Mask Making 101

We haven't really done anything new in a while so I thought this year it would be fun to make some masks out of latex instead of our tried and true paper-mache. While mask making has some new challenges the results are well worth the effort.
Many people I know have shied away from mask making, as I did because of all the specialty items you need to make masks and FX out of latex. If you are going to do Movie FX in Hollywood, fine, you need the best materials possible...Ultracal, Hydrocal, Paasche-H airbrushes, acrylic inks, monster clay and more. In rural Transylvania, these items can be hard to find so we'll use what's available.

Clay

While Monster Clay is the best to use for casting masks (it has glycerine added to lengthen the drying time) it wasn't available locally. Instead we used standard water based clay from A.C Moore. We also picked up our tools at the same time, a starter set of rakes, loop tools and kidneys (shaping tool) (I'll explain in a minute) Note:Air dry clay dries in air so keep it in the plastic bag tightly sealed when not in use.)

Tools

Rakes, loop tools, detail picks etc can all be bought or made. Old guitar strings make excellent loop tools and rakes, while popsickle sticks and toothpicks make good detail tools.

Kidneys(shaping tools made from flexible metal) are use to shape and smooth the form quickly

At this point, get a piece of wood to sculpt on 16x24 should do. A lazy-susan also helps to turn the board while working. Make sure you have something for eyes. Our tried and true dowel end caps from Wal-mart does the trick but you can use marbles, taxidermy eyes or even deodorant roll-on balls. Now comes the hard part, sculpting. The best thing I can say is study a lot of pictures and have a picture or drawing for reference while sculpting. Study anatomy it helps, Measure your head, although with monsters you can really go free-style.
Rule of thumb:
Standard Facial Proportions:
The eyes are halfway between the top of the head and the chin.
The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin.
The mouth is halfway between the nose and the chin.
The corners of the mouth line up with the centers of the eyes.
The top of the ears line up above the eyes, on the eyebrows.
The bottom of the ears line up with the bottom of the nose.

Practice, personally I suck at ears but I'm working on it. Two things of note: There are no straight lines in nature, be aware of undercuts.
face

Step 2 Casting the Sculpture