Most latex masks are made through a complicated process. The mask is sculpted out of clay by an artist; then a moldmaker creates a multi-piece plaster mold. Latex is then poured into the mold, creating a mask. You can make your own latex mask without needing these skills using liquid latex, cotton and tissue. You will gradually build up the features of your character, creating a mask unlike any other in the world.
Things You'll Need
- Head form
- Plastic wrap
- Nylon stocking
- Liquid latex
- Hair dryer (optional)
Wrap plastic wrap around a large head form. This form can be an oversized molded craft-foam head or the head of a mannequin or sculpture. It must be large enough to allow the mask to fit comfortably on your head.
Pull a nylon stocking over the wrapped head form. Trim any excess material off of the stocking, leaving only the head and neck covered.
Draw the positions of the eye, nostril and mouth holes onto the nylon with a black permanent marker.
Brush a layer of liquid latex over the entire stocking, avoiding the marker areas. Use an inexpensive paintbrush for this. Wrap the brush in plastic wrap afterward to prevent the latex in the bristles from drying.
Allow the latex on the stocking to dry. You can speed this process with a hair dryer if you wish. Apply two more layers of latex, allowing each to dry fully.
Brush latex onto the mask, then stick cotton into it to begin building up features. The cotton can be pulled and stretched however you need to stretch to get the shapes you require.
Brush another layer of latex onto the cotton to encapsulate it. For larger forms, such as horns, build up several layers of cotton and latex.
Add all of the shape to the mask that you require. You will want to build up the nose, chin, cheeks, eye sockets, ears and other features.
Allow the mask to dry overnight.
Separate several tissues into single-ply sheets. Tear the straight edges off of them to make blending easier.
Brush latex over the mask, then lay tissues into the wet latex. This will form a unified skin, covering the lumpiness of the cotton.
Cover the entire mask in tissue skin, working in small, overlapping sections. Scrunch it as needed to create wrinkles and other details while the latex is still wet.
Brush on a final layer of latex to encapsulate the skin, then allow the mask to dry.
Dust the mask with baby powder to prevent the latex from sticking to itself.
Paint the mask as desired. You must use paints that are designed to stick to latex, available in most art stores.
Cut the mask up the back of the head until you can peel it off of the form. Powder the inside.
Cut out the eye, nostril and mouth holes to complete the mask.
Tips & Warnings
- Zombie masks make a good mask idea for practicing this technique until you get the hang of it. Any imperfections can be incorporated into the design.
- Brush on the first layer of latex aggressively to fully saturate the nylon stocking.
- Be careful not to get latex into your hair or clothing. It will not come out again.
- "Stage Makeup -- Sixth Edition"; Richard Corson; 1981
- "Special Make-Up Effects for Stage & Screen"; Todd Debreceni; 2009
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images