Introduction: Chameleon Mask

About: I am a British chap living in China. Watch this space for half-baked ideas and dubious innovation. Often aided and abetted by my power-tool wielding daughter.

We figured that a chameleon mask would be a great way to blend into the background and become almost invisible - for Halloween or other times of the year.

The initial idea to achieve this was to scale up a suitable papercraft model and to then adapt this. Unfortunately I couldn't find one of a chameleon, so used the nearest equivalent, which turned out to be an Iguana.

What is the difference between an Iguana and a Chameleon? Well, not being a herpetologist, I can't tell you for certain, but for the purposes of this instructable, it is the extendable tongue, the tall mane (casque) and the swivelling eyes.

These seemed to be within our grasp for customising the iguana model, so I went ahead and downloaded it.


The main starting point for this instructable is part of a papercraft model of an iguana by Youichi Wada 和田洋一.

In the images above, I show a low res version of this model, but the full version is published by Canon Creative Park and can be downloaded from here:

We are just using the head part of the model.

This model is designed to be printed on A4 paper, so it needs a lot of scaling up for our purposes.

We used a scaling value of 775% and this seemed about right, but can be adjusted to make a larger or smaller mask than ours.

The model should be printed onto card, paper or vinyl. It doesn't really matter which. We printed onto adhesive vinyl and then applied this to card. If I was doing this again, I would probably try to print directly onto a card material, as the vinyl does not take glue very easily.

As well as the model, we used ping pong balls for the eyes and these little plastic halloween pumpkins as the 'swivel housing' for the eyes.

To make an extendible tongue we used a party blower, connected in the inside of the mask with silicone tubing.

To glue it all together, we used our high power glue gun. The one in the picture is similar to our 110W model. You will use a lot of glue sticks. I also recommend a pair of heat resistant gloves to protect your hands when squishing together parts of the mask from the inside that are not easy to access.

Step 1: Video Introduction

Here is a video showing the basic construction of the mask

Step 2: Print Parts and Mount on Card

We printed the parts of the head onto sticky vinyl and then stuck this to some card to give it some strength.

Once all the parts were cut out, we stuck double-sided tape to the tabs before assembly.

Later on in the construction, we worked out that the glue gun was a much better way to go, so we ditched the double-sided tape.

Step 3: Construct Head Shape

These pictures show the construction of the different parts of the head prior to assembly.

Once the parts were complete, we attached them together and added a reinforcing piece of card around the neck to help hold everything in place. We used many glue sticks to get to this point.

Step 4: Add Swivelling Eyes

We found that a ping pong ball and these little pumpkin halloween props we had lying around were perfect for the swivelling eyes and socket. We cut them to fit the shape of the head and then mounted a section of compression spring to the surface of the mask to support the eye and press it to the socket.

Step 5: Add Extending Tongue

We used a party blower for the extending tongue. The party blowers that we could find were quite fragile and rather brightly coloured, so we painted them with some ink. We took the reed out of the blower mouthpiece so that the action was silenced. Using a couple of pieces of silicone tube inside the mask we were able to mount the blower on the outside with a good seal.

Step 6: Add Mane and Beard

Using corrugated card, paper tape and some thin EVA foam, we added a mane and beard to the the mask to achieve a more chameleon-like effect. These parts were all stuck in place with hot glue.

Step 7: Painting

The original model had a printed colours of the skin, but these were not really bright enough and after adding all the extra parts, we needed to paint everything to match. We used acrylic paints mixed with a textured sculpture medium to give some body to the paint (and cover up all the badly fitted joints). We layered up the paint in different greens to try and give some depth and then made a couple of circular printing tools with some felt wrapped round a dowel and pencil. The painted mask is stronger and more rigid after painting. Make sure you cover up the eyeballs before painting.

Step 8: Disappear Into Surroundings

Don the mask and see how easy it is to disappear into your surroundings with the chameleon's natural camouflage.

The nostrils are not very easy to see out of!

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