Archive for the 'cosplay' Category

Duct Tape Dress Form

Build blog for making a custom dress form out of duct tape, with a PVC stand.

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A decent dress form runs $100, and won’t match your body that well. I decided to make my own in the well-established duct tape fashion. My approach is a combination gleaned from various sites/tutorials. I optimized it for a tight fit.

Huge thanks to Samurai Kiss and Kevin for wrapping me.

Making the Form


  • Duct Tape (two large rolls)
  • Two friends (one will do in a pinch) willing to work for ~2 hours
  • A t-shirt to sacrifice
  • Cling wrap (highly advised for extending to neck and hips)
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors (heavy duty)

Supplies for stuffing and making a stand are listed in their own section below.


Wear form-fitting pants and your sacrificial t-shirt. It’s preferable that the shirt not be lose, but it need not be skin-tight.

If you want the form to extend beyond the shirt, use cling wrap. You can hold it up with little pieces of tape.


You’ll be making 3 layers of tape – horizontal, vertical, horizontal. This is going to take a while, so hold still, and try to stick to a single posture. However you tend to stand in cosplay is probably best.


Work in ~2 foot strips. Pick a starting point (we started at the bottom, women will probably want to start just below the breasts).

To place a piece, stick one end to the body. Then hold that in place with one hand, and pull the rest tight and lay it against the body with your other hand. Let the tape conform to the curves of the body, even if that makes it divert up or down. Don’t bend the tape.

Make one complete circle wherever you start. Make sure it’s well-fitted, and then start extending outward in a series of bands, or a spiral.

You want to overlap each circuit by about half an inch, and always make complete circles around the body, otherwise you won’t get a tight fit. If there are gaps due to the way the tape follows your body, that’s fine. Fill them in with smaller pieces of tape.


If you mess up at any point, back up and redo – don’t be afraid to throw out some progress. In the photo above, the square on my chest got thrown out after we got the hang of the spiral method.

Continue until you’re wrapped from the hips to the armpits. Get up under the arms, but try not to move your arms too much, since it’ll change the fit.

Side Note: Boobs

You may have noticed that I don’t have any. Breasts are a problem for two main reasons: it’s difficult to form-fit them, and also their shape will vary from costume to costume depending on the type of bra/support you wear.

I did some googling, and the best approach I’ve seen is to make the dress form without them (i.e. make the dress form, cut out the chest region, fill it in flat), and then add stuffed bras when you’re working to match your current needs. If I ever make a form for Sundari-Chan or Samurai Kiss, we’ll experiment.


At this point, you should have something that looks like a strapless dress. Now add straps. Put lines of tape from the front to the back. Make sure they’re well-fitted. Once you have a pair of straps, expand them sideways, continuing to overlap.


If you’re doing the tops of arms, you’ll want to do that next. Take pieces of tape and wrap them around the bicep, as far out as you plan to extend the arms. Make it fit well, but not too tight. (Keep in mind you’ll have this on for another hour or so. I had circulation issues.) Proceed upward with loops of tape till you get to the armpits. Don’t move your arms any more than necessary to get tape under them.

Now, connect the arm sections to the shoulder sections. Use small pieces of tape here, and be careful to follow the contours of the body. This is tricky, so take your time, and don’t worry if you have to back up and redo sections. You want to make a solid connection all around the joint, but without merging the arm and body.



If you extend to the neck, make sure you have clingwrap around it (or are using a turtleneck), and use small pieces of tape. The easiest approach here is to build up from the main body.


Your first layer should look something like this. Note there we have some folds – try your best to avoid them, but don’t worry too much about it when they happen. You can smooth it out with subsequent layers.

Layers 2 and 3

The second layer is vertical. Use smaller pieces of tape – about 1 foot, and cover the previous layer. Focus on avoiding wrinkles and getting a tight fit. You still need to overlap the pieces by about half an inch.

Click for bonus Dante appearance.

Click for bonus Dante appearance.

You’ll probably be aching at this point. Your helpers will be tired, too. The end is near.

The third and final layer is horizontal. Do everything you did in the first step, but do your best to make everything nice and smooth.


Final Touches

Go over the whole thing and add tape if needed to flatten protrusions and fix mistakes.

Take a belt/ruler/measuring tape, and draw a horizontal line around the waist, and vertical lines down the center of the front and back. These will help with cutting and alignment.



With a sharp, heavy-duty pair of scissors, cut open the back of the form along the vertical line. Be very careful here – you want to cut the duct tape and the shirt, but as little of anything else as you can.


If you made arms, you will also need to cut the arm sections to be able to extricate yourself. Cut them open along the back from the armholes about to the shoulder blades, like so:

Where to cut

Where to cut

Now, very carefully, remove the the duct tape, more or less how you would remove a heavy apron.


Put it down, and put some tape along the back to close the seam. Don’t overdo it – you’ll be taping everything more carefully during the stuffing process.

You may want to stuff something into the chest cavity to keep it from collapsing while you work on stuffing.

Stuffing and Mounting the Form


  • Duct Tape
  • Stuffing (two 32oz bags)
  • Grean cushion foam
  • Scrap pieces of insulation foam, wood or plastic
  • 2x Clothes hangers
  • 1″ PVC pipe (~15 feet)
  • PVC Joints: 2x elbow, 2x T
  • PVC mounting: 2x male screw adapters, 2 metal flanges
  • Mounting board – plywood, 15″x15″, screws
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Saw


To bear the brunt of the load, I used a pair of coat hangers separated by an inch, with cushion foam on top to distribute weight. I used pink insulation foam for spacers, but any hard scraps of wood or plastic would do.


I made this so I could insert it from the bottom of the form without opening it, and then insert the PVC frame into the gap between the hangers. It would also have been fine to put the hangers and the PVC frame together first, and open up he back to insert those.


PVC Frame

The PVC frame is two basic pieces – the main piece that is mostly inside the form, and the legs.


The main piece is two longer vertical pieces and two short horizontal pieces (you’ll have to measure for your size), with elbow joints at the top and T-joints at the bottom.

The bottom pieces are a pair of pipes, cut extra-long so the result will be taller than me. This way, I could adjust the height to match me later.

At the bottom of the pipes are a pair of male screw connectors, and metal flanges. All this stuff is from the plumbing section of Home Depot, and you can mix and match to suit your needs.

Inserting the Skeleton


I started the stuffing process by inserting the hanger, then the PVC backbone. I also put a piece of insulation foam to try to keep the chest rigid. This actually turned out to be unnecessary. In fact, keeping the form spread side-to-side was more difficult, and I may have to revisit it. (The form is skinnier than me sideways, which means it’s fatter than me front-to-back. It’s not a big difference, but not ideal.)




Once the skeleton was in, I began stuffing. This was, for me, the most challenging part of the process. (Bear in mind I wasn’t doing the wrapping.) Take your time, and focus on keeping everything even, including the vertical alignment of the skeleton. I put stuffing down the neck, then switched to stuffing from the bottom. Once the chest cavity was filled, I also stuffed from the arm holes.


When stuffing, it helps to press gently around the outside of the form to feel for cavities (and then try to fill them).



As you stuff, use small pieces of tape to align and close all the cuts. The cuts should be perpendicular to the last layer of tape, so use tape lines to guide alignment.

Closeup of back showing detail of tape on seams

Closeup of back showing detail of tape on seams


I capped off the arms and bottom with green cushion foam. This was cut out by laying the foam against the holes, and sketching the border with a marker. I didn’t attach the caps too strongly so I can revisit the stuffing.


When capping the bottom, make X-shaped incisions to get the skeleton PVC through the foam.

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You could wrap tape directly to create caps, but I wouldn’t recommend it, as it’s likely to deform the form.

I didn’t bother capping the neck.


Once that was done, I worked on a base. This is just a circle of plywood, cut out to about 15″ diameter. I attached the flanges to it with screws, then the male screw PVC adapters to that, then slipped the legs into that.


Height Adjustment

At this point, I measured myself next to the form, and figured out how much height to take off. I compared the heights of the inflection point of the shoulder, which worked well.


Finished Product

And that’s it. Here are some more photos, showing various details.

The legs are removable, so it can be used as a hanging form.

The legs are removable, so it can be used as a hanging form.

Back view. My posture clearly needs work.

Back view. My posture clearly needs work.

Side view closeup.

Side view closeup.

You can see that it’s not a perfect match for me. The main problem is that the stuffing makes it more circular than I am. This means it’s narrower than I am from hip to hip, but wider than I am from stomach to spine. This shouldn’t affect fit too much (the circumference is still correct), but I may revisit it to add structural supports later).

  • Wall-clock time: 4 days.
  • Work-time: 2 hours wrapping, 3 hours taxidermy
  • Beers consumed: ~2 (working on stuffing)

Sailor Pluto’s “Time Key” Staff Cosplay



This is a cosplay build/reminiscence for the Garnet Rod, also known as the Time Key: the key-shaped staff wielded by Sailor Pluto. It was the first cosplay thing I’ve made, so it’s quite primitive. Nevertheless, I’m happy with how it turned out, and I think it looks very authentic to the anime. I didn’t take many photos of the progress, so I’ll reconstruct the build as best I can.


My wife started cosplaying in 2004, and her first cosplay was to be of Sailor Pluto. I offered to make the staff for her. At the time, we lived in a small apartment without many tools, but some friends of ours did a lot of cosplay, so I abused their hospitality and used some of their equipment. I built the staff over the course of a couple of months, coming over to the friends’ place on some weekends, working in our apartment at other times.


I printed an image of the staff full size, to my wife’s scale, on a bunch of sheets of paper taped together. I used an inconsistent scale – the height of the staff and its thickness are scaled to my wife’s height and width relative to the height and width of Sailor Pluto, respectively, rather than matching the same scale. I think this maintains a realistic approximation of the overall character design.



The body of the staff is made of segments of 3/4″ and 1″ dowels, with 1/4″ steel rods to connect and strengthen. The balls are 1.5″ and 2″ diameter wooden balls I got at Michael’s, the key bits are 1/4″ plywood. The carved capital between the body and head is a piece of 4×4, and the curved head is a 1″ piece of oak (which was a pain to carve, believe me). The yellow spheres are marbles, and the red sphere is a christmas ornament.


For tools, I used our friends’ dremel, power sander and hand saws. I also bought a vise and attached it to a ramshackle wooden platform so I could take it around with me. Aside from that, all I used was a hand power drill.

The Build


There are four dowels put together end-to-end, connected with the steel rods. The first step was to cut the dowels to length.

There’s one main long dowel, and then three short ones at the end, alternating between 3/4″ and 1″ to match the staff’s design. I sanded the very lowest one to taper it.

Dowel placement:

Note that the dowels go through the 1.5″ balls. The next step was to drill out those balls, with 3/4″ holes. This was pretty tough, and I broke about half the balls I tried to drill. Fortunately, they came in a fairly large bag.

Next, I drilled holes for the two steel rods. One went through the bottom set of dowels, the other through the top dowel, into the intermediate piece, and then up through the head of the key. The bottom rod goes through the bottom ball and juts out a little, so that when you rest the staff on the ground, it rests on metal.

Steel placement:

Drilling holes for the steel rods was the toughest task. I clamped the pieces in the vise, and took my time drilling and readjusting the alignment. For pieces that had to be drilled all the way through, I drilled separately from the two ends. Despite this, the holes weren’t perfectly aligned, but I tried to match angles when putting the thing together so the errors offset one another.

Once this was done, I drilled out the last (2″) ball to fit the rod and a bit of the last dowel through it, and attached the four pieces of dowel together. If I recall correctly, I used epoxy.

One more task for the body was to drill notches adjacent to each ball. To get a reasonably even pattern, I clamped the dremel in the vise, and then rotated the dowel against the blade.

Key Jigs

I cut the key jigs out of 1/4″ plywood, and attached them by dremeling out notches in the staff, then gluing the key bits with epoxy. This was pretty uneventful, aside from one moment when I drove a saw through my hand and used up all the earlier mentioned friends’ gauze. The epoxy has held admirably over the years. (And I had scars for a while, but can no longer find them.)

One of the few photos I have of progress:

Staff body at the bottom, printed out schematic at upper left, head of the staff left of top center.


The carved part at the top of the staff was a pain. I made it out of a 4×4 piece of pine which I first sanded down to a tapered piece, then dremeled out to carve the grooved shape. It took forever, and the result isn’t terribly even, but it’s okay. I also drilled a hole all the way through this piece for the steel core.


The head of the staff is a single piece of oak, hand-sawed, then sanded and dremeled to coerce it into the right shape. Quite tough work.

Attaching the capital and head

I attached the capital and head the same way as the bottom sections – steel rod through the center, glued together with epoxy.

Another random progress shot: trimming the steel rod to match the size of the head piece.


The red gem was easy — it’s just a christmas ornament painted on the inside. The technique was well known even at the time, and works nicely.

The yellow gems were a pain. First, it’s not easy to find plain-colored marbles. I eventually got some translucent-beige ones you see in the above photo. Fitting and attaching the small 1/4″ one was no problem.

However, attaching the 1/2″ large ones proved problematic. I tried a variety of glues (epoxy, superglue, etc.), but the marbles are heavy for their size, and the surface (even sanded down) doesn’t take glue well. They’d stick, but every time my wife would smack the staff against the ground (even lightly), the marbles would scatter everywhere. The third time this happened, I decided something tougher was needed.

To attach the marbles better, I decided to drill holes in them and use heavy guage wire (nails with the heads snipped off) to connect them. This meant I needed opaque marbles. I tracked down some yellow ones, but could only find the 1/2″ size, not the 1/4″, so now they don’t match. :/ If anyone finds a 1/4″ matching yellow marble, do please let me know.

Drilling was very tough. Even with a glass drill bit, I had trouble making headway, and a bunch of marbles cracked and split. Still, I was able to get it done.

Nail placement:

Gluing this together with epoxy worked out quite well, and none of the marbles have popped off since then.


The final step was to paint. (Actually, it was a couple of steps earlier, but logically the last step.) I used a nice blue metallic acrylic paint from Michael’s. Nothing fancy, and when you look close, you can see wood grain. From a distance, however, it looks perfect.




Dog Cosplay of Amaterasu from Okami



Photo by ~morgoththeone.


Build blog for the costume for the wolf goddess Amaterasu from Okami, built for and cosplayed by my Samoyed dog Dante. Originally posted at my more general blog.

Before I proceed, a few notes for anyone who wants to cosplay their dog:

  • Only do this if the dog will enjoy it.

    • Photo by ~cheebang
    • Dante is exceptionally sociable. Many dogs are not, and may react adversely to being the center of attention. Some might get aggressive.
    • Dante doesn’t care about things being on him, perhaps because he’s bred to be a sled dog. Many dogs don’t like to be encumbered. You can desensitize a dog to wearing things, but don’t just shove a costume on a dog that’s freaked out by it.
    • Watch your dog’s body language in any unusual situation. Make sure they’re happy.
  • Keep the health of your dog in mind.

      Photo by ~octomobiki
    • Don’t leave a costume on for long. This can cause overheating and can tangle fur or cause it to become ingrown.
    • If it’s hot, provide water regularly, if it’s cold, don’t stay out for long, etc.
    • Don’t expose a dog to unusual stimuli for long. This will cause anxiety, even if it’s fun.
    • Don’t apply anything toxic to a dog. (We used food-coloring markers.)
  • Be careful and use common sense.
  • I do not recommend trying this with a cat.


We have a Samoyed by the name of Dante. This is a breed that looks like small, fluffy, white wolf. We also occasionally cosplay. It was inevitable that we would come up with the idea of combining the two.

While planning our Otakon 2011 trip at the start of June, my wife semi-jokingly suggested bringing Dante. To our surprise, our roommates at the con were ecstatic at the idea. Since this was better for him than leaving him in a boarding place for five days, it was decided.

I then figured it would be a great time to do a costume for him. The Amaterasu costume was perfect. Not too complicated, not too heavy, and popular enough to be quite recognizeable.

Overall plan

I decided to do the wings, shield, flames, and paint. I did not do the clouds around the tail and paws. I couldn’t figure out a way to do either of those well without encumbring Dante’s movement or causing him discomfort. Given his general fluffiness, I thought that would be fine.

To attach everything, I decided to make a harness, and then anchor the costume parts to that. This way, it would be easy to put things on and take them off.


This is a balance between comfort and stability. I attached it to his neck, front legs, and stomach. The straps that attach to the legs hook to the main part with buckles, so they can be put on separately.

I then made a little saddle, using fur left over from my wife’s in-progress Felicia costume. It turned out that of all our fur remnants, that one matched Dante ridiculously well, to the point where several people asked how we managed to ‘shave’ him that well for the wings. The saddle is made out of fur just so if people catch glimpses of it, they can’t really tell it’s separate from him.

The main purpose of the saddle is to cushion his back so the shield and flames don’t rest directly on his spine, so it’s two pieces on either side of the center.


I first cut the wings out of foamie to get the shape right. I then took comparatively thick wire and bent it to follow the shape, and stapled it to the foamie (medieval, I know). This formed the base of the wings.

I then took the aforementioned Felicia fabric and cut out a pair of pieces for each wing, larger than the foamie cutout. I stitched them together halfway, inserted the foamie, then hand-sewed them shut the rest of the way. (I tried using the machine, and broke two needles on the wire. There’s just too much fur.)

At first, I was going to attach the wings to the leg parts of the harness, but after trying that, it became obious that this would be way too loose. Instead, I made the wings the leg parts of the harsess. So, they have a loop through which Dante’s front paws go, and the top buckles to the main body of the harness. These are hand-sewn on.

Finally, I did the swirling/cloud designs. I wanted to do this with thread, but that turned out impractical with the thickness of the two layers of fur + foamie. I ended up doing it with a sharpie, and am not entirely happy with the result, since when the fur moves, the lines get messy. I regret not stitching lines before putting the wings together, and am pondering redoing it.


I made the base of the shield out of pink insulation foam, on the general premise that lighter is better in this case. I cut the circle out with a small hand saw and sanded it on my table belt sander, then with sandpaper by hand.

I drew out the design based on a model (the only halfway decent reference I could find), then cut it out of 1/4″ foamie and glued it on with superglue. I primered the shield with spray primer before and after the application of the design (before to protect from glue, after to get ready for painting).

Amateur Hour

Around this point, I thought it would be a good idea to paint the back of the shield white, to make it blend in with Dante’s fur. So I sprayed it with flat white paint. This is one of those things that demonstrates just how amateur a cosplayer I am (several people have laughed at this). The spraypaint ate through the insulation foam, almost all the way to the front. :/ I painted over it with acrylic paint…


I decided early on to make the flames out of a foamie-wire-foamie sandwich (using 1/8″ foamie), so I could shape it in 3D. I went back and forth on what to use as a base. I started with a foamcore torus, but eventually switched to a foam disk. The wire is just embedded as deep into the disk as possible. The foam sandwich is sealed with superglue. The flames are cut out best as possible.

Somewhere around here, I painted the shield with green acrylic paint, and tried the whole thing on the dog. None of this is attached, but Dante was particularly tired out that day (we’d just come back from a dog park), so he was willing to hold still to verify everything was fine:

Painting the flames was a ton of fun. It turns out to be way easier than drawing a harness schematic.

I then glued the shield on. (Some paint touchup still to be done.)

Attaching the Divine Instrument

Finally, I needed to attach the harness and the divine instrument (shield + flames). I decided that magnets would be best, so I could snap the instrument on and off quickly as the situation dictated. I get magnets from I believe these are RC22CS-Ps.

I attached the magnets to the shield, then covered them with extra bits of foamie to fix them firmly in place and painted over those. (Yes, still using superglue.)

I then attached corresponding magnets to the saddle.

Face Paint

That just leaves the face paint. I looked it up, and there were two safe methods: food coloring and dye specifically tailored for dogs. I found food coloring markers that came in a variety of colors, so I ordered those.

Painting his muzzle was easy, because the fur is short. As the fur gets longer, though, it’s harder to draw clean lines. For the first outing, I just did his face, not his sides. The coloring smudges a lot when it’s wet, so be careful, but it’s pretty solid once dry.


And that’s it. It’s remarkably easy to put on – takes 5-10 minutes to do the face paint (and I’ve only done it once) and then 5 minutes to put on the costume, which is:

1) Put on collar and leash
2) Put on harness (two buckles – one around neck, one around stomach)
3) Slide wings over paws and attach to harness (two buckles – one on each wing)
4) Snap the divine instrument onto the harness (magnetic)

Photo by ~cheebang

Wall-clock time: 2 months
Build-time: ~19 hours
Cost: ~$50
Beers consumed: ~2.

For more photos take a look at my Amaterasu deviantart gallery and photos of this cosplay in others’ albums.

For other photos of Dante, friend him on facebook:

Muppety ‘Susano’ Wig and Beard


Tutorial for the wig/beard worn by Susano from Okami. Unlike normal wigs, this one is made out of costume beards, and is “Super Muppety” (my wife’s words). It’s really simple to make, and suits the character perfectly.


I used 5 cheap halloween costume beards like this one, some Foamie, and black thread to sew pieces together.


I made the wig in five parts: the mustache-beard, the winglets on the sides of the head, the eyebrows, and the hair on the back of the head. In all cases, I used pieces of costume beards, sometimes having to be creative to get the right shapes/sizes.

The mustache-beard was easy – I took one of the beards, trimmed it (with help from Pocky Princess Darcy), and sewed the mouth hole shut to make one piece. I left the elastic on this one – it’s part of what holds the assembly on my head.

The winglets each required two pieces back-to-back, with a piece of Foamie between them to guide the shape. I hand-sewed the pieces together.

The eyebrows are cut out in a weird McDonald’s shape. I use a small piece of double-sided sticky tape in the middle to keep them in place.

The hair on the back of the head is just a solid cut-out piece of costume beard. I kept the elastic on this one also (actually, because of how I had to carve things, I had to move an elastic to it from one of the other pieces).

After I had all the pieces, I fitted them against my head and adjusted sizing, then hand-sewed them together with black thread. The elastic from the back piece goes under the front piece, and the elastic from the front piece goes under the back piece. I also did some zig-zag type sewing in places to try to prevent unraveling.

And that’s it. Putting it on is a bit of a pain because it’s all loosely connected, but once it’s on, it’s reasonably comfortable, and I was surprised at how little of it ended up in my mouth.

Obviously it helps a great deal if (as I do) you shave your head, but a fake-bald-head-wig should work just fine, too.

Okami Cosplay Comic: Susano and Amaterasu



A few months ago, I was in an Okami photoshoot with my dog and nsomniacartist, photographed by enchantedcupcake. The photos were awesome, and occasionally fairly popular.

While going through a bunch of them, it occurred to me that I could put together a very-short-story type of thing out of some of the shots, so here it is.

Note that the photos weren’t taken with this (or any) story in mind – we were just playing around trying to get good shots.

Resin “Darker Than Black” Mask


Tutorial for the mask worn by Hei (BK201) from Darker Than Black, made out of Bondo resin. It’s tougher and smoother than paper-mache, and takes hours to make rather than days (not counting painting time). However (or ‘Plus’), it involves working with toxic materials.


For Fanime 2011, I made Hei’s costume and dagger. I also made a mask out of foamie, using heat to shape it. It was a dismal failure. Since I had no new costume plans for Fanime 2012, I decided to remake the mask.

There are copious tutorials for making such a mask out of paper-mache (this one seems fine). But that takes several days due to drying times. I didn’t have several days, so I decided to follow more or less those instructions, but with Bondo.


Building material:
bondo (with hardener)
putty knife (a small flexible one to spread bondo with)
stirrer sticks (something to mix Bondo)
scrap paper (somewhere to mix Bondo)
disposable scoop (something to scoop Bondo out of its container)
latex gloves (don’t touch Bondo when it’s liquid!)
respirator (don’t breathe Bondo when it’s liquid!)
a place to work (a garage will do)

Everything else:
party baloon
measuring tape
sandpaper (preferably also a power sander)
paints (spray and/or acrylic, your choice)
sharpie (for drawing on the balloon)
dremel (to cut out the eyes)
hand file with triangular cross section (to shape the corners of the eyes)

Note! In the comments, Monterey Jack points out that Bondo heats up when setting, and can pop your balloon. If one balloon doesn’t work, it may be worth trying a different type.



Measure your head with the measuring tape. Inflate the party balloon to more or less that diameter. Draw out the approximate outline of the mask on the balloon with a sharpie.

Base layer

Don your gloves and respirator and crack open the Bondo. You’ll need someplace to mix (I use scrap construction paper) and something to mix with (I use wooden stirrers). Mix a small amount of putty and hardener, as big as a golf ball. Follow directions on the can for the ratio.

Slather the Bondo mixture onto the balloon using the putty knife, going an inch or so beyond your mask outline. Don’t worry about the result being even. You have about five minutes to work with each batch after you start mixing. As soon as the Bondo mix starts beeing cottage-cheesy, STOP. Throw the rest of that batch away, and mix a new one. You’ll probably have to mix 2-3 batches to cover the mask area.

You should end up with something like this:

(When I did this, I rather wondered if the Bondo would eat through the balloon, like it does with insulation foam. It did not.)

You’ll want to prop the balloon up so that it doesn’t roll Bondo-side down. I used some scrap wood, but whatever you have handy will do.

Wait 30 minutes for the Bondo to fully harden.

Structural layer

Apply a second coat. Slather the Bondo on liberally, especially near the edges of the mask-to-be. Wait another 30 minutes.


Pop the balloon (fun!):

Peel the balloon off the mask (it should come off easily).


Make the first sanding pass. If you have a power sander, use it. A table belt sander with 80 grit or rougher works great. Hand-sand if you must, but it’s going to suck. With a belt sander, this should take you ten minutes. By hand… maybe an hour.

Aim for around 2/3 of the surface to be smooth. If you try to keep sanding after that, you’ll weaken the mask, or even sand holes in it. The result should have a smooth outer surface, and some rough valleys.

While you’re at it, sand the mask closer to the right shape and size (but leave some room for adjustment). Sand, don’t try to cut. Note that the sharpie should have conveniently transferred off the balloon onto the Bondo:

Smooth layer

Apply another coat, but only put Bondo down on the rough patches, and use the putty knife to smooth things flat. This coat is for smoothness, so take your time, and really make sure you get bondo into all those gaps. Wait for it to harden.

Finish sand

Sand again with 80 grit. You should end up with a nice smooth surface. If it’s necessary, repeat the above step for a fourth coat. (I didn’t feel the need.)

Hand sand with 100 grit or finer to get a nice smooth finish. The remaining discolorations are from inconsistent Bondo batch mixes, not from roughness.

The mask is now built, and should’ve only taken 2-3 hours including drying time.


Draw and cut out the eyes with the Dremel. Use a cutting bit to make a center incision, then use a sanding bit to shape the eyes. Use the triangular file to get the corners of the eyes. Also, sand the mask shape to exactly where you want it to be.


Paint. I used spray primer and flat white paint, and then acrylic paint for the lightning bolt and mouth. This step took me a long time (I’m no good with a paintbrush and had to reprimer and start over several times.)


Add anchors to be able to wear the mask. I used two magnets on the back, which attach to a band that goes around my head under my wig. If you’re going to do that, glue before you paint, otherwise the glue will bond to the paint, and the magnets will come off with the paint. (As I learned the hard way, and you can see in the photo here.)

Sample photos

What could be done better?

A balloon is not a perfect representation of the shape of the mask. Really, you want something that curves more around the vertical axis than around the horizontal. Maybe the back of a mannequin head? You can tell that the mask extends a bit far to the sides of my face because of that. On the other hand, the anime is wildly inconsistent (and physically impossible, of course), and this shape is a reasonable approximation.

I’m not perfectly happy with my painting job, either, but this is about my fifth attempt, and I’m not about to reprimer/paint again.

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