Intro: Making an Animal Mascot Head (Fursuit)
All about how I made an animal mascot head, in the shape of a black and white cat. Features taxidermy eyes and re-rooted hair.
Step 1: Step 1: Materials Needed
To make your furry mascot head, you will need:
A silk balaclava; strong duct tape; masking tape; upholstery foam; spray glue; a cool melt glue gun with lots of extra glue sticks; a Prismacolor marker; chalks; a pen; lots of scrap paper; one pair of general purpose scissors; one pair of small sharp scissors; calico, canvas or buckram; a pair of large taxidermy eyes (at least 32mm); Fimo; white acrylic paint; fleshtone acrylic paint; nail polish remover; fleece material; a sewing kit; long pile fur, (the most expensive you can afford); a lint roller.
A razor knife; pet hair clippers; hair extensions/wig hair/horse hair; nylon wire; (fake) leather.
A mannequin head (you can buy these from Amazon)
Some "electrician's tape" (also sold as "bondage tape"); plastic carrier bags/newspaper/both; a secure tube/vase.
Step 2: Preparation and Early Foaming
You will need: Mannequin head OR Bondage tape + carrier bags/newspaper + secure base like a vase; duct tape; foam; spray glue; sharp scissors; balaclava; reference pictures of your character and the animal it's based on; marker pen
Optional: Plastic canvas
1. Making a head model [If you have a mannequin head, you can skip this step and move straight onto step 2.]
- It really, really helps to have a willing friend around for this step. I'll assume you do for clarity's sake.
- Get your friend to take a reel of electrician's tape (it's the kind that sticks to itself but nothing else) and carefully wind it around your head from the forehead downwards. Keep going until your head is covered. Then take strips of tape and cover the top of your head.
- Very slowly, get the sharp scissors and cut yourself out of the electrician's tape head. Only cut until you can slide your head out. Then patch up the cut with duct tape.
- Stuff your head with anything, really. I use newspaper and carrier bags. Anything that keeps the shape.
- Push your head onto the secure base. I used a handy glass vase. Then duct tape the head in position so it won't move when you're making the head.
2. Put your balaclava over your head model.
3. Take your time isolating the kinds of shapes you'll need to make the skull of your animal. Remember you're only building it up from the face so you don't have to worry about the back of the head. If you can, take a picture of yourself wearing your balaclava and try to draw the face of your character over the top of it. This will help you get an idea of the right dimensions to use.
4. I like to start with the cheeks, so cut out some pieces of foam with your scissors, so that they will form the cheeks of your mask. Remember, the fur will make everything wider than it looks now, so be conservative about how wide you make the cheeks. Use spraymount glue to attach the foam to your balaclava. If they're too big, carve them down with scissors, cutting a little off at a time. Keep checking for symmetry - it's vital that the mask be symmetrical.
5. In order to make sure I didn't build my mask so that it crushed my nose, I stuck a strip of plastic canvas where my nose would go on the balaclava, for reference.
Step 3: More Foaming and Eyes
You will need: Foam; plastic canvas; taxidermy eyes; spray glue; canvas/buckram; (fake) leather; electrician's tape; cool melt glue gun.
1. The eyebrow ridges are usually a good place to go next. These are where your mask will get most of its facial expression, so unlike the cheeks it's good to be a little - even a lot - more generous with how much they stick out. It'll look silly on the unfurred mask but the finished product will look a lot more expressive if you do this.
2. Installing the taxidermy eyes.
- First, prepare the eyes by cutting out a small piece of foam to make the backs of them straight (usually they're concave at the back). Glue the foam onto the eyes.
- Cut a thin strip of electrician's tape and wind it around the outside of the eyes to make a seal between the sides of the taxidermy eyes and the foam.
- Use (fake) leather to make eyelids. You can change the expression of the eyes by making the eyelids different shapes. Fold a piece of (fake) leather over and stick them onto the eyes with a glue gun.
- Make the tear ducts by cutting them out of canvas/buckram and colouring the material black with a Prismacolor marker (or similar artist's marker). These should be oversized and run under the eyes as well as to the side of them because they will be the source of your vision. Stick them to the eyes using a small amount of glue.
- Install the eyes by sticking them to the underside of the eyebrow ridge with the glue gun. Symmetry is very important here, a squinting mask isn't such a great idea. Try to install them so their point of focus is a few feet in front of the mask's face.
3. Foaming the muzzle
- This is very much like the cheeks and eyebrow ridges, only more difficult. Remember to make it smaller and more angular than you want your finished mask to be. Leave a hole in the front for the nose to sit.
- If you make the lower jaw separately from the upper jaw, you can also leave a slit between the two and use it for ventilation. Cut your balaclava so that this is possible. I can even have a drink in mine!
- Make ears either out of foam or plastic canvas. I covered mine in a pinkish velvet material.
Step 4: Duct Tape
You will need: Sharp scissors; nail polish remover; duct tape
1. Check and double check your symmetry by holding your mask up to a mirror, or taking a picture of it and looking on a computer. You can make symmetry adjustments on your photograph first, and then implement them on your mask.
2. Cover your entire foamed mask in strips of duct tape. This is to hold everything together and to help with gluing the fur to the mask. Glue gun glue tends to not work so well with foam.
3. If your scissors get gummed up with duct tape, use nail polish remover to clean them.
Step 5: Furring the Mask - Patterns.
You will need: Masking tape; duct tape; sharp scissors; nail polish remover; chalk; fur; razor knife/scalpel; marker pen; scrap paper.
1. Now for the exciting part - furring the mask. Use long fur, the best you can afford.
- First, refer to your picture of your finished character in order to check where different colours of the fur are supposed to be.
- Take some pieces of masking tape and cover up a section of your mask. Again, I'd suggest starting with one of the cheeks. Use duct tape to reinforce the masking tape.
- Peel the whole thing off and cut darts so that it will lay flat onto some scrap paper.
- Draw around your shape and cut it out of the paper.
- Lay the paper pattern onto the back of your fur and draw around it with chalk.
- Using your razor knife, carefully cut out the pattern, making sure to have the your fur laying in the right direction.
- Repeat until you have the right amount of pieces of fur to cover your entire head.
Step 6: Furring the Mask Optional Steps.
You will need:
Fur, cut into pattern shapes; Cool melt glue gun.
Nylon wire and/or Hair extensions/wig hair/horse hair.
1. [Optional step] Whiskers
- If you want to add whiskers, take a roll of nylon wire (or nylon guitar strings) and cut some lengths. Whiskers are usually a little longer than the head is wide, so cut the lengths accordingly. Make sure they're flat - I had to iron mine to make sure.
- Mark faintly where you want your whiskers to go, on the inside of the piece of fur that will go where whiskers go on your reference animal - usually the side of the muzzle.
- Put a dab of glue onto the end of each whisker and thread it through the fur. Then put a little more glue on to secure the whisker in place.
- A strip of duct tape will ensure all your whiskers are facing the same way - towards the eyes is best.
2. [Optional step] Hair
- This is actually very similar to whiskers. It's easiest to have all the hair on one piece of fur, and then faintly mark with chalk where each strand is going to go. Keep in mind what kind of parting it is to have and how much of an area of hair you want.
- Take a clump of hair and seal it together with hot glue. Shake it so there are no loose hairs.
- Cut a small hole in your fur and thread the hair through.
- Seal it in place with more glue.
- Repeat until you've got a head of hair
- Cut and style the hair as you like it. Make sure to leave this til it's all in place on the head.
Step 7: Furring the Mask Continued
You will need: Fur, cut into pattern shapes; cool melt glue gun.
Optional: sewing kit.
1. Glue your fur pieces into place on your head.
2. Sew the seams shut if you like.
Step 8: Shaping the Fur
This is a very important step for the overall look of the mask.
You will need:
Pet hair clippers; sharp scissors.
1. Look at your reference pictures and take note of where the fur on your character is short. This is usually around the face and the ears.
2. Cut the longest parts of the fur off with scissors before using the clippers. Make sure the hair is out of the way (if you have any). And your hair too!
3. Taking it very, very slowly, use the clippers on your fur just a couple of millimetres at a time. You can use this part of the process to add more shape to some parts of your head, like the eyebrows. It's best to use hairdressing scissors around the whiskers if you have any, to avoid cutting them accidentally.
Step 9: Last Steps
You will need: some FIMO/Sculpey; white paint; nose-coloured paint (black or fleshtone); paintbrush; cool melt glue gun; fur; a lint roller.
1. Making the nose.
- Mould some FIMO into your desired nose shape, plus some extra at the back. This can be toony or realistic.
- Paint the baked and cooled FIMO with some white acrylic paint as an undercoat.
- Leave it to dry and then paint over it with a couple of coats of your nose coloured paint.
- If you want to make the nose look wet, cover it with a coat of clear varnish.
- Glue the nose into place on the muzzle.
2. Thoroughly go over your mask head with the lint roller, to clean it up.