How to Make a Silicone Mask Part 1: Sculpture

Orc Goblin Silicone Mask Sculpture (8)I’ve always wanted to get into mask making.  I loved the movie “FX” and even the two goofball teen effects wizards in the movie “Summer School” were demigods to me.  Then, when the movie “Predator” came out, I fell in love with alien and monster masks.

But I never got into it–just didn’t really have anyone close to me as influences, so I put my interests on the back burner.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when I saw some of the silicone masks coming from CFX and SPFX studios, and my dreams were reignited.

Right now, after watching MANY how-to videos and reading articles about mask making, I began the first part of my journey, sculpting the head of a creature that you might find in movies like “Legend,” or “Lord of the Rings”–an orc / goblin.  My son, an avid WoW lover, wanted me to make my goblin more in keeping with that world–because I think he might want to wear it when it’s done.

So, first off, I got a blank mannequin head armature bust as a base for the sculpt.  Then, with several blocks of plasticine modeling clay (easy to find in craft and art stores), I started sticking clumps of clay onto the bust.  I didn’t draw anything specific, just let the clay shape itself, more or less, to my imagination.

Here is the result:

I’ve also uploaded a short video of the final sculpt to Youtube:

mask sculpture

> Go to Part 2

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Painting Airbrushed Murals and Theatre Backdrops for Sets

Airbrushed Mural Theater Backdrop

 

Airbrushing murals and theater backdrops for plays is relatively easy when you know the basics of how to airbrush.  I learned to airbrush T-shirts, and then expanded it to temporary tattoos, then to airbrushing theatre sets.  It’s easy if you “block out” larger

Airbrushed Mural Theater Backdrop

Airbrushed Mural Theater Backdrop for “Cherry Orchard”

swatches of paint with a paint roller and regular latex housepaint.  The next step I do is lay in thicker details with an HVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun
.  And finish the tighter detail work with airbrushes (like the Paasche VL, one of my favorite “workhorse” brushes). Now, don’t forget that, in order to spray with these methods, you’ll need a decent air compressor to supply a steady 20-40 psi stream of air and paint to the surface.

Airbrushed Mural Theater Backdrop

Full-size Airbrushed Mural Theater Backdrop

> Related Article: How I Learned to Airbrush

The efficiency of this method can take you from start to almost finished in a much quicker time than traditional brush painted mthods–for example, the mural shown in this post is from an Artists Repertory Theatre production of “The Cherry Orchard,” and I painted this (from start to this point) in about 4 hours.  Try THAT with a regular set of paint brushes!

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How to Make Theater Props : A Fake Severed Head (Part 2)

Foam Head from Two Part Mold

Foam Head from Two Part Mold

<= Back to Part 1

And, it worked!  The head was a bit smallish, but it looked right, and I cover it with Smooth-On Dragon Skin platinum cure silicone rubber
for a “skin”.  Then painted it with regular acrylic paint.

NOTE: All of this was more or less done trial-and-error style.  Lots of mistakes were made throughout (for example, you never paint acrylics on top of silicon–they just won’t adhere for long–you need to add pigment to silicon and “paint” it on top of the other silicon–this creates an encapsulated bond for the pigment to stay put).  But, you don’t give up when things don’t go your way–the show must go on!

Adding Silicone Skin to Head Severed Heads are Creepy

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How to Make Theater Props : Fake Severed Head (Part 1)

A few months back, my friends at Tightrope Theatre in Portland asked if I could help them do a couple of things for their show, “The Happy Family”–build some stairs for the stage, and make a prop head to represent one of the live characters at some point in their, um, life.

The Prop Head Sculpt in Clay

The Prop Head Sculpt in Clay

Well, from my days as a scenic carpenter, I could build the 3 stair units (perhaps I’ll do a Make It post on that someday) no prob, but I have to admit to never having made a severed head before.  Plus, it needed to be kept in a pot with stage blood, and be dropped onto the set every night (with the thud sound appropriate to a head–yuck!)

Two Part Plaster of Paris Mold

Two Part Plaster of Paris Mold

So, I began pondering this with my props partner, and “Happy Family” director, James Peck, and we opted to sculpt a head, cover it with Plaster of Paris on both sides to make a two-part plaster mold, then I was going to use some of my handy-dandy Smooth-on Flexi-Foam to fill each side, then sandwich the two part mold together and “glue” it all together with more flexifoam.

First Half of Smooth On Foam Head for Theatre Prop

First Half of Smooth On Foam Head for Theatre Proplexi-foam.

Continued on Part 2 =>

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