How to Be Yourself




Introduction: How to Be Yourself

About: An engineer, seamstress, cook, coder, and overall maker. Spent a summer at Instructables; got a degree in E: Neural Engineering at Olin College; made a microcontroller (; now thinking about climate...

If you've come here looking for self-help, this is probably the wrong place. This is a tutorial for people who are already ego-tastic enough to want to make more of themselves. Not in the traditional sense, and not even in the cloning sense. You'll see.

This is, alternately, a creepy-doll mask tutorial. Hard to be sure.

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Step 1: Make Positive of Face

First, you're going to need a positive of your face. Your face, but one that won't get burnt if it suddenly touches something that's 500 degrees.

I made mine using my Plaster Face Cast tutorial.

There are other ways to make a mask of your face than that described in this and the next step, but this is the most accurate way, I think.

Step 2: Vacuum Form Face

You probably don't have a vacuum former. But guess what! You can make one. Here's a good tutorial.

I used the one SHIFT! made for the Instructables office. You can read his instructable on what he did and how to use it here.

For my masks, I used a thin sheet of polystyrene. It feels just like the cheap masks that you can buy at party stores, though maybe less brittle.

Here are the steps I used:
  1. Find or make a frame that fits your plaster face. This must not be bigger than your vacuum forming surface.
  2. Set up face on vacuum former.
  3. Cut out a sheet of plastic the size of your frame
  4. Staple plastic to frame. You may have to hit it hard to make the staples go into the wood.
  5. Heat plastic in an oven at 500 degrees- this part goes very quickly.
  6. Plastic will deform upwards in bubbles, go flat, then begin to dip slightly (very subtly) in the center. Pull it out immediately.
  7. Place the frame and plastic over your face positive and switch on the vacuum. The sheet of plastic will form to the face.
  8. It should be pretty good already, but it's helpful to use a heat gun (with the vacuum still on) to make the plastic conform better to the details: the pits of the eyes, the nostrils, lips.
  9. The plastic cools pretty much instantly. Pull it off of the frame.
  10. Cut plastic to shape. If you have glass eyes, this is a good time to tape them on and take super-creepy pictures.

Step 3: Gouge Your Eyes Out

Carefully carve out eye holes. You might want to place a piece of duct tape at the corner of the eye so you don't accidentally over-cut.
Keep a mirror handy and check on the eye shape regularly.
Odd eye shapes can give your mask a lot of emotion and character.

Cut out the nostrils, too; breathing holes.

More creepy pictures are in order here.
Since your mask should fit your face perfectly, it's actually pretty comfortable to wear.

Step 4: Painting

Face colors are really difficult to accomplish.
I went to the art store, and one of the very nice people working there told me that Burnt Sienna + Titanium  White mixed together made a great flesh tone. I also got Red Oxide (+ white) to make redder parts of my face, and since my skin is olive-y, added a little Yellow Ochre. In acrylic paints.

I had a couple of ideas on skin tone matching. None of them really worked, so I did end up with a creepy doll look.
Creepy doll is okay with me. Maybe you're better at painting/less impatient.

But here were my clever ideas:
  • Mirror pallette: set up a mirror so you can see your face. Mix paints and test them directly on the mirror; compare to flesh.
  • Color photograph: print out your face and test colors on it.
  • Just paint right on your skin. You probably shouldn't do that; I think acrylic is bad for you. But I did it anyway. It didn't help much.
I thought of some other ways to put my face on the mask, but haven't tried them out:
  • Photo decoupage (pro: the right colors) (con: probably lose facial shape)
  • Putting actual makeup on the face. Probably works better if you actually wear/are good at putting on makeup.
  • 3D printing, but instead of extruding an object, it just prints photos on a 3D surface. Does this exist, even? Maybe I just mean airbrushing.

Step 5: Eyebrows

When I went to the art store, I got a super-cheap brush. So while I was painting the face, the brush bristles kept falling out into the paint.

"How fortuitous!" I thought. "Now I can make eyebrows!"

So that's what I used.
They were a little long, so I cut them up a little smaller.

To apply them, I traced a line of spirit gum onto the mask at the eyebrows and hand-placed the fibers.

Step 6: Wearing the Mask

You could probably attach an elastic, but that takes away from the realism.
I used spirit gum around the top edges of the mask, as shown.

Step 7: Costuming

Dress like yourself, but a little off. For example, the me-impostors in the pictures are wearing my clothes, sure, but something is off...

Step 8: Just Act Natural!

This makes a great Halloween costume: what could frighten children better than you, just being yourself?
Maybe that's just me.

But what's even better than one person being you?
Two people being you!

A whole army of you's!

Know no bounds. Live. Let yourself out to wreak havoc on the world.

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    18 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable! I have a similar way of making a mask of my own face...

    I used a combination of one positive and one negative plaster cast, then poured in liquid latex rubber to make a "rubber sandwich" and allowed it to dry for 24 hours.
    Then, I adhered my beard clippings to the rubber surface with more liquid rubber.
    I decided not to paint it because it looks creepier...


    Reply 6 years ago

    nice job! yet creepy..


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'd like to see this done with foamed latex or gelatin. This is crazy.

    In a good way.

    I love your write up and sense of humour - you're very funny! Project turned out great too! Steph :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    she does kinda look like a burn victim but its cool....has anyone seen face off lol


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nope, not creepy at all. (nice work, I want my own face masks now!)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, but that opening image... You look like a burns victim.

    (And it was *so* creepy seeing you around the office in that thing!)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm in a room full of clones!

    (clatter of footsteps, jingle of keys as I disappear down the stairs in panic!)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    well the title did catch me off guard-- but the text kept me amused!

    If you added a little shading around the sides (darker flesh tones) the mask will be a bit more realistic as it gives more of an appearance of a three dimensional form. Or go totally zombie.....which could be fun. That would be the option I'd go for and then wear it to school and freak out all my students...