We occasionally do some commission work upon request, and a friend of ours contacted us regarding something they were working on for Blizzcon. They were aiming to do a World of Warcraft cosplay, specifically of a shaman outfit called the Sanctified Frost Witch Regalia. We were only asked to help insofar as the headgear was concerned, as the wearer seemed to have all the other fabric work in hand. I have a thing for macabre skull masks anyway, so I was 100% on board with the idea of making this
In order to substantially simplify the work involved, I downloaded a WoW Model Viewer and used it to rip the low-poly game files out of the game in .obj format. This ensured that I would be able to make something roughly proportional to the game’s design without having to struggle with comparing front/side/top views too much. Here’s the low-poly version:
It should go without saying that this is not anywhere near sufficient to print. The teeth were all a single flat plane, and a lot of individual details were lacking. It does give us a pretty good starting point, though. I spent some time redoing the topology of the mask, separating certain parts out, and constructing a back face for the mask that would sit comfortably against the face. The tusks were designed to print separately, so I started playing around with some socketing ideas.
The mesh got gradually improved with new topology until I had something higher resolution and roughly the right shape.
At this point, the model got kicked over to ZBrush to try and bring some of the details out in full. The model was then carved up and prepped for printing, with some alignment holes for paperclip crosspieces to make sure that everything fit together where it was supposed to.
We did a brief test print of the upper half of the mask just to confirm the size was somewhat reasonable. Our primary concern was making sure the eye spacing was workable, as the animal skull is a bit wall-eyed compared to normal human proportions.
We made a few minor changes at this point – stretching part of the forehead up a bit, bringing the eyes a touch closer, and deepening some of the detail lines so they’d print more clearly. All that was left for us to do was wait while the printer worked its magic.
The initial dry-fit went together nicely, so I started the process of sanding and smoothing the print. I decided to use some XTC-3D to coat the exterior surfaces. A little of this stuff goes a long way! We had specifically made a lot of the groove lines and other details just a little bit deeper with the XTC in mind, as the self-leveling resin would inevitably fill in some of the gaps, grooves, and cracks. A bit of careful application lets you push the material around with a brush as it starts to set up and pull it away from detail areas that it might otherwise ruin.
I wanted to get a bit of organic texture back on the model at this point, as it was a bit too glossy and smooth to really look like bone. Decided to experiment a little bit with spray-on options. My local auto store had a can of Dupli-Color Truck Bed Coating Aerosol that I picked up for another project that seemed like a reasonable place to start, so I took a spare print of the forehead as a test piece and sprayed things down. I hit it almost immediately after with a coat of grey primer just so I could see the contrast a little easier.
Not too bad! Maybe not exactly a bone texture, but it still looks visually appealing to me. I liked the result, so I sprayed the whole front of the mask down with the truck bed liner. I gave it a day to cure (this stuff takes a while, plus I had other work to do) then followed up by lightly sanding some of the high points and areas like the tusks in a single direction to smooth things out in certain places that I thought looked appropriate. When done, it actually resembled my initial red renders from 3d Studio Max fairly closely!