This instructable is one of two parts detailing how to build an arc reactor and an iron man mask. Both work together but are written as seperate instructables for clarity. This part is for the Mask and you can find the Arc Reactor here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-an-Iron-Man-Arc-Reactor/.
You can buy these masks relatively cheaply all over the internet but nothing beats that hand made look. Again I work best when I have a goal in mind and something to copy so I set out looking for shots of the Iron Man mask. The picture included on this page gave me the most information about the design and was the key to developing my own mask. I wanted to create something that fitted my own face well but also wanted it to be smooth all over with no obvious joins in the mask, it proved quite tricky for me but now I've worked out the details it should be easier for anyone else wanting to give it a try.
I'm pleased with the results and with hindsight don't think I would have done anything differently
Update - August 2009:
Still lots of interest in this one too, sadly I don't make these because they take too long making them very cost inneffective for you.
People also keep telling me they are having problems with the templates so I've put them on my own site too, here is the link and you'll have to forgive me because the page is very new so don't expect too much from it. http://msraynsford.googlepages.com/home
Step 1: Materials
For this mask you will need:
Cardboard to provide a solid front and back to the mask,
Glue for holding the paper together,
Newspaper for adding bulk in a paper mache stylee,
More glue, I used a 2:1 PVA and water mix for paper mache,
Gold paint (I used gold spray for that even finish)
More white LED's to illuminate the eyes.
Wire and solder to add power to the mask.
A connector, to draw power from the arc reactor.
Elastic, oh how I hated adding elastic round the back of the mask but it does the job.
Insert photo here, I must go collect some of these things and take a photo, I'm sure you guys can just imagine this stuff in the meantime.
Step 2: Outlining the mask
This was perhaps the most challenging part of the mask. I knew I wanted it to be smooth all over and that means making the mask from a single piece of cardboard (or as few joins as possible). To avoid the whole thing getting totally out of hand I decided to only make the gold parts of the mask, I'll let someone else work out how to do the whole suit.
I took my time to draw a template for the mask, knowing that I would need multiple copies of it to complete the mask. I ended up with 5/6 parts for a complete mask (5/6 will be explained shortly).
I headed off to the photocopier to save myself some effort and get some perfect copies. These would be better copied onto card so feel free to scale and print this template to your hearts content.
There are two main parts, the forehead and the faceplate. To get the curvature of the forehead I had to seperate the edges and attach them seperately. This adds strength to the design and because the seams are right on the corners they are barely noticable.
The faceplate has some nice curves which help to shape the face but ultimately do nothing in the way of strengthing it. The jaw on the faceplate will be seperated for the top layers of the mask but left on for the bottom layers (hence 5 or 6 pieces)
The images show the mask cut and assembled although this is discussed more in the next step.
Step 3: Assembling the mask
This mask starts by creating a base layer of card which is slowly built up to something sturdier and then it is topped with another layer of card to give a smooth finish.
The bottom layer was cut and held into the desired shape by fixing it to my handy face mask. This should be a full mask with the jaw attached to provide a full length base.
Once you have that base it's just a case of adding layers of newspaper and glue. I added 4 in total but just keep adding them until the mask seems thick enough.
One final touch for this base is to paint the mouth area black. When you add the top layer to the mask this area will show through the gap between the jaw and the faceplate so make sure you give it a good covering of a nice solid colour.
Step 4: The Top Layer
This top layer is all important and care must be taken with it. This is the finished product that goes on the outside of the mask so you dont want any blemishes or marks.
I took my final template drawn onto some cardboard and I assembled it to the standard shape. From there I sprayed the whole thing with gold paint to give it a nice metallic finish.
This top layer was then attached to the base mask using glue. The two masks will be slightly different sizes. Just cut away any excess on the base mask with a pair of scissors. Where the mouth doesn't quite sit flat against the base you will be able to see the black area that you painted before. This adds a level of depth to the mask that I rather like.
A piece of elastic was added to the far left and right points of the mask to hold it onto my head. I honestly thought about glueing it to my face for the evening but for once common sense got in the way of a great costume.
Step 5: Eyes and LED's
I never intended to add eyes to this mask, I make too many masks that you just can't see out of. When it got to this stage I realised that the mask actually needs it.
The eyes on the movie mask are white with illumination. In the real world this translates to white paper with white LED's shining at it.
I took the same white LED's that I used in the Arc Reactor and made two pairs of lights, each with 2 LED's and a 180 Ohm resistor. This allows me to drive the lights from the same battery as the reactor. Each light pair was glued to a small piece of card that allowed me to position the lights in the mask before I committed to sticking them into it.
A sheet of white card was then placed over the back of the eyes and it was all stuck in with tape. The wire to provide power ran across the mask and out the back where the elastic ran. From the back of my head it ran into my shirt where it was connected to the arc reactor. Care was taken with this connector, I used a very loose fitting connector with mating pins. If the mask is ripped off for any reason it is the connector that will seperate rather than the wires from each other or my head from the rest of my body.
Photos of this to be added when I get home tonight.
Step 6: Bringing it all together
The mask is effectively finished in the previous stage but as mentioned before it's not just the mask that makes the costume.
This mask connects to the arc reactor and also draws power from the 9V battery in my pocket. The T-shirt was bought from the local store and the combats were my own already.
Ok, so I spent most of the evening with the mask up so that I could talk and drink but that's not the point, I made another great costume that I'm chuffed about.
Insert more jokes about the lack of a well formed body here... :D(Honestly it's just a bad angle, I find I have 360 of them)