Now came time to seal the foam to prepare it for painting.
Obviously, using the heat gun on the foam to shape it had already heat sealed the foam for me, speeding up the sealing process. For this particular build, I’m focusing on using materials I already had, so I decided to go with the white glue/water mixture method for sealing the foam.
To do this, I just use Tacky glue, which is my favorite glue to use for bonding foam, paper, and cardboard. The mixture is usually around 2 parts glue and 1 part water, but you may need to adjust the ratio for your applications. I like to make sure that the mixture is thick enough that it won’t run or drip too much, but thin enough to spread easily. I just use a regular paintbrush to apply the mixture. If you prefer, Mod Podge seals foam in a very similar fashion, and you don’t need to make up any mixture.
I seal the backside as well as the front and edges. I only needed to do about 3-4 coats on either side, but if you don’t heat seal the foam or if you use a thinner mixture, you’ll need more coats. It’s very important that the seal is allowed to dry completely between each coat to ensure the smoothest finish. The first couple of coats should dry up fairly quickly, but the more coats you add, the longer each coat will take to dry.
After the seal had dried, it was ready to paint! I like to use acrylics for hand painting. I started off by giving the whole mask a base coat of color. Adam’s mask doesn’t seem like it is perfectly white, so I mixed a little bit of gray into the white paint to get the look I wanted. To get complete coverage, I had to do a few coats. The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly, so waiting between coats isn’t too bad.
The paint accentuated some of the gaps between the layers around the edges of the mask. To fix this problem, I carefully cut out any paint that filled these gaps with precision knife. I then filled the gaps with Tacky glue and pressed the layers together until the glue dried enough to hold itself.
Once I had complete coverage, it was time to fill in the design color. I just used plain red acrylic paint. The design didn’t open up as much as I had hoped from the heat gun, and I think that this was because I used thinner foam. As a result, the paint filled in parts of the design. When I make this again, I’ll be using thicker foam.
For the final touch, I wanted to make the mask look a little grungy. I dry brushed some gray paint across the surface and in lower areas to create some shadows. The easiest way to do this is to dab a little paint on a napkin and rub it into the napkin a little bit. Give it a second to start to dry, and then brush the paint in the desired areas. Make sure to have some water or a damp napkin nearby to quickly rub off any paint you don’t want. This works great to lighten up thicker areas to give a subtle effect.Be careful with that, though, because the water can wash off the other layers of paint too. This can be prevented by spraying a clear coat of seal in between the layers to protect the areas you don’t want to wash off. But for this particular project, I didn’t feel like it was necessary, as this was a practice piece.
For being a practice piece, I’m really happy with how this turned out! This was a great learning experience. I now plan on correcting some spots on the pattern and making a digital version of it to be available for download. I also plan on making this mask again with the corrected pattern and doing a video tutorial on the process.