The skull ski-mask is showing up everywhere in first person shooters. It’s probably best known (cue flame war now…) from the character of Ghost, a SAS operator in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise.
While similar masks are not very expensive online, those of us of the DIY inclination can make one pretty easily.
You will need:
- A ski mask: I used acrylic wool because that’s all the military surplus store had. Neoprene or fleece might also work. Make sure it only has one eye hole.
- Fabric marker: make sure it marks the fabric of your ski mask! Other than that, it doesn’t matter if it’s chalk or wax or whatever else the fabric store has.
- Acrylic paints: Unless you used a wildly different fabric than me, acrylic is probably your best bet. See Design for colors.
- Brushes: one fine-tip and one wider
- DVD case.
- Printer paper
- A pen
- Paper plate
- Pics of skull
- Pics of Ghost
First, find pictures of Ghost (or the similarly dressed character you are looking for) online. You will also want to have several pictures of skulls on hand. An orthographic view works best (a view with no perspective) since the mask is printed this way.
Using the pics, form a preliminary idea in your head of what you want. You’ll note the skull stops at just below the eye sockets.
You will also want to select a color. In screen caps from the game, and promotional materials, the color varies widely. Oddly, its never quite white. In some shots, it’s more of a yellowish white (the color of real bone). In others it’s grayish or even greenish. In a real military outfit, you would never want anything white since this color is very easy to see. For this reason, I went with a dark gray. You can either buy the colors you want from a craft store or mix to get the desired effect. No matter what color you pick, you will also need black.
Making the Mask:
- First, wash and dry the mask. Paint will stick much better this way. Don’t skip this step.
- Second, don the ski mask.
- Third, fold a piece of printer paper in half. Hold it up to your face, with the folded edge running along the center of your face. Have the top just past the lower edge of the eye hole.
- While holding the paper to your face, mark the bottom of your jaw and the bottom of your nose.
- Remove the mask and lay it flat on a table.
- Put a DVD case sideways into your mask. This will stretch the ski mask slightly.
- Take the paper you used to measure your face. Line the folded edge along the center of the mask, with the top edge just past the bottom edge of the eye hole. Mark the outer edge of the eye hole.
- Without unfolding, use the paper as a template to begin sketching your skull. You are drawing half of the bottom of a skull. If you use sharpie, it will make the next step easier. Pay close attention to your reference pics.
- On the opposite side of the folded paper, trace your drawing. This will be a stencil to help design your skull.
- Cut out the stencil. Only worry about the big details, like the edges, the nose hole, and the gaps on the side between the upper and lower jaw. Don’t worry about the teeth for now.
- Use the stencil and a fabric marker to outline your design. The sides of the skull should line up with the outer edges of the eye hole.
- Start with a thin brush, and fill in the outer edges of the mask. The fabric will drink the paint, so be sure and use a lot. Don’t worry about details yet, focus on the bigger picture.
- Using a larger brush, fill in the skull. If you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world, there is a way to touch it up.
- Make sure you get the acrylic deep into the fabric. I used a knit fabric, which took quite a bit of paint.
- Once you get the bulk of the skull painted, take a think brush, and use black paint to fill in details, like teeth. You can also use black paint to cover mistake.
- You may need to go back and forth with the colors at this point, using black to add teeth, then another layer of your main color to make them stand out. Take your time.
- With the DVD case still in place, set your mask outside to dry.
- Wait until the mask is 100% dry before wearing it.
- To complete the ensemble, wear the mask with sunglasses and headphones. For the rest of the outfit, anything vaguely military will work. Fun fact: most people don’t really remember what Ghost wears beyond the iconic mask, headphones and shades. You might want to have a Union Jack (UK flag) on the shoulder.
Robert is a science geek with a passion for science fiction. He has a BS in general biology and currently works in an occupational health lab at The University of Arizona. Additionally, Boumis has published three short stories, all science fiction, and does costuming in his spare time. His interests include classic science fiction novels, sci-fi films, filmmaking, UFOs, and video games. Follow his Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-J-Boumis/142544852462290?ref=ts