Full costume: HERE
Hey there everyone! I apologize for taking so long to get this tutorial out, these things take forever to do. Anyway, I don’t have many pictures of the process (stupid me for forgetting again) So I’ll make sure to be as detailed as possible and if you have any questions you can shoot me an email or comment below!
This tutorial is based on the mask I originally made for my upcoming cosplay of the Doctor from AC: Brotherhood. But you should easily be able to make changes if you want a regular plague doctor mask (like making the beak longer and such)
-basic craft mask (usually at Hobby Lobby)
-paperclay (the amount depends on how big the mask is, I used 1 pack)
-clear acrylic (those plastic sheets near the glass section)
-2″ metal rings
-1 ft of black chiffon (a see-through fabric)
-EZ wrap or rigid wrap (plaster sheets)
-Black metallic paint
1.Before starting make sure you remove the string on the mask and set it aside, you can use it later if you like. Now, to begin take the plastic craft mask and cut it to make the holes for the eyes a little bigger. This will help improve your vision through the mask since the glasses are pretty big. (Don’t make the holes too big!) Malfatto as has a bit of an odd shape on the sides of the mask so make sure you cut accordingly.
2.Next, cut out square pieces of upholstery foam and glue them to the nose of the craft mask with hot glue. The foam will be the base for your beak and can be as large or as long as you like. The bottom piece of foam should be the largest and cover the nose and mouth of the craft mask, then as you add more foam the pieces should get smaller. You want to aim for a rough shape of a curved beak so you don’t have to carve a whole lot!
3. Now the important part, carving! It’s important to get the shape, size, and center when carving because it will effect the overall look of the mask. Don’t worry! If you mess up you can easily add more foam! Make sure to use sharp scissors and blend the different pieces of foam. A warning, it will make a HUGE mess! If you’re aiming for Malfatto’s shape then you would want to have the bottom curving up high and his beak short and a bit thin. Personally, I made his beak thicker than my reference so it would be stronger and survive in case I run into anything.
4. Okay, after you finished your final shape it’s time to make your base sturdy so you can add the paperclay. Rigid wrap or EZ wrap is actually a type of “bandage” coated with plaster that’s activated with water. It gets hard once dry and makes a wonderful layer to build on! Begin by cutting the bandage into smaller strips and build a layer over the entire mask (foam and all) This will not only give you a hard surface to clay over but it will ‘blend’ the beak into the mask. You can add more then one layer if you like, personally I did just one, but you’ll need it strong enough so it won’t cave in when applying pressure.
5. Once the plaster layer is fully dry (important!!!) it’s time to bring out the clay! Paperclay is an awesome material to work with and all cosplayers should be familiar with it! It’s lighter then the average clay, air-dries, can be sanded, and carved! It’s best to have water nearby when working with paperclay, because it’s easier to smooth out the clay when your fingers are wet. With this, cover the mask with a single layer of clay, keep it thin but thick enough to hid the Rigid wrap texture underneath. Once the clay is completely DRY sand to your heart’s content. You can easily add more clay to fill out bumps if needed, since paperclay will pretty much stick to anything if it’s wet.
Finally! A picture! Here’s how my mask turned out at this point. You can see that it’s still a little rough and that it’s been carved with a few other details.
6. The glasses will be done last since they’re the most complicated part. Now, when your mask is dry and decently smooth this would be a good time to add any other details, such as carvings and ridges. The Doc’s mask has cheek bone ridges on the side, plus a carved mouth, beak lines, and nose holes. Paperclay can be easily drawn on with a pencil so you can sketch out your details first! I used metal clay tools to carve out the lines then smoothed it out with more clay. Wood carving tools also work just as well. For my mask I sacrificed comfort (and the ability to breathe) for accuracy, since the Doc doesn’t really seem to have any holes to breathe with. But, if you want comfort with your regular mask then make sure to either make the nose holes deeper, or have a small cut out at the bottom of the mask. (the best place is at the base of the beak) So you can actually breathe.
7. Alright, after you’ve gotten your details you’d want to focus on smoothing out the mask again before moving on. Gesso is wonderful at doing that! Cover the entire mask in 10 or 15 coats of gesso then sand. (Only use gesso after you’re done carving!) If you have any carvings make sure you don’t fill it up with too much gesso and that you sand it well after. If it is not smooth enough to your liking then add more coats of gesso and sand. Now, on to the harder part, the glasses! You’re going to start by preparing the actual “lens” for the glasses. To do this take your sheet of clear acrylic and place one of the 2″ metal rings on top. The sheet should have a thin plastic cover over it when you buy it, don’t remove it yet! Because you’ll need to trace out two circles with the metal ring. (a sharpie works wonderfully for that!) Now, it’s time to cut them out, but be careful because the acrylic will crack a little! Also, don’t cut right on the line, leave some space so when it does crack it’ll be covered up later. You can finally remove the plastic coating after that.
8. Now it’s time to add a thin line of super glue along the edge of the plastic circle you just cut, so you can glue the fabric to one side. Make sure the chiffon is tight or it won’t look very pretty! Don’t glue the rims to the plastic yet!!!! First you’ll want to cut the mask eyeholes enough for the plastic circle to rest on, but not actually fall into the mask. Once you are satisfied with the placement (make sure it’s nice and even) you can glue it on. It’s best to use a thin line of hot glue on the edge of the lens, make sure you are gluing the fabric side down!!!!! You want people to see the shiny plastic side. Once you have it glued then put it in place and do the other side.
What’s so important about the chiffon fabric? Well, it darkens the glasses and doesn’t allow anyone to see into the mask, while you can see out just fine. And since the fabric is behind the plastic it adds a nice effect of tinted lens.
9. Now it’s time to prep the mask so you can add the frames. First get out your paperclay and place thin strips on the rough edges of the plastic lens. Keep using the metal ring (your frames that you’ve used to measure before) to push the clay out a little so it the ring will fit snugly later. (Make sure you don’t get any clay on the actual lens that would be inside the frame!!!!) If you do get some clay somewhere on the lens other than the edges, then you should be able to easily wipe it off with a rag.
Here’s how my mask looks at this point. You can easily see the carved lines and such, plus notice how clean the lens look. Adding the clay over the rough edges hides that problem and gets the frames to fit perfectly.
Now, prep the 2″ metal rings to be painted. I did this by carefully painting a few layers of gesso on it. You won’t be able to sand it so make sure you paint it nicely. Then use the metallic black paint to give the frames a nice coat. Before gluing the frames down make sure you check that they still have a tight fit on top the plastic and don’t stick out too oddly. Glue the frames using a thin line of superglue.
10. Now that you have the basic frames on it’s time to add the nose bridge and eyelashes for Malfatto. Thick wire was used for this part. Map out where the eyelashes are going first, then carve a small line for them on the mask. To match the references you want the to stick out about halfway from the mask, but still keep them level with the round frame. You do the same thing with the nose bridge as well. Use small pieces of paperclay to combine the wire eyelashes and nose bridge to the rings to make it look like one piece. You may have to sand the clay down a little to make it flush with the frames.
Another picture with the frames fully added. I added gesso on the frames to sort of combine them with the mask and then repainted everything.
Make sure to cover all plain clay with gesso as it tends to be an off white color. You can choose to use paint to get your mask white, but for some reason that was not really working for me. So I kept the gesso plain and it looks just as fine. Once you have your mask nice and white the you need to add a coat of varnish. You can choose a nice matte’ or gloss. I went with satin which is between the two.
This is the finished piece! You can see the nice gleam coming off the lens and how well the varnish makes it look!
Update: Some time after I finished the mask I finally decided that I wasn’t quite happy with it. So I re-carved the mouth and weathered it, which made it at least look 100% better!
Well, that completes this tutorial! I’m not the best at explaining things so hopefully this all helps. Just shoot me an email or comment if you have any questions!
Thank you for reading all this and I wish you luck on your costume!