Part 1: No Face Mask Tutorial (Spirited Away)

Monday, August 19, 2013

I tried searching for ideas on how to make a No Face mask, but didn't find anything I was hoping for.  So I made a tutorial on how I made it, hope it will be useful for others too.  I am still learning how to use new types materials in my cosplays.  I wanted to make a mask that was big enough to be realistic, but not so large that it is too animated.  I wanted it to have the creepy blank expression it had in the movie too.  It also had to be really tall in comparison to me as Chihiro (since I am pretty average height of 5'3..for an asian.  and luckily my fiance is also 6'3!), and I wanted it to have a concave and smooth surface.  After doing some research and debating for quite a while, I decided on using foam, paper mache, and paper clay.  I am also using the mouth as the opening to for the eyes too look out of (this can add up to 7 inches to your height!).

If you like this mask but aren't crafty at all, please read at the end regarding commissions :)

Materials used:
- 2 6mm 9x12 thick foam
- newspaper
- glue
- water
- 2 packs paper clay
- x-acto knife
- acrylic paint
- iron
- rolling pin
- saran wrap


Step 1: Sketch out a template
I based it off the size of TWO thick 6mm 9x12 craft foam put side by side.  I used this image of No Face as one of my references.




Step 2: Cut out the Foam Base
Use a glue gun and glue together the 2 pieces of thick foam.  After it is dry, trace and cut out the mask with your x-acto knife or box cutter.  Cut out the mouth opening.
   


Step 3: Iron and shape
Using an iron in low heat, slowly bend and heat the mask on all ends and both sides.  It should slowly bend and curve in the desired mask shape.  This way your mask won't be completely flat.



Step 4: Paper Mache
After you have achieved the mask shape you want, its time to start paper mache-ing!  I haven't done this since middle school, but basically, mix 1 part water with 1 part glue.  Cut newspapers into strips.  Dip, and wrap!  Let it dry for a day or two.



Step 5: Paper Clay
I looked around for a material that can go over the paper mache so that the surface can be smooth and uniform.  I decided to try paper clay.  I have never used this before.  In my opinion, I would not suggest it as it seems easy to crack if you dropped or mishandled your mask >_< and it also makes the mask a lot heavier.  However, I do love the outcome of it.  It made my mask look really clean and perfect.  
Use saran wrap as a working surface.  Cut out strip chunks of the clay,  it takes time to soften and flatten it.  Cover the flattened clay with another sheet of saran wrap.  Use a rolling pin to help thin it out to the thickness you like and large enough to wrap around the mask.  Remove excess from the back and press the ends tight.  Put any leftover clay in an airtight container.  Let the mask dry for several days.  Don't be sad if you see cracks forming.  Just use extra clay and water to fill in any gaps.  Let dry.  



Step 6: Face Painting
I used white, dark grey, and black acrylic paint.  You could also mix the black and white to create a grey.  (I mixed some white in the grey to lighten it).  You can use your template as a guide to map out the eyes and shapes on the face.





And that is the finished mask!  Additional photos on my Cosplay account.

Hope this was helpful for any mask projects.  Leave a comment if you enjoyed this tutorial or have any question, and send along any pictures you have of your finished mask, i would love to see how others made it and share it on my Facebook Blog Page HERE! ^3^  You can check out my other cosplays @ Reeni Cosplay Page.

~My next post Part 2 will be on how the mask was attached to the head and chihiro's uniform~

Photocred: Population Go


My StoreEnvy is now open!  I make cosplay props, costumes, and cute accessories.  More items will be continually added.

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44 comments

  1. Hi, this is such a brilliant tutorial, very informative and your mask looked great in the end!

    I'm going to try this technique out, I hope you don't mind. I'll tell everyone that I got this technique from you! Fingers crossed I can make it work :D

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    1. thanks a lot! good luck on your mask :D

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    2. Hi! I've just finished the mask and it looks really good :D It's all thanks to your tutorial so thank you so much for making something like this available on line!

      I agree that the paper clay has such a lovely finish to it and my mask didn't crack at all when I applied the clay. I guess it's because I made mine really thick, which meant it took longer to dry but it also meant that there weren't a lot of cracks.

      I want to send you some photos of the mask and the robe when I finish to show you how it looked (not as professional as yours but still lovely in its own way). Would that be ok? :D

      Thanks again XXOO

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    3. your welcome! when i decided to make this mask, it was very hard to find a good tutorial, so i wanted to share how i made mine :)
      i would love to see yours! if i get more feedback from viewers, would you mind if I shared your mask on my page in the future? :)

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  2. Were all of the materials relatively easy to come by and inexpensive? Also, I'm a little confused on the iron of the foam parts...

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    1. Yes I got everything from Michael's, a craft store. they always have coupons such as 40% off an item. The clay cost the most, it was around $4 each pack after coupon. Paint and foam cost a few cents each.
      I guess it's a little hard to explain, but basically, when craft foam is heated, it can be easily manipulated and bend. If you hold it in place, it can cool down that way. You can also have an oven in low heat to try to soften and bend it, maybe if you had a glass bowl to lay it over. But I used an iron, so that i can use my hands and shape it as I go, making the foam mask shaped into a bowl almost. Hope that helps a little better.

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    2. Thank you for replying. I went to a few different craft stores and the only foam I could find that looked like yours in the square sheets and that was actually slighty bendy to begin with, was in the model train section. It's 5mm thick and it's 11 1/2 by 11 1/2. Do you think this would be okay?

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    3. Yes I think that should work fine :) im not too sure if mine could have been the 5mm or 6mm since the recent ones i bought are not labeled. But either one should be sturdy enough to hold the shape (and layers of paper mache). Its the thin ones (2mm) that would be too flimsy.

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    4. Just wanted to keep you updated: i struggled with the foam just because I wasn't quite sure what I was doing or how high to have the iron. With my iron, I found that a steady medium heat worked the best once I finally got the hang of it. I did crack a few places in the foam which I fixed with some awesome Hello Kitty duct tape. I ran the iron very quickly over the duct tape to have it melt into the foam a bit, to make it smooth. The paper mache went really smoothly and easy; I put about 3 layers on. Now I'm onto the clay. It's cracking a bit but nothing I can't fix. Now I'm working on the robes and everything is going great with that except that my cat decided to pee on it :/

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    5. lol! sounds like its going well. Yes I had problems with cracking from the clay too. easily fixable with extra clay and water to blend it in. If you upload any pictures of your costume, i would love to see it :)

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  3. Thanks for this tutorial! I loved it! will try it out perhaps giving a little twist to the mask I am hoping to be more ceramic like at least that is how it appeared to me in the movie... hope I dont screw it up, and hope it comes close to what you have skilfully created.

    Thank you :)

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    1. thank you for your comments! I agree it does appear like that, which is why I experimented with a clay shell. if you find another medium that works well in making the mask, i would love to hear about it :D

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  4. Hi, thanks for this tutorial.

    I would like to know if other material than paper clay like classical clay would be appropriate.
    In fact, paper clay is hard to find here, so...

    Thanks anyway !

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    1. It was my first time using paper clay, I decided on it because it seemed easy to use because it is air dry. I am not sure about classical clay since I have not used it for prop making yet, but you can try testing it out! But if it needs to be baked, I would not suggest that since the foam can deform. I think this mask would also look great without the clay at all. You can sand down the paper mache til it is smooth and paint directly on it.

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  5. How tall was the person in the No Face costume. I plan on making a No Face costume for comic con this year and I just want to be sure I don't make the Mask too big. I'm 6'0" and I don't want to be hitting the top of the costume on doors and stuff lol

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    1. He is 6'2, so he was pretty tall. There will probably be some doors that will be hard to get through, will have to bend down. But for the most part, most conventions have a lot of open spaces and high entry ways that it won't be much of a problem.

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  6. Hl! Thanks for this tutorial! But i wonder what foam had you used to make this, PVC foam or EVA or.....

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    1. Hi, I am so sorry, I repied to this comment but it looks like it never went through. Hopefully you found a way to make it. But this is the foam I use, craft foam from the craft store (Michaels), foam sheets that come in 9x12 in 6mm, that is soft and moldable: http://www.michaels.com/M10390268.html?dwvar_M10390268_color=Black
      They usually have a lot of the large sheets (12x18) in stock but they are thinner. And if you mean EVA foam as in gym mats, those are thicker than these. But Those would work too! You might not even need any layers of paper mache or clay. Just paint layers of Gesso, Wood Glue, or PlastiDip to harden it.

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  7. Hey! I couldn't find Styrofoam so I used one of those foam presentation poster boards :L will those do okay with an iron? I don't want my project catching fire or something! (there's a thin layer of paper glued on top of the foam)

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    1. Hi, I didn't use styrofoam. I used regular craft foam you find at craft stores. They usually have a variety of colors in the large 12x18 size, which are thin. But some stores also have this one: http://www.michaels.com/M10390268.html?dwvar_M10390268_color=Black
      Which is what I used, 9x12, 6mm thickness. Craft foam is still soft and modable so it is easy to lightly heat up and bend its shape. I would NOT try that with styrofoam or foam boards, because those will melt when heated. Foam boards also do not bend the same way. You could use it for the mask, but it will be a flat mask. Since it is hard already, you can directly paint your mask on it. The paper mache process is to harden the weak craft foam. If you have any other questions, just ask here^^

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  8. how long did it take to make the mask?

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    1. The paper clay takes a few days to dry, so if u need it done quick, about 5 days, use plaster strips (paper mâché) on top of the newspapers those steps need about a 1-2 to dry.

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  9. Did you put the paper mache on both sides??

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    1. yes the newspaper mâché is on both sides. if you add paper clay, I only did it on the top and wrap around the edges. But if u use plaster strips instead, I cover both sides (2-3 layer on top, 1-2 on bottom)

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  10. I wanted to make this as a wall decoration. Do you have any idea how I could mount it to a wall? Thanks.

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    1. Sorry I am responding so late! I haven't tried it, but if you plan to make the mask curve up, it'll be a little difficult. I would suggest adding some sort of hook (for wall hanging), or even create a a metal loop, insert it in place at the top of the mask when you cover the clay (or paper mache) layer. After it hardens, the hook should stay in place. You can then hang it as you would with a nail on the wall.
      Another suggestion, You can have a thin flexible wire (florist wire) or even string, going from left to the right of the mask (somewhere between the top to the middle of the back of the mask), have it dry in place when you do the clay (mache) part. Hopefully this string in the back of the mask would hang on a nail. And this way it wont be visible.

      Hope I explained that ok or helped give you some ideas.

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  11. Hi! This tutorial is amazing! I'll definitely try make this. I just have one question, when you say 9x12 foam, do you mean inch or cm?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, I didnt see the comment until now. If its not too late, the size is 9x12 inches. Its a very large mask that ends up about 11x17inches big.

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  13. How did he keep his eyes at the mouth hole? what held the mask up?

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    1. Sorry for the very late reply, I didn't see the comment. Check out part II of this blog tutorial: http://mycutebow.blogspot.com/2013/08/part-ii-no-face-and-chihiro-costume.html

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  14. I'm only 5''2 but I want it to be tall. I saw how you added height, but I can't have 2 feet of Styrofoam and strainers piled up on my head for balance reasons. Is there any other way to add a lot of height?

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    1. Hi! Unfortunately, this is the only way I've been able to figure out adding height to above the head, and styrofoam is the lightest thing ive found that worked. But I do understand its hard to balance and you have to constantly keep hold of it :/
      A method i've seen for adding height to a cosplay is wearing stilts (adding height to your feet).

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  16. Thank you for the tutorial!

    Although I'm not doing a No Face costume, I am doing one of Painwheel from the game Skullgirls. She has a similar mask, and I could easily adapt this tutorial for the costume! Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Haley! I'm so glad this tutorial was able to help you on your cosplay! Thanks for checking out my blog :)

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  17. when you apply the clay do you apply it directly over the newspaper after its dried or do you put a layer of saran over the newspaper and then clay?

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    1. It is directly over the dried newspaper mache and wrapped around the edges (press firmly on the back since it can get loose). I only used the saran wrap on the top and bottom of the clay when using the rolling pin on the clay so it doesn't stick to the surface area I am working on and the rolling pin. I remove it when done. Sorry it wasn't explained too clearly through the pictures. Hope that helps.

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  18. Roughly what is the length and width of the mask? Im about to try making this and I have an A2 2mm thick piece of foam!

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  19. Hi! This is a very good tutorial! However, I also tried a different way, not putting the clay on. I put on a thin layer of carpenter's wood filler and let it dry overnight. After it's completely dried, I used sandpaper smoothing and did the rest of the steps like normal! This way, it's much lighter!

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  20. Hi! You probably won’t see this. But when I was researching how to make this mask, yours was the best and easiest tutorial to follow. I followed your direction till it came time for the paper clay, I used plaster rigid wraps instead, and I couldn’t find a way to make it smooth, my dad came with the idea to use some joint compound and smoothed the plaster wraps. It’s came out light and smooth like I wanted. I also used amazon boxes and round styrofoam to hold up the mask and fabric. It held up all night! Thank you for your tutorial. I won the “Most Creative” category at a party!

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    1. Hi! I was just checking up on my comments and saw this! Thank you for the wonderful comment, I'm so happy to hear it came out well. I also make versions of the mask with plaster strips and I found one that was 12 inches wide. So after I covered the mask in large strips, I usually make the final front layer the size of the entire mask, and it actually comes out very smooth, especially after some sanding and priming. I'm glad your dad helped and found a method for you.

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