Project Writeup -- Dishonored Overseer Mask

Dishonored... I love everything about it. The stealthy gameplay, the unsettling soundtrack, the steampunk-inspired aesthetic. The game has some fantastic character design. One of my favorites is the Overseer. They're members of a militant religious group, and they don't mess around. Part of their standard outfit is a metal mask which is reminiscent of Japanese samurai masks. I had been wanting to try some cold casting, so I decided I would give this mask a go.

 
 

Like a few of the other masks I've created, I started with a Pepakura papercraft model as my base. I pulled the 3D model from the game files and used Pepakura Designer to flatten it out for printing. Pepakura gets really tricky for small details like the ridges around the eyes of this mask, but I knew I would be rebuilding those details with clay later, so I didn't worry about making it perfect.

 
 

After completing the Pepakura build, I coated the inside of the mask with a thin coat of rondo (Bondo + fiberglass resin) to keep it rigid. As a first pass to smooth out some of the facet edges, I coated the outside of the mask with a layer of Bondo, then sanded that smooth. This rough shape gave me a base for sculpting. Instead of using Bondo for the shaping, I wanted to use Apoxie Sculpt, a self-hardening epoxy clay that holds tiny details really well. Here's what the mask looked like after I had added some of the Apoxie Sculpt:

 
 

You can see there are some edges and details worked into the Apoxie Sculpt, but the surface is not smooth. It would need a bunch of sanding later  no way around that.

I sanded the Apoxie Sculpt as I went, just enough to help me see where things needed to be tweaked. The only part of the sculpt that needed a major rework was the nose. I realized it had a big symmetry problem, probably because the Pepakura construction was a bit wonky in that section. I chipped that side of the nose all the way down and rebuilt it from scratch.

The Overseer insignia is prominently displayed on the forehead of the mask. I don't think you can tell from the game images whether it's engraved or not, but I thought it would look neat engraved. I used my old wood carving tools, which worked really well with the Apoxie Sculpt.

 
 

After I could no longer bear to hold on to little bits of sandpaper, I gave the mask a primer coat of Krylon ruddy brown primer to prepare it for molding. I wasn't liking the texture I was getting with the Krylon, though. The Overseers masks didn't have a mirror finish, so some amount of texture was desirable, just not the gritty Krylon texture. So I sanded THAT down and applied a few coats of gray Tamiya fine surface primer. The Tamiya goes on smoother than the Krylon and it bonds extremely well to resin and epoxy.

Now it was finally ready for molding. I clayed it up on a lazy susan base using Monster Clay. Some folks use a water-based clay for this, like WED clay. I tend to stick with Monster Clay because a) I don't have to worry about it drying, cracking, and/or shrinking, and b) it's hard enough at room temperature that I don't need to worry about poking it full of holes when I brush on the first layer of silicone. I used Smooth-On Rebound 25 brush-on silicone, and the rigid support shell is Plasti-Paste II.

For the metal cold cast, I wanted something that looked like pale gold. Smooth-On has a number of cold casting powders, so I ran a test to try a few of them out. I experimented with different resins, including Smooth-Cast 325 (clear resin) and Smooth-Cast 300 (white). I also experimented with dusting the mold with the powder vs mixing the powder into the resin. This is what I settled on: dusting the mold with brass powder and using Smooth-Cast 300 with brass powder mixed into the first layer. I found this gave a good trade-off between shine and color: dusting the mold puts powder right at the surface, making it easy to shine, and using a white resin cuts the yellow "brassiness" of the brass powder. Mixing powder in with the first resin pour means I wouldn't have to worry about polishing through the thin dusted-on layer of powder. In this image, the left puck is a dusting of Cast Magic Goldfinger backed with straight 300, the middle puck is brass powder mixed in with 300, and the right puck is brass powder mixed in with 325. Both have been partially polished, and you can see the white resin showing through on the puck with only a dusting of powder.

 
 

Here's the mold dusted with brass powder.

 
 

It took me two tries to get a usable cast. On the first one, I used more brass powder than was necessary in the first pour. I usually do 2 or 3 oz pours for my mask slush casts, depending on the mold. That's several ounces of brass powder, which doesn't sound like that much, but it is. The trouble I had was not getting the resin parts mixed thoroughly before I poured them into the mold. I now spend more time making sure the powder is totally mixed with part B, then I double-cup the A/B mixture.

Right out of the mold, the mask doesn't look at all like metal. You don't get the luster of metal until you give the mask a good polishing. I used 0000 grade steel wool with a super light touch. Anything more would tend to leave swirl marks, which I wanted to avoid. I could have used some polishing compounds with a rag to get rid of swirl marks, but I didn't want to use any chemicals on the mask at this stage because I didn't want anything to interfere with my painting and weathering job. Here are two cold cast masks straight out of the mold, along with one mask that's just Smooth-Cast 300 with no powder:

 
 

Here's the mask after polishing and before weathering (with the insignia painted with black acrylic paint):

 
 

To weather the mask, I used about half a dozen different shades of gray and brown acrylic paint to add speckles and splotches of dirt and discoloration. I also used Winsor and Netwon water-soluble oils, dry-brushed into the corners and crevices. I used the texture file from the game as a rough guide.

 
 

And finally, here's the completed mask.

 
 

There's a mesh cloth behind the eyes and the mouth. The wearer can see out, but others can't see in. I also added an adjustable leather strap to the back of the mask, but it's tucked inside the mask in this photo.

Someday I'd love to turn this into a full Overseer costume. Just need to build up the courage to attempt that coat.