How to make a mask...

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How to make a mask...

Postby hackdroot » Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:05 pm

Okay, due to the fact that there seems to be an influx of interest in sculpting, mask making, mask modification, hairing, painting masks, etc. I thought I'd throw some basics out for those interested. Now this is ALL based on my experiences, so just like there are 1000 ways to skin a rabbit, techniques vary greatly. You still end up with dinner (or a mask in this case).

DISCLAIMER: Myers.net is not a sculpting site so this is really off topic. The only reason I felt like posting this, is that one of you may be the next Hertlein, Beckstrom, Mabry, Romaire, or Lambert. The only way we'll ever know is if you try.
Anyone who wants to correct any of my opinions or points, feel free to do so. I claim no mastery of the art.



So lets start of with the first installment.....Sculpting.


Sculpting kits vs staging:

Although I'm a big fan of MonsterMakers, I don't really suggest buying a whole mask making kit unless you're real serious about following this through. The only reason why I suggest going through the whole process in stages, is that not everyone has the talent to sculpt something they can turn around and sell. Come to terms with that before you even start. It sucks to have a whole kit that you don't feel like using because your sculpt is not marketable.

CLAY

There are two types of clay you need to be concerned with: Water and Oil based. They break down into sub catagories, but thats beyond the scope of this post.


Water Based WED Clay

I recommend starting out with WED clay because:

A) It's water based and can be worked with indoors without sulphurous outgassing like a lot of oil based clays (Roma plastina)

B) You can move a lot of it real easy and smooth it with plain water (although a mix of water and glycerin works best). It's great for larger sculpts.

C) It's cheap. You can get 50lbs for about $25.00 which is plenty for a sculpt.


The tradeoff for the ease of use:

A) Water based clay will dry out if left uncovered. You need to keep it hydrated and cover it with wet paper towels, plastic bags, etc. EVERY TIME you finish sculpting for the day or an extended period of time.

B) You have a limited amount of time to finish your sculpt. I've heard of folks keeping WED workable for 6-9 months. I've never been as lucky and never pushed it past about 3-4 (but thats considering I sculpted very often)

C) Can't reuse it (well, not for practical sculpting anyways)

WED usually comes in 25lb blocks.

Image

Now another issue is mold. If you take a close look, you'll see the block on the left has speckles in it. Thats mold, and your sculpt is just as susceptable. I'd imagine using a very small amount of bleach in your water spray and covering moisture would keep it at bay, but have never tried it.

Oil Based Chavant NSP

An alternative to water based is oil based. The current favorite seems to be Chavant NSP (Non Sulphurated Plasteline) sulphur free professional oil-based sculpting clay. Chavant NSP clay has low odor and is certified non-toxic by the Art and Craft Materials Institute in the USA

Advantages:

A) Doesn't dry out like Wed so it can be worked with for years uncovered (although I usually cover my sculpts with at least a towel or something).

B) Is fairly easy to work with and can be melted for pouring as well/

Disadvantage:

A) Cost. A 2lb block will run you about $7.00 (~$4.00-$5.00 if you buy in bulk, which I do). Which means a decent size sculpt can run you upwards around $70-$100 in clay alone.

B) Higher hazard materals used for smoothing (naptha, lighter fluid, turpentine spirit, etc). Personally I use d'Limonene, which is a safer alternative to the rest.

Chavant basically comes in three grades (soft, medium and hard) and two colors (green and brown). I use brown medium.

Unlike water based clays, Oil based clays require heat to soften, this can be as simple as a 100 watt bulb, or heat gun.

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Armature

Okay, down to the nitty gritty. Basically an armature is anything you use to support your sculpt or work. This can be as simple as a dowel, or intricate as a wireframe.

Lazy Susan

Regardless of the type of armature you decide to use, I would HIGHLY suggest you make a spinning platform for it to rest on. Having to spin your sculpt constantly is a pain without this. Luckily, with some wood and 'lazy susan' hardware, this is easy to build. I built mine large enough to support my wide variety of armatures.

I have two pieces of octagon wood 17x17:

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These sandwich a circular lazy susan bearing:

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Now, the type of armature you use will be dictated by the type of sculpt your doing. Most folks are accustomed to seeing this type of armature from MonsterMakers:

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MM has a new version of this, which runs about $60.00 + shipping.

Advantages of this type of armature:

A) It saves you from having to use much clay at all for your sculpt since the head area is basically filled in already.

B) It's real light foam, so it doesn't add to the weight of the sculpt.

C) It has shoulders, which provides a platform for those full head masks that extend past your neck.

Mine, I secure to the lazy susan with some drywall screws to keep it in place.


BUT, for myers, this type of armature can be a problem.

A) If you don't build up enough around the head area, you may find yourself digging into the foam as you chop away into the clay.

B) It has shoulders, and myers masks have lengthly, straight necks which makes it REAL difficult to sculpt on this type of armature if you don't prepare for it.



For sculpting a myers mask, I would suggest building your own armature.

Now, some things you need to take into consideration when building an armature:

A) Support. Simply screwing a pipe into a piece of wood is simple, but it provides no support. You want some sort of support for your sculpt and the clay buildup to prevent sliding.

B) Material. In the event you're using water based clay, you don't want to use material that might rob the clay of moisture, like plaster. This will result in the inside of the clay drying out slowly and eventually cracking. You won't realize this is happening unfortunately until it's usually too late.

For myers, I use three pieces of hardware that can be found in the plumbing dept of your local home improvement store:

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Assemble these as pictured, and fasten to your armature (I always use an extra board between my armature and lazy susan platform, this prevents driving the fastening screws completely through both pieces of the lazy susan, rendering it unspinnable.)

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Sculpting

Now this I will not go into in detail since it's so abstract. It's just something you have to do.

Regardless of what your sculpting, you need to be patient otherwise don't even bother. It takes a while to become good at this. I would recommend studying the anatomy of the human head, from the skull to the muscles and such. This will give you a good idea of what goes where. You can get a plastic skull cheap and use it for reference as well. There are also some great videos on the subject. Mark Alfreys' series is a great place to start.

Also, Zombies are always a great first project since you can really screw them up and they still look OK ;)

Here is a LONG series of slides on my first myers sculpt to give you an idea of how to transform a lump of clay into a myers sculpt

(You will have to click the left arrow for the proper sequence)

http://home.comcast.net/~vectrex23/html/1.htm

This was one of the few I actually finished:

http://home.comcast.net/~vectrex23/tears.jpg


I never put it into production since it was a learning experience. I recently sold off the master and rights to it.

A digital camera is also a great tool. Taking pictures of your sculpt in different angles of light can point out problem areas that you won't normally see. It also gives you a new view on your sculpt. If you spend many hours on a sculpt, you can become blind to areas that are off.

When you get frustrated at sculpting, and you WILL, cover it up and walk away for a while. Take some time off and come back with a fresh approach after a few days and you'll be surprised the strides you can take.

Sculpting tools

This topic is really hard to cover since everyone used different tools to sculpt with and you find your needs changing. I purchased about 20 or so when I began and have eventually settled on using only a handful. Here's a pic of some of my sculpting tools I frequently use.

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Most of the tools serve many purposes. Wire loop tools are essential. The long wire tool is great for cutting slabs of clay, the sponge is for smoothing, and the ping pong balls are inexpensive placeholders for eyes.

The only thing missing worth mentioning is my saw tooth rake tool, which is invaluable. I made it from an old band saw blade and it provides a way to level off large areas fast. Google 'sculpt rake tool' for examples of them. You should also have Latex gloves handy since it will protect your hands from the moisture robbing characteristics of the water based clay (which will dry out your hands in a heartbeat), PLUS provide protection when handling other materials. A water spray bottle is essential as well.


Thats it for today. I'll follow this up with 'Making Molds'.......

-Eric
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How to make a mask...

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Postby Nils » Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:42 am

Great, this is worth being sticky. :)
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Postby Matthew Mayhem » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:33 pm

great thread thanks hackdroot

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Postby hackdroot » Thu May 03, 2007 11:03 pm

Making Molds

Okay, this is another topic which is really loaded with personal preference. Essentially they all accomplish the same goal, so if you find a method, which varies from mine but works for you, great.

Now I hate making molds for several reasons.....

1) They take time. I spent damn near 8 hours once making a large mold (this was mainly due to ambient temperature affecting cure time though).

2) There is great potential for screwing it up. You could very well spend 3-6 hours making a mold only to find out that some major flaw has rendered it useless (which you wont find out until the process is done and you've potentially torn apart your sculpt in the process as well). So no pressure. ;)

In reality, it has to be done and you will get better as you make more and more molds. So without further adeiu....

Sealing your sculpt

First off, if your sculpt is made from water based clay, it's best to let it firm up a bit before attempting to mold. This usually occurs naturally since many folks sculpt in basic shape and anatomy while the clay is new and soft, and then will move on to detail after it's been worked with for a while and has firmed up a bit. Either way, you want it firm, but not dried out and cracking.

Now I didn't have a sculpt ready to take pictures of the process with, but fortunately I had to make another mold from a latex master I have. This particular master has a neck too small to use a one piece mold, so I will be doing a two piece mold which is exactly the process I would use on a sculpt as well.

The first thing I'm going to need to do is prepare my sculpt for molding. this will provide a barrier or 'release agent' between the sculpt and the mold material. This will also increase my chances of salvaging a sculpt if the mold doesn't take.

The two aerosols we are in need of are clear coat and dulling spray. Krylon makes both of these, but I can't find dulling spray in any local store to save my life, so I use some matte finish spray from the same brand of clear coat I use.

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You want to apply a very light layer of the clear coat first to your sculpt. This will create a shiny surface. Then apply a thin coat of dulling spray. The dulling spray will take the sheen off of the clear coat and prevent the liquid plaster from running off the sculpt (like water off a freshly waxed car) as you attempt to apply it. I still seal my latex masters when making new molds from them. The latex can potentially absorb moisture from this master, so I still apply a super thin coat of dulling spray to it prior to molding.


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Dividing wall

Now, since you will need to get your sculpt OUT of the mold when it's done, the mold will be made in two halves. In order to accomplish this, a dividing wall must be made around the vertical plane of the sculpt. Now some folks make this from clay, others will use playing cards. I use clay myself.

By now your sculpt should be fairly firm, but you still need to take care when applying the dividing wall. If you've sealed your sculpt properly, there's no problem using some soft water based clay to make a dividing wall on a water based sculpt. They shouldn't mix and I've never had a problem with it.

I usually treat my dividing walls as part of my sculpt. The cleaner the work, the better the end result will be. Resulting pulls will only be as good as the mold they're taken from, so please take your time doing this.

Here's some stuff you will need:

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Now the wooden board is something I made for cutting clean slabs of clay. It was from the leftover MDF I had from the lazy susan.

Image Image

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Now, it's best to follow the contour of the ears when making the wall, it's easier to get it flush with the sculpt, and easier to clean the seam when the resulting masks are done. You don't want a line running down the middle of the ear from where the mold separates. I usually make my dividing wall about 2.5 to 3 inches high and about 1/2 inch thick.

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Now, notice the gap between the sculpt and dividing wall. This is a royal pain to get a nice flush dividing wall with a latex master that wants to flex, but you'll face similar issues with your sculpt. You really want to get a nice clean transition between the sculpt and dividing wall. This will prevent any plaster from getting under the dividing wall and will provide a base for the second half that will result in a nice tight seal.

Use your mad sculpting skills to get this as clean as possible. You can use a wet paintbrush to seal the gap since it will smooth the dividing wall clay well. Just try not to run it off on your sculpt.

Image Image

Now if you've ever seen a sculpt with a dividing wall, you've usually seen small round hemispheres used as mold 'keys'. These help line up the mold and I've used them on larger sculpts, but this one is small and the area around the ears where the wall flexes out will provide the keying for me. I did scribe small valleys with my sculpting tool on the top and under the ears and these serve two purposes. They provide additional keying, and will help prevent latex that might leak between the two mold halves from leaking out of the mold. You really want some sort of keying though to get the mold to line up right when you join the two halves.

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Not my best work, but I don't have all day to pretty it up any more. When you get it nice and clean, now comes the fun part....


Mixing and applying plaster


Okay, two of the popular plaster types are Ultracal and Hydrocal. They're both gypsum products and provide a nice hard detailed medium for molds. Personally, I've only used Ultracal 30, but plaster is pretty universally mixed and applied. Curing times and ratios may vary, so always consult the proper documentation for your particular product.

Ultracal 30 comes in 50lb bags. I always transfer mine to a 5gal bucket for ease of storage and use. Also, during the molding process, it is very handy to have a 5 gal bucket with a few gallons of water in it ready for cleaning your hands, tools, and such.

Pouring unused plaster in liquid form down the drain is a sure fire way to ruin your plumbing. I always try to use ALL the plaster I mix and clean my buckets and tools by heavily diluting it first. You can always let it cure and break it off and throw it away.


Okay, some materials you might need:

Image Image

1) Plaster, of course

2) Mixing buckets. I have my buckets shown that I use for resins and such, but any bucket will work, preferably 2-5 gal depending on how much you're mixing.

3) Chip brushes, for applying the plaster.

4) Latex gloves for application(optional). I don't use them myself.

5) Spatula. This is great for getting all the plaster in the bucket gathered up, but I don't use it for mixing.

6) Mud knife (optional). I use this to clean up any splashed or dropped plaster around the sculpt. I try to clean as I apply layers so I don't have a huge mess at the end. It also makes for a nice clean edge on the bottom of your mold.

7) Burlap strips of various sizes. This is for reinforcing the mold (I have never had a mold break on me)

Ultracal 30 has a mixture ratio of 3:1. This means that for every cup, ounce, or whatever of water, you add 3 cups,ounces, or whatever of plaster. This is great and all, but since powder can be measured dense or loose, it's not a very accurate way to mix. You really want to use it as a baseline and try to rely on consistency.

Now, you want to start off with your water in your bucket and add the plaster slowly. I sift it with my hand allowing it to absorb the water. If you dump it in, you'll get some real messy results.

Image Image

They say the trick is to keep adding it slowly until it starts to form islands on the top and appears as a dry river lake bed. I find this is sometimes not enough, but you want at least this much.

Now I don't suggest using any high speed agitation or wisk for mixing since this could potentially introduce air into the mixture. I mix it up with my bare hands since it gives me a good feel for the consistancy.

The first batch you want to mix up will be the thinnest mixture. This is called the 'splash coat' and is one of the most critical because:

A) It's where all the detail of your sculpt will be picked up

and

B) any unwanted air bubbles will be noticed on your masks.

I like to equate the splash coat consistency to buttermilk or thin pancake batter. Now this stuff sets up fairly quickly, so you don't want to go goofing around. Start applying this from the bottom up with your chip brush.

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Now, you'll notice some thin spots, I went back to those with the remaining plaster in the bucket.

You'll mix up seperate batches for each coat. For the 2nd,3rd, and even fourth coats, you want to be careful and avoid using brush strokes since this could tear apart the thin splash coat layer. simply apply it lightly with the brush. If you throw on too much too fast, the underlying layer could crack or slide. These first few layers are critical and you want each to set completely before applying the next layers.

Once you have a good few layers, it's time to lay on a thicker layer. I mix up a good batch a bit thicker than the previous and simply slap it on, you're not going for detail here and simply building up the mold now.

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Once you have a good foundation, it's time to add a layer of burlap. Some say this is overkill, but doing this right will ensure a strong mold since the burlap absorbs a lot of plaster and it a great reinforcer.

Mix up a nice thick batch of plaster, dip a strip of burlap in it completely and apply it to the mold. then add another stirp overlapping the edges by about 1/4 of an inch. do this until you have completely covered the mold. Use any extra plaster to apply a layer on top of the burlap.

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(Notice the splashing I dripped near the base of the mold, keep tidying that up with the mud knife)

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Now keep building this up until you have a nice thick mold (aprox 1.5 to 2.5 inches). You can check by looking at the profile and from above to see how much you've built up as pictured.

Now comes the smoothing. This is also optional, but since you will be handling this block of stone, you want it to be as smooth as it can be. Skipping this step can result in rigid molds that can have sharp egdes. The trick here is timing. You want to catch the last layer of plaster just as it almost fully cured. Wet your hands and try smoothing out the surface. If yo're sloshing around the final layer, it's too soon. You can do this in two steps. Rough smoothing and final smoothing. It's something you just have to do to get the feel.

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This is somewhat how the resulting half mold should look.

Molding the front

Now we need to prepare for molding the second half. you need to remove all the dividing wall clay carefully. This will hopefully leave the clean exposed edge of the back half of the mold. Use wooden tools and a little water to remove all the clay from the mold and anything that may be stuck to your sculpt.

Now we will add separation keys. These will help us pry the mold apart once it's done. I place two towards the bottom and two towards the top:

You want these placed at least 1/2" away from your sculpt, otherwise they will provide a channel for you mold to leak excessively. I make them about 1/2" thick and 3/4" wide. Smooth the transition between them and the mold with a wet paintbrush as you did the dividing wall.


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Once you've got your keys made, you need to add a release agent to the exposed mold where the dividing wall was. If we simply molded the front, it would fuse to the back half defeating the purpose of the dividing wall and forever encasing your sculpt in a cement tomb.

Best thing for this is vaseline (or any generic petroleum jelly). This is where the gloves come in handy. Apply a thin layer over the ENTIRE surface of the exposed mold wall AND about 2 inches over the back half of the mold. You're basically preventing any plaster that hits the wall or spills to the back half from fusing.

Now, for the area where the mold meets the sculpt, I am a bit more critical since I don't want a huge buildup of grease preventing a good seal. I take an empty soda can turn it upside down on the concrete. Put about a tablespoon of vaseline in the concave cavity and hit it with either a torch (from a distance), heat gun, or hair dryer. This will liquify it temporarily and provide me a brushable liquid to create a thin seal between the mold and sculpt.

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I go through great lengths to ensure that there are no unprotected areas of plaster from the back mold to fuse with the front. Taking your time will reward you with a mold that is easy to separate, and one that seals well.


For the second half of the mold, we wont have to fight gravity as much. You can lay your sculpt carefully on the back and mold the front half exactly as you did the back, burlap layer and all. Try to avoid letting plaster creep down the back half of the mold, and clean up any that does.

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Once you finish molding and smoothing the front, tilt the mold upright, and dig out the clay that you made the separation keys with. Grab yourself a screwdriver or small prybar and carefully start to separate the mold. I usually do a little on one side and then a little on the other. Keep alternating until one half of the mold is free.

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Since the face holds all the detail, the back half is usually the side to come off first.

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Once removed, clean off all that petroleum jelly and any clay that may still be stuck in the mold. I've taken molds to the carwash and blasted them a bit with the pressure washer (from a distance) to clean out the clay as well. A spongebath on the inside can also remove any residual clear coat that may have stuck.

Now if there are small pockets of air in your mold, don't fret. You can often repair them with a small batch of plaster as long as you keep it flush with the surface of the mold. any buildup of plaster on the inside of the mold will create indentations on any resulting masks. I've also use extra clay to fill in small holes and inperfections.


I would HIGHLY recommend taking some clay and making a small face, from the ears forward, on a board. Then making a small mold of it. This will give you a feeling of working with the plaster and the resulting half mold. It's good practice before moving on to your actual sculpt.

Next installment, casting a latex mask.................

-Eric

Last edited by hackdroot on Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby hackdroot » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:38 am

Okay, so now that we have our mold, lets get to casting.

But first, lets get some simple terminology down which is often misused and misunderstood (this is in laymans terms and can be interpreted many different ways, so please take it with a grain of salt).....


Mold: This is a negative impression of an object or sculpt which allows us to make replications.

Casting: The process of making a cast.

Cast: The replicated piece, which can be made from a variety of materials (e.g. mask latex, resin, silicon, stone, etc)

Pull: Usually used in reference to a latex blank which is removed (or 'pulled') from a mold.

Recast: The process of making another copy by molding an original piece.

Retool: Modification of an original sculpt OR clay impression.

Clay pour: The process of melting clay and filling a mold in order to recreate a sculpt for retooling and remolding.

Master pull (or master copy): This is simply one of the first masks pulled from a mold that will be used for making future molds. It is left unpainted and stuffed to preserve the original shape (usually made from either silicon or latex)

Slush cast: The process of partially filling a mold and rotating the mold to 'slush' the latex around covering the entire inside surface of the mold.

Fill dwell: The process of completely filling a mold and allowing it to cure on the walls of the mold.

Latex Casting

Okay, first here are some of the materials we will need:

1) Mask Latex

2) Water spray Bottle

3) Mixing stick

4) Banding straps

5) Baby powder

Now, not to sound like a broken record, but this is yet another process which can be done several different ways. My way may not be the best, so feel free to experiment on your own.

Also, when I get a new batch of latex, I usually pour about a quart or so of it into a separate container. With all the latex being poured out and back into your bucket, it can sometimes accumulate cured pieces of latex and over time get a bit thicker. I like to keep some separate to use later for making mask paint. I also pour some into small sqeeze bottles for applying hair with:

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Mask Latex

There are a few different types of latex which can be used for casting masks, but one of the more popular is RD-407.

RD-407 casting latex is a high quality liquid rubber which is one of the best in the industry. It can not only be used for making latex masks, but can be thinned down for other purposes, such as making latex mask paint. Unfortunately, it's getting more and more difficult to find, and more and more expensive. A five gallon bucket will run you around $140-$180 shipped (and can run as high as $400 form some places).


WARNING!!!! RD-407 is ammonia based and should be handled as a hazardous material. Please refer to the MSDS here for further information: http://www.dick-blick.com/msds/DBH_335751006.pdf


Now, since ammonia evaporates, mask latex does not have a tremendous shelf life. If you've stored it for some time and can no longer smell the ammonia, it is possible to add ~26% aqua ammonia from a chemical store to regain it's characteristics (store bought ammonia only contains 2-3% and also contains soap). You can add small amounts to bring it back to usability.

It's best though to simply buy only what you'll need. If you buy RD-407 in individual gallons, and intend to mix them together, it is suggested that you mix those from a common lot # (most manufacturers put the lot # on the bucket or bottle which dictates which 'batch', or 5 gallon drum, it came from). Mixing from different batch numbers may yield an incorrect ratio of the base ingredients and could result in latex which is has too much, or too little ammonia or other key ingredients.

If you only plan on making one or two masks, you may very well get away with only buying a single gallon, but I'd suggest buying at least 3 gallons and asking the vendor if you can get them from the same lot or batch # so you can mix them together.

Also, freezing temperatures and latex don't work together. The latex will be destroyed, so some vendors may be hesitant to ship during winter months to some areas due to liability. It's best to shop around for a close vendor to save on shipping charges anyway.

Now mask latex is ideal for plaster molds because the porous nature of the mold sucks the water out of the latex making it 'cure' and forming a skin of latex on the surface of the mold. By repeating the process, you can build up a mask so thick it will stand on it's own.

So lets get started...

First thing we'll need to do is strap our mold together using molding straps, which can be found at most art stores. You can also use a variety of other methods to keep the halves of the mold together. now I only have one strap since this mold is small, but for a full size mask, I would suggest two.

OPTIONAL: Now many have differing opinions on prepping a mold. I had problems in the past with molds drawing the moisture out of the first pour of latex, leaving air bubbles which will form pockets on the surface of the mask. Since then, I've soaked the inside of my molds with a spray bottle, prior to pouring the first coat. Once again, personal preference.

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This mold is small enough that I can properly support it in a five gallon bucket. For a larger mold, you should use a milk crate or a homemade stand, such as the one in the later pics.

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Pouring

Now that our mold is ready, make sure you stir up your latex, but don't agitate it to the point that air bubbles may form. A few revolutions with a paint stick does the trick.

Now there are two methods for building up a layer of latex on the inside of the mold, Slush casting and Fill dwelling.

Slush casting simply means that you partially fill your mold and rotate it around making sure to slush it around covering the entire inside of the mold. This is the only method you can use if you don't have enough latex to fill the mold and it is a perfectly acceptable way to pour a mask, although it may take a bit more time and attentiveness.

Fill dwelling involves filling the mold completely and allowing it to sit while the latex at the surface of the mold cures and forms a layer, which will become your mask.

WARNING!!!! Clothing will suck up latex like a wick and is virtually impossible to remove. If I had a dollar for every pair of shirt and pants I ruined........... :evil:


This is my particular process...

First I fill the mold 1/3 to 1/2 way with latex SLOWLY. Pouring it in fast will ensure air bubbles (especially on areas that have undercuts). Pick up the mold and carefully rotate it around making sure to cover the entire inside surface of the mold. If you've done a proper job on your mold, and strapped it tightly, there shouldn't be any leaking from the seam. If there is, simply stuff some clay in that area to stop the leak.

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Then pour out the remaining latex back into the bucket and set it either on the bucket or on your stand to drain. I cut a hole in an extra lid to accommodate this. Making molds with nice flat bottoms are essential for this.

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If you have a larger mold, you can build a stand for pouring and draining as I have:

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Since this is the first layer of latex, it is the one you want to be worried about since air bubble here will affect the mask surface. I only drain this for about 2 minutes in order to give me some time to do damage control on bubbles.

Flip the mold back over and inspect the inside for any air bubbles. I usually have a wooden skewer stick ready to pop large ones (being careful not to poke all the way through the layer of latex to the mold surface).

For areas with many smaller bubbles, I have a special water bottle. I purchased these at the craft store and what I do is this: Remove the top spray head and tube and turn the tube into a 'U' Shape. Reinsert it into the bottle. What this does is places the end of the spray tube at the TOP of the bottle. Now basically you've rendered this bottle useless for practical spraying since the water will not spray once it gets below the tube level, but thats what makes this bottle special. This bottle only sprays well when spraying upside down which allows me to put my hand into the mold cavity and give those nasty areas of air bubbles a good spray without contorting my wrist to keep the bottle upright.

Image

I hit those air bubbles with a spray or two and try to do as much damage control as possible.

Let this layer cure for about 20-30 minutes, then repeat the slush casting process again only this time, allow it to drain for about 15-20 minutes.

This should give you a nice bubble free top layer. From here on out, it's simply building up layers until you get the thickness you want. You can use the 'fill dwell' method as well which goes as follows:

Simply fill your mold completely with latex and allow it to sit from 20-60 minutes.


Image

The only problem I have with this method is that the top of your latex 'pool' is susceptible to curing since it's exposed to the air. This can create those 'chunks' of thick latex that will end up in your latex bucket when you pour it back in. Placing a plastic bag lightly across the top can prevent some of this.

Drain the mold as instructed previously and wait until the previous layer is somewhat dry to the touch before pouring another later.

To speed up curing you can also point a fan into your mold, but I don't use this practice anymore unless I REALLY need to finish it in under a day. Make sure you rotate your mold every 15 minutes or so to prevent latex from pooling at the bottom of the mold if you do this.

Image

You can lightly peel away the latex from the neck area of the mold to check for thickness. Once you've got it where you want it, it's time to pull.


Pulling

Now, since freshly cured latex LOVES to stick to freshly cured latex, we need some sort of barrier to keep this from happening as we remove the mask. Sprinkle a small amount of baby powder into the mold and brush it around with a small rag (I actually use a paintbrush that I cut the handle off of). Once, you've got good coverage, dump any residual powder out.

WARNING!!!! Baby powder contains talc which is a respiratory irritant. After the mask has completely cured the next day, I always wipe out the powder with a damp rag and dry it with a clean rag to remove as much as possible. Corn starch is another alternative, but any fine powder is not to be left inside any mask you plan on wearing!!!!

If this is a two piece mold, carefully remove the banding straps. Freshly cured latex is soft and will tear if not removed with care. Since the back half of the mold is less likely to stick, thats what we'll try to remove first. Use your hands to first try to separate the back half of the mask from the mold as much as you can before attempting to pull the mold apart. Once you have the rear half of the mold off, begin the same process on the front, CAREFULLY separating the mask from the front of the mold.

With any luck, you now have a nice blank in front of you ready for final curing. Stuff this with plastic bags, but not to the point of distortion, and set on a stand somewhere to finish curing (it will continue to shrink and darken for the next 12-24 hours).

Now if this mask came from a two piece mold, you probably have a nice seam running down where the two halves of the mold meet. This will need to be removed and any other imperfections repaired. I will lay out this process on a follow up to this post when I have pics ready.

-Eric
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Re: Mask Making 101

Postby HERETIC » Sat Dec 22, 2007 2:49 pm

OK, so this was brought up the other day, so I decided to do a quick writeup of basically everything I tell people via PM's.

How To Make a Mask
By: heretic

People are always asking “how do I make a mask?” Here’s my step-by-step guide including links to where you can obtain the necessary supplies online.
I am writing this as a general how-to, but not including if you want to sculpt your own mask. I have never done it, its easier to buy blanks…..as with any type of guide, I am sure others have their own ways to do stuff, and it goes without saying to be careful with tools, if you take out an eye, it is not my fault. Some may not agree with some of the things contained herein and have their own way of doing things, and that’s great, write your own damn faq then.

1. Prep the mask: This includes cutting the eyes, the nose, mouth and earholes if desired as well as slitting the back. If the eyes are not sculpted in, draw them on the surface of the mask before you cut. It is better to have made them too small than too big, adding material is a royal pain. Most masks have some kind of line on the back where it is to be slit for wearability. Using a sharp scissors, cut up to the desired height, then use a leather hole punch to make a hole at the top. DO NOT try to use a regular hole punch, it won’t work and you’ll bend it. You can pickup leather hole punches for around 7.00 at Walmart in the crafts section or online.

http://www.dickblick.com/zz605/09/?wmcp ... ther+Punch

At this point, you can also dremmel the surface of the mask to remove imperfections, bubbles, and latex pimples. Use the white circle buffer attachment and GO SLOWLY. As with the eyes, its much easier to take away than it is to add on. I prefer the model I have, which is a variable speed that you control. That way you can put it on a slow setting for detail work, or a high setting if the mask has a seam (latex in a line from the bottom of the neck which goes from under one ear to the other.)

Although it is not 100% necessary to make sure the paint sticks, you can also clean off the surface of the mask with citrus cleaner. For some reason I have found that the citrus scented stuff works the best.

2. Supplies:
Paint: Mask paint is made of liquid latex mixed with pigment. You can make your own, or you can buy it. It is more expensive to purchase pre-made paint, but less of a pain. Get some white and some dark flesh. As with anything, you pay more per ounce if you get a smaller bottle.

http://www.monstermakers.com/product/mo ... olors.html

Airbrush: Masks look best when the paint is applied with an airbrush. You can use spongebrushes to put it on, but believe me, latex paint gets very sticky very fast, so I use the airbrush. The one I prefer to use is the paasche H external mix. For basecoating with white or flesh, I generally use around 90psi on my air compressor (which you will also need to buy, just make sure you have some way to adjust the pressure output.) If you decide to add weathering with the airbrush, crank the pressure back a bit, you want it to be subtle, not like Myers meets Marilyn Manson.

http://www.dickblick.com/zz250/05b/?wmc ... rbrush+Set

Hair: Simply put, get whatever you think looks the best. Camel top is the “industry “ standard, and what is found on the regular warlocks.

http://www.thewoolery.com/Pages/fibers.html#exotic

A Blank Mask: Most makers will sell you a blank, some will not. Its their choice. Some do not because a blank can be used to make a new mold (recasting.) You can get some blanks from Andrew (http://www.jackintheboxmasks.com), different ones come up on ebay from time to time, or you can just email makers and ask them. Since you are most likely a new mask collector/maker, I’ll go ahead and save you the trouble or sending an email. DON’T BOTHER ASKING JUSTIN, TERRY, NIK, BOOGEMNANMASKS, ETC. FOR A BLANK OF AN EXPENSIVE MASK THEY ARE CURRENTLY PRODUCING. Unless you know them personally, ya ain’t getting one.

Sponge brushes, artist’s charcoal, and acrylic paint: I generally get all 3 at Wal-Mart, but they can be found at Hobby Lobby. Brand, etc. is irrelevant.

Crappy Clothes: WARNING: Latex does not come out of fabric. End of story.

Patience: I’ll throw this out there right away. Your first mask will not come close to looking like work from any professional maskmaker. We’ve been doing this for years, and it takes a lot of trial and error. If you wanna practice, pick up a crappy DP chalkface before you test your new skills on a higher quality blank.

2. Painting the mask: There are many different ways to do this as well, this is the way I do it. First, make sure you have something to place the mask on which will not tip over while you’re painting. Generally whatever you use to display your masks works fine.

Depending on what mask you want to paint, start with either a flesh or white basecoat. For H1 and H2, start with flesh. Use the #5 needle and adjust it so the paint comes out smoothly. To test, spray some on your hand, don’t worry it will come off. For H1, hit the mask with flesh on the neck, behind the ears, the (eventual) sideburn lines, and other spots if you want the mask to have more flesh peeking through. Let the paint dry for about 5-10 minutes before you switch to white. Spray the white on the mask, making sure to make light, even coats. If the paint pools, you’re gonna have a very shiny spot on your mask. Make sure to paint any part of the mask which will not be covered by the hair, as unpainted latex will “rust,” more quickly than painted latex. Don’t worry about painting over your first coat, you are supposed to, believe me.

3. Weathering: Most makers have their own method of weathering, just figure out what works best for you. The most common ways of weathering are using artists charcoal and acrylic washes.

http://www.dickblick.com/categories/cha ... edcharcoal

For charcoal, use artists charcoal, not the stuff from your grill. I generally get the sticks, then put them in a plastic bag, whack em with a hammer to bust them up, and then put the charcoal powder into a glass jar. When you put it on, you can pretty much use whatever you want. Q-tips work well for the eyebrows and harder to get to areas, whereas circular sponge brushes work well for the nose, ears, and eye corners.

Another method of weathering is called an acrylic wash. This is exactly what it sounds like. You mix a few drops of acylic paint into water, and then use a sponge brush or a rag to “wash” the mask with the mixture. What happens is the paint will get into the nooks and crannies of the mask, giving it a naturally weathered look. After you put the wash on the mask, just blot it off with a dry rag or paper towel. Try different color combinations to determine what looks best to you…the most commonly used myers colors are black, grey, and brown.

When you are happy with the look, you must now decide on whether or not to seal the mask. If the mask is going to be for display only, you don’t necessarily need to seal it. If there’s any chance it will be going outside, being worn, etc. its probably better to seal it. I generally use acrylic matte sealer (in a spraypaint can) for any mask other than a shiny H2. For shiny H2’s, I use crystal clear. The matte sealer is in the same place as the acrylic paints. Spray from about a foot and a half way in broad sweeping strokes. You do not want to be putting a ton of sealer on, as it is not the most flexible thing in the world and can crack if you do it wrong.


4. Hairing: Once again, decide what looks best to you. Personally, I use the foldover method in the front, it makes for a nice, clean hairline. Some people don’t do it, as that is not how the original mask was done. Either way, do whatever you like.

I am not going to go into how to put hair on, there are already tutorials for that, but I will comment on the types of ways to adhere it.

a) Latex: Latex will make a permanent bond to the mask. It is extremely hard to get the hair off if it was put on with latex.
b) Elmer’s tacky glue: It’s basically like school glue, except it dries clear. You can also use this for the sideburn lines. It will give a good hold, but if it gets wet, it will soften and hair will come out.
c) Hot Glue: My personal choice. Does not hold as well as the Elmer’s or the latex, but your job will go a lot quicker if you go this route. Several of the major mask companies use this.


In general, my theory is this: if this mask is going to be carried by the hair or thrown around, you should probably not be making it. Get yourself a cheapie to destroy. My opinion is that these are works of art and collectibles, not things to be used and abused. So, if you plan to beat the crap out of it, use latex. Any of the glue types will hold the hair, provided it is properly done. The hot glue is the easiest to get off, but you still have to pull on it

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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby HALLOWEEN9 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:35 pm

Hey members,
I just want to ask you guys "How to paint/weather or convert masks? And hairing????" I became interested in doing this because I want to start redoing my own blanks or my own masks. I'm not one of those members who can be able to get a job, and I don't have enough money for nice NAG/AHG 78s, or Mint75 painted up by JC or Mike or Bry. Thats why I decided I want to learn how to basically redo masks my self (paint,hair,weather,convert),but my problem is, I don't know what supplies, methods, etc. Can someone please help me with this? Or please PM me?

Thank you

PS
I mean as what paint to use, what kind of paint to buy for diffrent latex colors, white or flesh color etc

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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby michaelmyers_lopli » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:42 pm

Very good and very informal.
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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby TheRealMichaelMyers » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:02 am

awesome post too bad i have never been very good with my hands lol but great reading

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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby silvershamrock1 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:47 pm

just a quick question can any type of clear coat be used does it have to be krylon?

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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby tchico_Maggot » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:24 pm

hey man i have a question...
how much do I have to buy (latex), to make a mask the entire head? :?: :?: :?:
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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby betelgeuse4721 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:37 pm

This is the most epic thread I have ever witnessed. Exactly the information I was looking for!! Thanks.
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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby jackknife johnny » Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:13 pm

    So, for the most part, I followed this step-by-step how to, and this is what i created.
    Image
    This was my first mask/bust I've ever done.
    Excellent tutorial.
    Cheers! :D
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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby KateDaring52 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:34 am

Great post! It's very nice. Thank you so much for your post.

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Re: How to make a mask...

Postby Darth Voorhees » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:16 pm

jackknife johnny wrote:
    So, for the most part, I followed this step-by-step how to, and this is what i created.
    Image
    This was my first mask/bust I've ever done.
    Excellent tutorial.
    Cheers! :D



That is pretty awesome man. Im gonna try this sometime soon!

This is a great Thread! coming from making silicone molds with fiberglass mothermolds, and casting fiberglass and resin helmets, this is exactly what i needed to see to see the differences in the 2 processes. excellent thread!
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