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How DO you make those Animal Costumes? (Fursuits)
Plastic Mesh Head How-To 
16th-Jul-2005 10:45 pm
Guh by Ghostmeast
Last edit: 1/29/07
Fixed images and added a little more information.

This is a fairly easy mesh tutorial. I used to make all my fursuit heads this way for several years (before I discovered how awesome balaclava is!)

While this tutorial features a canine headshape, this tutorial can EASILY be altered to be any other sort of creature by shortening the muzzle, changing the ears, etc.
This tutorial can also be altered to have a moving jaw, just don't add on a chin strap and make the lower jaw separate and attach either with rubber bands, elastic, brads, etc.

Tutorial - Fursuit Heads

Materials Needed:

-Several large sheets of plastic mesh canvas (used for needlepoint crafts), lots of hot glue sticks), a hot glue gun (either low or high temp, it really does not matter), some thin (1/2 inch) foam, a thicker chunk of foam (such as the seat cushions sold at JoAnn's), some ribbon, a large-eyed needle (eye wide enough for the ribbon), a marker, sharp scissors

Step One:

Cut out a fairly thick strip of mesh and wrap it around your head (around the eyes). Get it to where it fits around your head with some space to spare. Aim to make it bigger than your head is- hot glue and fur will shrink the mesh. And even if it turns out bigger than you need, padding a head is a LOT easier than trying to make it larger. So figure out how long the mesh needs to be and sew it together. You will most likely need to attach two pieces, as your typical large sheets of plastic mesh aren't quite long enough on their own.

Step Two:

Put the strip around your eyes again and mark where your eyes are with the marker. Doesn't have to be perfect, I usually just make a dot. Then take off the mesh and cut out large rectangles for eyeholes. Put it back on again and make sure your vision is clear. Also try and get clean edges on all the mesh you cut, this reduces the risk of odd poky bits inside your mask irritating you.

Step Three:

Cut out another long strip. Sew one side to the top of your mask, right above/between the eyes. This will be one of two 'crossbeams' that help make up the top of the head.

Step Four:

Pull the strip behind you to the opposite side of the mask. Find where it is snug, but not uncomfortable and mark it (you will have to wear it for this). Take off the mask and sew the strip to the mask where you marked. Cut off any excess hanging off the back. You should now have something like the picture above.

Step Five:

Now repeat the last two steps, having this new crossbeam go from ear to ear across your head.

Step Six:

Mark off how long the second crossbeam should be and then sew it onto the opposite side of the mask, cutting off the excess. Where the two crossbeams meet, hot glue them together for stability.

Step Seven:

Now we need to make a chin strap of sorts. Cut out another strip and sew one end to the bottom of your mask, right before the eyehole starts.

Step Eight:

Measure how long the chinstrap needs to be and sew it in place, cutting off the excess. Make sure it isn't too tight!
Now you have an awesome special-ed looking piece of headgear. AWESOME!!

Step Nine:

This is where things start getting interesting and you start making the mask actually look like your character. Sew a strip of mesh between the eyes and sew the end to the chinstrap. Bend and cut this piece of mesh to resemble the profile of your critter. The example critter I'm making is a coyote, but this design be easily modified to make another species. For instance, if I wanted a cat muzzle, I would shorten the strip and make it more sloped. At this stage, it's REALLY helpful to have reference pictures of your character, especially front and side views.

Step Ten:

Start adding on other features, like the basic skeleton for the ears, and a strip of mesh for the lower jaw, if you choose to make the character's mouth opened.
Again, look at your reference materials to check proportions and shapes.

Step Eleven:

Now it's time to start patching up the holes in the head. What I do is I take the 1/2 inch foam and push it against the openings from the inside and glue it into place. Then I cut off the excess. It makes for a very smooth curve that follows the head shape well.

Another take on this is to use foamies sheets instead of upholstrey foam to close the holes in the mask. I have never tried it that way, but it looks like it might make for a looser mask, which is great if you accidentally made yours too small!

Step Twelve:

Patch up the empty spaces on the sides of the muzzle in the same way. Make sure the foam piece is curved outwards so it gives the muzzle roundness. Also, be careful to make sure both sides are symmetrical (that's perhaps the hardest part, symmetry). Also start thinking about what you're going to do with the eyes. I started to cover the eyeholes with a double layer of black splatter screen mesh at this step. I always reccommend painting it black on the inside, because having to look through clear, white, or silver mesh will really hurt your eyes and limit your vision.

Step Thirteen:

More foaming work (also finished putting mesh over the eyes). Use pieces of cut foam to help shape the ears, the mouth, the cheeks... basically, flesh everything out and make it look three-dimensional. Figure out the most important features and make them stand out.

Step Fourteen:

Add on more details, like eyes, nose, and other foam details you want. If you're unsure about how something will look, just try it! It can easily be taken off if you don't like it, provided you didn't use a TON of hot glue.
You can even pin a piece in place with straight pins!

Step Fifteen:

Give the mask some finishing touches, like covering the nose (I do it before furring so any edges will be covered by the fur), finishing eyes, etc. You can also use the marker to draw in where the different colors of fur will go.

Your basic head construction is done! :) I would advise putting it on once more to make sure your vision is good, the mask is comfy, and it looks close enough to your character that you're satisfied.

And there ya have it. :)
17th-Jul-2005 04:15 am (UTC)
god I need to do a how to for my web site... some day i'll remember to
(Deleted comment)
17th-Jul-2005 01:59 pm (UTC)
They're foamies eyes. :) I might make a whole nuther tutorial on that eye making method in the future.
17th-Jul-2005 08:44 am (UTC) - cool stuff
thanks for shareing very helpful stuff
17th-Jul-2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
Excellent tutorial. I can now make a more comfortable mesh head.
17th-Jul-2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
Okay, Im impressed.

Here's a question, is it possible to cover the plastic mesh in fabric or something, it just seems like it'd rough against your skin and head. Also, how does it wear, meaning, are there places where, when you turn your head too fast, it rubs against?
18th-Jul-2005 04:05 am (UTC)
It isn't rough at all, but if you're concerned about it, it's relatively easy to line the head in felt or something soft. It'll make it hotter though.
When you turn your head, the mask stays on and turns with you. :) There isn't really a huge amount of extra room for it to swivel around and bump you.
19th-Jul-2005 09:14 pm (UTC)
This is very helpful! -Pokes the big purple eye- X3
15th-May-2009 12:17 pm (UTC)
awesome tutorial on using the plastic mesh
2nd-Jul-2009 06:01 am (UTC) - *luvs*
Does this jaw move when you try and talk or is it a closed mouth head? I started to make it and when I got to the jaw part, I got a little worried about that part. Thanks for this tutorial, it has a bit more detail than the other one I was looking at.
2nd-Jul-2009 11:11 am (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
Closed mouth!
2nd-Jul-2009 01:07 pm (UTC) - *luvs*
Dang, have any suggestions on how to make it moveable? I tried another plastic canvas tutorial and they basically skipped over the actual jaw construction mostly and I can't figure it out.
5th-Jul-2009 07:06 pm (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
Nope, moving jaws were never important to me.
1st-May-2010 11:14 pm (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
DUDE. I will love you forever, if you can make a tutorial on how to make eyes like that! I am in love with the concept of making foamie eyes. And I love you again, because I do think this is just the springboard I need to help me with my heads! :)
2nd-May-2010 04:30 am (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
I haven't used foamies for eyes in years, but the technique is exactly the same as plastic eyes. Plastic is way better though for a variety of reasons :)
2nd-May-2010 11:10 pm (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
plastic bowls? If you don't mind /where/ do you find them? I've looked at every Target, and Walmart, and I cannot find the right ones! I've found some of the same brand I've heard come recommended, but only in the clear plastic. ;___;

I'm almost at the point, where I will buy some from somebody, if there is anyone willing to do that. :)
3rd-May-2010 02:43 am (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
I don't use the bowls, I think it's silly to buy it just to cut it up. I use the sheets of plastic, it's called Styrene or Super Styrene and can be found at better hobby shops. Exact same plastic as the bowls, and you can get some curvature to it when you mount it in with hot glue, the heat makes it pliable.
25th-Jan-2011 05:18 am (UTC) - Re: *luvs*
hey there I found stuff like that on BeetleCatoriginals.com and Matrices.Net
Beetle Cat has a lot of tutorials for masks, and many different ways to make them
7th-Jul-2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
I can't seem to understand how to foam the muzzle.... Also foaming the inside of the head makes it really tight so I can't put it on...also my mask doesn't have an open mask and I'm making a feline muzzle

Edited at 2013-07-07 11:19 pm (UTC)
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