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Dave Filoni's Plo Koon Mask Tutorial

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Wolfie (Crystal Bass)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:46 pm    Post subject: Dave Filoni's Plo Koon Mask Tutorial Reply with quote

Tutorial on building a Plo Koon Mask from Dave Filoni hosted by Padawans Guide:


Tutorial by Dave Filoni

I wanted to create a Plo Koon costume that was wearable at the premiere of Star Wars Episode III, but not have to envolve prosthetics and spirit gumming anything to my face. I wanted a realistic look that was easily removeable when it came time for the movie. I saw the over the counter Plo Koon mask but thought that it was awful rubbery. At first I figured this could be overcome by stuffing the mask, but after a closer inspection of the mask I realised that it lacked many of the details and proportions that the actual costume had. In the end I wanted something more accurate than the over the counter version, but not as difficult to wear as claysculpted prosthetics. Besides that, I may be able to sculpt an accurate head in clay, but casting the difficult sculpture presented a real problem, and figured to be quite expensive. So, that is when I came up with this technique for making alien Jedi masks. I have completed a Plo Koon head and hands, and they will be used in this short tutorial, but I believe it is possible to make any alien Jedi using this technique. I am currently making a Kit Fisto for a friend, but I could easily see, Saesee Tinn, Ki Adi Mundi, Trebor Coleman, or Shaak ti fit this technique, or any other Star Wars humanoid alien for that matter, say rodians, grans etc.

MATERIALS: here is a list of the materials I used to make the Plo Koon mask. These are the base materials and were also used to make Kit Fisto, but you will need other materials to finish the Jedi you want to make depending on the details of the character. But the basic materials are these: A) balaclava racing mask B) foam of different thickness and density D) glue, I use FABRIC-Tac found at Micheal C) dremel tool with sanding bits and grinding stone bits E) POLY-SHIELD in both spray and brush on forms

The first thing to do after you have the above materials is to make sure you have a mannequin head, the kind that wigs sit on usually made of styrofoam. I find it best to use the swan neck style as it gives you more room to carve around. Then take tin foil and wrap it around the styrofoam head till it is approximately the size of your head, or the person wearing the mask. This is important as when the Poly-shield is applied over the foam it will expand, but could be too tight and uncomfortable to wear after all the hard work. Next take the balaclava mask and pull it over the head. Draw ruff guidelines on the mask to approximate where the pieces you are going to carve will go. Once you have this done, (sorry I did not take more pictures) Start glueing pieces of foam to the mask, using the fabric tac. Use allot to attatch these pieces, the tinfoil will keep the styrofoam from melting if glue seeps thru the mask, and you can easily pull the glue of the foil. After you have the main pieces on, get the dremel out with a sanding bit and go to work. It helps to draw onto the foam the general shpe you are trying to achieve, and have LOTS of photos handy. Below are two examples of how Plo and Kit looked after the first carving. It should be noted that this Plo was abandoned for the later more accurate one, but it was a start, and a lesson in measuring and proportion. For Kit my friend and I decided to go for an open mouth to have the trademark smile J Unlike the lifeless rubber Kit mask, our Kit will smile and speak, there is also an example of the early ruff kit mask on my friend.

Again these are all early in development, and you can see the marker lines that I use to approximate the shape I am going for. You can also see the blue areas, which are the balaclava mask. It is best to try to keep the foam as thin as possible, thus closer achieving the spirit gummed look of the film masks. If the foam is too layered and too thick, it will start to get too big and out of proportion to your body. This whole method is about keeping the masks flush to your head. My friend will paint his mouth area green (and shave) to blend it with the final painted mask.

A note about foam. Foam comes in different densities, you can tell by how squishy it is, or the size of the airbubbles in it. I think a dense foam is best, the sander takes it better, and it is easier to carve. The less dense the foam, the more sanding in the final Poly-coat phase to get a smooth looking skin. The black foam is the densist, but not as flexible obviously. Experiment by getting scraps of foam. We have a foam mart in Burbank, and I get cheap scrap there, this way I can find what is best. Anyway moving on. Keep carving with the sander to get more detail, use varying bits, wide or narrow depending on the details. For Plo s mask I used dense black foem and found parts from the hardware store. Here are some examples of Plo s details, and the new carved out Plo, revised from the last one.

The orange areas of Plo s eyes are from a plastic school folder, drilled with eye holes. The two breathing vents are made of a variety of parts, including coaxial cable connectors, pushpins, some fuses, and a modified sprinkler joint. I use the visual dictionary and any images I can find, then walk around the hardware store for a long time. There is always something to use, that is close to what you need. It s kind of how props used to be made anyway, found objects used in a new way. Once you get everything carved to this point, try the grinding bit on the dremel to smooth off the texture of the foam as mush as possible, at least if the aliens skin is smooth.

Now it is time to Poly-shield the mask. Poly shield is like a spray latex, used for tool handles and weather protecting items. At left is an example of the Poly-shield sprayed on a piece of foam.

Notice in the picture that the smoother part of the surface is from multiple sprays. You need a good saturation of the foam on the surface, then you can use a grinder bit to smooth out the bumps from the sanded foam, and then paint on the Polyshield for thicker layers.

Above are pictures of the Plo mask being sprayed, and coated with Poly-shield. Remember to coat the neck area aswell. ** the Polyshield does stretch when worn, but expect it to crack on the surface a little. I will talk about this in painting.

Above are the filters for the Plo Koon mask. Here you can see the use of found objects to make the equipment. Once you paint it the items are hardly recognisable. I used basic hardware spraypaint to paint the masks, although a flexible paint would be better. Here s why. Enamel paint will chip and crack on a rubber surface. I got around this by coating the painted mask and hands with CLEAR Polyshield. Now the cracking still occurs, but it is stable under the Polyshield. Since these masks are tight fitting, they have to stretch a bit to get over you head. This will cause cracks in the Polyshield that are unavoidable. But store bought latex masks also dry and crack overtime. I find this ways works really well, and I think looks pretty convincing.
Below are the finished Plo head and hands. I had to put the nose bridge on Plo s goggles yet but I did that today. I will get final pictures up with the whole costume for Episode III. I will also put Kit reference photos up later, as I am still working on the tentacles.

Some side notes are:

- the masks have velcro on the back of the necks that I sewed in to close the neck
- Underwire helps support Plo's tendrils
- The hands are made of cotton gloves with foam pieces glued onto them, then sprayed and painted like the masks
- Trial and error is key in this process
- Always measure before you cut
- Get adequate reference BEFORE you start
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phantom8 (Brian Anderson)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, that's so cool. i never would have thought to approach it that way!
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ionicdesign (Michael)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great. For some reason I cannot see the images, are they visible for others?

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jungilizt (Eddie)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can not see them either, might be a setting in browser.
Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
Jedi use their powers to defend and to protect.
Jedi respect all life, in any form.
Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
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Kay_Dee (Kathy)
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jungilizt wrote:
I can not see them either, might be a setting in browser.

This is because Maggie (Padawan's Guide) added a setting to her web site years ago to prevent people from linking to her photos on other web sites. She had so much traffic she was exceeding her bandwidth.

You have click on the link to the the tutorial at her web site, provided at the top of this thread.
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Last edited by Kay_Dee (Kathy) on Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great tutorial, esp. since its Dave Filoni's. My liking of him grows and grows. ^^
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the links, i've learned alot from this tutorial and hope that i'll make a good graphics using corel draw.
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