Darth Nihilus Mask Sculpt

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by mcshinigami, Nov 1, 2010.

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  1. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    The last few days I've been kinda bored and I remembered that I used to be quite good with clay in high school. This sparked an idea into my head that I could make a mask. I was/am very unsure of my clay skills now though, so I wanted to do something simpleish. After some thought and looking around I decided to try a Darth Nihilus mask. I ended up buying a few different types of clay, forgetting what was good for what. I ended up reading to use an oil based clay, and eventually I found my way to buying some.
    I guess I'm writing this post to kind of show my progress, and get some feedback from people along the way. I've only been working on it two days, and it doesn't look as good as I would like it too, but I think it's coming along better than I expected (aka: not a HUGE disaster).

    Here's day 1, I was working on the general shape for a good base to work with.
    [image=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/djshinigami/Halloween%2010/100_0746.jpg]

    And then later that day, after I had built up the brows, and started on laying down the headpiece thing:
    [image=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/djshinigami/100_0752.jpg]

    And here's the beginning of today, I added some more clay on the forehead, and smoothed the edges of the head out.
    [image=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/djshinigami/100_0753.jpg]

    I have A LOT of work to do on this still, even before I start fleshing out the details of the mask. I think the biggest challenges have been keeping the proportions right with the eyes...and really everything. I keep telling myself that this project isn't for anything other than a trial run with clay/general mask making. After/if I get this done with decent quality I'm gonna try and make a mold, and mold some masks out of it. I've never really done any of this before, so it's not gonna be great, but will be good learning I think.

    Any tips or advice on working with clay, making masks, or anything really related to this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Commander-DWH Shiny Costuming & Props Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    The one thing I would suggest is working on a curved surface. The last time I attempted mask-making (which was several years ago, mind), it was in a high school art class and we made a sort of base out of curved poster board, put together sort of as so: |) One flat piece on bottom, and then a curved piece on top. You'd probably want to see if you could find some foam or something firm in that shape, just to give you extra support- we were using papier mache, so it wasn't as weighty. But the mask won't fit right if it's flat.

    That said, it's looking pretty good so far, shape-wise. I look forward to seeing your progress! :D
  3. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Yea, after the first day I was beginning to think that a curved surface would help, but wasn't really sure how to pull if off. I like the idea of using foam to make a sturdy base for that. I'll have to try that out before this hardens too much. Thanks!
  4. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    As for the actual mask making, well, it depends where you want to go.
    because of the oil-based clay, I think you probablly want to rule out Vac-forming. The heat-softened plastic will heat and melt your clay before it cools, and just end up ruining everything.
    So, you might want to look at my thread on minis and molds in the RPG section. With a silicone mold and epoxy "positive", you could get 5-10 good copies without much difficulty. You're on a much bigger scale than I, so it should be much easier.

    So far, the sculpt looks good!
  5. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Thanks!
    I actually said my clay was oil based, but after looking at the box again, I'm not really so certain. It doesn't really say anything other than "natural" clay. But it did mention on the box that it doesn't need a kiln to dry, so I guess that's why I assumed that? I don't know. I'm kinda clueless with clay types.
    I had seen this mask done and Vacumformed, but this isn't really something I want to do because it'd require the investment of building a machine... which I don't want to do right now.

    I'll have to check out your thread on that after this. Does epoxy "positive" set hard? Or is it more rubbery? I was hoping for a hard setting material that was paintable. Also, is this a really expensive endeavor to do? I never really looked into prices of stuff past clay cost. I told some friends if this turned out good I'd sell them masks for cheap (to recover cost), but if this is gonna be super pricey per mask, I should maybe just make one for now.

    I hope these questions aren't answered in your post I haven't read yet. If it is then I'm sorry. You don't have to reply to this. :d I appreciate the help.
  6. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    The starter box of epoxy is about $10, and is hard with a little give for about a week, or if you put it in hot water (for some reason???). Once it fully cures, it is nice and hard and takes paint. Just remember to wash it in soap and water first. Maybe a light dust of talcum powder if it's still sticky after a couple of days. About 8floz. More than enough for a couple masks, even if you botch it the first couple times. Hard part is waiting the first 3 days for it to cure (ok, you can probablly take it out after 2, but it won't finish curing for a good while after that, so why bother?) to find out if it's OK or not. Again, since you'll be making larger batches, you'll have a much easier time than I. The A/B ratio has to be really close.
    One thing I will tell you is the instructions say mix in one cup, pour & scrape into another cup, then stir sum more in the second cup using a fresh stir-stick. Don't waste your time. Stirring it up in 1 cup works just fine.

    There are ways to "cheat" vac-form, but it always seemed more trouble than I wanted to bother with.

    That clay, does it dry out and harden? If you heat it up, does it get soft again? If the answers are 'yes', then it isn't oil-based clay.
  7. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    That's some good information. I might try out the epoxy at that price. The stuff I was looking at I think was like a liquid poly urethane or something. I've heard it's fairly pricey though.
    As far as my clay, I'm kinda unsure how it dries out or anything. I've only been working with it for two days, and my mask is already about an inch or more thick...and I cover it at night so it dries slow...therefore I'm not certain how it dries. I'll have to make a smaller figure or something and see how it dries. Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.
  8. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Eh.. after some research I found out I have air-dry clay... which I guess is considered "paper clay"? I'm kinda unclear, but regardless it's not oil based, so I don't really know if it's gonna work for what I want to do. At least it was only 8 dollars for 10 pounds. My issue now is finding oil based clay. I've been to two major retail craft stores, two local hobby stores, one major department store, and I've called one local art supply store all with no luck. I COULD get it shipped online, but yuck... I can't imagine how much shipping on 8-10 pounds of clay would be.

    For now I'll keep messing with this I guess until I find better clay. This is all for practice anyway, so it's not really a huge deal.

    Here's what I did today... not sure if I'll work on this more tonight or not.
    [image=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/djshinigami/Day3.jpg]
  9. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    None of those places have basic plasticine clay? Seriously? Usually it's in the kiddie-arts section.

    As for what you're trying to do, if your mold making material is flexible (like silicone), and you get it into all the cracks (brush it in), you should be able to make it work. You may have to use a dremmel or something to sand a few more details (back)in.
  10. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Um... some of the places might have had some of the basic stuff if you mean the stuff that's labeled as modeling clay. I had bought a pack of that stuff from the major retail store, but it wasn't very fun to work with. It was way too firm and waxy. When I heated it up it became softer and more pliable, but more "tackey" I guess you could say. It just seemed really cheap. I kinda wanted to get something more professional I guess.
    I ended up calling a bunch more stores and found one in my town that usually carries plastina, but they are out of stock for the next two weeks or so. I also messaged a guy from the local 501st, and he suggested another place that both stocks it, and has it in stock. The issue is that it's out of town, and I don't have a car.
    What I'm thinking though, is that if I'm gonna use good clay, I should probably do this at least somewhat legit. While I wait for the clay to get in stock locally, I'll make a life cast of my upper half for sculpting my mask on. This poses some issues though, as I'm not really sure how to do it and what would be best to use for my situation. I've seen on a video website, people using alginate and plaster wraps. I've also heard that this could be a possibly expensive endeavor (I read 300 dollars somewhere). I'm assuming that the price comes with the quality though. I was hoping for making something that was mainly very rough looking. I don't need a lot of detail at all, the important stuff is that it would be a general head shape with mouth, nose, and eye placement and something that I could put clay on to mold, but then release off the face without ruining the piece once dry. I would also like to be able to do this more than once. It would also be nice to have a smooth surface.

    Does anyone know if this is possible to do on a budget? I'm pretty sure that the plaster wraps and alginate (at least to do just one head) are fairly cheap, so I think my issue is with the actually filler for the positive.
  11. mcshinigami Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2010
    So this is dead. I decided that I would smooth some of the features out and add a curve, then for fun make a plaster of paris mold of it. Basically I destroyed both pieces. I'm waiting for some oil based clay to arrive at a local store, then I might make this mask again.
  12. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Oh no!!!! :_| :eek:
    Majorly bummed. I was hoping to see pics of the final result.

    Hope you try again soon.
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