Introduction: Skyrim Dragon Priest Mask
Ever wanted to be part of an evil, dragon worshiping cult? I know I have!
If you've ever played through Skyrim, you will probably have found at least one of these masks while adventuring. While there's some disagreement, a lot of people think that they are one of the best-designed pieces of equipment in the game. This instructable will show you how to make your own dragon priest mask, whether it be Krosis, Morokei or perhaps even Konahrik.
If you already have a couple of tools, this should be fairly cheap to make and there's room for variation, too.
Step 1: Ingredients
It may surprise you to know that this heavy, sturdy mask is actually built around paper. If you're at all familiar with "Pepakura" then you'll know the great things it can be used to create. The download page can be found here. As for the model, I found it on the rpf forums and the download link is here. Credit, of course to the creator of the model for the free download.
-Resin and hardener - Depending on how obsessive you are, you will need somewhere between 250ml-500ml.
-Filler or "Bondo" - Only a small amount, just for neatening up edges. Get the smallest tub.
-Fibreglass - this goes on the inside, so don't worry about thickness.
-Paper - You will need fairly thick paper, but no more than 10 pages of it (Provided you succeed the first time around).
-Glue - You can buy glue specifically for paper craft, but otherwise a glue gun will create very strong yet flexible bonds.
-Various grades of sandpaper.
-Paint - You can paint the mask however you like since there are variations in-game.
-Foam - Optional, if your crest fails like mine did.
-Old Clothes - If resin gets into any piece of clothing, consider it scrap cloth. Use clothes you dont mind getting ruined.
-Gas Mask - For when you start sanding.
-Eye protection - For sanding.
-Dremel or other similar tool - Optional, but very useful when sandpaper cannot reach certain areas.
-Files - Again optional, but useful for creating sharp edges.
-Sharp Knife and Cutting Board
-Patience - This is relative to how good you want the final piece to be, but be prepared to spend hours sanding.
-A stand to paint on - This can be anything you don't mind getting painted on.
Step 2: Assembling the Paper Mask
This is fairly self-explanatory, just cut out the pieces with a sharp knife, score the folds and glue them together using the model as a guide. The download page for Pepakura can be found here. Go on downloads then viewer. As for the model, I found it on the RPF forums and the download link is here. Credit, of course to the creator of the model for the free download.
Full instructions for assembly can be found on the Pepakura site provided, but you will probably find it quite easy and without need of great explanation. Just take your time and makes sure that the final result is sturdy. If you ever intend to wear the mask you will not need to make the inward grooves for the eyes or mouth, nor will you need the back panel.
Step 3: Resin and Fibreglass
Mix your resin with your hardener and apply a thin coat to the front. Mine is black because there was paint in the tub I was mixing in, yours will probably be amber. Try to make it as even as possible. After about 20 minutes you should notice that it has become more solid. All resin is different, but as soon as it is able to hold its shape effectively it is a good time to start fibre glassing. Unless you are very experienced with fibreglass it's not advisable to fibreglass the outside and it will be very hard to retain the shape, instead just fill in the inside with plenty of thick layers. Do not worry about going over the eye holes or going over the sides, excess can be trimmed later.
You need to cut the fibreglass into small strips, line the inside with a thin layer of resin, lay the strips on top and resin over them. Continue in this way alternating the direction of the strips, until the mask is quite thick and sturdy. A bit of weight will make it feel much better than if it was light and flimsy.
Leave the fibre glassed piece for around an hour, or as long as it takes for it to solidify sufficiently. It does not have to be fully hardened, but it's important that you don't cover over the still wet surface or it will stay wet indefinitely. Go over the outside with a fairly thick yet even coat, and leave to dry over 24 hours (unless your resin says otherwise). The position that it is in now will be the position it stays, so if the model is at all disfigured make sure that it hardens correctly. For instance, mine was too wide and so I let it dry with two objects either side, to keep it still.
I realise the pictures aren't the most helpful, but I really didn't want a layer of fibreglass on my camera. Don't worry though, this step is very easy and any minor errors will add to the authenticity of the piece. Just imagine that skull is your mask and you'll be fine.
Step 4: Primer
This step is not necessary, but many people find that it is helpful to spray a coat of primer over the full model to bring out the imperfections in preparation for sanding. You will notice that I have already cut out the eye holes and mouth hole, I did this with the Dremel using the disc attachment. You can do this before, or wait until after the coat, it doesn't really matter.
If the model is severely bumpy, consider using a "high-build" primer to add a thicker layer of paint.
Step 5: Sanding Time!
This is probably the most time-consuming step. Sand out all of the little imperfections until your model looks smooth. It is worth noting that the in-game mask is full of chips and battle-scars, but I wanted mine to look a little bit more pristine. If you're like me and want everything to be perfect then be prepared to eat buckets of dust and sand until your arms drop off. On a serious note though, you should wear a mask and goggles.
You may want to use your Dremel at this stage to speed up the process, but be careful you don't go too far. I recommend the cylindrical sandpaper tool, but don't turn up the Dremel too high or the sandpaper WILL explode and hit you in the face. It sounds ridiculous but it happens to me all the time. At this stage there's probably no point in going any higher than 120 grit.
Step 6: Filling
You only need to do this step if there are large imperfections or you are not happy with the overall shape. Mine had huge flaws due to very thick resin, but many people may be able to skip this step entirely. I was not happy with the crest on the top of the head, and so I sanded the whole of the forehead smooth and made them out of foam with filler on the outside. Again you don't really need to do this if your model comes out nice, but as I mentioned the resin went on extremely thick and collapsed some parts inwards.
Filler is difficult to use, but with practise it becomes easy. Get some filler on a mixing palette (any old flat piece of plastic) and add hardener with a ratio of about 1:20. Each product is different, and you may want to experiment to find the best ratio, as too much will mean it hardens before you can even get it on, and too little means that it doesn't harden at all. It should probably be salmon-coloured and not have any inconsistencies.
It is advisable to wear gloves as it can be irritating and you may want to spread some of it with your fingers. You will probably find that it is not what you expected, very loose and difficult to work with. Lather it on the areas that need filling, don't worry about mistakes yet. It should very soon start to harden, and about 2-3 minutes after first putting it on you should begin to shape it as close as possible to how you want it. It will be at least 20 minutes before it's fully hardened, so use your time to get rid of any drips or runs. It sands down very easily, but you don't want to have to get rid of a load of splodges.
You will need to sand it down and, depending on how consistent it went on, apply more coats. When you are happy with the shape, move on to a high grit sandpaper and prime ready for the final painting.
Step 7: Additional Extras
You may notice that my mask suddenly grows a forehead crest between the last stage and the next. The one that I made originally caved in because my resin was too thick, and so I sanded it all down and rebuilt it. If your crest is too small or you experienced a similar problem to me, you can build it back up by cutting the pieces out of foam and then gluing them to the model. Then apply a generous amount of resin to solidify it, and smooth it down with filler and/or more resin. However, in comparison to the original my crest is a little too prominent, but I personally prefer it that way.
I haven't included photos of the crest because I do not advise it. It takes a long time to make a minor adjustment and it's easy to lose motivation on such a long, monotonous task.
You may also want to correct your surface imperfections with a thin layer of "Rondo", this will smooth it all out and get rid of all the little pinholes you may have (Don't worry about those, they're normal and can easily be corrected). To do this, mix together resin, filler and thinner in the ratio 6:5:1. You should be able to use the hardener for either product, as it is essentially the same stuff. Spread this over the entire thing with a paintbrush, and let it spread out and seep into all the gaps. With the thinner it may take longer to dry than normal, so just be patient and leave it as long as it takes. It shouldn't be any more than 24 hours.
Step 8: Paintjob
This step is down to you really, as there are many variations on the dragon priest masks and you can paint it however you like. Going for the authentic Krosis look, I first coated it with a couple of coats of primer then moved on to a very golden and shiny paint. If it’s anything like the one I got, it looks stunning but in order for it to stay nice it needs to take its time with drying. For this reason, it is important to apply VERY THIN coats and not to touch the surface until you are 100% sure it is dry. Too thick a coat will make a horrible, runny mess and a week on it will still get covered in fingerprints at the slightest touch, as I discovered the first time around.
If you do get fingerprints on it, don't worry, they can come out. Just get a soft piece of cloth and rub very lightly and they will eventually fade.
Now it’s time to age it. It took me a while to figure out how far I should go, and the first time around it was a horrible black mess with random golden scratches, and I was too ashamed to take a photo. When it is dry, you may want to rub the surface VERY gently with a soft rag just to polish it up and also to get rid of any remaining moisture.
You should use matt black paint to paint in the crevices (Don't worry about it being messy yet) and then use a sponge to move it around. Wipe along the crease and when you are satisfied with the coverage, dab a dry part of your sponge on the paint to make it look more natural. It should dry very quickly as your coats should be very thin. On my first go I went really overboard, so it’s important to know when to stop. Unless you know what you're doing, I would advise that you stick to the crevices and avoid the large, flat surfaces. If the paint goes on too thick, consider watering it down.
You are finished! Now you can guard ancient Word Walls, kill Savos' students or just enjoy your 20% bonus to Lockpicking, Archery, and Alchemy. Have fun making this mask, and please post any pictures of your own!