Life Casting, Head and neck

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Sr Member
Hey All,
I'm not sure how many of you out there have done a life cast or have looked into one but my friends and I did one yesterday so I thought I'd share.
What you'll need:
1.5 pounds of Alignate
6 rolls of 4 inch plaster bandages
2 rolls of 8 inch plaster bandages (try and get the ones that are already plastered it saves a step)
Hydracal, I got 50 pounds but probably only used about 30
Some vaseline tinted a different color
Cheesecloth 1 meter (at most)
Step one:
Pre Cut all of your bandages to the appropriate size, shoulder over the head to other shoulder, across the head, across the face etc.

Step Two:
Go pee first and make sure you trust the guys who are gonna do this to you.

Step Three:
Shirt off and tape a garbage bag to the lowest part you want the cast to go to.
3.1 smear on the vaseline, make sure there are no globs and that it is spread nicely or else the cast will pick it up.
3.2 Start with the back of the head, neck and shoulders. Much like with a duct tape dummy you want to cover the area but make sure you go sideways, diagonal and vertical to add strength. You don't want the bandages only to go one direction. Let it dry until it's hard. If you use warm water it will dry quicker.

Step Four:
Once the back is dry it's time for the alginate. Mix with warm water but not all of it at once, you may get five minutes of work time before it gets too hard. Goop it on all over make sure that you get into the eyes (have them closed), mouth (also closed), ears and over the nose. You'll want to go over those areas a couple of times to insure you get the details. Some people use straws in the nose what I did is take a deep breath in through my nose, they covered the nostrils, then I blew out through my nose really hard firing snot and alginate all over, but clearing my nose so I could breath.
You want to get a nice thick coat all over, you'll have to work quickly. We applied cheesecloth to the alginate once it was on to add strength

This last pic is Alginate and cheesecloth, my friend also added the colored vaseline. The is a line to indicate where the back of the cast ends and the front of the cast should go up to. When doing the front bandage cast do NOT cover or plaster OVER the red line or you'll be trapped inside the cast

Step Five:
After the alginate is dried sufficiently (doesn't take long) you can start applying the front bandages. Do this is the same fashion as you did the back, making sure you go in different directions to add strength DO NOT CROSS THE RED VASELINE STRIPE with the bandages. Allow time to dry. I replayed predator 2 in my head during this process. I think I did pretty well, the whole casting process probably took 2 hours. This was our first full head, we'd only done a face before

Step Six:
Getting out is an exciting time. Lean forward, make sure you have someone holding the front of the cast. Have another person working around the seam carefully prying it off. Make sure to wiggle your face and blow out through your nose. Insure that your airway stays clear.
Once you are out you'll have the negative of your face, but now you need a positive and a shower.

Step Seven:
Butt the two halves back together and tape it back up. Make sure to fill the gaps with vaseline. Hyrdracal is tricky there is no real magic ratio (i.e. 1:1) you just have to mix it until it's a bit thinner than pancake batter. If you use warm water it will cure faster, but you have to make sure to get it into the cast before it gets to hard.

We stuck a piece of PVC pipe into the cast so that I can secure it to a base later. We let it dry for about 1.5 hours before pulling the shell off

Step Eight
Pulling the shell off, be careful when doing this, if you are lucky the alginate will remain in one piece, if it does I suggest you pour in some more hydracal to get another mold. Mine ripped, and there was some problems with the ears and nose. We think it was because we didn't use enough alginate

Alright it's all done, for now. You're gonna have to let the cast dry for a couple of days before you can sand down any imperfections. Alginate will pic up every detail on your face right down to the hair you missed when shaving. It's what dentists use to make molds of your teeth. I have seen very well done face casts done with just bandages. You don't get as much detail but it saves you about 25 minutes and about 40 bucks.
This was how mine turned out, I haven't cleaned it up yet. The ears didn't work very well, kind of look like an MMA fighter or rugby player, like I said this was our first crack at a full head and shoulders.
Hope it was helpful
Sorry for spelling and grammar errors
Last edited by a moderator:

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Sr Member
Creepy! Looks pretty wild.

I'm going to a "head casting party" next week actually. I haven't decided if I'm going to have it done to me or not but I'm contemplating it.

What are you going to use the casting for? Do you already have a costume in mind?


New Member
awesome job. I'd be so claustrophobic in that. Hell even making my duct tape dummy gave me some anxiety. looks awesome. Do you have something specific in mind or a new project coming, or were you just practicing for kicks?


Sr Member
I do have some costumes in mind, both of which are star wars related. Honestly oneuglymf I don't like being unable to move or the feeling of being trapped, so I was a little worried about it. But I was surrounded by good friends so it wasn't so bad. TO be honest the worst was sitting there with just my back done. If your having a casting party Bob I say go for it. It's a good thing to have around


I wish you guys can lifecast for me. But for now my wife will have to learn from your awesome tutorial. :D
Happy New Yeah Mothra!

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Sr Member
I do this for a living. NEVER NEVER NEVER put the plaster directly on the skin. Sorry if I disagree with your technique, but too many people have been hurt by either just a reaction to the plaster itself or burns from the heat generated from the plaster.
You did ok on the front side with the alginate, but i have to disagree with you in the back side.
There are too many other safer ways to do this. I saw the comment about the plaster being cheaper, but when saftey of the model is in the mix then you dont worry about the cost.
I can give you some other resources if you want.
Good job overall but you should look at the process a bit.

Also the alginate is made for onetime use so dont worry too much about saving it. You usually wont get another good pull out of it the second time around anyway so it ends up being more of a waste. What you do is clean up the first one and if you want more you make a silicone master mold for additional pulls.

Anyone can PM or email me for more info.
I teach classes on this at locall galleries here in Michigan.

Happy New Year all

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