So I've been working away on my next costume, Ann Takamaki from Persona 5 lately and while I was working I took some photos of how I made my mask and figured why not put them up and make a little tutorial for how I made mine! I'm sure there are better ways of doing this but here's how I did mine:
Blue Painters Tape
Lumiere by Jaquard Fabric Paints (Crimson)
Neo-Opaque by Jaquard Fabric Paint (Black)
Lumiere by Jaquard Fabric Paints (Pearlescent White)
Step 1: Making the pattern
Patterns are necessary in cosplay if you want your end product to turn out good. Every piece needs a good foundation.
I took my wig head and covered the area with blue painters tape. You could add an extra step of saran wrapping the head before the tape for easier removal but it wasn't necessary in this case. The tape peels easily off Styrofoam. Next I drew the outline of my mask onto the tape; only one side because I'm simply mirroring the image and then used my exacto knife to cut out the excess.
This leaves me with half of my full pattern. I carefully peeled my tape pattern off the wig head and cut at the nose and forehead to account for curves and relieve the tension at those points so it could lay flat against a sheet of craft foam.
At this point I traced my pattern, flipped it and traced it again to get my full mask perfectly symmetrical then cut it out with my exacto knife.
Step 2: Shaping the Mask
It was at this point I started to question my pattern but I just had to trust in the process. First I glued the cheek pieces to the nose, creating some curves to the mask, then glued the forehead darts together which create the shape of the head. It should look a little floppy and weirdly round at this point. This is where it starts to take shape. Craft foam is malleable and somewhat stretches when heated and cools in that shape. So I took my heat gun and blasted it for a few seconds, then started to stretch and form it around my wig head to let it cool. Mostly focusing on the shape of the head first, don't worry about the nose too much but create a slight bend in the bridge as a placeholder.
Step 3: Attaching the Ears
Next I attached ears to the top of the head. Judging from the artwork, Panther's ears can be placed in line with the point of the eye (if that makes sense. A small rounder bottom triangle worked best for me. Glue the ears on so they slightly point out but still mostly forward facing. Feel free to cut the " ear holes" out from under the ears at this point. I waited until later but it doesn't matter too much. At this point I heated the ears up and formed them to points and gave them a bit of an upward flick, the same way a cats would. Looking good!
Step 4: Molding it to Shape
It's starting to look good at this point, I'm pretty happy with the overall shape but I think it can still do with some more shape. So bring out the heat gun again, heat up the foam around the face again and start shaping the foam around the curves of the forehead, nose and cheeks. Take your time here ( Persona jokes), spend time molding the heated foam to the bridge of the wig head's nose and cheeks. This is really what made a huge difference in my mask from looking rigid to looking clean and professional.
Step 5: Gesso and Paint
Once you've shaped the mask to the way you like it, pin it to your head and get your gesso ready. Give the mask a generous coat of gesso, let it dry and do 2 more coats. This fills in any holes, hardens your mask and primes the surface for paint. If some of your seams is showing or there's an imperfection anywhere just sand it out real quick at this point.
Next is the best part! Painting it! I use Lumiere by Jacquard fabric paints (link to buy above) because they're really flexible and leave a metallic finish. Crimson is basically the perfect color for the mask, I used Neo-Opaque by Jaquard in black for the nose details and pearlescent white for the eyes. I gave my mask 2 coats of crimson before applying the eye and nose details just to be sure. Then it's finished and you have yourself a Panther mask!
For extra credit you could seal it all with a gloss coat on top for extra shine.
All finished! Better photos coming soon!