How Jamie Wolf and many other canines came to be

Rewritten, re-edited, and perhaps understandable now.

Jamie Wolf originally started as a character of mine, in assorted free-hand drawings etc. While I'm not very good at drawing, I managed to get a good idea at what he 'looked like' with sketches. After a few weeks of drawing him, I decided that I'd like to make him a reality by creating a fursuit.  I'd worn many costumes before, and this was my chance to make my own costume.

I asked many fursuiters for some hints, in particular Torrle Wolf, Yippee Coyote, JAWolf, FrryFox, and AJSkunk. They taught me many things that I took note of and tried to put to use.   If you run into them, say hi for me.
A brief pause.
  Nothing in this tutorial should harm you, IF YOU PLAY IT SAFE. There is a possibility that someone out there is dumb enough to not take the proper precautions, and will end up harming themselves in some way. Crazy, I know, but some people out there just don't think of the consequences of not being sensible. At the very least, have a window open and a fan blowing across your work (preferably away from you) when you're gluing and painting things.

    Legal stuff :
By reading further than this disclaimer, you hereby acknowlege that I, the author of this information, am not responisble for any way for any injuries, harm, or damages incurred by using the information on this webpage or any other files I've created. If you choose to use the information contained within this file or any other on this website, you do so at your own risk.
   Ignorance is no excuse.

 Please don't post this file or alter it in any way without telling me, by the way. I like to keep track of where my stuff is on the internet, and I don't appreciate plagerism.


This article is a tutorial of sorts on how to make a generic canine using plastic meshing. It is not *the* correct way to do it, nor is there *any* correct way. There are probably x different ways of making a head out of meshing, and this is just ONE of them.   (Where x is a very large number)

I'm always on the lookout for a better way to use meshing, tricks and whatnot, so if you know of one, email me!

Designing the head

After scanning the 'net for a few construction articles, I decided to use Torrle Wolf's plastic mesh technique for constructing the head after modifying his style somewhat and making a few 'improvements' on his design.
 Feel free to improve on what I've done. That's what keeps fursuiting moving forwards.

Properties of materials:
Lightweight, semi-flexible, doesn't breathe at all. A bit like plastic meshing, except that sweat ruins it, cardboard will hold a 'fold' crease, and cardboard doesn't breathe (no holes, you see).
Flexible depending on thickness, not very breathable (and usually quite hot). More suitable for complex solid shapes, etc.
Fake acrylic fur. Usually does not stretch, or stretches very little. Rough backing, and nice soft hairs (usually).  Go for the nice soft dense-haired stuff, 'cause it feels really nice (and looks better than really sparse fur, which looks like thick fabric with hairs glued to it every now and then).
Plastic embroidery meshing
Lightweight, semi-flexible, very breathable, suitable for structure and hollow or thin shapes. Hard to make nicely curved complex shapes.  Can break along frequently flexed areas.
Stretch fur
Very, very, very expensive. Is it worth the money? I've no idea.. I haven't made a suit with stretch fur, and I doubt I'll ever afford it. :)
Some hints on the structure / design of the head:
  • If it is a 'canine', you will want the eyes to be angled at 45* from straight ahead....this is so it looks good from both front and side view. This is easiest done by making the eyeplate (see below) curve with your head shape.
  • If it is a 'toony Wolf / Fox, then the cheekruffs and ears will be over-emphasised (eg: probably really big). I tried to make Jamie Wolf's cheek-ruffs fairly small, but large enough to give the head *some* shaping. The ears are 4.5 inches tall. (The angle they are mounted on displaces their height quite a bit)
  • Wolves have very 'square' muzzles. When you are making a fursuit, I find it is best to go for the most stereotypical form of that animal. (Like Artic Foxes. People *will* confuse them as Wolves, Huskies, and any other animal with grey / white fur.)
Foxes generally have pointy noses. A good construction article on a Fox using plastic mesh is FrryFox's. Chase the links about the page, (Under "How the hell did I do that?". His words, not mine!).

I've seen lots of brown Wolves, and grey Wolves (like mine). Also, black Wolves and white Wolves, although I usually get confused with black Wolves.   (Black kinda eats the detail up). My muzzle is 130mm long, BTW. Rather small (compared to Torrle Wolf's huuuuuuuge muzzle!), but the fur I used adds a lot of bulk to the shape, making it quite larger.

   Oh yeah.

Remember that. Knowing it will come in very handy.  You gotta make sure your head's structure accounts for the thickness of the fur. (ie: you won't be able to see out of your head's eyes if you don't account for the thickness of your muzzle's fur)


 I suggest to anyone making a mask like this, you really have to do lots of drawings of what you plan to be the finished result, from all angles. This is so that you know EXACTLY what you want in the end, and can continually keep aiming for that as you build it.   For my cheetah I had photos of everyone's favourite kind of spotted cat pinned up all around my work area, to keep a good visual reference to what their heads look like. It gives you something to aim for.

A 3-view of the head (top, front, side) works wonders, too.

I then traced my RL head's profile onto a large sheet of paper (stickytape two pieces of A4 together if you have to) using a pencil. I imagine that these days, with digital cameras and Paint Shop Pro and whatnot, you could get all high-tech and emulate the pen and paper type action.

I went over my pencil tracings with a good pen. I prefer not to use black, because it can interfere with the rest of the planning. Do what you feel is best, because it doesn't really matter what colour you use as long as there is contrast between the outline of your head and the mask's head.

   You now grab a pencil, and begin to sketch roughly what you feel looks   best for your furry's head. Don't go overboard with details, or even the fur. Just the outline will do fine for now. Try to keep the proportions of your furry's head right, while sticking to your own head's general proportions. If you make the head too big, or worse, too small, you'll have a lot of fun working out ways to fit it over your head right. It is very important to get a good idea of what your  mask + head look like from the side, front and top. This will help your planning greatly.

Go over the mask's outline with a pen now, making sure to use a different colour than before. After you have drawn your furry's head over your own, and are satisfied with the look, we come to the fun bit.

 Structure Designing

You should have a couple of copies of the basic head outline. If you don't, now would be a good time to pay a visit to  your local library or even the place you work, and make some photocopies of the 3-views. Or you could just trace over your old ones to make copies. Cheap and simple. :)

 Grab a pencil, and add small *outline* details such as cheek-ruffs,  the eye shape (remember, you have to look out of the suit's eyes! You don't want 2mm slits to look out of.. Nor do you want a walking set of eyes!) but don't go overboard.

 Use your pencil to draw the general structure of the head, eg: any head-straps to hold it in the right position on your own head, cheek-ruff areas, the muzzle, ears, etc.

********************* FIX THESE IMAGE LINKS *****************
JW1's furless (and earless) head.

JW2's furless head

I tried to "layer" the construction. Here's a list of the "layers" of the diagram that I used, in order.
#1:  My own head, with the outline of Jamie Wolf's head drawn around it
#2:  The plastic meshing straps that would hold it onto my head, the "eyeplate", the muzzle, etc. This stage is the bare minumum if you want to build a cardboard prototype to try out.
#3:  Finishing the muzzle, adding secondary strapping, and cheek ruffs. Generally trying to "beef up" the structure. Remember, if you are using long fur, like for a Wolf or Bear, the fur will hang off the structure to an extent. This means that the finished head may be a little larger externally than you originally expected. Again, FUR ADDS BULK.

That's the structuring done, and if you are happy with what you see, go and grab as much cereal-box cardboard as you can find. You'll need tons of the stuff  (...grab as much cereal-box cardboard, or thin cardboard, as you can find. The thick stuff will not even begin to cooperate well with you, as it has a mind of its own...)


You've got one of two choices here..  Fast-track the making of the head by using plastic meshing (and risk running up a huge bill for wasting mesh by making mistakes), or use cheap cardboard to make a prototype, then try to deconstruct the cardboard and use it as a set of templates for a meshing version. *pant pant pant*
  In the interest of simplicity, I'm going to assume you're using cardboard to do this the first time 'round, so don't get upset when you don't see me referring to the meshing. :)

This is the fun bit. Go and grab a big, *sharp* pair of scissors (if you are young, go get an adult to help, if you're old but young at heart, remember that 'legal stuff' up the top? *grin*), a large stapler (although, small ones are great for the later stages when you are trying to squeeze the stapler through exisiting structure), a mirror, and a desk that you can sit at and cut out bits of cardboard without having to maneuver around piles of ASB comics and SOUTH FUR LANDS fanzines.

My work area (what a mess!). The mirror should be close-by to the desk, because you'll be really anxious to see what you look like when you have the cardboard mask on! And it's also very useful because you can quickly check how things look.....where things should go etc.

Please Note:    These diagrams aren't to scale.. They're just supposed to be a rough guide. :)

Plastic meshing eyeplate.
  The Eyeplate.

Start off by making the eye-plate. This is the "central hub" of the mask. It is where most other straps come to meet, or are at least attached in some way to it. The eyeplate is simply a piece of cardboard large enough to accomidate two full size eyeholes.....not too much larger than required, though.

(A good description of an example eyeplate would be the 3D glasses that you use to watch old '3D' movies)

Put some holes in it (the shape of the eyes, lined up with your own eyes) and hold it in front of your face, looking front-on to the mirror. Can you see out of it? Is the view too big? Too small? Adjust the size of the eyes, to suit your needs.
 I like my eye holes to be just large enough to see out of, but still restricting vision to some extent.   You can leave it for a bit if you want.. it's probably best if you adjust the eyes when your head structure is nearly complete.
(Want it to be super-formfitting? Make sure you cut a place for the top of the nose, otherwise it's not gonna fit well.)

Step two
    The 'main ring'.

   Grab an A4 sheet of cardboard (landscape) and attach it to one side of the eyeplate.

 Staple the very end of it securely to one side of the eyeplate (see diagram below). Hold the eyeplate in front of your eyes, as if you were wearing the mask. Now, without moving the eyeplate, try to wrap the cardboard around the back of your head.

     Too short? Staple a bit on!
     Too long?  Hold the part that overlaps back onto the eye plate, and staple it there. Cut off the excess.

It might be a bit too 'high' for you... if so, carefully cut off the excess.
If you'd like the head to be form-fitting, try to angle the bottom of the A4sheet so that it tucks into the small of your head.  Trim off any excess this creates.

   Congratulations! You can now wear a small part of your mask!
    Romp around the house for a bit if you feel a little bit enthusiastic, but if you want to finish the mask sometime soon, grab some more cardboard!

Step 3
   The top-strap.

   Cut out a long strip,  about 5cm (2inches) across, and staple it to the top of the eyeplate, right in the middle so it sticks up in the air. Hold the mask / wear the mask in position, wrap the top strap over your skull, and hold it in place where it meets the ring of cardboard around your head. Try to make certain that it's centered!    Staple it to here. You should have a mask which will snugly sit on your head, without moving about much.

Step 4
   The cross-strap.

This one goes over the top of your head, and it's where your fursuit's ears will be mounted.  It's just like the top strap above, only this one goes from the left side of the head to the other.

You should have something like this:

Also note the eyehole which is visible from side on!

Step 5, 'JW muzzle'




Cowl-only muzzle:


The upper muzzle.

This gets a bit hard, as I can't give you an exact colour-by-numbers example. Every muzzle has a different shape to it, depending on species, and style comes into it too (toony, real, etc). Instead, I'll give you examples of the two muzzle styles I've tried.

Jamie Wolf's upper muzzle:
 Get a VERY long piece of cardboard (about 30 cm should do. Actually, use the full length of your Cereal box's shape), same width as usual, and staple it to the bottom of the eyeplate (where your nose is), pointing straight down. Curve the cardboard into the shape of your muzzle, starting from just below the eyeplate, coming out along the muzzle's length, and then curving 90* down again, where your furry's big wet nose would be. This strip is the actual "skeleton" of the muzzle. Many other parts to do with the muzzle will join onto this.

Now, grab a short bit of cardboard and staple it perpendicular to the muzzle so that the bottom of the strip is where you'd like the 'lip' of your canine's muzzle to be (just remember to account for fur/material thickness!)

Now this is where your top view comes into play.You need 2 pieces of cardboard to go from the 'crossbar' we just made, to the large 'semi-ring' of cardboard around your head.  What you are trying to do is hard to describe. Those two strips are the 'lips' of your mask's muzzle, and you'll be attaching a 'cowling' of cardboard over the 'bridge' of the nose, attached to each of these 'lips'.

 If you want a really narrow muzzle, you attach the two strips within 2-3 cm (horizontally, not vertically!) of the main muzzle strap. If you want a very very wide muzzle, you attach them as far out as just below *your* ears. The actual shape depends on how wide the top piece of the muzzle is, too. You can make all sorts of wonderful shapes for muzzles, from pointy Fox muzzles, to very strange ones that actually curve *inwards*!
    Advantage: Stiffness and relative ease of construction
 Disadvantage: Large number of parts allows for more chance of error?

 Skip to STEP 6 if you like, or read about the new style of muzzle:

Jamie Wolf 2's upper muzzle:
 This is a simple 2-piece muzzle, very lightweight, though it suffers from flexing and can be difficult to make.  You may need to use small pieces of balsa-wood or similar to brace the 'lip' area.

The two pieces are:
 'Nose': The front of the upper muzzle (the 'flat' bit at the very front)
 'Cowl': The rest of the upper muzzle

Quite simply, you make the muzzle, and attach it to your head below the eyeplate.  It's a nasty imprecise trial-and-error thing, something I never totally learned to do 'perfectly'.  Give it a whirl, see what you can do.  :)
    Advantage: Less pieces of meshing used.
 Disadvantage: Significant flexing/bending, and difficulty of making.

Step 6, cowling JW's muzzle.

Plastic meshing cheek-ruff

   Finishing up.

   If you made a muzzle like JW2's, you don't need to sheet the muzzle. 

 If you used JW1's muzzle style, read on.
First, we will start off with the muzzle 'cowling'. Cut out a HUGE sheet of cardboard from the box, one that is long enough to reach from one of the muzzle side-straps, over the main muzzle strap, to the other side strap, and also wide enough to reach from the eyeplate to the end of the muzzle.

Now, find the centre of the sheet (the middle) and staple it down so that you can curve it around into the shape of the muzzle. Now attach it to the two muzzle side-straps using staples. You should end up with a fairly rigid structure.  Put on the mask and see if it looks ok.....offcentre etc. Make any adjustments like trimming the edges etc now.

Adding details.
I prefer to use foam for adding my details.. The eyebrow ridge, etc.  However, JW1's cheeks were made using meshing. Here's how I made my cheekruffs:

The slit is there to allow it to curve. After stapling that onto the cheek-sheeting with the curve I wanted (by pulling Point A and Point B together and stapling), I cut out some scrap cardboard and tried to run that sheet from about 1/2 way along the muzzle, curving over to the cheek (just before the slit). This created a smooth curve for the muzzle, which shapes it better and makes it look more Wolflike.

Once that was done and trimmed to size, I got another piece of scrap cardboard and patched up that hole between the eyeplate and the new parts. Once I trimmed and shaped that, I was done! The finished cheeks were stapled
    #1: On the muzzle sides.
    #2: At the 'base' of the muzzle where the eyeplate is.
    #3: On the sheeting of the head that runs from the muzzle to the back of the head.



 JW1 used plastic meshing ears. Nice simple 4.5" tall triangles with slightly curved bases.  The triangle was attached to the cross-strap, curved along the vertical axis to make a 'flat' edge against the strap.

 JW2 and my cheetah use foam ears (ironic, as I built the cheetah out of JW2's head components).  Very simple to do-  Carve your ear to shape from some foam, and glue it onto the cross-strap. Nothing could be simpler (except for maybe an automatic-fursuit-maker, but that would ruin the artform).

Deconstruction and finishing up.

 That's it for head construction. Admire your work, try it on and see how it looks from all angles, and then grab your staple removers. We get to take it apart!

Something very important to keep in mind here: You want all of the panels and structuring INTACT so that you can trace it onto the plastic meshing and make a new mask.

Trace all of these shapes neatly onto the plastic mesh with a good texta pen and cut them out. Now follow all the steps as above (starting with the eyeplate) and you'll have your very own mask ready for furring!

 I use cable-ties to join plastic meshing, and nice thick fabric glue to attach fur or foam to meshing or fur to foam or foam to fur or.. Etc. :)