Make a 3D Printed Mask for your Cosplay Costume

If you are one of more than 25,000 people who enjoy Cosplay, then you may know that masks and helmets are a vital part of the community. Whether you are building a Mascaraed Mask or a Halo helmet, you want to have it fit and look as close to the original concept as possible. The problem that arises is that the helmets and masks for many such designs only reside in the fantasy world that they were created in. Cosplay enthusiasts, therefore, need to construct, creatively, their masks and helmets. Here is how 3D Printing can help you make the perfect Cosplay mask.

Step One: Make a mold of your face

The first step in the process is to make a mold of your face. Granted, you could use a handheld 3D scanner to make a 3D rendition of your face, but I have found that it is easier, even when using a handheld, to have a stable mold to work from. To make your mold, use the paper mache method. This will allow you to accurately capture the contours of your face as well as the correct dimensions. Additionally, so long as you take care of your mold, you can use it on future projects and costumes. Note: Before you apply anything to your skin, you should check to ensure that you do not have any allergies or reactions to the compound. Traditionally, plaster of Paris is used with the newsprint to form the paper mache. Check the ingredients. Also, ensure that you have proper breathing holes and such before you apply the plaster. Suffocation can occur if proper steps are not taken. Try this at your own risk.


A step by step guide to making a paper mache mask on yourself. Found on Youtube.

Step Two: Scan your mold

Once you have let your mold set and have smoothed out the rough edges and such, then you need to scan it into your computer. The best way to do this is with a 3D scanner as it will ensure accuracy. Remember that you need to scan the front and the back of the model to get an accurate 3D model to work with. Depending upon the quality of the 3D Scanner, you will get various levels of detail. Do not worry, your going to tweak the model in a 3D program anyway.

Step Three: Make your helmet or mask in a 3D Program

Import your model to a 3D program which supports 3D Printing. This could be 3ds Max, Maya, Zbrush, Inventor, Cinema 4D, or Mudbox. When importing, ensure that you keep the model to scale. Add elements to your mask, ensuring that the vertices and faces are merged together. You do not want to have areas with overlapping faces and edges as this could cause problems with the print. If you do not understand how to use a 3D program, you can have a 3D animator model out the components for your mask and assemble them post print.


When using 3D programs, pay special attention to the eyes and the nose creases as these can be problematic. Image provided by Siclari-studios.

Step Four: Print your mask or helmet

This process can be done as a single part (if you have a large enough printer), or you may choose to print in layers/pieces. Using OctoPrint is one way in which you can mobile optimise the 3D Printing. If you print complex parts and layers, it is suggested that you lay the pieces out on your mold as they are finished to ensure that the fit is idealistic to the design.

While layers/pieces are printing, work on finishing and refining the 3D Printed objects which are already fabricated. Using a low grade sandpaper, remove coarse edges and blemishes. You may want to take this time to paint and detail the pieces as well. However, you should keep in mind the overall composite when doing such work, so as not to have an agglomerate mess of different hues and textures when all the parts are assembled.

The final Step: Composite, tweak, and wear

The final steps for the perfect Cosplay mask is to tweak the details, to assemble all the parts, and then to fit the mask to your face. Remember, when you make your mask there needs to be room for the helmet/mask to slide on and off the face. If you make the mold without any room for such, you will need to either (a) cut the helmet in half to allow for you to put it on or (b) reprint the model with such considerations in mind. Mask without a back piece (which would usually restrict the head from being able to fit into the mold) are ok to use the model without such adjustments.


A completed 3D Printed Cosplay mask depicting Marvel’s Ultron from the second Avenger’s Movie: Avengers: Age of Ultron. Image acquired from 3Dprint.


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