This Ible is in the Halloween Props Contest 2015 and the Epilog Contest VII!
Hi friends! It's Filippo from Italy!
Some weeks ago a friend of mine saw one of my photos on Facebook where I was wearing a 3M Safety Mask, and he asked me: "Can you make a cosplay rebreather out of one of these, like a Sith, Fallout, Mad Max or Bioshock style? The design is cool!"
...and he's right, the design of these masks (without the filters) is defenitely cool.
So I was like "Why not let's try!" and it turned out as a quite simple prop project :)
I want to share this little guide with you so you can have a reference and avoid some mistakes that I've made during the 1st try.
Let's move on!
Tip: every photo of this ible is commented! Always rely on those for extra and useful info.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
It's not a super cheap project, but it wont cost you a lot of money.
Here's what you need:
- a 3M safety mask, THIS ONE is the mask of choice. Buy the version without the filters, they are expansive and you won't need those for this project
- corrugated black pipe, 25mm of diameter. Super cheap, about 3€ for like twenty meters of pipe! IMPORTANT: be sure to buy plastic pipe, the rubber coated one is extremely difficult to paint
- corrugated pipe joints for a 25mm pipe. Also super cheap, like 20 cents each one. Buy at least 2-3 of them
- super glue (cyanoacrylate kind, like Loctite Super Glue or similar) with a small applicator for details works
- hot glue gun for high temps (like this one)
- Dremel or similar power tools. This one is not strictly mandatory, but I HIGHLY recommend it
- a good cutter
- one rusty bolt or screw, the rustier the better!
- medium grit sand paper (I used my 240 grit)
Spray and paints:
- plastic primer
- different acrylic paints (NOT SPRAY!), the best quality you can afford. In this project I've used a chalk black, silver and a specific rust paint (the one you can see in the photo)
- tiny/detail brush (high quality) and a small/medium brush (a standard house work brush is good, I've used a n.20 paint brush)
Tips for the primer&paints> the bigger challenge of this project is the mask itself: half of that is made of rubber. Rubber is probably the worst material you can paint on, the majority of paints tend to shrink during drying, and if you don't have a rigid surface, it will end up by messing everything up.
So, first of all, I recommend a thin, transparent plastic primer, one that creates an extremely thin layer of paint. AVOID color and fillers primers, they always create a thicker layer that will cracks for sure on the rubber.
Second, all the other colors must be high quality acrylics and NOT spray, you will lay them with brushes this time! Brushes paints create an irregular layer that is more difficult to crack.
Remember, we will put this thing on our face. We don't want to use any toxic paint on something like this.
Step 2: Take Some Pieces Apart
The original mask design has a sort of additional front piece that holds up four rubber straps: two are glued to a little head support, the other two (lower ones) are free to be removed.
This piece is important for the original purpose of the mask (filtering gases and dust) because it provides a homogeneus and thight holding on our face, but since our breather is only a prop, we wont need it anymore. It doesn't look very good and it's more a problem than a pros!
We have to remove the whole additional piece, it's very easy: no glue or screw, itìs a simple joint work. Use a coin to apply pressure on the joint and remove it with ease.
Also, remove the head mount and its glued straps, but keep the two free lower straps, we will see later how to use them for our prop.
Now, with a Dremel (or a cutter, but it would be much more difficult), remove the little hooks on the filter joints (open up the image for some extra info) to obtain an homogeneous cilinder shape. That way, we can glue pipe joints (see next step) on the mask easily without forcing anything.
With a sharp cutter, you can easily cut the plastic pipe to a convenient lenght!
Step 3: Joints and Black Layers
Before start painting, we have to glue the pipe joints (that are just simple plastic cylinder) on the filters joints position.
In the 1st image of this step you can have a clear idea of the situation.
Thanks to this mount, we will easily connect corrugated pipe to our mask without any further glue work. Also, let's say that, they look super cool!
I've sanded the area a bit before this step, to help the glue. Then, I've covered the thin edge of the cylinder joint with some powerful super glue and positioned it on the mask. Repeated the step also on the other side.
I've waited about 10-15 min, then covered the outside part of the glued cylinder that thouches the mask with a good amount of hot glue, to provide extra stenght. I layed the hot glue to resemble a metal soldering, it will look cool with the rust on!
You'll see that using a SMALL glue gun can help a lot here. This is strong plastic, so high temp glue (mine is 165° Celsius) is super fine.
We have to paint it black: the mask with connected joints + another joint cylinder that we will use on the back to connects pipes.
First of all, 1-2 layer of plastic primer on EVERYTHING (even the black pipes!) is FUNDAMENTAL. Wait for it to be dry.
I used my medium brush to cover all the mask and joints with a generous amout of black acrylic paint. As you can see by 1st image of this step, the first layer will look bad, especially on the rubber.
But after the third layer of brush paint (2nd image), everything will look smooth and good, ready for some further paint job.
I haven't painted black the pipes, it sounded like a waste! :) But they are primed and ready for details.
Also, give another fast layer of transparent primer to prepare the black mask and joints for detail works.
Step 4: Turn It Into Metal, Apply the Screw
Here we start to put on some details, so take out your brushes and acrylic paints.
And, for my fellow followers, you already know what kind of technique we are going to use... ;)
The DRY BRUSH, obviously!!!
In this Nerf Gun Ible, you can read an entire step focused on the explanation of this super easy and super rewarding painting technique, that you can use for small and big projects.
I've started by mixing the silver paint with a bit of chalk black to obtain a deeper color. Also, with a darker silver base, we can use the "pure" silver to create highlights.
Take out your medium brush (I've used a n.20 house painting brush), load the tips with some silver paint mix and brush the majority of the paint on a paper towel.
Now, brush all the surface of the mask, pipes and joints with fast up&down movement without applying a lot of pression.
The silver paint will deposit on embossed details and corners, as well on larger surfaces but with a scratched pattern that really, really resemble metal!
To finish this detailing step, use your tiny brush to apply some pure silver acrylic on corners and pointy details (like the front breathing grid) to create some highlights and cool contrast.
See upper images (1,2,4), they really look like a metal mask.
Tip: if you want to avoid a rust effect, your paint job finish here! :D Now you have a cleaner, metallic Sith rebreather.
After that, to add a unique touch, I've simply glued a really rusty screw on the center grid (image 2). It will look good with the rust effect on the whole thing!
Step 5: Rusting Time
The rusitng step is SUPER EASY!
It all depends on the quality of yuor rust paint. There are a ton of rust effect paint in hobby and DIY shops, just rely on acrylic brushable ones, the best you can afford. Mine also has a coarse pattern to add a grainy look that suits well for rust.
Mix some rust paint with some black to obtain the right color for your base, then load the medium brush the same way you loaded it for the dry brush technique.
But now, instead of fast up and down movements, we will quickly tap the tip of the brush on the surface, without following a pattern and leaving areas of black visible.
Tip: Just imagine to hold the rhythm of a fast song with the tip of your brush!
Like a magic, you will progressively notice that the black and metallic base will create a gorgeous effect with the rust paint.
Look at all the images above, it really resemble an ancient piece of a strange technology!
Repeat these steps also for pipes and joints.
Our paint is officially over and we can start to assemble the prop! Before moving on, apply 1 layer of transparent primer for protective purposes.
Step 6: Settle the Straps
The default straps, straps holder and head mount are excellent for holding the mask tight. I have a standard version of this 3M mask for my project, it's really comfortable thanks to these straps.
But having a lot of straps on a cosplay props really lower the overall aesthetic value, especially if they are visible.
So, remeber that I said to keep the 2 lower straps in Step 2? We will use them now!
Take the mask and look inside it. You'll a see a plastc grid on filter position, perfect to set straps in a more convenient position.
On Image 1, you see that you can easily pass one strap around the grid, and make a tight knot (Image 2).
Tip: help yourself with some tiny pincers!
No more glue, the knot itself will hold everyhing up.
And we are done! The finished mask will hold safely on your head without having big ugly straps hanging around!
Tip: if you have black straps it will be even better. Believe me or not, but I couldn't find two damned black straps...
Step 7: Assembling (and Safety Tips)
Before assembling everything, I suggest to bend the plastic pipes to obtain a cooler look. Circle design is not very attracting, by benting them they will looks like they are hanging on your back.
The pipes that I've found are pretty rigid (because the soft ones were all rubber covered), so they mantain the cruved shape after I've bent them.
You are ready to assemble everything.
Just insert the pipes in the mask joints and link them in the back with the other joint (image 1).
You've made it!
You now have a fantastic rusty, steampunk style Sith/MadMax/Fallout/Bioshock Rebreather!
I really hope you liked this ible, it was really fun to make.
Bye friends, stay great!