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.
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
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).|
||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.|
||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. :)|
on the structure / design of the head:
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
FUR ADDS BULK.
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.
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...)
GETTING A-HEAD IN LIFE. (har har)
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.
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.
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!
It might be a bit too 'high' for you... if so, carefully cut off the
Congratulations! You can now wear a small part of your
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.
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'
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:
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*!
Skip to STEP 6 if you like, or read about
the new style of muzzle:
Jamie Wolf 2's upper muzzle:
The two pieces are:
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. :)
|Step 6, cowling JW's muzzle.
Plastic meshing cheek-ruff
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.
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.
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
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. :)