More Garrus Mask Work

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In the last blog post, Molding and Casting Garrus’ face, I showed you how I made the mold and cast the top part of my Garrus mask in latex. This one will cover some additional mask pieces. I won’t go into quite as much detail about the molding and casting process, since I covered it pretty thoroughly before. I’ll also show how the top part of the mask attaches to the bottom, and get to the beginnings of the neck build.

Here are the sculptures for the left and right mandibles. You can’t quite see it in these pictures, but I sculpted each of them over a cardboard cutout, to ensure they matched each other and were the correct size for the mask.

Here are the mandibles being prepped and molded. I built a wall of clay around each one to catch plaster runoff. It’s important at this stage to make sure the plaster gets into all the details, especially on that scarred right mandible. They would receive another couple coats of plaster after this one.

These are the sculptures for the interior of the mouth – the upper and lower jaws, and the tongue. I did do things a little bit backwards, here. The teeth were already attached into the jaw, so I ended up sculpting these to fit around them. It would’ve been better to wait and fit the teeth to the gums, rather than the other way around. Lesson learned!

At this point, I was thinking to add a vision point through the bottom of the lower jaw, so hence why there’s a dip in the bottom inner jaw there, under where the tongue will sit. I later decided that vision point was unnecessary, as I could see down past the mandibles just fine.

The sculptures for the upper and lower mouth were made with a built-in mold wall, so I simply filled them with plaster to make their molds.

The tongue needed a mold wall, though. Here, I cut out the rim of a plastic container and hot glued it down around the tongue. The interior was well coated with petroleum jelly so it would not stick to the mold, and then the whole thing was filled with plaster to make the tongue mold.

The inner mouth parts have been fitted into place around the teeth. They were a good fit – not perfect, as you can see, but good enough for a part of the mask that would only barely be visible!

I got so into sculpting the bottom jaw that I nearly forgot to take pictures of what I was doing! Here, you can see the scarred right side being roughed out, and sculpture smoothed out using mineral spirits.

Here, I’ve added the final textures and built a mold wall to catch excess plaster.

The plaster mold being created, built up in layers like I did with the top part of Garrus’ face.

And here is the bottom jaw all put together. The lower jaw has been cast in latex and attached, and the tongue rests between the teeth. Note that I won’t be attaching the tongue until it has been painted, since it’s easier than trying to work around the teeth.

The mandibles, like the rest of the mask, are cast in latex, which by itself is very flexible. To give them the correct shape and a more rigid look and feel, I built these supports out of plastic canvas and 16 gauge steel wire. They could be bent into the exact shape I needed to fit alongside the face, and would then reliably hold their shape.

While the mandibles are not articulated in the final mask (yet!), they are built to be able to move side-to-side. Here, you can see that I attached in a couple of binding posts to form a pivot point. The white material is Apoxie Sculpt. You can also see the rig I was intending to use for part of the mandibles’ pivot joint, but it didn’t end up working out – so feel free to ignore it. 🙂

The top part of the mask, by design, would never be attached permanently to the bottom part of the mask. Here, you can see the velcro added to the hat and to the upper mask that would hold it all together. I later replaced the velcro with black to hide it better, and the piece underneath the middle crest became much shorter.

I sewed a hood of black, stretchy material (90% cotton, 10% spandex) that forms the basis for the neck. There are elastic bands that go under each of my arms to hold it in place. The pictures you see here were just a test, but the neck hood felt and moved so nicely, I went ahead and used it. The only change from what you see here is that I cut open the top part so the velcro on the hat would be accessible. (For stability, it was important the velcro be attached directly to the hat, not to the spandex!)

Also, if anyone is thinking of using a similar technique, make sure you get a cotton-spandex mix and not a polyester-spandex mix! Cotton-spandex is a much more breathable fabric, a property you will definitely appreciate in a full-head mask.

This neck-hood is just the first layer, to give me a base on which to attach the actual skin of his neck and his scales. That will be coming up in a post soon.

Finally, here’s almost everything I had up to this point, all put together. You can still see quite a lot of my face behind the mask, especially with a camera flash. The eyes you saw in the previous post have been removed (as I mentioned, I was not happy with them). You can also see why the tongue I made is important. It is not in the mouth in these photos, and you can see my face when the mouth is open. Later on, the eyes and tongue will effectively disguise that there’s a person in there at all!

Many of these in-progress photos were taken as I built the mask, to make sure everything was looking right and to make adjustments as needed. For example, it was hard for me to tell that the mandibles were lopsided just looking at the mask in a mirror, but the photos allowed me to catch this error and correct it. It was well worth the time to pause and take pictures as needed to make sure I was on the right track.

The next blog, Painting My Garrus Mask, dives into painting, and this turian will finally start looking like a turian!

View all Garrus costume blog posts