How to Make Lifelike Human Masks

Make masks of your friends' faces.
Make masks of your friends' faces. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Television shows such as "Mission Impossible" often feature lifelike masks worn by spies to duplicate other people. While these masks are the creation of Hollywood fantasy, you can create a realistic mask of a friend's face using some Hollywood techniques. The process involves making an alginate cast of your friend's face, filling it with clay and then making a plaster mold from the clay face. You can then use this mold to make as many latex masks as you want.

Things You'll Need

  • Makeup cape
  • Plaster bandages
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Alginate powder
  • Mixing bowls
  • Water
  • Oil-based clay
  • Crock pot or double-boiler
  • Cheap paint brushes
  • Plaster
  • Liquid latex
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sharp scissors
  • Hole punch
  • String
  • Paint

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Molding the Face

Cover your model in a makeup cape to protect the clothing. Pull long hair back into a ponytail.

Tear plaster bandages into 6-inch strips.

Rub petroleum jelly into the model's eyebrows and eyelashes to keep the alginate from bonding.

Put 1 lb. of alginate powder into a mixing bowl.

Mix cool water into the alginate until it forms a thick paste.

Spread the alginate over your model's face, taking special care to fill the eye sockets and the sides of the nostrils. Check to ensure the nostrils themselves stay clear for breathing. Do not extend the alginate past the hairline and sideburns.

Allow the alginate to stiffen. This process usually takes five to eight minutes.

Dip plaster bandages into a bowl of warm water, and smooth them onto the alginate. You want three full layers of overlapping bandages. Once again, do not cover the nostrils.

Allow the bandages to harden into a rigid shell, which will help the flexible alginate keep its shape.

Have the model wiggle his face to break the seal, then pull the alginate cast off his face.

Mix a small batch of alginate and water, then use it to plug the nostril holes. Allow it to stiffen.

Creating a Plaster Mold

Cut apart a 1-lb. block of hard oil-based clay into small chunks.

Place the clay chunks into a crock pot or double boiler and melt them, stirring regularly.

Brush a 1/2-inch layer of clay into the alginate mold with a cheap paintbrush, and allow it to harden.

Remove the clay face from the mold, and set it on a work table.

Spray the clay face with two coats of acrylic enamel spray to seal the surface, then apply two coats of dulling spray to help the plaster spread evenly.

Mix a batch of plaster with water in a bucket.

Brush a 1/4-inch layer of plaster onto the clay face, working it into all the nooks and crannies. Allow the plaster to harden until you can no longer scratch it with your fingernail.

Mix another batch of plaster, this one with the consistency of peanut butter.

Spread the plaster over the first layer, bringing the total mold thickness to 1 inch.

Allow the plaster to harden overnight.

Peel the clay face out of the plaster mold. Scrub out any remaining clay residue with lighter fluid and a toothbrush.

Making the Mask

Fill the plaster mold with liquid latex.

Cover the mold with plastic wrap, and let it sit for one hour. A skin of latex will form against the sides of the mold.

Pour the remaining latex back into the container, and allow the material remaining in the mold to dry.

Peel the latex mask out of the mold. It will be a nearly perfect replica of the model's face, down to skin pores.

Cut out eye and nostril holes and the rough edges of the mask with a sharp pair of scissors. Punch a hole in the sides, and use a piece of string to tie the mask in place.

Paint the mask with flesh-colored paint designed for use on latex. The color should match your model's skin tone.


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