If you’re doing a #cosplay that requires a gas mask, you could use an actual gas mask, but it may be cost prohibitive or it may become uncomfortable to wear for long periods as actual gas masks are made with rubber and are intended to form a tight seal around the face. Solution? Make your own cosplay gas mask! Not only will you be able to customize it however you want, it will be very easy to paint! (It’s really not easy to paint stretchy rubber as it will crack when you stretch it or wear it.)
While we aren’t necessarily advocating that you purchase this pattern, but #cosplayer Lost Wax provides an excellent one with a tutorial video on how to make your very own cosplay gas mask:
The most distinguishing feature of any #fursuit #cosplay is its head. The head is probably the single most important element to any fursuit because the head is what helps to define the identity and species of the type of anthropomorphic character that the #fursuiter is portraying more than any other component. It’s also often the part of the fursuit that draws the most attention.
We’ll begin by stating that there are multiple ways in which a fursuit head can be constructed, but the primary components that are almost always used in all fursuit heads are (1) foam and (2) fur.
- Foam is what gives the fursuit head its overall shape. Other materials (such as EVA foam or parts casted from resin) may also be used as part of the inner structure.
- Synthetic fur (in typically different colors) is then applied to the outside of the head in patterns according to how the wearer wants it to look.
Other materials that you will need include the following:
- Hot glue gun & sticks (a lot of stick)
- Measuring tape / ruler
- Sewing (a sewing machine is recommended, but some sewing will have to be done by hand)
- A head form
- Hair clippers (for cutting the synthetic fur)
- Vacuum cleaner (for cleaning up debris)
Most fursuit heads have static jaws, but if a fursuiter wants the jaw to move as they move their mouth on the inside, that needs to be taken into account before any work is done in constructing the fursuit head.
Several Documented Methods
For simplicity, we’ll break down some of the techniques for making a fursuit head into the following methods that we arbitrarily named. An important note: these aren’t necessarily the only ways in which a fursuit head can be constructed.
- Method A (Static jaw, from the inside out over a balaclava base)
- Start with a knit balaclava as the first inner layer.
- While wearing the balaclava, wrap a sheet of foam around the head to form a cylinder that’s the same size as the maximum diameter of the wearer’s head.
- With the balaclava removed, glue and and shape the cylinder around the sides and top of the head.
- More foam is then added, shaped and sculpted to form the head of the anthropomorphic character before any fur is added.
- Method B (Static jaw, from the outside in starting with wide foam)
- Start with two very thick pieces of foam (like a foam mattress) and glue them together.
- Begin to cut and shape the exterior of the anthropomorphic character by working inwardly. This is like creating an actual sculpture.
- Gouge out the shape for the wearer’s head to fit inside of the sculpted head.
- Method C (Static or movable jaw, from the inside out over an elastic strap base)
- Create a simple structure for the head using 3 pieces of cut elastic strap, one of which goes around the chin.
- Begin attaching foam pieces to the stretched elastic straps (that are on a head mold) to form a base layer of foam.
- After attaching the foam to the chin area, cut the foam (and not the elastic beneath) if you want a movable jaw.
- Ad more foam that is shaped and cut similar to what was done in Method A.
- Method D (Movable jaw, from the inside out & using a resin-casted muzzle)
- To do this method, starting with Method A or C for the base layer will be a good starting point.
- Instead of forming a muzzle out of foam, use a hinged resin-casted muzzle (purchased from a prop maker) as the base of the muzzle. Then add foam over of the resin to create the desired head shape.
- Of the various methods listed, this is probably the most expensive due to the need to purchase a resin-casted muzzle.
Now for the example videos.
Method A is shown by Skyehigh Studios:
We also recommend watching an 8-part video series posted by Koofsuits. We included the first of the 8-part video series on how she constructs a fursuit head. She doesn’t show the initial creation of the base layer as Skyehigh Studios did in the previous video.
Method B is shown by fursuiter StarryKitsune:
Method C is shown by fursuiter Tiny Badger:
Part of Method D is shown by prop maker CanineHybrid:
Using EVA Foam in the Fursuit Head Build
Fursuit maker AlbinoTopaz recorded how she made a fursuit head for an auction winner that incorporates EVA foam for additional rigidity in the final product. EVA foam was used for both the ears and teeth. This required painting.
Any #cosplayer or #costumer who wears a spandex hood or mask will quickly learn the value of wearing a #FaceShell underneath. This is especially true for #SpiderMan & #Deadpool #cosplayers.
But what is a face shell and why is is important? Typically, a face shell is a molded piece of plastic worn between the face and a spandex hood that is worn above it.
Spandex is a very stretchy, form-fitting material. When worn, spandex (or Lycra) very quickly takes on the shape of the what it is covering. Hence, when it is worn over the face, the wearer’s facial features will quickly be visible beneath the spandex hood. When the wearer talks, observers will quickly see the moving lips of the mouth beneath the spandex hood. However, when viewing live-action Spider-Man or Deadpool movies, one thing that’s obvious is that when the actor beneath the costume talks, his moving mouth isn’t visible, nor are his other facial features. In the case of Spider-man, the face is supposed to be very smooth. In the case of Deadpool, a very distinctive facial shape should be present.
Thus, simply wearing a spandex hood or mask over a bare face and head can’t achieve the correct facial shape for the character being depicted. Also, movement from talking distracts from the illusion that the hood or mask is trying to create.
A face shell solves the problems of not having the correct facial shape and hides mouth movement because it causes the spandex hood being worn over it to take on the shape of shell. And, as long as the shell extends to cover the mouth, any movement by the mouth and lips will be hidden beneath the shell and not cause the spandex to move with it. This is illustrated by Spider-Man cosplayer “SonicSpiderman” in a video that he posted to YouTube, and which we have shared here.
There are some important considerations when wearing a face shell that SonicSpiderman doesn’t talk about in the video, but we will share here from our own experiences wearing them.
- The face shell should be sized correctly to the size of your face and head. You won’t be able to wear it if it’s too small and if it’s too big, it will leave edges where the spandex moves away from the shell and towards your head underneath. Also, it may become uncomfortable when the spandex is worn over it because the spandex will press the face shell more tightly against the head & face. (We address discomfort issues below.)
- The face shell should be well ventilated. The head is one of the human body’s primary means to cool itself. This is why our heads sweat when our bodies begin to head up from exertion and/or when the ambient air is hot. Wearing a mask or hood of any kind can exacerbate the heating of the head and while spandex itself is very good at allowing moisture and heat from escaping the body, a plastic face shell is not. Thus, it is very important for the face shell to be well perforated to permit airflow underneath and a way for heat and moisture to escape. If it’s not well perforated, after a short amount of time (especially in a warm, humid convention hall) not only will you start to feel very warm with the mask on, beads of sweat may collect at the bottom of the face shell and begin to seep out and cause an unsightly wet spot on the bottom of your mask.
- The face shell should be completely smooth on both sides. Any sharp edges on the face shell should be smoothed by sanding. Otherwise, it may cause discomfort and potentially damage the spandex material if it stretches over a sharp edge and snags. Snagged spandex can’t be repaired and may be difficult to hide, especially since it would be on the most visible part of the costume: the head & face.
- A small amount of foam padding may be needed on the inside of the face shell. If the face shell becomes uncomfortable when the spandex hood is worn over it, a small amount of strategically placed foam padding can alleviate the discomfort. But, it’s very important not to overdo the padding because it will reduce air flow and ventilation. Our advice is it use if sparingly if needed. We’d recommend foam padding that is typically used in pillows: very soft, but not too thick and easy to cut with scissors. For attaching foam padding we recommend Velcro so that it can be removed and re-positioned as needed. Encasing the foam padding in some fabric simplifies adding the Velcro. Sticky Velcro should be sufficient and the fabric can be glued into place over the foam padding.
- Make sure magnetized eye covers are secure and not likely to fall off when the mask is worn. If they aren’t sufficiently secure, you should consider adding more rare earth magnets to the face shell and the eye covers.
- Keep extra rare earth magnets & glue on hand while you’re in costume. Should a magnetized eye piece fall off and one or more of the rare earth magnets that hold it to the face shell falls off when it hits the floor, you may need to do an on-the-spot repair. If you don’t have any extra rare earth magnets & glue on hand if this happens, then you’re stuck with a mask that isn’t complete when worn and you won’t be happy.
If you’re interested in doing an inexpensive #Deathstroke #cosplay, here’s a DIY tutorial on making the mask from craft foam.
- Craft foam.
- Heat gun.
- Sharp knife or razor blades for cutting foam.
- Paint brush.
- Screen mesh.