Introduction: A Movie Themed Mask

Venice has not only the Carnival but also the Film Festival; the junction of these events made me think about making a themed mask. I was definitely inspired by The New Yorker’s cover girl (the 10 February issue, the author is Malika Favre).




printer paper

paper towel



black, white and red paints

varnish (optional)


exacto knife

brush for glue

brush for paint

permanent marker



Step 1: Proportions

I copied the cover page of the magazine, glued it to a piece of thick paper and cut the pattern for the mask. I decided to make the mask of two parts: the face and the camera.

The picture shows some basic dimensions that I used to make the sculptured pattern for the mask. There’s also the contour of the profile that could serve you as a reference; I drew the profile free hand, it’s also possible to download a free image from the web (search Google for ‘female profile silhouette’).

Step 2: Face Patterns

I made some patterns that served me as reference while sculpting the face; they are made of 2 mm thick corrugated cardboard.

The base for the sculptured pattern is made of 2 mm thick cardboard; I copied the contour of the face onto the base, drew the vertical axe of the face, the line of the forehead and the line where the face will contact the camera. Then I glued the patterns to the base, see pictures.

Step 3: Sculpting

I used salt dough to make the sculptured pattern. To prepare the dough, I mixed 1 part of salt, 2 parts of flour and 1 part of water; these are basic proportions, the criterion is that the dough be plastic but not sticky.

Coarse sculpting was made free hand, then I smoothed the surfaces by applying flour glue with a brush. To make flour glue, I mixed 1 part of flour with 1 part of water to get a kind of concentrate; then I added boiling water while stirring the mix to get a viscous liquid. This glue will also be used to make the mask itself. I’d suggest you to fix the base to a plane board, like the surface of a table, to avoid that the pattern be deformed because of wet material; I fixed the base to my working table with pieces of adhesive tape. When the surface of the pattern becomes hard, you smooth the surface with sandpaper. Now, the pattern is ready for use.

Step 4: Working With Paper

I used 20 mm wide strips of printer paper to make the mask. Before putting the strips, it’s advisable to cover the sculptured pattern with a paper towel soaked in water to prevent the strips from sticking to the pattern.

Then I proceeded like this:

soak a strip in glue

remove excessive glue with a brush

put the strip onto the pattern

smooth the strip so it adheres well to the surface of the pattern

repeat the first 2 steps with another strip and place it slightly overlapping the first

repeat the previous steps until the pattern is covered with strips

There were 5 layers in total: the strips of the 1st layer went vertically, those on the 2nd layer horizontally; 3rd - vertically, 4th - horizontally, 5th - vertically. The nose and the lips require a more sophisticated work; it’s advisable to use smaller pieces of paper to form those parts of the face. Your main goal should be to make the surface as smooth as possible; the only irregularities should be ‘steps’ between overlapping strips.

Step 5: Coating

After the glue is dry, it’s necessary to put coating on the mask to smooth irregularities of the surface. The eye and the nostrils should be cut before applying the coating.

You can use white acrylic coating; I didn’t have any, that’s why I made a coating of finely powdered yellow chalk (already available at my workshop) and white acrylic paint by mixing then 1 to 1. There were 3 layers in total, each one should be fine sandpapered once dry.

Step 6: Painting

I’d suggest you to put 3 layers of white paint: one coarse (thick paint straight from the tube) to smooth irregularities that remain after the coating, and two fine (paint slightly diluted with water, thus there would be no trace of brush strokes) finishing layers.

After the white paint had dried, I drew the contours of the hair, eyelashes, eyebrow and lips. I painted the hair with black oil paint (1 layer); the eyelashes and eyebrow with black permanent marker; the lips with carmine red acrylic paint (2 layers). After the painting had dried, I varnished the mask (1 layer of dull gloss varnish).

Step 7: Enclosure of the Camera

The enclosure of the camera is made of 3 mm corrugated cardboard, the dimensions (in mm) are shown in the drawing. the dimension ’23 mm’ is marked with an * because I made this opening after having assembled the camera with the mask, to ensure the equal distance of the eyes from the vertical axe of the face. Small cubes made of styrofoam could be glued, optionally, into the corners of the enclosure to reinforce the structure.

There are inlays made of 1 mm thick cardboard on the edges of the enclosure, once painted white, they are supposed to imitate the metal frame of the camera; however, you are free to choose the appearance of the camera. The inlays on the face panel are 7 mm wide, those on the sides are 10 mm wide. The opening for the viewfinder is not shown in the drawing; it’s a 20 x 20 mm opening situated at 15 mm from the edge of the face panel. Both the size and positioning of the viewfinder depend on the maker’s fantasy.

The enclosure will be painted black after the lens holder is installed. After both the mask and the enclosure are ready, you align the mask with the enclosure and mark the contour according to which the mask will be attached to the enclosure, see picture. I glued the mask to the enclosure with epoxy resin, and filled the gaps in the junction with paper clay and painted it where necessary.

I needed a small amount of paper clay, so I cooked a paper towel (previously torn in small pieces) until it became a homogeneous paste, and mixed it with flour glue used for making the mask.

Step 8: Viewfinder

It’s a tetrahedral made of thick paper, all its sizes are equal to 20 mm; the flat pattern is shown in the picture. A side of the pattern will be covered with aluminum foil (or painted with silver paint), after that the tetrahedral will be assembled. The ready viewfinder will be glued to the face panel of the enclosure where a 20 x 20 mm opening has been previously made. An optional piece of transparent plastic could be glued into the opening to imitate the lens of the viewfinder.

Step 9: Lens Holder

The base of the holder is made of 2 mm thick corrugated cardboard, the tubes are 20 mm high pieces of a cardboard tube (it used to be the core of a decorative paper roll) with the outer diameter of 40 mm.

A 20 mm opening is made in the holder where it will be aligned with the opening in the enclosure; thus, the eye of the person who’s wearing the mask will be seen as if it were a lens. This lens holder is different from the original, but I used this option to make the opening for the eyes symmetrical respectively to the vertical axe of the face; my idea was to make an eye look like a lens of the camera (the other eye will look as an eye).

Step 10: Stick

It’s a piece of bamboo, 30 cm long, with the diameter of about 12 mm; there’s a groove on one end of the stick to fix the enclosure of the camera on it. A semicircular opening will be made in the bottom of the enclosure to pass the stick through, see picture. The stick is glued to the enclosure; I also applied some paper clay to reinforce the junction.

Step 11: Mask Is Ready

You can see the result in the above pictures.

Paper Contest

Participated in the
Paper Contest