, I just added an extra loop twist before I did the arms. Ironman is also the same design, you can use a print head, or you can just draw it on.

The Flash Balloon Design

The Flash Balloon Design
I use this design primarily for The Flash, but you can use it for PJ Mask, Captain America, or for any superhero where their mask does not cover their face. For those designs, please don't use the print heads, because they look really terrible. Come up with some way to draw them on. There's a couple that look great: Batman, Spiderman, Black Panther, Darth Vader, but the rest look really terrible.

I'm going to start with two red balloons, same thing as Spiderman. You're going to leave about 4 inches uninflated. Right now I'm using a Filbert pump, but you can use an electric pump, a hand pump, or even your mouth.

We're going to start, just like Spiderman, with a small bubble, and following the same pattern. So that's one leg, and now do the other balloon. Take the two legs and put them together. Twist the torso together, add we're going to do a loop twist before we make the arms.

So make a loop, feed it through, and you're going to have one short arm and a longer arm. So then you'll do a bubble, and do the arm identical as we did for Spiderman. If your balloon happens to pop off, just twist it back on.

So now you can use a brand new balloon for the face, but I usually use a scrap, because I only need a small piece. I'm just going to loop this around the head, and break it off by making it flat and wide. Again, it's not about strength or big muscles, it's just about doing it fast.

Same thing, I'm using a scrap 160, and this one is for the little lightning bolts that come out of the side of his head, or, if you're doing Captain America, you would do this in white for the little wings. What I like about this design is that it's very versatile.

All we did for this, is made a bubble, pinch twist, fed it through, pinch twist, and a bubble, and then ripped it off. And then you draw his face!

This is my go-to design for any hero that has the half mask, which could be Captain America, Batman, Cat Boy, Gekko, Flash, and others.

Superman Balloon Design

Superman Balloon Design
In some ways, this is an easier design, and in some ways, it's a harder design. I find that this one looks better because Superman's got more different colors than the others. He's got the red boots, the red underpants, the blue top, so Superman's a little more distinctive. I'm actually going to make it slightly different so I'm going to show you how this design could also be Shazam, because that's been a popular movie lately.

You're going to need two red balloons, you'll need a black scrap, you'll need either a face balloon or you could also just use a blush balloon. Then you'll also need a white 160 for the cape, and you'll need a gold 360 because those are the colors for Shazam.

So we're going to start inflating a red balloon, and it's going to be inflated about the same as the other ones we did earlier - roughly about 4 inches or a hand width uninflated. Now go ahead and inflate the other red balloon as well.

Tie the two ends, and then you're going to come up about two hand widths and twist. Then you'll feed one end through the loop, and twist again. Loop through again.

Shazam Captain Marvel Balloon Twist

We're going to blow up our gold, and you're going to do a bubble, followed by a pinch twist, and then you want to break it off, but save the broken off part. Make sure the feet are the same size, it's important for your design to be symmetrical.

Take the gold feet and wedge them at the bottom, and now you have Shazam's feet. The broken off part will be his belt, which will go around his torso. All we're doing for this is a loop twist and it'll be just like what we did for Flash's face. Break off the excess and tie it.

For the arms, same thing we did before, do a bubble, a pinch twist, a bubble, pinch twist, take off the excess, and you have one arm done. Do the same thing for the other arm.

Now for the hair, this is just my basic person hair, princess hair - it doesn't matter. You're going to take your black balloon, and just do a loop twist, pull the knot through, followed by a pinch twist. You're going to go down, bring it back up, then back, twist it, and then you're going to roll it through. You can either attach a face balloon, or just use a 260, or you can even use a blush. All you're going to do is attach it at the top of the hair, bring it down, twist these two together, break it off, and just tuck it in.

So there you have the face and you're going to wrap it around the top so it's nice and tight. And there you have it, Captain Marvel or Shazam! He's also got that giant yellow lightning bolt on his chest, so draw that on for more detail if you like.

The other thing is, he's got a cape like Superman, so make the same design you did for the Superman cape except in white.

For balloon markers, I usually use Sharpies, and I only use the oil-based ones, because the water-based ones are obviously too watery.

The Hulk Balloon Design
The Hulk Balloon Design

The last design is the Hulk, which is a little more detailed. Of all the ones we've worked on, this is the hardest one, but it's also the most impressive looking one. I don't do this one all the time, but this is great for birthday parties or restaurant work when you don't necessairly have kids waiting in a line, and you're just going table to table.

For Hulk, we're going to need a purple balloon, for Hulk's pants, and you're going to want to blow it up only about halfway, so you want to leave a good six or seven inches of uninflated balloon.

We're going to need a green balloon for his torso, and we're going to want to leave about five inches uninflated.

We're also going to have a green balloon for his legs, but we'll only be using about half a balloon.Then we'll need one more green balloon, and leave about five inches uninflated.

And the last thing you're going to need for this is his face. Please do not get the official Marvel licenced character face for the Hulk because it is terrible. I don't have any on me right now, otherwise I'd show you how bad they are. But they are God awful, and I think they come in the Avengers pack that has Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk, but the Hulk is the whole floating head in the middle of the balloon, and just looks really bad.

Instead, get the Juan Gonzalez' green monster balloons. These heads are the best ones for the Incredible Hulk. I not only use these heads for the Incredible Hulk, I also use them for an alien or a zombie. If you don't have the Hulk face, you can also just use a generic five inch round.

I like to start with the pants, so we'll start and do a bubble, roughly about a 4 finger width bubble. Then you're going to do two pinch twists. This is going to be where his knees are. Then just go back and tie it around, and pull the knot through. Now we're going to do the exact same thing, again. You're going to want to break the excess off and save it, because that'll be his waist. So you find the two ends, and you'll want to tie them together. These are going to be his shorts.

Now we're going to attach his feet, so what I do is a loop twist, just a small one, followed by a pinch twist, fold it over, pinch and twist. Then we do a small bubble, and we're going to attach the pants to the green shin area. Wrap it around a couple of times.

Now me personally, I don't like to leave the bubble in the middle, between the pants, so we'll be popping that bubble. But I have seen supehero designs, where they leave it attached here, or they leave it attached here at the feet, and I don't like that because I don't know many suprheroes that their feet are attached.

I'm going to take the green balloon we inflated the most, and we're going to make his pecks, and his abs, and we're going to hook it to his legs. You do about a two inch bubble, and then we'll do six half inch bubbles for his abs. And then another two inch bubble for his other peck. Attach it together at the top, and then you're going to bring this down, twist it, and then you're going to roll it through. Once you have that, you're going to take the bottom two, and roll those, twisting them together in the middle.

So you're going to take the pants and feed them through, but do it quickly, and then feed it up. We tie the leftover purple balloon in a loop twist around his wasit, so we can pop the bubble between his legs. Tie the loop twist and break off the extra. What this will do is it will hold the legs together as I break the spacer bubble.

Now for the arms, we're going to do a bubble, go down into a pinch twist, and then we're going to come back around, to make a big old bicep. Break off the excess and tuck it through. Then we're going to do the same thing with the other one. We're going to do a bubble, attach that to the base here, flip it around, tuck it through, followed by a pinch twist, and then we're going to do his hands.

So you're going to do his forearm, which is about a three finger bubble, followed by a pinch twist, and then another pinch twist, a spacer bubble, followed by a pinch twist, and another pinch twist. Then you're going to make one more bubble for the forearm, and attach that back to the pinch twist.

Now we're going to break the spacer bubble, and you're going to wedge these arms just like we did for Superman. Then you take your head, attach it to the top here. You can give it to a kid as is, or you can take a Sharpie and give him some hair, if you don't want the Hulk to be bald.


Q: What marker did you use for the white drawing?

A: I used the oil-based white Sharpie.

Q: Does your Sharpie go funny if you draw over them, like blue on white for eyes?

A: This is just something as a general rule if you have a problem with paint pens. Let's say I wanted to draw a face: you can do a couple of different things. If you're drawing blue eyes, for example, and then draw black on top of the blue, it's fine - it won't hurt the black or the blue. But, if you were to reverse this, and draw blue over the black, it would mess up the blue.

Now here's where you've got to be very careful. If you're taking white, and drawing white on top of the blue, to give it spots, you have to be very careful and push very lightly. What will happen is the color will rub off, but at the end of the day, it's not the end of the world. It doesn't ruin the paint pen, but I will say if you do black over white, and you get the paint pen on the Sharpie, it will dry, and it will ruin your Sharpie. So if you do the paint pen over the Sharpie, the color will come off on the paint pen, but it won't ruin the paint pen. However, if you do the reverse, and you do the Sharpie over the paint pen, the color will not only come off on the Sharpie, but it will also ruin your Sharpie.

Q: Which pen dries faster, the Sharpie or the Eddie?

A: I think the Sharpie dries faster than the Eddie, but I will say, the fastest drying pen I've ever seen is Milwaukee, who makes power tools. If you go to a Home Depot and get Milwaukee paint pens, they're red, and they're designed for construction. They're waterproof, grease proof, saw dust proof, so if you're using a paint pen to draw on something that has oil or grease or something, you can do it, and it won't mess up your paint pen. So these are some heavy duty paint pens. They last forever, but they're really expensive, and the only place that I found that has them is the Home Depot.

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