Tutorial: Easy Full-Face Mask for Costumes

how to make masks for cosplay

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Full-face masks are a little more difficult than simple eye masks. There are many, many ways of creating a full mask, but this is the method that’s the cheapest and does not require you to make a mold of your face. This method will not work for a mask that’s supposed to closely resemble a human face, but it’s great for youkai masks, kitsune masks, or as a base for a more intricate mask.


measure your face and prepare your cardstock
create a face shape base using the length and width of your face. Then prepare your cardstock (or cardboard) by cutting it into strips.
creating your mask base
Create the base shape of your mask using the strips of cardstock. Don’t be afraid to cut strips shorter when necessary to keep the cardstock laying flat.
  1. Measure the length and width of your face. Create a rectangle with your measurements and then draw your mask shape inside.
  2. Cut the cardstock (or cardboard) into strips lengthwise. The strips should be about half an inch wide.
  3. Create the perimeter of the mask. Using your mask shape from step 1 as a guide, use your cardboard strips to create a perimeter for your mask. Use masking tape to connect them.
  4. Add cardboard strips across the length and width to get the shape of the mask. First, make the shape of the mask how you like it, then add more to fill in the gaps. In some areas, you will want to add the strips diagonally (rather than horizontally and vertically) to help the cardboard pieces remain flat.
  5. Add details with more cardstock and crumpled paper. If you have raised sections, ears, or other details that your mask needs (other than paint and holes) then now is the time to add them. You can tape down crumpled paper to make bumps, or form cardstock into new shapes and tape them to the mask.
  6. Prepare your paper mache. I used the flour method since this is the cheapest, but there are many ways of making paper mache. Glue is usually the most effective. Check below for different formulas to make paper mache.
  7. Add strips of newspaper dipped in the paper mache until you cover the entire front and back of the mask. Allow the paper mache to dry and then repeat the process 3-5 times. After the final layer is added, you can sand the mask if you want to.
  8. Add a few layers of primer. The primer will help seal the layers of paper mache and smooth out the surface.
  9. Cut the eye holes. Use a sharp razor to cut out the eye holes in any shape you want. You’ll need to cut through many layers of paper, so the holes may also need some sanding once you are finished.
  10. Draw out your design and paint the mask. Now you want to paint your mask however you want. I recommend adding a base layer of paint first and drawing the design in pencil before starting with the paint.
  11. Optional: add elastic to secure the mask. Now all you have to do is attach the mask to your head, wig, or costume. Gluing elastic to the inner edges of the mask is the easiest way to get this done, but you can also use hair clips, string, velcro, or other adhesive materials.
cover the mask base with paper mache
Strip by strip cover the front and back of the mask with 3-5 layers of paper mache. Wait for a layer to dry completely before adding the next layer.
cut eyes into the mask
find the center of the mask to help you make the eye holes in the correct positions
painting the mask
Draw your design onto the mask first before painting it.

How to make paper mache

You can make paper mache using many different types of materials. Generally, you will be mixing water with a glue-like material to get a liquid that will smoothly harden and dry. You dip newspaper into the gluey liquid to paste layers onto your paper mache surface. Once the ingredients are mixed together, the paper mache shoes have a consistency that is thinner than glue, but thicker than water. The most common ways of creating paper mache include:

  • Flour: Mix flour and hot water together until you have a thin paste-like consistency. You should use about equal amounts of flour and water, but I ended up adding a little more water to get the right consistency. This cannot be saved and reused another day, you’ll need to throw away any excess.
  • PVA glue (such as Elmer’s craft glue): PVA glue should be added at about 1 cup of water to every 2 cups of glue. This can be sealed in an air-tight container and reused in the future. It also doesn’t leave a floury residue and has no risk of molding.
finished full face kitsune mask

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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