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February 12, 2012
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San Mask Tutorial by meanlilkitty San Mask Tutorial by meanlilkitty
The wait is finally over! For months I said I was going to do this tutorial, and now you finally have it! This is how I made San's mask from Princess Mononoke. Hope you all enjoy it and let me know if you have any questions!

Also available on etsy for purchase! www.etsy.com/listing/97293590/…

Edit: I actually only do eight layers of paper mache now a days, it makes it so it's lighter but still strong. I also cut the eyes out before I put the paper clay on, just make sure the mache is dry and it's a lot easier than fussing with power drills and whatnot. Also, always cover your foam with plastic, either plastic sheeting or just a old grocery bag. If you don't it is a absolute pain to get the paper mache off the foam and you may destroy the foam just to get it off.
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:iconfor3st-ninja:
For3st-NinJa Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello! Awesome job with your mask! I have a question~

Did you mod those napkin rings to look like the actual eyes or did they just come like that? If you can, can you also provide the link from where you got them from? I'm kind of contemplating whether I should use napkin rings or just paper clay. :3
Reply
:icondisneyfairy:
Disneyfairy Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Stupid question, but I would like to know.  Was the foam half-circle hollowed out when you bought it (like a regular mask), or did you have to carve the insides out to make it a mask?
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:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2014  Professional General Artist
No, the foam was solid, and was just used as a base for the shape. Once you're done with the paper mache and it is fully dry, you pull it off of the foam, then over the paper mache in paper clay (or something similar). Once you pull the paper mache off, you don't need the foam anymore, unless you'd like to make another mask at some point. Joannes does now sell a styrofoam half circle that is carved out if you'd like to use that for something
Reply
:icongalaxy-tramp:
Galaxy-Tramp Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you sooo much for the great tutorial! :cuddle: I want to use it for my own cosplay but i wonder how do you attach the mask to the coat?
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:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Actually, just hot glue the mask to the inside of the hood. I've had my pelt for some six years now and it's never budged
Reply
:icongalaxy-tramp:
Galaxy-Tramp Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks a lot :hug: I wasn't quite sure if this would survive a convention with just some glue ;)
Reply
:iconladyrose15:
LadyRose15 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I have two questions:

1.) Is a 7.8inch circle ok, for the foam circle? and

2.)  What is the brand for the Paper Clay?

Thank you.
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Hello! 7.8 should be fine, maybe just a big snug, but as long as you don't have a really big face you should be fine. I'd measure your head and face to make sure it'd fit. Here's a example of Paper Clay www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/sculpture-and-pottery/creative-paperclay
Let me know if you need anymore help!
Reply
:iconladyrose15:
LadyRose15 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconrivali:
Rivali Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
hi,could you tell me what is the paper clay , thanks
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Paper clay is a paper mulch that works like a clay. You can find it at Michaels or online, it  comes in a black wrapper with white writing and usually a picture of a chess knight. I like it because you don't need to wet it to make it useable, it doesn't crack much, it sands easily and takes paint well
Reply
:icongoddess-of-sugar:
Goddess-Of-Sugar Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
Hello there. I have a few questions. This mask is so gorgeous and I'm about to start to work on my San. I know a lot of this might have been asked before so I'll try not to repeat too much. My first question is what size is your mask? Is it the 8" or the 10"? Second, did you put anything inside the mask to hold it into place when you had it on? I did a Naraku mask for my friend once and I hot melt glued a baseball cap into the inside. Third, what are the dimensions of the napkin rings you used? I really like that size and would like to find ones like them.

Sorry for all the questions.
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:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Professional General Artist
www.ebay.com/itm/Napkin-Rings-…
The original mask was made with a 8in half circle that you can get from the flower section of Joannes or Michaels, just leave the plastic on it when you do the paper mache, otherwise the shell will be hard to get off. I've also wrapped my foam with a plastic bag. It makes the first couple of layers of mache hard to apply, but it makes the removal of the shell really easy, once it's dry you just pull the bag up around the foam, and it all comes off quite quick. I've never needed a head strap for the mask, once I attach it to the hood it fits quite comfortably. Let me know if you have any more questions!
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:icongoddess-of-sugar:
Goddess-Of-Sugar Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014
This is super helpful thank you ^^ I figured it might not need anything due to the hood but I have seen some that do. Now I'm going to have to figure out how to attatch everything to the pelt. I have some ideas. But thank you again ^^
Reply
:iconjellyscribbles:
jellyscribbles Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hello :) 
i was actually just wondering how the ears were done? its one of the hardest things for me to figure out really. 
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Professional General Artist
Hello! The original set of ears was made from flower-grade Styrofoam that I sanded down to shape and then covered them with Paper Clay. Once it dried I sanded it down to remove any lumps and painted them with acrylic. They are lightweight but very durable because of the paper clay. Nowadays I make them out of pink insulation foam, carve them down with a dremmel, gesso them, sand, and paint with acrylic. When they're done, I simply cut slits into the hood, shove them up from the inside, and glue them into place
Reply
:iconjellyscribbles:
jellyscribbles Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
alrighty, thank you so much ^__^
Reply
:iconlabrynthpuppet:
labrynthpuppet Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014
can you see clearly through the mask?
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yup, even more so nowadays since I cast the mask out of plastic
Reply
:iconlabrynthpuppet:
labrynthpuppet Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2014
Sorry to keep bugging you, I was curious if you got any cracking when the paperclay dried. I tried making the mask with Plus air dry clay and it had large cracks. I was wondering if Paperclay had the same problem.
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional General Artist
No worries! Paperclay has minimal cracking, and if it does, you just let it dry and fill the cracks in with more Paperclay. I'm pretty terrible with names, but is Plus the one with a white top wrapper to it and the back is see-through? The clay is kind of a chocolate milk color and very wet? If so, I tried that once upon a time and reaaaallly hated it. Basically I kept filling in the cracks only to have more cracks develop. I really recommend Paperclay or if you can't find it, LaDoll can also work. It requires you to knead it a little more than Paperclay, but it can be easier to find.
Reply
:iconlabrynthpuppet:
labrynthpuppet Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
Yeah that is the clay I was taking about. I was wondering if you had any issues adhering the paperclay to the paper mache shell. When I tried to put it on it simply lifted. It didn't stick very well to the surface of the mask. any tips? 
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Professional General Artist
Lightly wet the paper mache first. I usually just dunk my hand in the water and rub the mask all over, then apply the clay. If it's too dry, it'll have a hard time staying put
Reply
:iconlunarflowerhymn:
LunarFlowerHymn Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013
I know this isn't a mask related question, but did you use any sort of pattern for your cape design? Thanks!
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Nope, I basically just free hand mark the inside of the fabric with a pale marker making a large U shape with long straps to go over the shoulders. The tail and hood I make in separate pieces and sew them into the cape. To save me time on sewing, I'll make both sides of the pelt as one piece, leaving one side of the pelt connected, that way I can just flip the pelt inside out and sew it down. I'll also do the same with the tail. It helps hide seams and again makes it easier to sew (the faux fur can be a absolute pain to sew through) When I get to the bottom of the pelt, I'll place the tail and sew it into place, then continue sewing. I've also recently been leaving a five or six inch gap unsewn high up on the pelt, that way I can use the pelt as a purse. Once the pelt is sewn, I then attach the hood onto it, which is honestly the hardest part because you can't avoid sewing directly into the mess of fur, so be sue to pin the hood into place and expect to have the sewing machine jam a couple of times. You can hand sew it too, which will take longer but may be easier to some extent. Just make sure to use a long needle and do tight double stitching so the weight of the mask doesn't wear out the thread over time. Hope this helps!
Reply
:iconlunarflowerhymn:
LunarFlowerHymn Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014
Thank you so much for your tutorial! It really helped me out with finishing my costume. Here it is if you're interested! Unfortunately I didn't get a shot of my mask down, but these pics will do:

The mask progress: 31.media.tumblr.com/e90f4c40cd…
The costume: 25.media.tumblr.com/d133940684…

There are some things I want to fix up, but it worked for the con. Thanks again! :)
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Professional General Artist
Looks great, glad I could help out!
Reply
:iconlunarflowerhymn:
LunarFlowerHymn Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013
Thank you so much! This does help a lot!
Reply
:iconseritpwns:
seritpwns Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013
What are the dimensions of the napkin rings you use? I'm having a hell of a time decided what will look right.
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
Hmm, it's been a minute since I've bought any, but I believe two inches across and about a inch and a half high
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:iconladyarcane:
LadyArcane Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my god, this is exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for!! Thank you so much for taking the time to make this!
Reply
:iconmiss-zeldette:
Miss-Zeldette Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
Thank you so much for taking the time to do a tutorial ! I have a few questions. I read things about paper clay, I haven't tried it out yet. I read that when it rains, your prop will be destroyed. Is the acrylic paint a protection for this or does it still fear water ? And I saw other of your masks where you say you use pink foam and other things. What you do in that case is first make your mask out of pink foam and other materials that you need and then make a mold so you can repeat your mask with plastic liquid ? (Sorry for my english, I'm french :p)
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:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
Paper clay isn't that fragile, it actually can be pretty hard to rehydrate once it dries out. You can put acrylic on it and then a good acrylic sealant, but I am partial to oil-based polyurethane which you can find in the wood sealent area in the hardware store. When I make a mold for a mask, I usually make the original one out of stone clay, then make a mold out of silicone, and make the mother mold out of plasti-paste. When I make masks out of pink foam, that's usually the final product. Although you could use pink foam to make the original for a mold, you just have to seal the pink foam with layers of gesso and sand it to get rid of the grit.
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:iconmiss-zeldette:
Miss-Zeldette Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
Ok, thank you so much for your answer ! (:
Reply
:iconanne4986:
anne4986 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013
this looks awesome!!! can't wait to try and make it!!
Reply
:iconnanshi:
nanshi Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2013  Hobbyist
GREAT TUTORIAL!! Was going to try it for Comic Con but ran out of time. Will deff try for Kamikaze
Reply
:icontchaiky:
tchaiky Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013
Hi there! Thanks so much for your tutorial! It's my first time attempting something crafty on this big a scale and I must say I'm quite impressed with myself, lol. However my mask weighs about 2kg (about 4lb?) and I have no idea how to attach it to the hood and pelt so it won't strangle me when the hood won't be on my head. Or does the mask have to be constantly on your head? Do you have weights on the pelt or elsewhere to counter-balance the weight of the mask? Thanks for your help in advance :)
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:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
4 lbs holy cow haha! If you haven't painted it yet I would suggest sanding it to get some of the excess off and get it smooth. Or did you use a heavy clay like Das or La Doll? Basically, it's a cheap trick, but to attach the mask to my hood, I just trim the pelt down where the mask is going to attach, and hot glue the hell outta it. I'll apply hot glue starting from the middle of the crown and go down each side to the top of the lower stripe on the mask, that way I have enough space to get my head in the loop and it stays fairly flush against my face. When I'm not wearing the mask, I tend to wear it like a hat, like when San sucks the blood from Moro. Sadly I haven't really figured out how to counter the weight of the mask when I throw it back, so I get a little cheap and crafty again by safety pinning the "sleeves" of the belt onto the shoulder part of my dress, otherwise the mask will drag it all back and choke me with the beads.
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:icontchaiky:
tchaiky Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2013
Hi Meanlilkitty!
Here's the link to my costume if you're interested: www.facebook.com/media/set/?se…

Manifest is in 1 week! :D

You have one of the best Princess Mononoke costume.. I printed all your photos and tried to copy it. 
Thank you for uploading this tutorial and answering my my questions! You're simply awesome!! :D
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
Looks great! I'm glad I could help, now go out and enjoy your con! =D
Reply
:icontchaiky:
tchaiky Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013
Thanks for your awesome and detailed advice!
Unfortunately I have already painted it. I layered on about 15 layers of newspaper before I used paper clay. I think a lot of the weight came from my napkin rings I used too, I immediately felt the weight when I added them. 
I will go to Manifest in Melbourne (Australia) on August 17th.. I will link you some pictures of the final costume :)
Reply
:iconkereki-kat:
kereki-kat Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS! I plan to enter San at Ohayocon and I was really concerned about how to make the mask and this helped so much!
Reply
:iconwakuri-neko-san:
wakuri-neko-san Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks for the lovely, helpful tutorial! I'm hoping to make a San costume for the fall and your mask is perfect :)
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
Glad you like it, let me know if you need help. Nowadays I cut out the eyes and mouth before the paperclay, it's easier
Reply
:iconhorselover141355:
horselover141355 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013
Do you have any suggestions on how to do the ears that go with San. The two ears that she wears with her fur cloak.
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
Oh sure, I make those out of pink insulation foam that I carve down with a dremmel. If you don't have a dremmel, you can carve them slowly with sandpaper. You can get pink foam from Home Depot or Lowes, but if for whatever reason they don't have it, you could use flower-grade styrofoam from Joannes or Michaels and cover them with a layer of paper clay, la doll, or Das clay to make them lightweight but durable. Let me know if you need anymore help!=)
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:icondorkycho:
dorkycho Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
I'm actually following your tutorial on how to make this mask, I had a question about when adding the paper clay, did yours crack?? I'm wondering if I should just make another layer to make it smooth then sand it down?? Thank you so much for posting this!!
Reply
:iconmeanlilkitty:
meanlilkitty Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
It can crack, but you can just putty in the cracks and resand it, and it'll look great! Let me know if you need more help! =)
Reply
:iconkonipa:
Konipa Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:+fav: definedly adding this to favs.. really nice one :D
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:iconfuzzmonsler:
Fuzzmonsler Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Where did you get the napkin rings? I've looked everywhere! And also, Would a 7-7/8 inch foam halfcircle work too? That's all our walmart has.
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