The world of cosplay is a great way to show your creative side and experience childlike play as an adult. It is also a great way to be creative and test your skills. Many characters in the world of cosplay have masks and you will need this element to complete your look as the character. When it comes to how to make a cosplay foam mask, we have the insights you need to create this important part of your costume. Whether you are playing Spawn or the Reaper, having the right mask in place is crucial to the overall aesthetic.
Step 1. Gather supplies
The first step in how to make a cosplay foam mask is to gather the right supplies for the task. You will need obvious items such as scissors, a sharp knife meant for cutting and crafting such as a Xacto knife, any spray paint to create the colors of the character, masking tape, foam adhesive spray and either brush on or spray on Mod Podge. You will also need a foam that is soft enough to offer thermoforming in the desired shape and is safe and comfortable for skin contact. There are several types and colors available to fit this criterion. If you can’t find the foam you need in the color of the costume desired, you can paint the foam to the desired color. You will also need items such as a Styrofoam wig head you don’t mind messing up with paint, as well as a heat gun or even a hair dryer to help with forming it.
Step 2. Cut out the shape/add designs
If you are familiar with your intended cosplay character, you already know the basics of the mask you are trying to create. From Zorro to Batman, there are certain elements of designs in every mask which are unique to the character. You can easily do a few practice sketches on tracing paper to perfect the overall outline of the mask before working on the foam. Once you have the right outline and shape, you can draw it or trace it on the foam using a pencil, pen, or marker. Make sure you draw an outline on the side of the mask which will be on the back side of the mask so you avoid any marks on the visible part.
Once you have the right shape outlined in the foam, you are free to start cutting the mask out. If you did the tracing and drawing correctly, it should come out even and asymmetrical, but a trick is to cut out one side of the mask, fold it over, and use the first half as the outline for the second side of the mask to ensure an asymmetrical result. You can also use this time to make any embellishments or carvings in the surface of the mask to match the needs of the character you are trying to create.
Step 3. Mold the foam
The next step is to make sure the foam will fit right when you wear it. Since most foam sheets are flat and straight, you will need to mold the foam to fit the contours of your face. This is where the masking tape and Styrofoam wig head come in for this task. Place masking tape on the back on the mask which will be the side with the outline marked on it. Masking tape is better for this task than using pins or glue because it will leave less noticeable damage on the mask when you are finished.
Once the foam mask is taped to the wig head, you can start the molding process using the heat gun or hair dryer. Start on a low heat setting and start in the middle of the mask working your way to the outer parts. The goal is to warm up the foam and mold it without melting the foam. If you smell a burning smell or the mask is melting, stop and evaluate the foam you are using, the heat being applied, or the distance between the foam and the heat source.
A good tip is to use your fingers to press the mask where you want it more molded to the wig head. This will ensure an ideal stretch and molding but be careful not to burn your fingers.
When you have the mask molded to the wig head in the desired shape, leave it in place on the wig head to cool completely before moving on to the next step in the process.
Step 4. Paint foam if needed
The next step in how to make a cosplay foam mask will depend on a few factors. If you are making a basic mask where color isn’t as important to you or the foam you chose is already in the color of the character, then you will skip this step. If the mask isn’t the right color for your needs, you will need to paint the mask.
Leave the mask on the Styrofoam head wig and make sure you retape the back of the mask to the head for a secure fit. Masking tape is vulnerable to heat so it may have loosened while you were heating it during the molding step. You want to use paint that is safe for the foam and won’t melt it so make sure you spot test it on a scrap of the same foam before painting the mask. Since you are only painting the front of the mask, the matter of skin contact shouldn’t be a big deal and the next step helps prevent any issues as well.
Step 5. Seal the mask
Once the paint is completely dry, seal the mask with Mod Podge while it is still on the wig head. The Mod Podge will give a shiny look to help seal in the paint and create a barrier to avoid skin irritation. It will also help the foam keep its shape. Most people apply multiple coats to their mask to get a better hold. If you are applying multiple coats, make sure each one dries all the way before adding another layer. You will want to leave the mask on the head wig for at least 24 hours to dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 6. Figure out how you will wear it
The final step is to figure out how you will wear the mask. There are two main ways you can go about this step. The first option is to punch holes in the sides and use ribbon or string to tie it around your head. The second option is using what is called spirit gum which can be found in costume supply stores. This adhesive allows you to affix the mask directly to your face for an authentic look, but make sure you buy the accompanying gum remover to help get it off your skin later. You should also test out the spirit gum in a small test area before applying it to your face to avoid a reaction.