maandag 23 februari 2015

Psycho Mask project log

Project log of my Psycho mask fiddlings, for your entertainment but mainly for my own quick personal access.

Project target was to create a custom polymer facemask based on Gearbox' Borderlands Psycho enemy. It had to be highly detailed, and it had to be a good fit.

First off, I needed a positive of my own face to sculpt the mask on. To create this, I used a combination of alginate and plaster bandages to create a facecast. Obviously for religious poetic reasons I wasn't about to get a clean shave for this step of the project, so some lack of detail in the upper lip and chin area was expected.

So, coating my face, eyebrows and beard with a thick layer of vaseline, a friend and I applied the alginate. After allowing it a few minutes to set, we used plaster bandages to toughen it up. Fun times!

The next step was to make a sculptable clay positive using the alginate and plaster negative. Unfortunately, getting a nice lump of monster clay took a little longer than exptected. Alginate as it is has a fairly short lifespan, which resulted in the mold slightly collapsing under it's own weight before the clay arrived. Regardless, I heated up the clay, said my prayers and poured it into the mold. I'd never worked with monster clay (or alginate for that matter) before, I was eager to see the results. Deformation due to the collapse turned out to be pretty minimal, my brow had sunk in a bit though. Despite a few flaws I was astonished by the amount of facial detail the alginate had actually managed to capture, despite my severely unshaven appearance.

So, now having a genuine monster clay positive of my own face, I collected a couple of reference pictures, broke out the remaining clay and started sculpting the mask on top, blocking out the rough shapes and adding detail along the way. Monster clay is fairly ferm at room temperature, but will soften up to a nice malleable consistency just by working it with your hands.

After many many hours of nitpicking and redoing areas, I got to a point where I was pretty satisfied with the overall look of the mask, as well as the amount of detail. I decided that if I wanted to make a mold of the mask, I wanted something a little more high grade than the single-use alginate I'd used for the face cast. Something I could actually re-use indefinitely or at least a couple of dozens of times. I did some research and ended up choosing a medium stretchy 3-component silicone (silicone, hardener and the optional thickener). For the first layer of silicone, I wanted it to capture as many of the tiny details as humanly possible, so I mixed the two components without the thickener. Spending a lot of extra attention to small convex areas like the glasses and mouthpiece, I gently poured the first layer of silicone. The silicone I used has a fairly fast curing time, allowing me to add another layer a mere 45 minutes later. This time I did use a few drops of the thickener, which greatly helped the immulsion stick to more vertical surfaces such as under the chin. After applying a third and fourth layer of thickened silicone I figured it was smooth and rigid enough. Which was fortunate, because at that point I had used up my 1.5 KG of silicone entirely.

With the original monster clay sculpture still trapped inside the silicone, I used the plaster bandages again to make a mothermold. The mothermold would have to keep the silicone mold in shape for future pouring once the clay was removed.

When the mothermold had dried, it was finally time to remove the silicone from it, and then carefully remove the original clay mask from the to finally see the inside of the silicone mold for the first time.
The amount of detail the silicone had captured was nothing short of amazing. I had yet to try the mold out, but as far as I could see, every single tooling line and every single dent I'd sculpted had transfered perfectly well.

At last it was time to test the mold. I heated up another pot of monster clay and prepared for pouring. Because silicone is an excellent insulator, the clay took quite a long time to cool down and ferm up. My impatience is clearly visible in the ripped glasses, which were still a little soft when I pulled the mold off, but other than that the first cast looked absolutely amazing. Below you can see the first cast next to the original, which by the way had survived it's previous removal from the silicone pretty well.

Then, a few months went by. I wanted a polymer resin with an extremely short working and demolding time, extremely low viscosity and high surface hardness after setting. Polytek makes many high grade resins just like that, unfortunately their products take a while to reach Europe. After 2 months of waiting (and 1 failed experiment to make a cast out of epoxy resin) the postman (hey hey hey heey mister postman) finally brought the box. 7 kilograms of Polytek EasyFlo 120 casting resin, ohhh yeah!

Unfortunately, the 2 month delay and some unexpected humidity had not been kind on my plaster mothermold. It was intact, but it had gone slightly soft and wonky and I feared it would result in slightly bent casts. However, eager to finally try out the EF120 resin, I decided to make a first cast anyway. Mixing up about 300 ml of easyflow (150A + 150B), I made the pour and started sloshing the resin around the mold to get an even coat. After about 2-3 minutes, the resin got really really thick and sloggy, indicating that it was about to set. I still had a fairly large lump which I tried desperately to spread. I was unsuccesful; The resin really did have the amazingly fast setting time that was advertised, gotta love that.
After only 30 minutes of waiting for the resin to go through it's gelling and hardening stage, I carefully removed the silicone mold.

As I suspected, the floppy mothermold had resulted in a bent cast. Bit of a bummer, obviously, but regardless I was amazed yet again by the amount of detail that had transfered from mold to cast. I almost immediately decided to give it another go. I now knew that the resin really did set as fast as advertised, I knew what it felt and looked like, and I was confident I could improve it. I decided to do the pour in two stages this time, and prepared the first 150 ml (75A + 75B) pour.
Using my hands I carefully kept silicone mold in the right shape without aid of the mother mold. I began sloshing the resin through the mold, and when it started to thicken I leaned the mold slightly to the left to let it spread out and set. After carefully holding the mold for 20 minutes I figured the resin had hardened enough for the second pour, which was another 150 ml. This time, when starting to gel, I leaned the mold to the right, allowing the resin to smooth out and spread evenly on the other side.
30 minutes later I demolded, and was happy to see that this time, the cast was absolutely perfect. I quickly proceeded to trim down the sides and the inside of the glasses with a boxcutter while the resin was still fairly fresh. I'd read that, although demoldable in 30 minutes, EF120 reaches it's full hardness after a few hours, which would make it a lot harder to trim down.

Here's a nice family photo, from left to right: my original monster clay sculpt, the first monster clay cast, the silicone mold, the first resin cast (bent), and the second resin cast (great!).

After that, it was time to try out some painting techniques. Although I spend a lot of time drawing with pencils or digitally painting in Photoshop, I rarely work with actual paint. You know, that stuff that gets your hands dirty. Yuck.
The first resin cast, the bent one, turned out to be really really usefull here, as I could practise all painting techniques on it without the risk of ruining a good cast.

Painting went quite well and before even remotely finishing, I grew confident enough to try it on the actual thing. I mostly used brushes to get the dark hues of brown into all the little scratches and crevices, then wiped with dry cloth to remove the excess paint from the mask. Took me a few hours, but I've got to say, I'm pretty psyched with the results!

And that was it! Done! Sprayed the mask with a transparant matte finish and called it a day. Overall I've learned a lot of different techniques, worked with some great new materials and I'm absolutely psyched to try out another project soon! Also, I wanna try out cold-casting with bronze powder in the near future, which should be a blast. Cheers guys!

vrijdag 4 juli 2014