This werewolf costume is not only my greatest work but also the star of a Werewolf movie idea soon to be shared on Indigogo and Kickstarter, called Silver Willows.
“Silver Willows is just a young woman who is only trying to lead a normal life as any other person does, however Silver’s life is anything but normal…after all; how can life ever possibly be normal for a Werewolf? For twelve years Silver has carried the legendary curse, believing it to be nothing more than a burden, but now things are about to change. An evil beast that terrorised the countryside of Gévaudan 247 years ago has mysteriously come to England to continue its murderous rampage. With the number of deaths rapidly increasing with each passing night and the risk of being exposed getting greater by the hour; it is now up to Silver to finally put her own inner beast to good use and put an end to her new foe’s killing spree, before she becomes the murder suspect. But this time it\’s going to take Silver a lot more than the full moon to overcome this ancient creature with an insatiable hunger for human flesh…”
The Silver Willows project started four years ago as part of my University studies at Leeds Metropolitan university, inspired by many old-school werewolf movies/shows such as Dog Soldiers, Bad Moon, and Being Human (UK version) etc; my goal is to raise enough money to make this movie idea a reality as well as produce more of these brilliant masks in the near future.
Measurements and sculpting
I measured the size and distance of the eye-holes using a herculite cast of my face to get the measurements right so that I wouldn’t have bad vision or discomfort. I made two face-casts when one of them didn’t come out thick enough, so now the leftover face-cast was a spare just in case anything went wrong with the first one.
After making a cast of my face I started building up on it; first I measured out all the key parts of my face (size and position of my mouth, size of my eyes and distance between them, etc) and marked them out with a green marker-pen, next I looked up a real wolf’s face-measurements and compared them to my face-measurements then marked with a blue pen where a wolf’s muzzle/eyes/nose/etc would be, after that I looked up other people’s mask-blanks to see how other mask-makers had positioned their eye-holes and such then marked out places where I would put my mask’s eye-holes and glass eyes etc. Once I finished the measuring and marking, I got started on forming the shape of the top and bottom jaws with some wire (by bending wire around the edges of my jawset and nose-piece) and attaching the wire-skeleton of the snout to the face-cast in the marked-out spaces. Once the skeleton was secure and in the right place; I built up the muzzle’s base with gum-tape and a coating of PVA glue to make the muzzle sturdy enough to be covered in modroc and clay.
The measurements weren’t perfect, but accurate enough to work with when the time for sculpting and attaching of the glass-eyes came.
After building up the skeleton and base for the snout and muzzle I started sculpting all the details onto the face using Modroc and nylon air-dry clay; including snarling face-wrinkles, raising lips, and exaggerated ‘monster-brows’ over the eyes and forehead (a typical ‘must-have’ for the traditional vicious werewolves from the horror-movie classics). My own personal philosophy about inhumane/unnatural snarly expressions: a werewolf without snarls or any monstrous features at all, is NOT a werewolf. I also sculpted the parts where the hinges will go for the moving jaw mechanism.
Creating the mould and mask-blank
My attempt at silicone failed (it wouldn’t cure for some strange reason despite following the instructions) so I made a latex mould instead. I made a modroc mother-mould to hold the latex mould steady inside when slush-casting, I tried following various tutorials online and in books as accurately as I could but I couldn’t seem to attach any ‘keys’ to the latex mold (look on google for info about keys in mask-moulds). However my mask in the end didn’t require keys as the eye-sockets acted like holders themselves and with the snout being longer than most masks it must’ve held better…but still I can’t really explain why my mould works so well without keys.
With the slush-cast mould I made a mask-blank out of smooth-cast 300 resin from www.smooth-on.com (very good website for finding the right materials for costumes and props). Once cured and removed from the mould I attached the jawset and hinges to the blank.
After casting I added the LED light assembly and eyes to the mask, however the LED lights were very tricky…wires had to be replaced twice and switch removed due to a broken connector. Once the lights were fixed the eyes were attached to them and then attached to the mask.
Afterwards I attached open-cell polyurethane foam aka upholstery foam for padding to the face and made the ears, even made a nice epoxy bottom-lip for extra realism, not to mention black netting in the eye-sockets to hide my eyes from view otherwise seeing my real eyes through the sockets would ruin the illusion of a real creature.
Next was the adding of the fur. The face was fully furred, shaved, and air-brushed to make the snarling and frowning features stand out more as much of the detail was lost under plain black fur. Besides real black wolves aren’t completely black anyway if you pay attention to their fur; they do have specks of brown and grey here and there, especially around the muzzle and beneath the eyes. If I made the grey parts too strong however then it’d look like it had a grey muzzle with old age rather than just some shading-tones, which I didn’t want because the werewolf in the movie this costume’s mainly for is supposed to be WAY younger than the werewolf who bit the protagonist (but that’s the only story-spoiler you’re getting out of me!) Attached the ears and whiskers once the fur was finished, and then the mask was done.
I also made a set of gloves with a spandex-based underneath instead so that that they’re skin-tight and not baggy for realistic appearance, have longer fingers, a little grey airbrushing on the palms so that the paw-pads stand out better, fur on the palms longer than the fur on the back of the hands to hide any stitches as well as look more animalistic, milliput epoxy used around the claw-rims instead of glue this time to look cleaner, and perhaps the most noticeable trait; big sharp claws. With such claws the gloves look quite big thus match the mask perfectly. Also the mobility of the gloves is brilliant, I can even use a computer mouse and type with the gloves on.
The final finished product; lights, camera, action!
I am so very proud of my first moving jaw mask…such a vast major improvement from my first mask attempt in college, with a very impressive jaw-movement (as seen in the Silver Willows trailer) and airbrushed paintjob, eyes work excellently and the black-netting is placed so cleverly behind the eye-sockets that you can’t even it let alone my real eyes (so nope I did not ever need to photoshop the tearducts at all to make them look that dark).
Had a lot of fun filming the costume in action and received rather positive responses. While filming on Campus (in broad daylight IN SUMMER, might I add…super embarrassed at the time) a passing member of university’s staff saw me and wanted a photo, and already out and about with cameras I said “sure why not?” He was very shocked when I told him that I made the mask and gloves myself, then again everybody around here is when they actually see it in action. Everybody else was walking by, staring and or making werewolf-puns. I just kept saying I was getting paid for this; just to avoid further embarrassment…it was 11am on a hot sunny day with everybody playing and sunbathing in the campus’ park, OF COURSE I’m going to be mega embarrassed dressed as a werewolf even if it IS for university-filming purposes. Although it was funny when a squirrel wouldn’t stop staring at me when I walked passed it (didn’t even run, I think it actually dropped its crisp/potato-chip that it had found when it saw me), and somebody’s labrador-cross kept following me, bouncing around me and sniffing my tail in confusion. I wish we’d got that on camera while we were filming, because for a dog to actually confuse me with a real canine is a big compliment to me. I gave my entire on-screen trailer presentation to my tutors…WEARING the full costume on the day! (Tried to get a video of me sneaking up on them from behind while they were watching the trailer, but my boyfriend had the camera at the wrong angle so you couldn’t see me and he started recording too soon so it ran out of film anyway). Tutors said it was the first time anybody had presented like that and they loved it!
I really am looking forward to wearing this again for upcoming conventions and Halloween, it’s going to be a blast!
Here’s a youtube video of the costume in action…