Guide to making your own kigurumi cosplay mask~
Some of you are probably aware, I've started my own kigurumi website a few years ago which has now grown to a small international community (kigurumicosplay.com) of kigurumi cosplayers. There truth is, many people are not aware of such a genre of cosplay which originated in Japan over 10 years ago. This is only meant to be an article of interest, and to shed a positive light on the genre of cosplay which everyone can participate in.
Saw that there is actually quite a pool of people interested in kigurumi cosplay in the other kigurumi discussion thread.
So I thought you might be interested in see how a professional kigurumi mask is made too~
Well, as this is a "GUIDE" to make your "OWN" kigurumi mask, I will refrain from using professional methods which I use for my products today.
However, the quality and standard of the masks you make using these "HOME MADE" methods will be no lesser than the professional standards. It is also how I made my first mask.
In this guide, I will teach you how to make this mask
I'll start the guide right from the beginning so anyone can attempt~
Sculpting the headform (The design of the mask)
Required materials: Styrofoam wig head, about 12 packets of 1kg clay(any clay will do, get cheap)
Once you got all the clay present, do NOT open them all right away. You only need a few at any one time. Take your styrofoam wig head, preferably get a male one as it is bigger and has a thicker neck to support the weight of the clay. Wrap the clay around the wig head until it looks something like the pictures below. There is no way of telling you how much clay you need, just use your estimation and visualise how large you want the head to be. You don't need to be 100% accurate now, you can do modifications easily later. But the closer you are to your desired size, the better.
Well, most people are not pro sculptors, so the advice below are for you. It is recommended that you have a large image or figure of the design you want to sculpt infront of you. Especially for beginners, you will tend to use your own impressions other than what is actually present. Remember, to use your observation and not your own impression, it is the most common cause for beginners to fall at this stage. Even I find it hard sometimes to sculpt what I see instead of what I think. If you are using a figure head from an image, make sure that the image has shots from multiple angles. Just note that the more information you have on what your design needs to look like, the more accurate your sculpture will be. (NOTE: since it is an anime mask, use an anime figure or image of an anime figure as the model)
When the head sculpture is done, it should look something like this. I'm sure there are people who can sculpt better than this, but let's just use this for now. Don't be surprised if your finished sculpture is rough, uneven and unsymmetric. It is purely normal as we are not machine. Feel free to use tools to make holes, carve mouths etc. You don't need to worry about the facial features as they are pasted on afterwards on the finished product.
PLEASE NOTE: The biggest pit fall at this point is to STOP. From experience, no matter how familiar you are with sculpting, there are definitely places you can improve upon over time. So take a break for one day, cover the head sculpture with a damp cloth and that will keep the clay soft for another day or so. Come back tomorrow and you may be surprised to see how much mistakes and imperfections you made. At least you should be able to see how you can improve the looks of the sculpture like making the chin sharper or make the eyes higher etc. Spend the next few days making small improvements until you are totally satisfied. Get people's comments, ask here, or look at more examples of figures. Just take your time to get it right. Can't stress enough, if you screw up here, your entire project afterwards is a waste of time. This is the only difficult part, so spend extra time on it.
Oh and don't forget to sculpt the ears. I don't think there is anything particular you need to know about sculpting ears. Just use your own estimation and creativity. Its hard to screw up on this part, even if you did, the hair will mostly cover them. (notice the ears in the background in the picture above) Also, the finished headform is really heavy, imagine all your 12 packets of 1kg clay in there, its gotta be at least 10kg in total weight.
Common question: What is the bulge on top of the head for?
The bulge is to imitate anime hair volume. A normal wig is just not bulky enough to make the mask to anime-ish. Just believe me for now, it is a common technique in kigurumi mask making. Any further questions, feel free to ask.
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 01:50 AM.
Finishing for the head sculpture
Materials: sand paper (fine and coarse), lacquer/varnish
CONGRATULATIONS, if you finished the step one, you have the ORIGINAL. All the copies can be made from it. and if it is crappy, all the copies will inherit that too
Now that the sculpting is finished, we can take it more easily. The following steps are not difficult, only TEDIOUS~!!!
Don't lose your motivation now, it will be fun anyways~
Actually I lied a little, the ORIGINAL is not finished until you sanded and lacquered/varnished the head sculpture. So do just that. Sand the head sculpture starting with a coarse sand paper. 1x A4 sized one will be more than enough for this part. Tear the A4 size into smaller hand held sizes and start buffing. In this step, 98% of all unevenness and bumps should go. Take your time, it is labour intensive and tiring, but it will be worth it. For people who studied Design and Technology in secondary school, you know the drill.
Once the head sculpture is sanded smooth. Do the lacquering. REMEMBER, lacquer in THIN coats. Wait for one coat to dry, sand gently and apply second coat. Repeat for a few coats until the head sculpture is as smooth as an apple's skin. Shouldn't be too hard, if you do the steps right, there is no way you will not get a smooth surface. Anyways, use your own judgement here. All there is needed in STEP 2 is to make the head sculpture smooth and waterproof. Preserving it for use. And then your ORIGINAL headform is complete
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 01:50 AM.
Reason: writing in progress
Making the master copy
Materials: Casting bandage, Vaseline
Now that the ORIGINAL head sculpture is completed, it is time to make a negative copy of the ORIGINAL head sculpture. In order to do that, I am going to demonstrate the "HOME MADE" method which uses a cheap but very effective way to make a negative copy. We use casting bandages. Casting bandages comes in rolls usually, available from red cross supplied or Art Friend. I'm sure there are lotsa other places which have theses as well. Cut the casting bandages into strips so that the strips can be easily pasted onto the mask. BUT WE CANNOT DO THAT JUST YET, Read after the picture of the casting bandage and vaseline
You first need to plan on how you're going to remove the casting bandages before you start casting. If you don't, it will become a major problem later. The cast will have to open up into two pieces as seen in the picture below. Draw a line using a marker to indicate where you will make a barrier to stop the casting bandage from going over. Look at the picture for a better understanding.
Noticed the lines marked are the edges which the casting bandages will stop.
Two halves of the cast you make MUST be able to be rejoined together to form a single negative copy like in the picture below.
Give some thoughts to it on where you want the cast to split before doing it and draw the boundaries. just before you start applying the casting bandages. You must first coat your entire ORIGINAL head sculpture with VASELINE. VASELINE is also known as petroleum jelly, or you can use oily moisturizer cream. You have to apply this otherwise the cast WILL NOT come off after it has cured. DO NOT apply too thick a layer of vaseline, as long as it is spreaded out and covered the entire head, it will be fine. When applying the casting bandages, make sure you use your fingers to smoothen the casting bandages over the surface of the ORIGINAL head sculpture. The casting bandages are uneven, but when wet, they become fairly clay like. But it will not be smooth unless you smoothen it manually when you apply them. DO NOT finish all the casting bandages, leave a few for the following step (read ahead to know how much you need).
The above picture shows the whole head after it has been covered in casting bandages. You can also see the side where a line in the casting bandage marks the boundary where the two halves will split open. The casting bandages takes about 1 day to harden. Put it in the sun if you can. Make sure it is completely hardened before proceeding to remove it~
You can make as many copies of the ORIGINAL head sculpture as you wish. Notice I made two in the background in the picture above.
Be extra careful when you remove the casted copy. This is the main setback of the "HOME MADE" method. The mold will stick a fair bit. BUT IT IS FINE. if you had coated your ORIGINAL head sculpture with enough vaseline, it wouldn't be impossible to take the cast off.
After you take the cast apart, it should be in two pieces. In my case, there is a front piece and a back piece. Now put them together, and use your remaining casting bandages which you saved to join the two halves into one by "taping" the strips over the gap from the outside like in the picture below. The joined part will have a gap, but the gap shouldn't be too wide, the two halves should be able to form back perfectly into a single negative mask copy.
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 01:51 AM.
Molding the mask
Materials: Paper Mache, Vaseline
Now that you have the negative of the ORIGINAL headform, you use the negative as the mold for your mask. The best material I found to make these masks is Sculptamold paper mache (there is a blue and a red one, get the red one, the blue one takes a long time to cure.) which is available from Art friend (they should give me credit for my advertisement). They come in packets like the one shown in the picture and pours out into white pulpy powdery form in a water basin. BEFORE you start, MAKE SURE you coated the insides of the necgative copy with vaseline as well. Otherwise, your mask will NOT come off the mold and it will most definitely be damaged. You can apply the vaseline with your fingers, or I use small paint brush. (not the tiny ones used with poster colour har -__- A real paint brush.)
DO NOT mix too much paper mache with water at one go, it will harden before you can use them. Wetting them again will not help.
Follow the intructions on the package on mixing the paper mache with water until it is just pulpy but NOT dripping wet. It should be a sticky paste which you can squish about. That is paper mache.
Get the negative copy of your ORIGINAL headform, the two halves joined into one mold should have been fully dried and solid!!!
Then now apply the paper mache paste on the inside of the cast, making sure the paste enters every nook and corner. NOTE: the thichness of the paste should not be more than 1cm... keep it about 7mm You are not making a bullet proof helmet and if you make it too thick, it will be heavy and you have less room for your head. The paper mache will stick even when upside down. If your paper mache is flowing down, then it is too wet. Try to keep the thickness uniform, this step takes a lot of your own judgment. If you run out or paper mache, mix a little more and apply again. New paper mache will stick well with old, so no worries. When it is done, use your fingers and try to smoothen the insides. Your negative with the paper mache should now be quite heavy with water and paper mache.
NOTICE the ears in the background. I've been doing the same steps with the ears as with the headform. Cast them to obtain their negative, it is alot easier with ears.
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 01:51 AM.
Finishing the mask
Materials: Putty, Varnish, Sandpaper
The mask should be fully cured in about 1-2 days, put them under the sun if you can. Just break the cast, rip off the bandages use any means to remove the cast without damaging the mask. This cast is only one time use.
When I said finishing here, I do not mean finish making the mask. I meant apply finishing on the surface of the mask. When the mask is first removed from the cast, paper mache masks will definitely be FULL OF HOLES and some scaring. UNLESS you're a pro and already pre-empted this and paid extra careful when applying the paper mache. BUT NO WORRIES. Many holes or few holes, will also have holes, so you need to fill them with putty.
Those cheap putty from tool shops which costs $4 per container is good enough. I use those and they are really good. Abit hard to sand but extrememly smooth. Notice in the picture above, I applied a lot a lot of pimple cream on the copy. There arre alot of holes in it. Sand the holes away, and apply the second round of hole patching. This is the problem with paper mache, but is it cheap compared to fibreglass. once the mask is sanded smooth and patched with putty, now varnish it. As paper mache masks are vulnerable to moisture, make sure you apply varnish covering 100% of the inside and outside of the mask. AND EARS
OK, same long process, short story. Keep working on it and glazing, sanding, varnishing and it should end up looking like in the picture below. I sprayed a layer of orange paint over it to help spot blemishes. Use an electric drill or something you have to make two eye holes in the mask near the top part of the eye socket. This is where you will see through from~
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 01:52 AM.
Wow good tutorial but need to resize the pics a bit.
Painting the mask
Materials: Acrylic paint(SAME PAINT FOR GUNDAM/MODEL CARS/FIGURINES), Everything you need to go with the paint
OK, this step is a little technical. It is amost entirely a topic on its own. If you have painted gundam figures or resin figurines, then congrats, it should be easy weasy chimpaneezy for you. For everyone else, I will explain a little more.
This may be the most expensive step of the entire process depending on how resourceful you are, or what you already have. IF YOU DON"T HAVE ANY OF THESE, I'm afraid you need to borrow or find a friend (or you can buy a mask from me >_< lol)
When I said "everything you need to go with the paint" I mean the following:
1) Airbrush ($39 at sunshine plaza)
2) Compressed air source (If no air compressor just get compressed air cans for now, not a lot of spraying is required $20)
3) Paints, thinner and tool cleaner ~$30 (correct me if I'm wrong, but just an estimate)
If you're really keen, you have to find out how to get these yourself if you don't have them, or discuss it with me in this thread.
OK on to the painting process.
Firstly I applied the base coat onto the mask. It is the grey paint you see on the mask. The base coat is for your paint to stick well onto the mask. I used those which come in a can, very easy to use. Then while waiting for the base coat to dry, I mix the paints. I use an air compressor and air brush to paint my masks. I have a larger airbrush for wide area coverage which is not shown in the picture below.
For people who painted figurines they would know. Anime skin colour does not come readily, You need to mix. Long story short, I mix roughly 1 bottle of matt flesh with 4 bottles of matt white and 1/4 bottle of pink. Don't forget to thin it with thinner. You need to research on the paints itself if you have no experience in it, or discuss here later.
This is how the mask should look like after you painted it. Don't bother about the parts on top of the head, hair will cover it so don't need to bother much with it. Don't waste your paint.
this is cool...will try when i have the time....
Making the eyes
Material: 30 cents
This step is fairly easy. Making the eyes.
First measure the dimensions of the eye on the ORIGINAL head sculpture. Draw ANIME-ish eyes in Photoshop TO SCALE!!!
You don't need to fit the shape of the eyes 100%, even 60% same shape is enough. Size also roughly same size is enough. But the closer your estimate the better.
Things to note: Photoshop has the image size setting of Photographs. Use a 4 inch x 6 inch default setting. That is the default for a 4R photo. Draw the eyes to fit on it. Second thing to note is, MAKE THE PORTION OF THE EYE that is directly over the eye holes your drilled TOTALLY BLACK. So that when you cut the eye holes out from the eye, the eye holes are hardly visible Then draw the eye brows, eye lashes that will match the size and shape of the eye. Don't worry if its wrong here, remaking them again is not hard.
Next go to any photo developing studio, and ask them to print the photos for you IN MATT AND WITHOUT BORDER. Normal photo studios I went does not have the matt option, kinda sucky. BUT YOU NEED them on MATT for sure, find a place which can do it near your house. Put double sided tape behind the eyes features before u cut them out. I then paste the eye one plastic sheets, or you can paste them directly onto the mask. The eyebrows and eye lashes can be made using plastic sheets. Just cut up one of those thin plastic files you use in primary/secondary school. Doesn't have to be made from photo paper. But the EYE needs to be printed on photopaper, otherwise how to get such detail?
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 12:22 AM.
Jun 6th, 09, 12:33 AM
Making the hair
Materials: two same coloured wigs, contact glue, velcro
This is a long tutorial on its own, I've written a detailed tutorial on attaching wigs on my website, I'm only copy and pasting it here to make it convenient for you. If you read something out of context, its becos I copied and pasted.~ It will be long. This section is so long because it is actually a full detailed report on its own.
This may not be the only way to attach wigs onto kigurumi masks, but it is definitely one of the cheapest, and simplest, yet it is possible to obtain professional standards.
- It is cheap as you do not need special or customised wigs. regular ones you can obtain in stores will suffice. Means you can change it yoruself too~
- It is simple. As long as you can cut and use glue, you can do it. But please, basic art and craftwork knowledge is the bare minimum.
Please read every sentence carefully, I will include a lot of details.
When ordering wigs, I try to find those with long fringes. As kigurumi masks are larger than human heads, their fringes needs to be longer. Fortunately, long fringed cosplay wigs are everywhere. The pink hair in the Yoko mask above is a combination of a 50 inch super long pink wig with short fringes and a 30 inch long wig with long fringes. Well, the super long wigs I order don't come in long fringe versions.... but no problem. Just get at least one will do, you should realise why later. The second wig goes behind the first, so it doesn't need a long fringe.
Firstly remove the tags and straps which comes in almost every wig. As you can see, the wig fresh out of a bag has tags and tightening straps along the side. Cut those away. In fact, cut everything away, you just need the wig scalp (with hair on of course).
Ok, decision time.
One of the wigs will be the front, and one will be the back. The cutting for both are NOT the same, so don't jump ahead and cut them up yet until you've fully understood.
Since I have two different length wigs... I chose the one with long fringe to be the front and the super long 50 inch one to be the back. This proves you can mix and match any two wigs (even different colours) as long everything makes sense.
The wig which goes infront will be cut from the back, thus the fringe is intact, you wanted it.
Doesn't matter how you cut it (again as long as it makes sense) doesn't have to be symettrical half. As you can see from the first image, I needed to choose a left of right to be slight wider... doesn't matter as long as its near the centre.
In the second pic, you can see that I cut along the joining sections. Now you understand why I said you need to choose a left and right? Well I'm sure you don't until you actually do it then you'll go... aaaah~ Hard to explain, look at the pics carefully.
The long thingies had to be cut away. I learnt from past experiences with the Tess mask that the long thingy tends to stick out if you don't cut them away.
Once done, you should have something which looks like the 4th pic. You have successfully opened your wig from behind into two. (well, I'm only using what I think up myself, if you know of better methods which I didn't think of... please tell me. Seriously, I mean tell me... I need to know ). I keep the tiny wefts of hair that was cut out for future purposes... Comes in handy when trying to make "Antennas" or other hair-y ornaments
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 12:43 AM.
Jun 6th, 09, 12:36 AM
STEP 8 CONTINUATION 1
Once you have the front half of the whole kigurumi wig ready, you can now attach it. Well it is up to you, whether to attach it now, or you can prepare the second half of the wig. Well I recommend Attaching first... as depending on your mask shape and wig positioning, your second wig may not go on as you had expected. Put up the first wig to get an idea how you need to cut up the second wig.
To attach the wigs, I found that contact glue is very suitable. It is both very strong and makes the job very easy. Previously when I wasn't using it (was originally using normal strong glue, takes hours to dry... needs clamping etc). OK for people who doesn't know how to use contact glue... pay attention. You DO NOT paste the parts together directly. Apply the glue evenly on both sides of the surfaces to be joined. Wait until the glue is semi dried or dried. Then press the surfaces together. Works like turning your two seperate parts into stickers which stick together. The advantage is that the bond is instant, doesn't stick to anything else (really) and its heaps strong (also used to mend shoes).
Ok, I applied contact glue onto the areas I want to "nail" the wig onto the mask at as you can see in the first two pictures.
Now here is the key part. I use velcro. It is not only a greeeaaat invention, but it makes THIS process many many times easier. Noticed from the first and second pictures that the areas I applied contact glue to the wig are rectangle in shape. It is because the velcro will go on there and the attaching the wig will be abreeze.
The velcro. The strips used are just perfect for making kigurumi masks. It is as if these velcro were designed for attaching wigs...lol. It is half sided sticky taped velcro. These are strong stuff, can hold a mirror to the wall with. The reason why it is so good it because... only one side is sticky taped. AND IT IS THE HOOK SIDE. There can't be a better combination (thank god, didn't know you like kgiurumi) This is because the HOOK side HAS to go on the mask. Can't go on the wig as it will HOOK the hairs. And the mask surface is smooth plastic... so the tape sticks extremely well. (I'm getting excited here). And that is not all there is... The LOOP side has nothing behind, no sticky anything. This is perfect~!!! Sticky backed LOOP side would have FAILED terribly trying to stick on wig fabirc. So its blank... for me to put contact glue on. Ain't that wonderful? Hope they don't get sold out :|
(NOTE: Velcro also has another great advantage. It makes the wig replacable/removable. It truely is many bonuses in one. Velcro is for kigurumi cosplay )
And so, the contact glue is ALSO(remember how contact glue is supposed to be used again?) applied on the blank side, the back of the LOOP side of the velcro strip. Wait for them to dry. The whole process only takes like 10-15 mins. Don't apply on the hair... and don't worry about the glue seeping through and getting on the hair from the back. It shouldn't be too much. Just enough to hold the netting to the velcro firmly will do.
Last edited by Wyu; Jun 6th, 09 at 12:42 AM.
Jun 6th, 09, 12:38 AM
Jun 6th, 09, 12:42 AM
STEP 8 CONTINUATION 3
Now the first half is attached. On to work on the second half.
Well its not a long process, Look, cutting takes about 15 mins max, applying contact glue takes abt 5 mins max, attaching the velcro to the wig then putting the wig on the mask then pasting.... well another 15 mins max perhaps. Its done within the hour.
Second half, mostly the same theory. BUT cutting is different.
What you don't need from the wig for the back of the mask is... the fringe (no surprises)
OK, now don't go cutting away the fringe just yet. This part needs a little planning and thinking. Well you all know that wigs are concaved inwards. You cannot place the wig flat-ly onto the back of the mask as long as it is a cup shape.
SOooo the cutting away of the fringe should also allow the wing to open into a flat piece.
That is the theory.
Here I can't really describe everything. You need to use your own observation and creativity. My advice is, just take note of where to root of the fringe ends. There is mostly where u need to make the cut. The cut would be a U shape removing all the fringe and allowing the rest of the wig to be able to open wide into a flat blanket like piece. The wig is stretchable, so the size can be easily adjusted later.
Ok, I've done all the steps for the front half of the wig for the second half. Take a look at the picture below. The second with is cut up already and velcros ready. I overturned the mask. The mask can be seen with the first wig attached. As expected, one wig is not big enough for the whole mask. So the space behind... well a balding sight. Your second piece of wig needs to go IN there... well... looks simeple, just be careful with the strands of hair around the place now. The sticky tape side of the velcro is very very strong, won't come off the mask if you pasted it wrongly without ripping paint causing pain.
After you've fitted the round hair piece into the round empty spot... ITS DONE
Take the mask up... put it on a stand... and comb. Straigthen all the tangles (should be easy with a new wig) and set the wig right...whichever you need to do, you do.
Thats is roughly as much detail as I can recall.
There are many many things that I can think of to say somemore but it would be too lengthy and confusing. Well... as the usual advice goes. Look at the tutorials for a general idea. Then figure out how you're going to do it by yourself. Many issues will happen throughout the process which you need to figure out yourself. Hehe... as long as your don't follow the steps blindly, eventually, you'll get it right. Things are never smooth sailing, so don't be disheartened~
Finished hair look. (I styled the hair in this pic, but by right I have not taught you how to style it. That is the next step)
Jun 6th, 09, 12:50 AM
Jun 6th, 09, 12:52 AM
STEP 9 CONTINUATION 1
Well... no easier way to say this... style the hair using hair spray. Except this time, the hair spray is not removable and is permanent. I use painter's clear gloss protective coat. Those which will not discolour surfaces which painters use to coat their acrylic works of art.
Style one fringe at a time, use your fingers in gloves to pinch and style them. I made sure that no hair strands become stuck to the surface during this time... bundled every strand together into a curvy bunch~ ;D
Did it a couple of times, spraying both from the top and also from under. I use a piece of curved paper to place it under the hair when spraying so that the spray does not go onto the mask.
The entire front part of the hair needs to be fixed. Not just the fringe. This is because the top part of the fringe can still move around alot and loose hair can still flow to the front. That would make a mess so make sure to fix the whole fringe and all the way to the top. Then I let it dry, it didn't took long.
I got some extra hair... oh I forgot to mention where I get the extra hair from. A normal wig will come in an all same length straight cut usually... then you can do whatever styling you like to it. I cut the sides infront of the ears short. Sorry for forgetting to mention this... trimming the hair is part of the styling process. Thats where I got the hair from.
I thought that now fixing the hair is already understood... all sorts of styling can be obtained. These hair are not a big bunch, so they would just manage to form two antennas. Same process... well not 100% same... i did some things to the roots to be able to attach them onto the head later. Other than that, lacquer them hard~ 8-)
Once they are harden, they look like extra long cockroach feelers. It occured to me now, that... er... they are too soft. Well... doesn't matter. At least I now know that I will have to put metal wires inside (like the playboy bunny ears) if I want to keep the standing at such a length. Long story short. I then stick them at 4 places on the hair... afixed permanently.
Once all the lacuqer has dried, the hair becomes hard. When touched it feels like a springy clumped up bunch of hair. The "wet" look from the lacquer in the beginning will disappear and all will look the same colour(your lacuqer has to be clear of course). All turned out well for a first time... except that the cockroach feelers were too soft (needs wires inside) not something I need to ensure anyway.
Moved the head for a bit... its moving around very well... Just as I hoped it to be. No more bad hair days lol... and doesn't require a clip to hold the hair back. Notice how the angles of the head are tilted in the pictures above. The styling infront remains firm.... everything worked out... phew
Future considerations... perhaps I need to make a mask for myself with this feature and use it long enough to find out if any problem will arise. Trying to predict the future outcomes, the only problem I could foresee is what happens if the soft hair from behind falls infront. So far seperating them is easy... I wonder do they get tangled together in the long run. Guess I'm asking myself a question to answer for myself again.
Well... completely worry free though... afterall the hair is detachable and can change for another one if the owner screws it up. ;D