This is No Face, a character from the Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away. This costume turned out to be really cool and I wore it for Halloween. I got some really great reactions from people while wearing it, although not many people knew who I was. The whole thing is put on just by wearing a helmet that everything else is attached to. Here's how I made the costume! :) It is not very hard to construct.
*Note: All of the pictures were taken after I had already completed the costume because I hadn't remembered to take pictures until then. The only reason this is important to know is because it rained while I was out. The mask got a little wrinkly and looks it in the pictures. When you make this costume, be aware that 1) it will look awesome (especially in the dark) and 2) try not to get it wet. A drizzle will be ok as long as you aren't out there for a long time.
Feel free to make any comments, questions, suggestions or improvements!
Step 1: Gather Materials
This may seem like a long list, but you will probably have to purchase very few of the items on it.
You will need:
~ a large piece of cardboard; I recommend around 20X30 inches so there is room for mistakes if you do some cutting wrong or something.
~ a very large black cloth (black sheet would be best but if the only thing you can find is something smaller it will work. Although not look quite as good because your lower half of you body will be seen). I recommend atleast50X70 inches, which is what I had.
~ scissors and/or an x-acto knife
~ a helmet (ski, bike, construction) without a brim.
~ duct tape! Definitely start with a full roll.
~ long ruler or measuring tape and pencil
~ Gesso or some other white glue (slightly watered down Elmer's glue works)
~ white, silver/grey, and purple (or mix red and blue and white if you don't have purple) acrylic paint and paintbrush
~ small amount of bendable, thick wire
~ a piece of black stocking or other black fabric you can see through
~ 3 long, thin wood or pvc pipe pieces, around 2 feet long is good.
~ plastic soda bottle, any size
~ trash bag
~ strong black thread and needle or stapler. This is how you are attaching the fabric to the mask. If you use staples, it will be easier but leave larger holes on the fabric and cardboard mask.
~ hot glue
Step 2: Sketch and Cut Out Your Mask
Now it's time to plan out your mask! First I made a little scale cardboard model (pictured). I free-handed an oval shape and cut it out with scissors. If you want to be perfectly symmetrical, you can fold a piece of paper in half, cut out half of the oval, spread the paper back out, and use that as a tracer. After I was satisfied with the dimensions, I cut out the full sized version. That ended up being 24 inches at the longest point and and 18 inches at the widest point.
You will notice that this mask isn't totally flat, it has kind of a dish shape. To make it this way, I cut thin slits about 2 inches deep all around the mask, spread roughly 7 or 8 inches apart. Then I pulled the two sides of each slit together really tightly and taped it with duct tape. It might be easier to understand in the pictures.
Last thing is to cut out the mouth. This is where you will see out of. This depends on personal preference and how wide you want your range of view to be. I measured by tracing around my glasses because I knew I could see fine around that width. It also seemed to fit well proportionally with the rest of the mask. The lower edge of the mouth was about 3 and 1/4 inches from the bottom of the mask.
note: if you would prefer to paint the mask first (so you know where the mouth will go and what size it will be in relation to everything else) that it totally fine. Just go on to the next step, and when you are done, cut out the mouth.
Step 3: Painting Time!
Time to paint on his face!
First, slather a base layer of gesso or watered-down white glue on the mask. This will make less of the cardboard lines show up. You can even put gesso, then a large piece of thin paper over it, and then more gesso over that to make it even smoother. Be warned that the gesso dries pretty quickly, so you will have to work fast.
Next, paint the markings on. You can paint over the mask with white first, but if you put on a lot of white gesso, you may not wish to. I used the picture above as a template. The paint dried in an hour or so.
Step 4: Cover the Mouth
This step is so people won't see your eyes when they look at you in the mask. Take the wire and bend it into and oval-ly shape bigger than the mouth. Then put it all the way into the stocking. Tie a knot in the stocking so the fabric is stretched out over the wire. Flip the mask over and tape it down over the hole securely with duct tape. You should be able to see a decent amount through the stocking. Note that it is pretty difficult to actually see out of at night so make sure you can see out of it well enough in daylight.
Step 5: Attach the Helmet
Now it's time to attach the helmet to the mask! Put the helmet on and hold the mask up to your face so your eyes are looking through the hole. Find out what height you prefer and then tape the helmet down at that exact spot. The helmet I used had a little slit in the front that made it easy to tape. Find some little niche or something that you can loop the tape through for extra security. How you tape this depends on the helmet you are using and what exact shape it is. As long as it's very secure and you can wear the helmet and see out of the mask, consider this step complete.
Step 6: Stabilize With the Wood Pieces
This is what keeps the mask at a constant angle with the helmet and keeps it from flopping over. It also helps to stabilize. Take one of the wood or pipe pieces and tape it firmly to the very top center part of the mask. Then put on the helmet. Move the wood piece up or down along the back of the helmet until you find where the mask sits straight up. Tape the wood piece there. Then tape down the other wood pieces along the top corners of the mask and have them meet at the first wood piece you taped. See the above pictures for help. Use a lot of tape.
Step 7: Attach the Magical Inflatable Trashbag
This is what gives No Face his shape from the side and back. If you would just prefer to use bubble wrap or something to pad the back you can, but this is the most lightweight thing with the least amount of taping.
Take the soda bottle and cut the top off right before it tapers. Put the bag up and through the opening of the part you just cut off. Fan out the top of the bag away from the opening so you can blow into it. Blow it up just like a balloon and screw the bottle cap back on. It may deflate eventually, but it's really easy to just blow up again.
When you are finished with that, just tape it onto the mask at the top, over the wood pieces. Onto the next step!
Step 8: Sew the Fabric Onto the Mask
Take whatever size of fabric you have and wrap one of the sides around the edge of the mask. Sew it right to the cardboard of the mask. If the needle can't poke through the cardboard, you will have to find something sharp to make the holes first and then sew through them. Sew all around the mask, with whatever stitch is easiest for you. Once you've gone all the way around you may want to tidy it up with some hot glue. Just take a little piece of the fabric, fold it over your stitching, and then glue it down on top of it.
Alternate Method: If you have an exceptionally large piece of black fabric (a sheet for example), then you can cut a mask-sized hole in the center and sew that to the mask. If you do this with a smaller piece of fabric, it won't work as well.
Alternate Alternate Method: Staple instead of sew
After sewing all around, you may want to sew the front slit a little bit to hide some of what's underneath the costume. See the fourth picture.
Step 9: TRY IT OUT!!!
It's all done! Hooray! You have now made a No Face costume!
You'll probably want to wear long, black clothes underneath the costume. Black gloves would probably be good too.
Have fun being No Face! :)