This is a picture guide into the making of the Winnie-The-Pooh ‘mascot style’ head I created for Halloween this year. Our group theme was ‘Zombie Disney’ because we wanted to participate in the Zombie Walk downtown.
Unfortunately I can’t find my original sketches, but I started this project by sketching front and side views of a decent looking winnie-the-pooh head onto graph paper. I then did a second set of sketches where I kept the basic features and proportions the same, but turned his grin into a frown, gave him a scar, enlarged the eyes, etc… to zombify him. I did a final third sketch just to check the proportions to my own head to ensure I would be able to use the eyes and mouth for seeing/breathing as I was planning.
I then spent a lot of time on youtube and how-to sites, trying to figure out the best way to go about actually constructing the head. Most of the better masks out there shared the concept of a foam structure supporting it, so I decided foam carving was probably the way I wanted to go. I wanted the head to be much larger than my own, to keep the teddy bear proportions roughly correct.
A day of Rockband 3 later, time to start carving that giant sheet of 2″x36″x72″ foam into something resembling a mask. Foam is expensive, so as much as I wanted to, I decided not to start with a giant block and just carve it down like professional mascot manufacturers do. Instead I would start by making a foam facemask and building the iconic bear head over it.
Wrap the foam around your head, and cut it so that you can make a cylinder:
Hot glue gun time, and I hope you like hot glue, because I put about 30 sticks into this mask. Smooth your newly cut edge and glue the foam into the tube shape. Spend a decent amount of time getting this done very well because this is the basis for the entire mask.
After the glue has cooled, put on the mask, and mark your eyes and mouth. Pay attention to where the glue seam is, you probably want it off to the side or the back (I used the side). Cut decent eye holes, and a mouth hole to breathe out of. (Note: One of the last things I did was to make the mouth hole much larger. It is easier to remove foam than to add it.) Be careful when doing this that you always clear the inside of the mask of foam shavings and always close your eyes when putting it on, taking it off. I got a tiny piece of foam in my eye one day and it was not a pleasant experience.
Figure out where the top of your head is, and how much foam you will need to round off the mask at the top. Cut the excess off. Cut triangles into the future ‘top’ of the mask. I did 4 and started by gluing the points together, but you can do this part however you feel appropriate. However you do it, you will want to trim some foam off the inside of the triangles so that it is the outsides that come together, not the insides. I cut my triangles down to the point that I wanted the rounding to start and left enough to have as tall of a head as I wanted.
I wasn’t too worried with how pointy the top looked at this point because i knew I could fix it later with either shaving, or just pushing it down when I get to the cloth exterior stage.
Next was the nose, My first nose ended up being far too small (I actually used it almost without changes as the lower jaw). My second nose was deemed good enough and used. To make the nose I put 3 pieces of foam together to form a giant brick. Then I drew the front, side, and bottom views onto the brick, and just set to work shaping it with scissors. This is the result:
I was having a hard time envisioning how the final mask would look at this point, so I made a ‘brow’ quick from some scrap foam, and was held the nose to the mask to figure out it’s exact positioning.
Satisfied that the current revision of nose would be large enough, I attached it with glue.
Realizing I would need to move the mouth hole, I decided to first attach the lower jaw to the bottom of the mask to make sure I got that part built up sufficiently so that it would not be weakened significantly by the new mouth hole. This is also the point where you can finally start to recognize that yes, this will look at least modestly like a bear.
At this point I re-examined my original drawings. I’d known for a while that I would need to do something to build up the cheeks, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I decided I had enough foam left that I could put 2 layers on if I didn’t go all the way around the head (and that the back of the head needed to be mostly smooth instead of bumped out by the cheeks anyway). I committed to the first layer, being careful to ensure my ‘cheeks’ went all the way down to my jaw so I could reinforce the jaw to mask attachments behind the scenes there to support my ‘air’ addiction.
Almost immediately I realized I would need a second layer of foam to get to my target cheek size (large, round). After applying the 2nd layer, I did the nose style sculpting again, drawing my shave points from front and side perspectives and then using a scissors to trim away the excess. Note the cut outs to differentiate the cheeks from the jaw.
And the right side next, but we can see a problem forming. The brow isn’t living up to the size of the mask below the eyes. (Here is a better shot of the left side jaw, since I didn’t take a picture of the right side pre-forehead.)
I decide the whole upper head could use some girth, so I add foam. Wanting a smooth forehead, I put the smaller cuts to preserve the slope of the head to the sides.
You can see I shaved the 2nd layer of upper head a little near the bottom, to keep the first part perfectly vertical. I also filled in the top of the head, using 2 scraps of foam with bottoms that sloped in for a perfect fit. This 2nd layer of foam gave me a much nicer shape for the upper head. As you can see the shape of the entire mask is essentially done at this point. Here you should finish carving out the eyes and mouth to desired size. I carved a lot of foam out of the inside of the nose/mouth area so that there is more room for my nose and so I can breath more easily.
“Skin” time. I had a great deal of cheap ‘yellow/orange’ cloth on sale for this costume. I decided to hand sew the nose pieces and then pulled them into place, only gluing the very ends. I should note that the few marker lines I didn’t shave off did show up a little under the cloth, so anyone making their own mask might want to cover those with a lighter color before starting on the skin.
I bought spray on glue for this part, but decided to heck with that when I figured out my cloth was thick enough to handle the hot glue just fine. We’re now up to the night before I needed the mask, so I didn’t take many pictures of the skin going on. It was all done with one layer of cloth and hot glue. I used cloth scraps for a ‘patchwork’ look to it since he was supposed to be a zombie head, but honestly when it was all done that method wouldn’t have been horrible for a normal head either.
Ears were done with 2 more pieces of foam, sculpted after I had the cloth on the head, and just glued cloth to them and then the ears to the head. The eyes were made from very sheer costume cloth, with stichwork plastic mesh as frames (cut a ‘frame’ in the correct shape a few squares wide at every point, and sew the cloth onto the frames, then glue the frames in place. Visibility was not great on the final product, but I think that was mostly to do with someone spraying fake blood right onto the eyes before we got to the zombie walk.
Black felt was used for the nose, eyebrows, and inside the mouth. I ran out of time before the zombiewalk to add the scar, but that was going to be yarn, with over-sized ‘stitching’ and stuffing protruding.
The rest of the costume was comparatively simple for me, since i had other people do the outlining, pinning, and sewing. Outline a me sized suit of the cloth, cut it out (include extra to cover shoes). Sew around the outside with a sewing machine. Turn inside out, add a red t-shirt, add fake blood, ready to go!
The fake blood dried brown on the cloth but it did look pretty awesome for the first 45 minutes or so. It was really messy though.
Here is a quick shot of the entire group.