Make On The Cheap - Dollar Store Mask

You’ve probably never given those cheesy masks at the dollar store any thought. No way could anything that lame be worth wearing. But with just a few quick skills and some paint, you could have a custom mask that you made yourself and that actually looks really good.

The mask I found was a half Stormtrooper and half Bionicle ripoff all made out of an almost translucent white plastic. What’s great to look for in these masks is one that has a lot of contours and lines, something that looks like you could paint it in creative ways. With all the seam lines and segments this mask looked like something I could transform into something cool.

Let’s talk about what I used for this project aside from the mask. You’ll need some acrylic paint. You will want to go with acrylic because it’s water-based so you can thin it with just water. With this paint you will be able to do “washes” on the surface and then use a paper towel to wipe some away. This helps to give the finish a weathered look. You’ll also need some basic paint brushes. Sandpaper is needed just to rough up the surface so the paint will adhere. The plastic is smooth and your paint won’t stick too well if you don’t give it a little sanding first. Other than creativity and patience there’s not much more you need to have unless you get a little fancy (we’ll talk about that later).

You’ll have to pick out the colors of paint that you want so just take a look at the mask for a little bit and figure out do you want to go dark and scary, metallic and sci-fi or any other style you think will work with the mask. Also you don’t have to follow the weathering I do here. You may want to make it clean and shiny. I just opted to go with the battle-worn look with mine. So if you are going to dirty it up make sure to include some black acrylic paint to your list so you can add some grime.

Now that you have your colors picked out you can start to sand the surface of the mask. Not too hard - just enough to rough it up a little. You may want to keep some places smooth so the paint doesn’t adhere as good to give the mask some depth. Again that part is up to your creativity.

Here’s the key to projects like this: It’s good to experiment and OK to make mistakes. Give yourself the go-ahead to screw up (maybe pick up another mask or two just for that reason). This picture is my initial try at using watered down black paint to weather the mask. I hated the way it looked and wound up going a whole different direction with my design. Mistakes lead to learning and there is nothing to be frustrated or mad about when you are learning.

If you are going for a weathered look, mix a little of your paint with water and brush some on the mask. Just wait 10 seconds or so and then take a paper towel and wipe some of the paint off. Remember that you can easily add more paint on but it’s a lot harder to take paint off. It is best to always work in layers. If you want it brighter or darker just keep brushing on and wiping a little off to give a look of scratches or worn paint. Experiment!

My mask had all these panel lines that I wanted to paint black to give them definition so I just took a brush and carefully painted within the grooves. If a little gets outside the line just quickly wipe with a paper towel. Next, I added some chrome paint to the front of my mask by painting it on in light layers to avoid any drips.

Now that your mask is painted you may want to dirty it up a bit. You can take that black acrylic paint and add a good amount of water to it. Using the same wash technique as before just brush a little on the mask and quickly wipe with a paper towel. We’re just looking to give it a little grime so a little goes a long way. Keep doing that until you’re happy with the results.

I went a step further with my weathering by adding some battle scars to the mask. I used an X-Acto blade to cut a hole at the top of the mask and then took a pair of pliers to carefully crack pieces off to make it look like it was hit over the head with something big. I also took a Dremel tool with a sanding drum to the other side to scuff it up, indicating another big hit. This kind of detail is not needed to make your dollar store mask into something worth a lot more but I wanted to add a little more story to this poor guy.

After checking out the picture above I hated the way my eyes and face showed through the openings of the mask so I came up with a cheap and easy solution. Many landscape fabrics (or weed barriers) are easy to see through and can be found at any home gardening store. I cut out a few small pieces in the sizes to cover the holes in my mask and just used some hot glue to glue them in place. Now I feel a lot better about how it looks on my face and I can still see and breathe (which is always a plus)!

And there you have it! With a few dollars in paint and little of your time and creativity you can make a cheap, ugly dollar store mask into something you’d be happy to wear or display. As always have fun and don’t get discouraged. If you have any questions or comments add them below or Tweet me @WJKCreations.