Well, here is the WIP on my Phoenix Mask
, in case this will help anyone understand the process I went through. I wish I could find the initial sketch of the mask, so you could see what I was working off of. Don't do something like this blind; come up with your design ahead of time!
Some steps are missing, which I'm sorry about, but hopefully, this is a good rough-guide to how I made this.
Step 1: Base shape
I used a product called "WonderFlex" (a variform plastic) and heated it in nearly-boiling water, and stretched it over the head form to make the base head shape (where it sits). I let it cool, and then trimmed away the excess.
Now, I can't really get too descriptive of how I made the face shape, mainly because I free-handed it with the meshy plastic, which I wouldn't recommend doing. Your best bet would be to sculpt the base shape out of modeling clay, and block the plastic over that, so you don't have to deal (like I did) with burning your fingers a lot
and waiting for the plastic to cool, while holding it in place. It was long and tedious. The base part of this (the mesh part) took a good 4 to 6 hours to do that way, and I had a lot of problems with making things even and somewhat symmetrical.
At this point in the picture, I had stated adding the "feather" pieces on. This is using another plastic product called "Foss Shape" or "Fuzz Form". It is a felt-like product that shrinks significantly
when heated, but you heat it with a millinery steamer (or a good garment steamer, in my case) over something to get it to form a shape. I shaped these pieces over rolled-up hand towels to get the curve.
The point of them was to be a lot more stylized, not like real feathers, but almost like plates. Because that's how I drew it in the first place
Then, it was just a lot of hot-gluing the pieces down to the mesh plastic underneath. There is an odd shape to the back to act as support for feathers that will come in later, as I wanted the back to look like a feather explosion (see the finished deviation for an idea of that).
And, yes. I look hella-creepy with the white mask on, with half of the feathers.
The phrase "Plague-doctor Mask" was thrown around a lot! --> [link]
Step 2 : Finish the base
More work on the base shape, just cutting pieces of the Foss Shape and molding them to the base, to cover all of the mesh stuff. Little scraps were used to make the little exploding feathers on the sides, but the beak was one long piece.
What isn't pictured is the fact that I used "Friendly Plastic" (little plastic pellets that you heat up in boiling water and they become like clay) around the eyes to create a more finished look there, and on the tip of the beak, to create a crazy (and scary!) hook.
Step 3 : Painting... yellow!
Here I'm in the spray booth at school, where I started painting the mask. Because I wanted a gradient effect, I started with the lighter color, and worked towards the deep red. This is mainly because light colors don't cover dark colors very well.
A note, here - this Foss Shape stuff sucks up paint like crazy. I used spray enamel for all of the colors (it's like the stuff you paint your fingernails with, only in spray form!) because I love that stuff - it doesn't rub off like spray paint tends to, and doesn't flake, either. And, each color used a whole can of it! So, in the future, I'm going to try a couple of different ways to seal the Foss Shape before painting it, but it's not that big of a deal otherwise. You just need to let it dry, and then put on another coat, and repeat until it's dark enough.
Step 4 : Painting... orange!
More painting, added in the next color in the gradient, orange. Same deal.
Step 5 : Painting... red!
Okay, so this picture has a bit of the final dark red in it - I kinda forgot to get a picture until I had started with the dark red at the tips. But, you get the idea.
As always, work evenly all around the piece, using thin coats of spray paint, letting them dry, and then doing another layer.
Step 6 : Painting... MORE RED!
Heh, well, anyways, the very tips of the top "feathers" are a really dark, almost maroon red. I did this because I then added bright red feathers exploding out the back, and I didn't want those last few faux feathers on top to get lost and create a giant mass of red!
Step 7: Painting... gold (not pictured)
I taped off the main part of the mask using brown paper and painters tape (after everything was dry!) and painted the beak gold. Easy.
Step 8: Detail painting (not pictured)
I picked up some small containers of enamel paint (model paints, usually) and did some detail work, especially around the eyes and the beak. This was mostly because the Friendly Plastic had a different finished sheen to that of the Foss Shape (Foss Shape was matte, the Friendly Plastic was shiny) so I wanted to detail out the eyes a bit more, so I used a red glaze paint around them. I also shaded the bottom of the beak, so it would disappear some more, and give it some more dimension.
Step 9: FEATHERS!
Start gluing feathers in - I ordered a half-pound of coque feathers, predyed red, in various lengths from 4" to 6", and started gluing them in. They came prestrung together, which made gluing them in a lot easier.
To make a place to set them in on the back, I cut some florist foam down and wedged it under that extra weird shaped piece in the back (see pic set 1), and painted it to match the dark red. Glued it in place, and glued feathers to that!
Then, I filled in whatever areas I thought needed more feathers - most notably, where the mask sits next to your cheeks and a bit under your chin - it really helps to hide your face, making it an even cooler piece to run around in.
Phew! I think that's everything!
In the future, I will go in and put a piece of felt to cover the mesh part where it sits on your head, mainly because your hair gets caught in it as it is, now, with little meshy ends poking out, but otherwise, it is complete!
That was incredibly long, wasn't it?
Hope this kind of helps, if you want to make something like this again! Suppliers
Here is where I personally prefer to buy all of these products from, but there are definitely more out there if you do some digging.
Wonderflex & Foss Shape - Mainstage Theatrical Supply
Friendly Plastic - Hobby Lobby
Feathers - Plumes 'n Feathers
Paints - check a local hobby store, they should be by model paints