Red Nebula Studios

Fantasy art, costumes, crafts,
and creative endeavors.

Garrus mask neck building

Last time, we covered how I painted my mask. This blog will go over how I created the musculature, skin, and scales on the neck in a flexible and believable manner.

Sketches showing the two layers of the neck covering.

First off, I apologize that I got so into what I was doing that I completely forgot to take pictures for a little while here! Hopefully the drawing above should make what I did clear. The top two drawings show the first layer of the neck, the black spandex you've seen in previous blog posts. The second set of drawings show the vertical pieces of foam I attached on either side to imitate neck muscles. I was planning to build up foam on the back of the neck as well, as you can see in the drawing, but that turned out to be unnecessary.

Neck build - unscarred side. Neck skin experiments.

Here's the point that I realized I REALLY should stop and get some pictures! The foam neck muscles were attached directly to the inner spandex layer, and then I created a skin to cover it over.

After a lot of fussing around with different materials, I decided the best way to keep the neck nice and flexible, as well as breathable, was to make the skin out of cotton spandex as well. To get the effect of skin, I tried a few experiments. The most successful was the lower-right portion of the second picture. I sponged a couple of layers of latex directly onto the fabric, being careful to leave gaps in between where the spandex could retain its stretch properties. I then used acrylic paint to color the skin, again applied with a sponge.

Neck build - scarred side.

On the other side, I wanted to make sure and put a lot of detail work into those scars he is so proud of! The technique is almost identical to the left side of his neck, except here I strategically added folds and wrinkles, securing them in place to the fabric underneath with little dots of hot glue. The paint job was also similar, latex and acrylic paint, but here I took care to accentuate the highlights and shadows to make his scars stand out.

Pouring the molds for the neck scales in tinted latex. The tinted neck scales, fresh from their molds.

I regret I didn't get pictures of the sculptures I made for his neck scales, but I think you've seen enough of my other sculpting and molding processes to know the gist of it by now. In the photos above, you can see the first latex scales I cast pinned in place. I soon decided that, because the neck scales needed to be able to stand up to a lot of flexing, I would recast them in grey-tinted latex instead.

Lower neck scales, partially attached and painted.

Here, the lower scales have been painted and partially attached to the neck. While test fitting, the scales are just tied on at a few points with thread. Once I'm sure I have the placement correct, I sew the entire top edge on and secure it with hot glue. The sides are left loose for placement of the smaller scales.

Attaching the smaller neck scales. Attaching the smaller neck scales.

I've now attached the rest of the smaller neck scales. I cast them from molds I made quite a while ago, for this guy! Shh - our little secret. :)

In these pictures, I've just pinned the top two large scales in place. In the final build, I decided the second-to-top scale would be attached to the neck, but the topmost scale would be attached directly to the mask. The velcro attaching the top portion of the mask to the bottom is partially hidden under it.

Smaller neck scales, painted. The larger neck scale plates are now fully attached on the top and sides.

Once the small scales were positioned and painted up, I attached down the sides of each of the larger neck scales. The bottom part of each scale is left loose, which allows the scales to overlap eachother as I move my head around.

Test fit for movement with the neck scale plates attached. Test fit for movement with the neck scale plates attached. Test fit for movement with the neck scale plates attached.

I'm wearing the mask in these pictures... and also taking the photos. In case you're wondering about the awkward angles! This is just to test out the maneuverability of the neck, especially those scales on the back. Nice and flexible!

That little white "tab" is the velcro. I didn't bother cutting it down because I would shortly be replacing it with black velcro, to better disguise it under the neck plate.

Replacing the skin under the neck for better look and flexibility. The new skin under the neck has been painted to match.

Overall, I was very pleased with the neck, except for one flaw. The area beneath my chin didn't look right, and wasn't as flexible as I needed it to be to move comfortably. I cut out a portion of the exterior neck skin and replaced it. The first picture shows the replacement piece, and it has been painted up to match in the second photo.

Test fit of the nearly-completed mask. Test fit of the nearly-completed mask. Test fit of the nearly-completed mask.

There we go! Nice and flexible. I felt it was extremely important that the neck look and move believably, else what was the point of all that work moving the position of the face away from my own human head underneath? In doing the neck this way, I was able to come up with a few new ideas that I can use for other projects as well!

Test fit of the nearly-completed mask. Test fit of the nearly-completed mask.

Here are a couple more pictures from the back, showing how those neck scales are fitted to allow for as much flexibility as I need in moving my head around.

Note that the eyes in these last few photos are STILL not the final eyes I used for Garrus! The final mask post focuses (heh) entirely on the eyes, and how many iterations they went through before they finally looked right!

Posted by Sarrah Wilkinson on 7/16/2013 - Page last updated: 7/22/2013

Keywords: costume, cosplay, mask, Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect, turian, neck, scales, foam, painting, acrylic

Linked to: Mass Effect 3 - Garrus Vakarian