Author Topic: After a 20 year hiatus of SFX, I want to start making masks. I got Questions...  (Read 813 times)

morbidboy1974

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This is something that I wrote on 10/11, the day before my birthday on my FB page. It's about getting back on the SFX horse after 20 something years and wanting to start making small batches of masks. I hope it makes a good read and I hope to get some good advice from others here.

Some short info before reading, to clear up any confusion: Currently married, owned a business in MN which we had to close, and had to move back to CA to live with my in-laws. Now looking for work to move on and move out. In advance, Thanks for reading. Ok, here we go...

10/11/16
One day, after we get back on our feet, with a new job and a new place to call home I think I would like to make my own masks, not to make a million dollars or anything. Just a hobby, something to take to conventions to share my talents with fellow mask/monster makers.

I'm going to try to keep this short. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up and become a special effects artist. As a little kid (around 7, 1981) I was scared of horror films but my uncle took me aside and showed me via various copies of Famous Monster, Fangoria, and Starlog magazines that all it was is men in rubber suits, puppets, and people wearing intricate makeup effects. From that day I was hooked. I watched all the horror movies that I loved, and with very little money practiced drawing and sculpting everyday, practiced different painting techniques on years of monster model kits. My grandparents which raised me didn't understand my interest in horror, art, and makeup. Was so frustrated that I wrote legendary makeup artist Dick Smith (RIP) with my adolescent wows and sent me letters (one for me of encouragement, which I still have to this day and one to grandparents explaining that my horror interest was a positive thing). From that point, every birthday my grandparents renewed my subscription to Fangoria. Every Christmas I would ask for the latest monster makeup book. I did very well in my high school ceramics class doing "extra projects", which sadly got stolen all the time. Not the best student, grade wise but was able to win the Pell Grant in my graduating year (I still thank you Paul Pistore for that letter of recommendation you sent) and went to Joe Blasco Makeup Center on a full grant. After graduating the school (at the time, the youngest ever), it was hard for me to find work in my field. Because of low self esteem issues, displacement due to the Northridge earthquake (6.7mag, 1994), sans drivers license, a bad post high school breakup, and the fact that every major production decided to use this new technology called CGI (Computer Generated Image) it was hard for me to find any work for something that I trained in my short lifetime to become. I was lucky to get the occasional contract via the school for a day-week paid internships or student film here and there but with no true source of income and the dread and depression of failing I had to find work in the retail market and give up on my dream.

Now about 25 years later, a day before my 42 birthday I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life. I won't bore you with the details but because of years physical illness (PSA) and a gap in employment it's been hard for me to find current employment, which unfortunately leads me to serious depression most days. My wife Annie is my rock, always encouraging me to strive for better and even though I've made mention that I'll take any job at this point for us to move out of her parent home and to move on with our future she doesn't want me to settle. She always talks about how talented and creative I am and even though I know that there's a perfect retail/office job for me, she still knows that I still need that creative outlet in my life to be happy.

A couple of months back (April if I remember correctly) I took Annie to her first horror convention, Monsterpalooza. It goes without saying that this wasn't my first but it's been awhile. I was very excited to be there, especially because of her work schedule and at the time only being wheelchair-abled it was amazing that found a open window to make it. Once again I would like to thank my wife for saying "NO, WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS!" when all odds said that we couldn't (for time and $$$ issues). Not only that it was alot of fun but it was nice to see a new generation of artists showing their crafts, new lines of makeups and supplies that surpassed my old thrown together kit of brushes, greasepaints, and fake teeth. Yeah, there were some visitors that were showing off in hopes of employment in this nitch field but alot of vendors where just there to show of their labors of love; of masks, model kits and sculptures. I don't know if it was because of me in my previous handicapped state, my mature age or the fact that this hobby/geek culture is now considered mainstream due to shows like SyFy's Face-Off but the overall social climate was alot different than I remembered; alot friendlier. We saw some amazing works from various maskmakers and full sized movie monsters. Even though we had no money for such bobbles I made sure to pick up a business card/flyer from every table.

One thing I have to say I very much envy today's youth with the accessibility to anything via the internet. In my teen years we first had to respond to ads in the back of monster magazines, go to the library to do research, look up dealers or supplies via phonebook or use the hollywood entertainment industry standard "411 book", go to conventions to be put on mailing lists, visiting any costume shop, or even sneak a peek at Octobers edition of Playboy magazine for a monster mask ad (in their Hot Gifts list near the back). Now if you want to lets say a Jason Hockey Mask, all you have to do is type it in Google, give your credit card info, and wait 3-7 days for them to show up on your doorstep. Back in my day, Old Man Spirtos had to wait 6-8 weeks just to get a black and white xeroxed mask catalog in hopes to find one for sale. Sorry, getting back on track, the internet is a great tool. After the convention I literately spend days looking up new artists, sculptures, model kits, masks and other conventions and for months now I've been following the same. I guess after all these years my pilot light for makeup effect didn't blow out, just laid dormant for the right time in my life to re-experience again.

MAN, sorry for all my rambles. To the ones still reading I applaud you. So currently with the love of my wife, my current regiment of medication, and maturity I do feel like this is a hobby that I would like to pursue. Like I've mentioned before it's been years since I poured a batch of RD Foam Latex in a Ultracal plaster mold... Good god, I wonder if they still make any of those products? Anyways I feel with the help of the internet I'll be able to get back on the bike that I left in my metal garage 20-something years ago and figure out what it takes to create new monster masks. Even though its going to be pricey I would like to start collecting the Stan Winston School tutorial dvds (When I start working. BTW thank god that they have 15%-30% sales almost every month for these, which I get via email.). I know that there's tons of amateur how-to youtube videos out there but I would like to see how it's properly done by experts and then later view easier homebrew methods at my leisure. I'm sure that mask making is still in my skillset but I'll need to figure out how to airbrush. Had one as a kid but was honestly too young to properly use and take care of one. I just hope that I'm not too old to pick it up. I kick ass at model painting, using various techniques but to truly make something look lifelike, an airbrush is the way to go. Once Annie and I finally get our lives back on track I would like to make this happen. Like I said, not really for profit but just to have fun, relax and share my artistic talents with others... Honestly I just want to be happy with something that I love.


So far thanks once again for reading. Currently my wife and I live in a small house in Santa Monica, CA with four other family memebers. it's a tight fit but if I wanted to start sculpting/molding/painting I do have garage space to do so. As you have read it's been years since I've made any molds or prosthetic pieces. I've only done some light research in the last couple and glad that it's more or less the same process that I did back in the 90's. My question is since I currently have no materials can you guys give me a quick rundown of current supplies and must-have equipment, good items to make things easy, and where to find a good list of vendors (either in Los Angeles driving distance or online). Any info or advice about anything would be greatly appreciated. Also I wouldn't mind seeing any cool pics of workstation garage set ups of fellow members, just to give me good ideas how to make use of my limited space. Once again thanks for reading, Sage James Spirtos

morbidboy1974

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First, just as a refreasher I was thinking about purchasing the Stan Winston dvds on Maskmaking and Airbrush painting. I thought it would be a good place to start. Any suggestions on a decent airbrush to buy? I do have ideas of what my first masks that I would like to make some horror and some of a cartoony nature based on some of my old t-shirt designs. Sadly I don't have alot of examples online and the bulk of my sketches are still in storage but I'll try my best to post some designs that I have laying around for you guys to see.

morbidboy1974

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This is one Mask that I would like to make. It's my Lil' Devil design for my 52' Ford. So far I have ideas for a she-devil, frank, wolfman, and zombie; all with a 30's cartoon look to them.




morbidboy1974

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A shirt design that I made for threadless awhile back. I really like the zombie with a big buck tooth and X's for eyes. I would add a cartoon bite on the ear and scalp showing pink brain matter... maybe with a worm poping out.


morbidboy1974

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morbidboy1974

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More random make ideas. Sorry I don't have more to show right now. These are more random drawings that I could find in my old photobucket account.

renders

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Hey there!

Just wanted to ping back to offer any assistance, we are about the same age or so - I'm only 4 years younger so can relate about many things you posted about growing up in 80's, the passion and interest to do something in the field out of school but experiencing how hard it can be.
I can say I have friends in the industry who have survived making a living via art, creature design, spfx and even for them it was and still is difficult. I needed to get coin for school so enlisted at 18, then focused on the computer industry and only recently got back into mask making. So, we have some things in common and I hope I can help.

Regarding stanwinston school of charector arts, I was one of the 3 students that was part of the filmed live video class for the latex mask making course so will say it's great! Matt Winston is amazing, Tim Martin did a strong job with the class. Pick up the dvd or stream access. In fact, if you can swing the first monthly access anything  tier it's a great way to get some great online accessible steaming training of very high quality. I'd target the Tim Martin latex mask making course, anything with Casey Love (one of the best mask makers IMHO) for design and painting (his team up painting demo video with Tim Gore is a must have), Jordu Schell and the painting vid with Steve Wang to get you started.

I have to say, for sculpture anatomy and portrait study to help inform creature design Philippe Faraut http://philippefaraut.com/ is my highest recommendation of sculpture study to get started. I have studied briefly at his studio in NY state and wish to go back asap, learned so much in a brief time with him.

Here is a quick pic of my current lil shop to share my personal setup and projects in play (sorry for mess):

« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 12:43:39 AM by renders »

DRLADY

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Wow, that's quite a story, morbidboy! (And yes, I read the whole thing!) I like your drawing/character design style and I hope you will indeed get some of your own masks conjured up.
I don't imagine I personally have anything to offer (that many others don't also know), but if ever you can think of anything I can do that might be helpful, feel free to call on me, okay? :)

morbidboy1974

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thanks guys, it means alot. please find me on FB. Sage James Spirtos

MarkEnright

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Check out Distortions/Ed Edmonds' monster lab videos on YouTube, he has one on making a 3/4 mask and they are pretty budget friendly.

-Mark

morbidboy1974

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Just subscribed to it. Thanks!

morbidboy1974

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Currently watching the Distortions Unlimited Monster Lab videos. Ed Edmunds is the Bob Ross of monster mask making. Very cool and soothing.