Step 1: Materials and Cost
Liquid Latex - $40-50
Air-Dry Clay - $5
Styrofoam Head, Wooden Dowel, PVC Couplers - $14
The air-dry clay would be found at a craft store like Michael's. The brand I usually see is Amaco. Since craft stores usually have a 40% off one item coupon all the time, you can use that and get a good 10 pound block of clay for about $5. There are other options for clay that will be discussed later. You'll want a Styrofoam head to sculpt off of. A makeup supply store should have them, or if there is a Savers store around, they usually have them. Or eBay is a good option too.
Depending on what you already have lying around the house, the above materials may be all that you need to buy. Still, these are some other materials/tools that I used in the course of making my mask:
Step 2: Sculpting the Mask
This is a video showing a time-lapse of my sculpt. Note how it helps to use some aluminum foil to build up some areas, or to stab pencils into the head to support the mandibles.
A note about cheap air-dry clay: it's cheap. For the sake of budget, that's a good thing, but it does have its disadvantages. Namely that it dries quickly, and when it does dry, it shrinks. When it tries to shrink on something like a foam head, it starts to crack. The time window for making this is limited. When I made mine, I sculpted it in about an hour and a half, and started working with latex right after. You'd probably only have a small number of hours before the clay started to crack. There may be ways to avoid the time limits, such as using a non-shrinking (preferably non-air-dry clay) instead, or somehow sealing the sculpt with a clear sealing coat so that it is extra-sturdy. Some other hints people have given is that you can cover the sculpt with wet paper towels and a plastic bag to help preserve it, or have a spray bottle of water to keep it moist.
Step 3: Painting Latex
Coat the sculpt with Vaseline (makes it release easier). Then take a paintbrush and dip it in some liquid dish washing soap. This will keep the latex from sticking to the bristles. Dip the brush into the latex and paint it over the sculpt. Paint over the entire surface, and then let the layer dry. It only takes about half an hour or so for it to dry completely. After that, do another layer. Dry. Another layer. Repeat until you have about 10 or more layers to ensure that it's thick and strong. I heard this tip from a tutorial, and I don't know how effective it is, but if you take some wood glue and paint some of that on areas that you want to be stiff (like the mandibles or ridges on top), it helps those areas be more sturdy. After it's all dry, then simply peel it off of the sculpt. Latex can sometimes stick to itself, so rubbing a coating of baby powder on the mask is recommended before peeling it off. Also, if you can, try to add some baby powder onto the underside of the mask as you begin to pull it off.
Note: the main disadvantage to this method of making a latex mask is how it layers on top of details, i.e. if you have fine wrinkles on your sculpt, they'll just be smoothed out when the latex gets brushed on. And it's difficult to get a smooth texture(though they say if you use a sponge and stipple the latex on instead of painting, it works well). With painting the latex, you get a kind of bumpy, uneven texture, which ends up looking pretty good on something like Predator.
Step 4: Paint, Teeth and Quills
To make teeth, sculpt more of the air-dry clay into the right shape. Cut little holes with scissors in the mask where you want them to go, push them through the holes, and use some superglue to secure them in place.
For the quills, I took some toothpicks and spray-painted them black. I cut them to small lengths and pressed them through the underside of the mask so that they'd stick out the top. A little bit of superglue helps those stay as well.
Step 5: Dreadlocks
Start by mixing liquid latex with a bit of black acrylic paint to make black colored latex. Then pour this latex into a poster tube. Take a wooden dowel with a diameter of about 3/4" (or other sizes for dreads of different size) and round off/taper one end of it. Coat the dowel with some Vaseline and then dip it in the tube and pull it back out. Let it dry out for about an hour, then dip another layer, wait another hour, and then slide the dread off of the dowel.
With the help of a little rolled up aluminum foil, fill out the top of the dread to help it "bend" smoothly. Since it's not a solid floppy piece it needs help to keep a round shape. Then use hot glue to attach the base of the dread to the ridge of the mask. Cover it all up with some more black latex to help it blend in.
I made beads for my dreads out of PVC coupler pieces. I “etched” them a bit with a dremmel tool and then spray painted them gold. I had to use the dremmel tool to smooth out the inside of the couplers, which had a ridge inside. With that ridge sanded smooth, the couplers simply slid onto the dreads and stayed in place well.
Step 6: Bio-Helmet
For having it fit on top of the mask, if you're lucky like I was, you may be able to just fold the mandibles inside and put the helmet on top and it will stay in place just like it should. If not, then Velcro strips could come in handy. Or, you could somehow add some magnets onto the back of the helmet and inside the mask that line up to keep it in place (I also did that for mine).
If you want a laser light in your helmet, that's a bit more difficult. Unless you can find some portable light that would fit inside, you'll have to go to somewhere like Radio Shack and ask about wiring an LED light, which will require a battery pack, which may be able to fit inside the helmet.
Step 7: Final Thoughts and Advice
- Get mask-making latex. If it's not for making masks, it's probably not safe for skin contact.
- Cheap clay is good for a limited budget, but you have to work quickly with it before it dries and cracks your sculpt.
- Dish washing soap will save you from having to use a new brush every time you paint a layer on.
- Painting a latex mask is best with latex-based paint or cream makeup.
- Dreads are difficult, but the dipping method I showed is probably the best way to do them on a budget.
Good luck to any and all who might attempt a similar project. Or, at the very least, I hope you enjoyed this look into my crazy project.
This is a video chronicling this process (though not as detailed) if you want to follow along: