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selsdonmowbray Profile
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Cowl & Mold Making Tutorial


Again... sorry. But I just can't seem to find any good tutorials 'round here. It's like this site is one big jungle and I'm a confused safari person who got seperated from his tour group.... back on topic...

I want to learn how to do the whole "sculpt you own cowl" and stuff. Anybody know where I might be able to look... Like exactly where? :help

Last edited by Deadly Lemur, 3/20/2006, 10:51 pm


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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Welcome to the BOTB.
I'm sorry that we're so confusing for you.
You could start at this link if you need quick info on sculpting a latex mask:
latex mask making search
Hope that helps.
-Brin

Last edited by Brin Londo, 4/17/2005, 3:45 pm


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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Here's a very basic tutorial I wrote up for a friend on how to do an Ultra-cal mold and standard slush mask. It may not cover all the bases, and others may have different ways of doing things, but this basic technique has worked for me. After reading it, if you have questions you're definately in the right place to ask them. Maybe some of the other brothers will chime in as well, and we can get a proper tutorial done of this process. Anyway, welcome to the [sign in to see URL] hope this helps some.

1. Get an armature or sculpting base. A personal head cast is the best, since it's exactly the size of your head.

2. Get some oil-based clay and sculpt your cowl over the armature or base. Don't forget to sculpt a little larger than your head, as the latex you're making your mask out of will shrink approximately 15-20% in it's final curing stages.

After you have sculpted, you coat the entire piece in several layers of Krylon clear acrylic spray and let it dry. Some people even use a release agent over this (believe it or not many use cooking spray in a thin layer) to help the sculpt release from the mold when it is complete.

3. Build a dividing wall on your sculpture out of water based clay. The dividing wall should start at one shoulder or side of the neck, and run upwards across the top of the head, and down the other side. The purpose of this is to separate the two halves of the mold that you are about to make.

The dividing wall should meet your sculpture at a 90 degree angle. The smoother, and closer you can get this angle to 90 degrees, the less seamline you will have in your finished mask.

Many people make small "keys" in the dividing wall to make mold separation easier. These keys are carved indents in the dividing wall that allow you to get leverage between the two halves of the mold when they are dry.

4. Mold the sculpture in layers of Ultra-Cal (which is a very hard type of plaster that absorbs moisture - this becomes important later on). The first layer should be very thin and watered down a bit to capture the details of your sculpt. The following layers should be thicker as you go with 1 inch strips of burlap reinforcement embedded into the final layer.

Some people like to say that the final mold should be about 1/2" thick, but I prefer to make it about 1 inch so that I have a nice mold that isn't fragile.

You should only mold the front half of the sculpture at first up to the dividing wall that you built out of water based clay. Let this dry at least overnight (I prefer to wait 2 or 3 days myself to make sure it's good and dry), then remove the dividing wall, but leave the front half of the Ultra-Cal where it is.

5. Remove your dividing wall except for your key areas, and put a release agent on the exposed edge of the front half of your mold. (I, like most people, use Vaseline). This is a very important step.

Then mold the rear half exactly like you did the front and let the mold dry at least overnight.

6. Once your entire mold is dry, you dig out the key area and gently separate the two halves of the mold from around your sculpture. You may have to dig out and remove any clay that is left stuck to the inside of the molds.

Also light sand any rough areas inside the mold with a fine grit sandpaper until you are satisfied that it's as smooth as you want it. The smoother the inside of your mold, the smoother the finished piece.

7. Take your two mold halves and strap them together using old belts, bungee cords, duct tape, or whatever you have handy. You just want to make sure they are tight together.

If your keys leave gaps to where you can see inside your mold you should fill these gaps with a little clay, and smooth them over to where the inside of the mold is about as smooth as you can get it.

8. Take some black tinted mask latex (usually for a cowl you will need about 2 quarts) and pour it slowly into your mold. This process is called slushing. You will basically move your mold around so that every part of the interior is covered by the latex.

After this you pour the excess latex back out of the mold into its container. After the first slushing you set your mold upside down (with the opening pointing upward) and tap the outside of the mold with a rubber mallet or the palm of your hand to get any bubbles in the latex to rise to the surface and away from the mold. This will prevent bubbles in the surface of your final mask.

Let this dry for about 40 minutes and repeat the process. The more you do this process, the thicker the final mask will be. I usually go about 3 coats myself.

VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Latex has very strong fumes. You should only work with latex in a VERY well ventilated area. The Ultra-Cal will absorb the moisture from the latex, and help it to cure.

9. After your final coat, let your latex dry (opening side of the mold up) for at least a few days. After your latex is fully dry sprinkle the inside of the mask generously with baby powder to keep the fresh latex from sticking to itself when you remove the mask.

10. Unstrap the two mold halves and gently remove your mask. The latex at this point should be ready to pull away from your mold in most areas due to its shrinkage and the moisture the mold has absorbed.

You should now wash your mask several times with warm soapy water to remove any mold residue, etc. I use a soft bristled nail brush to help this process along. Always make sure you rinse the soap off very well.

11. You are now ready to do the finishing work on the exterior of your cowl. I trim the edge areas and eye and mouth holes where needed and then I sand off the seam lines and edges with a Dremel tool using the brush head. You need to do this very lightly, and you can also use the same tool to smooth out any rough areas. Fine grit sandpaper also works well.

12. I spray the exterior of my cowls with a product called Plasti Dip. This gives the cowl a nice jet-black color. This product will not peel or flake off the latex, but you need to put it on in light coats. I usually take the time in between coats to let it dry and do some additional sanding and smoothing.

Plasti Dip is removable with mineral spirits, and when I'm doing my sanding and smoothing I usually give the cowl a rub down with a lint free cloth dampened in mineral spirits to polish it some before the next coat. Always let each coat dry fully before applying the next.

13. After your final smoothing, and finishing, you should have yourself your very own custom made Batman cowl.

I know that this might sound like a huge process, but it's not as complicated as it sounds. And like most things, once you've done it a few times you get much better, as you learn from your mistakes.

~Tim :batfly

Last edited by The BlackBat, 3/29/2006, 5:54 pm


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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Dude... THAT tutorial is one I've been waiting to see... Thanks Tim! :up I didn't understand the whole dividing wall/key thing before this tutorial. I'm getting more and more excited to give my own cowl a shot. Sounds like the hardest part of it all is just sculpting the thing.

Last edited by PatrickJ, 4/17/2005, 3:13 am


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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Thatnks for that tutorial. I doubt I'll ever attempt it, but it's interesting to know anyway. I knew the basics really, but the details, especially the dividing wall thing, were enlightening.

This is a "simple" way of doing it, right? A more complex way involves using your lifecast as a core in the mould, so that the interior of the cowl is the exact same shape as your face, right? You fill the mould entirely rather than just coating the outside with latex and pouring it out?

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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


I'd like to know how to do that too, eventually.

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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Tim- Thanks man! That is very helpful considering I started sculpting my cowl today!

About how long to wait before pouring the excess latex out of the mould for the 3 coats?

Also, the oil clay gets real tough to work with after a while, I know it can be microwaved, but once it's on the armature, what do you suggest I do to soften it up?

Last edited by JBrown437, 4/17/2005, 9:53 am
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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Janty was saying in another thread that with the fiberglass molds he uses you don't get any shrinkage. Is that because he paints the latex into the mold, or is it because of the fiberglass? I'm asking because you mentioned shrinkage.

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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Thanks guys, but that's just a very basic tutorial.

Luke, the more complex way you mentioned (using a head cast as a core) is usually done for prosthetic fitting type pieces and/or foam latex. I know a little about foam, but not enough to comfortably give anyone advice on using it.

You are correct in the basic idea though, that after your mold is done and smoothed the core is inserted into the mold and the result gives you a mask that form fits around whatever core you used. From what I understand, the reason this process is used mainly for prosthetic pieces and foam is due to the nature of latex shrinkage.

The way I understand it, foam doesn't shrink up as badly as slush latex and is definitely more flexible, and prosthetics are much thinner than your standard latex pieces, and usually aren't meant to cover your entire head at once. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't believe you can use slush latex and the core method to make a full head mask, although I could be wrong about that.

Jon, after you slush your latex you can immediately pour it back out of the mold, begin your tapping, then repeat the process about 30-40 minutes later. The tapping is really only of major importance during the first [sign in to see URL] that's the layer of latex that makes up the outside of your mask.

The oil based clay can be softened on the armature using a heat gun, hair dryer, or even a heat lamp (one of those heat bulbs in a swivel-arm desk lamp deals). I'd recommend the heat gun or hair dryer, as the application of the heat is more easily controlled than with the lamp.

Just be careful either route you go, too much heat on oil clay is a bad thing. You can cause it to shift or run, and when it gets hot... it really gets hot.

Patrick, Janty's process is totally different for mold making. I know he will probably have to correct me on this, but I believe he paints thinned latex in his molds in very thin coats, and does this many times to build up his desired thickness in layers.

Latex will dry this way (without having the Ultra-Cal to absorb the water) because it is so thin. I understand that the thinner you make a latex piece, the less the shrinkage.

Some of the drawbacks to doing a mold this way are of course being able to work fiberglass, cost, and the time factor involved of hand painting the latex in all those thin coats and not tearing your previous coat because it's so thin.

Some of the benefits to doing this kind of mold are that you have little shrinkage, you get an excessively smooth product (the exact same as the smoothness of your mold), and you can get MANY more pulls out of this type of mold than an Ultra-Cal one.

Ultra-Cal molds start to break down a little bit after every use, and I've heard some people say that they have about 8-10 pulls from their Ultra-Cal mold before they have to start resanding and repairing it.

I guess if you're planning on doing a lot of copies of whatever it is you sculpt this is very helpful and probably a better way to go, but if you only are wanting to do a few masks from your sculpt Ultra-Cal is the way to go for ease of use, cost, and time involved.


~Tim :batfly

Last edited by The BlackBat, 3/29/2006, 5:58 pm


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Re: Tutorials? sorry, I know this question might get a bit old...


Thank you so much for that tutorial. I'm sure that I'll have a few questions for you at some point.

Now.... Does anyone know where I might find a tutorial for body armor?

By the way, I have plans to gather all of these tutorials and put them all together. Maybe even with some pictures. Credit WILL be given to all who have written the tutorials. I just think that this will make it a LOT easier for people to find all of the tutorials in one document. :cheers

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