Red Nebula Studios

Fantasy art, costumes, crafts,
and creative endeavors.

Simpsons Theatre Masks

A photo showing all of the final Simpsons masks painted and detailed.

This was SO MUCH FUN.

I was contacted about making a set of masks for a musical production called Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. My contact had seen the Grinning Goblin masquerade-style mask I have in my costuming Etsy store and, since it bore a resemblance to Mr. Burns, was thinking to use it for the production.

As it turned out, she needed several masks, and so we decided the best way to approach it would be to create one base that covered the most common characteristics, and I would convert each mask to make it look like each individual character.

The sculpture for the Simpsons masks from the front. The sculpture for the Simpsons masks from the side. A blank resin cast of the Simpsons base mask.

This is the base mask sculpture and me wearing the initial test casting. The sculpt is done in Monster Clay, my preferred oil-based clay. It was molded in Smooth-on's Rebound 25 with a rigid mother mold made of FreeForm Air. The castings are all done in SmoothCast 65D. Fourteen different characters are represented, but each one started from this one base.

Three of the modified masks made to resemble Marge, Lisa, and Bart Simpson. Two of the modified masks made to resemble Ms. Krabappel and Mr. Burns. The Mr. Burns modified mask, shown from the side.

To individualize each mask, I first did digital draw-overs on a photograph of the mask for the client's approval, and then set about modifying each mask. Some mods were simple, like Bart's hairstyle. Some, like Mr. Burns, were extensive and required removing and rebuilding the nose, re-shaping the eyes, and adding teeth. All modifications were made with FreeForm Air to keep the masks lightweight, except for teeth, which required finer details and were done in Apoxie Sculpt.

To make sure the modifications blended with the base masks, painting became a several-step process. Each mask was sanded, sprayed with grey primer, and sanded again. If there were surface flaws or areas where the modifications didn't quite meet up with the base mask, this process would be repeated. The final sanding went all the way to a 400 grit paper, and let me tell you, these babies were SMOOTH at that point!

Four Simpsons masks showing the base paint coat for each one: Itchy, Scratchy, Chief Wiggum, and Apu. Lisa Simpson's mask with the base coat of paint on.

Most of the masks were done with a yellow base coat, but a few had their own. Apu got a lovely caramel coloration, while Scratchy and Itchy were painted grey and blue, respectively.

One of the Simpsons masks from the back to show how the mask is padded. One of the Simpsons masks from the back to show how the mask is strapped. A photo showing all of the final Simpsons masks painted and detailed.

Finally, each mask got its detail painting, done in acrylics, and several coats of spray sealant to protect them and reduce the shininess of the masks. Foam pieces were placed on the back to allow space for the actors' microphones and make the masks comfortable to wear, and they were strapped with adjustable elastic bands.

The last photo shows all of the final masks. From top to bottom, left to right: Bart, Chief Wiggum, Scratchy, Itchy, Mr. Burns, Groundskeeper Willie, Troy McClure, Apu, Nelson, Marge, Homer, Lisa, Ms. Krabappel, and Principal Skinner.

Me wearing the Mr. Burns mask.

All in all, this project was excellent.

The Simpsons masks were commissioned by Janet O'Neill, Costume Designer for the production of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play being done by UCSD in February of 2015. More information about the show can be found on UCSD's theatre website.

Available For Sale:

This happy clown mask is made from resin and painted in acrylics (with the white paint caked on a bit to resemble makeup). ItHappy clown mask - via etsy.com

© 2015 Mask design by Janet O'Neill, sculpted and cast by Sarrah Wilkinson

Completion date: 2/1/2015 - Page last updated: 4/17/2015

Keywords: Simpsons masks, commission, Mr. Burns A Post Electric Play, theatre masks, musical, half masks, Simpsons characters, resin cast

Categories: Costuming, Costumes and Props