Borderlands Psycho Mask WIP

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NickyD

New Member
Ok, I’m a little late to the Borderlands party. I just finished playing through Borderlands 2, hoping to pick up the Pre-Sequel soon. It’s super addictive and so much fun. Especially when you and your roommate set up two side-by-side TVs and two Playstations so you can each play full-screen over the network. :)

Seeing so many incredible Borderlands props and costumes around has inspired me to try creating something of my own. This will be my first prop project (in a long, long time, anyways). I’ll be making a Psycho Bandit mask. A bunch of people have done fantastic jobs building these masks, so I’ll have some great examples to look at. I’m curious to try out some of the materials folks are using these days, so I’ll be incorporating some Worbla and Apoxie Sculpt. I’m not sure if it will end up being sturdy enough to actually wear and not worry about breaking, so I will probably create a mold for doing some plastic casting.

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I’m already a few steps into the process. Here’s what I’ve done so far…

I started with the Pepakura paper model. I’m going for something that’s as close to game-accurate as I can get, and I figured the Pep model would give me a good starting point for the shape. The Pep model seemed to fit me just right, so no resizing was necessary. I assembled the entire model, then painted on a thin layer of fiberglass resin to give it some stiffness so it would hold its shape. Then I used an exacto to remove the eyes and mouth fan (which I’ll be recreating later). By the way, that fiberglass resin… strong stuff. Don’t use it indoors unless you want to fill your house with noxious gas.

psycho-1.jpg

I then coated the inside of the mask with a layer of rondo. I used equal parts Bondo and fiberglass resin to make my rondo. Just a single coat seemed plenty strong, at least enough for me to work on the mask without fear of collapsing it.

To get rid of the polygonal look of the Pepakura model, I used plain old Bondo to smooth the outer surface. One layer of Bondo sanded smooth got me about half the way there.

psycho-2.jpg

After a second layer of Bondo and some sanding, I could still see some of the larger polygonal features of the Pepakura model. I didn’t want to start losing detail with too many layers of Bondo, though, so I left it at two layers. I also didn’t bother sanding out all the pits and imperfections in the Bondo because I was planning to coat the whole thing with Apoxie Sculpt for texturing and details like the nose and the eyebrows.

psycho-3.jpg

At this point I realized I could see most of the printing details on the Pepakura model if I held the mask up to a bright light source. Perfect! Instead of having to free-hand the stitching details later (and worrying about getting it all in the correct place), I could use the original Pep artwork as a guide. So I traced all the details onto the Bondo surface, and would make sure to work them into the additional layers as I went.

psycho-4.jpg

The outer edge of the mask doesn’t have any Bondo on it, just the initial resin coat. I could have used Bondo and sculpted it like the rest the mask, but I’m planning to use a different material here.

I then started to add the Apoxie Sculpt. This stuff is awesome to work with. It sands easily and holds the tiniest details. Mostly I used it just as a thin layer to give the slightly lumpy texture I wanted, but I also used it to build up the eye details, including the angry eyebrows and the ridges around the eye sockets. As I layered over the guide lines I had drawn on the Bondo, I recreated the lines in the Apoxie Sculpt using a sculpting tool.

psycho-5.jpg

I wasn’t happy with my first attempt at the eyebrows, so I ended up partially sanding them down and resculpting them. They pointed out the wrong way, and the mask ended up looking too wide at the eyes. I’m much happier with my second attempt. You can see where I filed away the material all the way down to the rondo in a few places. Not a big deal. I didn't break through the rondo, but I came close. After reshaping the eyebrows, I ended up with some really smooth spots around the eyes, so I'll need to figure out a way to add some texture back in later.

psycho-6.jpg

For the “laces” (i.e. the dark strips on the mask), I’m using Worbla. At first I was worried about not having enough time to work with the Worbla before it cooled, but I realized I can reheat it directly on the mask without affecting the Apoxie Sculpt. I was also worried the Worbla wouldn’t stick that well, but after a few times heating and pressing, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I also used some Worbla to build up the thickness of the outer edge of the mask.

Next on my list: sculpting the nose detail and creating the fan piece for the mouth.
 

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NickyD

New Member
The mouth fan was tricky. I considered sculpting this entirely from scratch, but I wanted it to have a level of circular symmetry that I probably wouldn’t be able to achieve by hand. My next idea: an actual PC fan. (An obvious choice, right?)

The outer diameter of the printed mouth fan on the 1:1 Pep model is about 50 mm, so I figured a 50-mm case fan would be a good place to start. I looked for something that had approximately the same look as my reference images, including the same (or similar) number of blades. All of my references (in-game captures and cover art) show a 12-bladed fan. I couldn’t find this in a 50-mm size but I did find an 11-bladed fan in a 60-mm size. This is what I ended up using. I took a PVC pipe fitting with 50-mm outer diameter, shaved down the wall size of the fitting, then shortened the fan blades enough so the fan would fit snugly inside the fitting.

Thinking ahead to the molding, I knew I needed to get rid of the undercuts that would result from the pitch of the fan blades. I also wanted to keep the fan partially open to help with airflow while wearing the mask. So I filled in the area directly behind each blade with Apoxie Sculpt while leaving a little opening between each blade. I’m insetting the fan slightly into the PVC fitting, so I used some more Apoxie Sculpt to build up the center hub portion to make it flush with the PVC fitting. After the Apoxie Sculpt had cured, I filed down all the rough surfaces and rounded out the center hub. For the detail on the hub, I cut some tiny little pieces from an old credit card and shaved off the dome part of a googly eye to use as the round part in the center. Then I coated the whole fan with a few thin layers of white glue to fill in all the little gaps. I could have just painted on those hub details later, but I think having an actual 3-dimensional structure will make it more interesting.

On the backside of the fan, I used a Dremel to grind the surface flat. When I create the mold, I’ll need to plug the backside with clay. On the casted piece I’ll need to go in with the Dremel to open up those holes through the fan.

psycho-7.jpg


When I compare my finished mouth fan with my reference images, the biggest difference I notice is the size of the center hub relative to the rest of the fan. I may go back and taper in the hub to make it look smaller. But, for now, enough obsessing over that...

To help cut the stripes from the Worbla, I actually built another partial Pep model. I cut the stripes from the model to use as patterns for tracing the shapes onto the Worbla. The stripes vary a little in width, and I wanted to match that variation as best I could.

psycho-8.jpg


For the rolled ridge around the nose, I simply added a bit more Apoxie Sculpt. On all the renderings I’ve seen, this feature is just drawn on, but again, I think having some physical structure here would make it more interesting. I didn’t want to significantly alter the profile shape of the mask, though, so I added just enough of a ridge to make it visible.

Here’s what it looks like so far with the mouth fan tacked temporarily in place.

psycho-9.jpg
 

guitarpirate

Active Member
Great work, thanks for sharing! I still haven't played Borderlands even though I like Rage, because I'm really put off by cartoon graphics. Very nice to hear about your dedication to detail and love for the piece.
 

NickyD

New Member
Thanks, guitarpirate! I haven't played Rage, but I've heard some people say they think Borderlands is more enjoyable. Co-op mode is definitely what puts it over the top for me.
 

NickyD

New Member
The sculpt is basically complete. I’ve added the stitches and some more detail on the chin piece, the mouth fan has been sculpted into place, and I textured the surface.

For the stitches, I used short bits of 22-gauge insulated wire. I bent the ends of the wire, heated the Worbla, and pressed the wire down into the surface to make it look like it is stitched all the way through.

psycho-10.jpg


The chin piece is a couple layers of Worbla with googly eyes for the bolts/rivets.

To create the texture, I added another very thin layer of Apoxie Sculpt and pressed an old bath towel into the surface. This gives it sort of a gritty look, almost like it’s made of plaster.

psycho-11.jpg psycho-12.jpg


The outer strip along the edge of the mask has also been coated with a thin layer of Apoxie Sculpt, but I kept it smooth rather than applying texture to it. On the casted version, this part will be painted a gray color to look like rubber.

I think the mask is ready to be molded. I’ve been taking a look at the molding materials people use for their masks and helmets, and I’m going to try doing a no-seam glove mold using either Smooth-On Rebound 25 or Dragon Skin.

I’m a little concerned about issues with cure inhibition. Rebound and Dragon Skin are both platinum cure silicones, and I know sulfur can cause curing problems if it is present. I couldn’t determine if the Apoxie Sculpt contains sulfur, but the latex gloves I was using probably do. I’m not sure if that’s enough to matter. In any case, I should probably seal the mask with something before molding. In their Dragon Skin technical bulletin, Smooth-On recommends one or more coats of clear acrylic lacquer. I’ve also seen people use Rust-Oleum flat primer. Whatever I use, I’m hoping not to loose any of the fine texture I’ve added. If I’m smart, I’ll do a small test first before putting anything on the mask.
 

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NickyD

New Member
The mold is complete. Before molding, I ended up giving the mask a couple thin coats of Rust-oleum flat gray primer to help me see anything I might have missed and to isolate the silicone from anything that might cause curing problems. I applied a little patch of the silicone to test for inhibition problems over the primer and had no issues with curing. This primer would not be the best choice for something that would stand up to long-term handling. It started to chip off in tiny little bits, most notably on the smoother sections of Apoxie Sculpt. But it held up long enough to make the mold, which is really all I had planned for the original.

psycho-13.jpg

I used five layers of Rebound 25: two thin coats, two thickened coats, and one final thin coat to smooth it all out. The first two coats I had to redo. I was worried about air bubbles getting trapped along the edges of the “laces”, and I erred by making the print coat too thin. While stippling on the second coat, I started tearing the first coat and had to just let it cure and pull it all off. On my second attempt, I went thicker with the print coat, went lighter on the stippling with the second coat, and everything turned out ok. I bought the 2 LB trial size of Rebound, and it was just enough to give me a final thickness of about 3/8 inch. I was planning a two-piece support shell, so I put a circular mold key on each half of the mold to help orient it correctly in the shell.

psycho-14.jpg

For the shell I used Plasti-Paste. Same as the mold, I was going for a shell thickness of about 3/8 inch. Plasti-Paste has a decent pot life (about 10 minutes) and it is somewhat goopy and runny immediately after mixing. Trying to get to the final thickness in one pass means having a lot of material that wants to slide down the vertical surfaces, and this actually created some air pockets in a few places which I didn’t notice until I demolded it. I don’t think it will affect my castings, but next time I’ll probably do two passes of Plasti-Paste so I can control it a little better. After the shell had cured, I drilled a few holes along the flange for some bolts to keep it tightly together.

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For my first mold ever, it actually turned out really well. Not a single air bubble that I could see. The only issue I had with the mold was a small tear in the thin piece directly under one of the eyebrows. I’ll have to trim it up with scissors, and I think it won’t be that noticeable on the casting.

psycho-16.jpg
 

NickyD

New Member
Yesterday I pulled my first cast. Overall, not bad. I used a total of about 10 oz of Smooth-Cast 65D, built up in three layers. Smooth-Cast 65D is normally white. I added some black tint to the first layer to give it a gray color, making it easier to see and photograph. The material did a fantastic job capturing all of the gritty little details.

psycho-17.jpg

The one thing I suspected would give me trouble was air bubble entrapment inside the laces... and that’s exactly what happened. I used a chip brush to try to force the resin down into the little lace cavities, but I think the brush was probably too coarse and I ended up missing some of the lace cavities and a few other details. A little bit of spot putty should take care of it. For my next cast, I’ll try using a finer brush. I think I have enough casting resin left to make another couple masks.

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NickyD

New Member
Here’s the paint job in progress.

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I spent some time researching the best way to prime, paint, and seal this type of plastic, with the hope of having something fairly durable in the end. I decided to go with PlastiKote sandable primer as recommended by Smooth-On. Using a release agent on the mold means you end up with a cast that many primers won’t stick to. Before priming, I gave it a good scrubbing with some rubbing alcohol, but I’m not sure if the release agent is something you can wash off or if it actually gets bonded into the surface of the cast. In any case, two thin coats of PlastiKote seemed to adhere ok, but it does start to scratch off if you scrape it with something sharp, even a fingernail. I may try casting without release agent to see if that makes any difference with primer adhesion.

For the paint, I’m using a mix of Liquitex and Golden soft acrylics with some matte medium added in to take out some of the sheen of the acrylic. It looks too clean at this point, but some shading and weathering will give it more character.

For the top coat, I’m still undecided. Liquitex makes an acrylic polymer varnish intended as a permanent finish for acrylic paintings, and I may try that. I’m also considering something more like a model varnish like the Vallejo matte varnish. The Vallejo is resin instead of polymer, which I think tends to give a more durable finish, but I don’t know if it has any flex to it. The mask is slightly flexible, so a hard brittle finish might start to crack. I also have some Krylon acrylic clear top coat which could work.

I ended up getting two more casts out of my trial-size Smooth-Cast 65D (three casts total). I used a stiffer brush to poke out any air bubbles trapped inside the laces, and that worked great. Not a single air bubble in either of those additional casts.
 

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NickyD

New Member
Finally got all the painting finished. I’ve been staring at this mask for so long it was starting to not look right, so I'm relieved to see that the paint brings it together.

psycho-20.jpg psycho-21.jpg

The trickiest part was getting outlines I was happy with. I think some people would call this “cel-shading”, but I think technically it is not. In any case, I experimented with four different black acrylic paint pens. I started with the Liquitex fine tip. It has a felt chisel tip with a fairly fine point. It works well for thin lines on flat surfaces, but the thickness of the chisel means you get a fatter line when trying to outline an inside corder (like the edges of the brown “leather” bits). I also tried the Molotov 2mm round tip. It has a plastic nib that supposedly keeps its shape really well, and it has a finer tip than the Liquitex, but the Molotow releases a pretty thick stream of paint, again making it difficult to get thin lines on inside corners. The DecoColor Extra Fine has the finest tip of anything I tried. It has a plastic nib like the Molotow, but smaller in diameter, so it doesn’t let out as much paint. The DecoColor is what I ended up using for most of the outlines on the mask, and I also used the Liquitex for some of it. There are a few outlines which are white, and for those I used a very fine brush. I tried to match the outlines in my reference images as close as I could, down to each little spec of dirt.

After outlining, I drybrushed some of the shadowed areas like under the eyebrows, then I gave the whole thing a blackwash. I went a bit too heavy with the wash. Best to start out light, I suppose — it’s always easier to add more paint rather than remove it.

Next up is deciding on a protective top coat. And, of course, blue LEDs for the eyes! :)
 

Keatonkohl

New Member
Nice work! Especially on your paint job. My son and I are working on a psycho mask right now to. Hope ours turns out as nice as yours is!
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NickyD

New Member
Finally done! I painted up mask number two, careful this time not to overdo the weathering. I think it looks way better than the first one. I riveted in some leather straps and added little squares of chiffon material to darken the eyes. Behind that I wired up a couple blue LEDs.

For paints this time I used the Formula P3 paints instead of Liquitex soft body acrylic. The P3 paints seem much more chip resistant - I can tell just by how they adhere more strongly to my paint palette. To seal it up I brushed on a layer of Vallejo acrylic varnish and covered that with Testers Dullcote spray. A couple weeks later, there’s no tackiness and it seems to be holding up pretty well.

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