Low Poly Mask

by kongorilla, published

Low Poly Mask by kongorilla Oct 11, 2012

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I'm going to say something your friends have been afraid to tell you: You could stand to lose a few polygons.

Here's a blank canvas for the new you. Or your Halloween costume. Or maybe your audition for store mannequin. Or your general purpose anonymity needs.

Sometime in the future I hope to make a full head version, but I wanted to post what I've gotten done so far in case someone could use it for Halloween 2012. The original idea was to make a papercraft alternative for artists who can't afford the "planes of the head" plaster model, so keep your eyes peeled for further developments.

I'm going to make a mask with dark paper, and use glow-in-the-dark tape to highlight the edges - I'll be Wireframe Man!

EDIT: Since originally posting this, I've seen comments by people stating they intend to make the make the mask using materials other than paper. Please note that many of the polygons aren't true flat planes, and there are a couple of twists that are challenging enough with thick paper. This mask, as designed, is impossible to build using rigid materials.

EDIT: 10/31/12 - Thanks for all the email messages, comments and photos I've been getting! I'm overwhelmed by the response. I had a family emergency these past few days, and the good vibes sent my way helped keep my spirits up.


The mask comes in two flavors: "black lines" and "faint lines", which has light blue lines, giving a cleaner look to the final product when used on white paper. There's a complete zip file for each version, or download the pages as separate pngs (be sure to download using the "original image" link when downloading the pages individually - otherwise your mask will be the wrong size).

(I've also included the blend file I used to make the mask, and the pdo file for those who use Pepakura).

Print the mask on stiff cardstock or bristol. IMPORTANT: Make sure "scale to fit" (or similar) is OFF when you print. The art will fit on US Letter and A4 (though page 1 is a tight squeeze on A4).

When choosing paper and glue, keep in mind what the humidity from your breath and sweat will do to your materials.

Before cutting out the pieces, score all the fold lines with a straight edge and scoring tool (I've been using a mechanical pencil with the lead retracted, but a paperclip is good too. I wish my real scoring tool would stop wandering off somewhere).

I didn't mark the glue tabs, they seemed self evident. Let me know if I was overly optimistic in that regard.

The mask fits my face fairly well, and the ear hooks work ok. You might need to cut them off and use the traditional elastic band instead.

Enjoy the new, chiseled you!

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Hey Kongorilla, I really would like to print this but I need to know how to format the mask, could you let me know how to adapt it to my head, if so, thank you. Awesome design by the way!

I'm afraid I don't have a clever technique to suggest. Since heads come in many shapes and sizes, I can't say "measure the distance between X and Y on your face and scale the print by a factor of Z." Also, being made of paper cardstock, the mask is flexible, so it doesn't have to be a perfect match. My only suggestion is to print and make one per the instructions, and then judge from there.

If you're asking about a 3D print in plastic, that's a different issue, and not easier to solve.

what paper size should i print it? can be A4 or etc?

That is covered in the "Instructions" section. (US Letter or A4 -- turn off the setting to "scale to fit page" even though some of the border might not print).

Can you 3D print this? How to I make it? What's it supposed to be made of???

This is the papercraft version (there is an "Instructions" section under "Thing Details"). For the 3D printable versions, check under "Remixes".

Reminds me of the face from the Mark Twain Mysterious Stranger claymation. Very creepy! +1

I really appreciate your work. I'm an art teacher. You mentioned you're working toward a full-head planes of the face/head design for drawing instruction. My students could really benefit from a learning tool like that. Are you still working on the full-head model ? Thank you very much!

It's possible (wink) that an update will happen to celebrate the mask achieving 200k downloads, which is getting close. In their recent "MakerBot Milestone | Thingiverse 1,000,000 Uploads" video, Makerbot made it official that the mask is the most downloaded design on Thingiverse, and I want to celebrate that as well. Click the "watch" button if you want to be notified in your dashboard if and when an update happens.

I know some drawing instructors are using the mask as is, which is great, but I agree having a complete low poly paper head would be better.

everytme ive tried to open the files it says it cant display the image because the files have been moved or deleted? any setting tips to help my windows laptop to display it?

Some zip programs (such as 7zip) won't let you double-click on an image within a zip file to view them directly. Drag the image files out of the zip onto your hard drive, and you should be good to go.

Oct 22, 2015 - Modified Oct 22, 2015

Hi kongorilla, im having trouble with this, cant seem to get the mouth / cheek area right, leaves little flaps that just look plain weird.
is there a video anywhere on how to make it (cardstock and the template, origami style i suppose, ?)

thanks, dont mean to rush but it would be helpful to get a response ASAP

Edit:: Must be folding. Not 3D printed!

Sorry to hear you're having trouble, Ethan. There are a couple time lapse videos on youtube, but they're not very clear. This one might be helpful if you view it on the .25 speed setting:
Around the 1:00 mark, he seems to be working on the part you're having trouble with.

I know it's not much, but hopefully it's enough to get you over the hump! You're probably one "A-HA!" realization away from getting it right.

Hey guys !

If you want to make some easy and nice projection : square, triangle, shapes, you can try HeavyM, it's free =)


Thank you very much for making this great design public. I printed it out on paper, supported it with cardboard and finished it off with sheet metal, hot glue and spray paint. It looks awesome, fits really well without any padding. http://i.imgur.com/tPM09FM.jpg

Two smaller downsides: The mouth is quite low which, in combination with missing holes in the nose would make for some bad breathing. Can be fixed though. Second, the ear straps don't hold. I cut them off and replaced them with leather.

Still, amazing Mask. I'm gonna have a lot of fun with it.


Jan 19, 2015 - Modified Jan 19, 2015

Hello kongorilla, I would like to know if it would be okay for me to use this wonderful mask for my anonymity needs for a video? For my life safety and my family's, I cannot show my face in a video for my project and I am hoping I would be able to use this great design as my guise. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Answered via PM.

If I wanted to make and embellish these masks for sale, would I have to pay you a flat rate in advance, or a percentage of each sale?

PM me via Thingiverse -- include an email address so I can contact you directly, describe the scope of what you're planning, where you're planning to sell the masks, etc. The most likely outcome is I'll add you to my list of people to whom I've given permission to use the mask for limited commercial purposes, and we'll discuss the method of giving me attribution (it depends on how/where you're planning to sell masks -- online, craft fair, gallery, etc).

Thanks for this beautiful mask desing Mr Kongorilla, me and my brother are using it to play in our shows (we're dj & vj) I´ll send some pictures one of these days...see ya :)

It is a great design, what is unfortunate is the attached license, that I can not produce these and sell them to raise funds for my girl scout troop, or whatever.

Over the last two years, I've gotten many requests for such uses (charities, schools, etc.) and without exception, I've given permission to use the mask. I applied the non-commercial stipulation to cover totally different situations than that.

Anyone interested in using the design for a purpose they suspect might violate the license need only contact me and ask. (I like hearing about the mask being put to good use, so please contact me if only for that reason!). Of the hundred or so requests I've gotten, I've asked for a fee only a few times. Those few cases were paid, professional productions in which everyone was compensated, and the producers were satisfied to pay me for my work rather than hire someone to design something from scratch.

has anyone tried to 3d print this?

Click on "Remixes" to see 3D printable versions.

Hi there, I would like to buy 2 of these masks. Somebody offering? I need them before the end of this month, so I hope somebody can help me. I don't have the time to make them. If someone has an serious offer, please send me an email: [email protected]

The license says non-commercial, you can not pay money to have these made for you.

I already send you an e-mail, we are in Mexico and we can fabricate anything you need at Grupo XDS.

it wont let me print it out

Download either of the zip files, unzip the images, putting them somewhere on your hard drive, and print them. There's nothing about the files that would restrict printing. Without more info, that's about all the help I can offer.

Hello, I really like the mask. I wonder if I can use it for a music video, the video is for a band and is sponsored by a trademark.

Check my answer to user "lowercase" below -- I suspect my answer to you would be the same unless your client is someone I'd object to. If some aspect of the job prevents you from being able to honor the license, either contact me for purchasing particular license rights or don't use the mask. BTW, you can credit me by using my real name -- it's unique enough that a search finds me easily enough.

Good luck with the video!

Thanks! Can you give your e-mail to contact you?

Hey I was wondering if I might use this for a project I'm working on for a class? Just checking as its a great and really striking design that would be perfect for what I am working on.

Yeah, have fun with it! The short answer is: If your work is for the classroom, and stays there, you're free to do whatever you want with the mask. Thanks for asking.

The long, annoying answer: The license just requires you don't use it for commercial purposes, that you give me credit if you present your project to the greater public (say, online)(a link to this page is fine), and finally, the license states you should share your derivative work using the same CC-BY-NC-SA license (That's the SA part -- "share alike"). If you're just making something for a class project, chances are the sharing thing isn't applicable. If you're unsure about any of this, feel free to PM me.

I don't care what happens within a classroom, but other students -- design students, no less -- have gotten much media attention showing derivative works online without making it clear that it wasn't totally their design, which didn't seem like ethical behavior to me, as well as ignoring the license.

Please post pics of what you come up with using the "I made one" button. I'd love to see it.

ho do you make the glow one also where do you get the glow tape from

I printed the pages on very dark blue cardstock. The glow-in-the-dark tape is Duck brand, which I bought at Michaels (arts and crafts store chain), but it's available through Amazon and many other places. I would peel off some tape and put it on some clean glass, then using an x-acto knife and a metal ruler, I cut it into 1/8" strips. (BTW, I used the glass from my 3D printer's heated build platform. Not a good idea, as I scratched it up). Then I put the tape on all the edges. To 'charge' the glow as I walk around on Halloween, I had a small, handheld UV lamp (sold at pet stores - meant to be used to find pet stains on carpets and furniture) and closed my eyes as I scanned my face with the lamp.

My friend of mine and I have made a bunch of these. I was wondering what program you used to design it as I am interested in elaborating on the idea.

It was modeled in Blender (the Blender .blend file is available in the downloads). The conversion to papercraft was down in Pepakura (the Pepakura .pdo file is also available for downloading). The layout/graphic design was a combination of Inkscape and Photoshop, if I remember correctly.

Hope you're having fun, and please post photos. I love to see them -- especially if you make creative alterations.

So I'm thinking about doing Let's Play on youtube or maybe some live stream gaming of Twitch and I was wondering if I could use this mask whenever doing these? Kinda like a "Oh, this guy isn't showing his face." thing. I would love to use them. Its such a good design. Of course I would link and attribute the design to you on the info section of the videos.

Sure, that's fine. It might muffle your voice, though. Some people cut off or leave off the lower mouth and chin section if they want to be heard clearly while wearing the mask. You can see a couple of examples of this in the "Made" section.

Yeah, that popped up a few months ago on a lot of blogs I read. It's an interesting student project that I would've appreciated more had they followed the terms of the mask's license. Can a guy get a little attribution around here? ;)

I love your masks! so lovely. I would love to use them in a music video. I hope you don't mind?

No, I don't mind, but thank you for asking. I love it when people use the mask in creative ways I never imagined. In your case, I would ask that the "attribution" aspect of the license be honored, meaning, whenever credits are given, a link to this page or my profile page is displayed. The "non-commercial" part I would interpret as "don't sell any masks, or any direct derivative of it". I don't expect you to "share-alike" the source for your video because you used the mask, but this I waive on a case-by-case basis, so others should ask for a waiver (I've yet to deny a request, BTW).

Let me know if the video happens!

Hey! Me and a friend made a short movie using two of your masks! Its is a project for the universit we studie in, we would like u to see it, were it is:


Thanks for letting me know! That's a wild movie. When I was a child, I watched too many experimental movies like yours...it fried my brain and turned me into the happy mutant I am today. The mask is now like a bridge between that child of the early 1970's to the film student of today. Keep blowing minds!

Can you add the shaping for the top of the head as well. I hope to make a mask that doesn't use the ear pieces put sits on your head like a helmet.

It was my intention to sometime do the full head. After having moved on and entangled myself deeply in other projects, it's sometimes hard to regain the interest to revisit old stuff. Requests like yours can influence what's swirling in my brain, though, so it could happen. Waiting for me to do it, though, is a bad idea (right now I'm buried in work I have to get done).

i'd love to see a version that allows for glasses to be worn under it

Can you make a "low-poly" paper covering for your glasses and wear them over the mask? I think that'd be kinda' cool. At least it'd be unique.

As for wearing glasses under the mask -- I think it's already something of a nuisance to see while using the mask WITHOUT the added complication of glasses. Perhaps contact lenses are the solution?

This is wonderful. The variation I'd like to see - making a more womanly face. Hell, I'll probably edit it in Blender myself.

This is awesome! I was wondering if you have a 3d version of this with the same topology? I was planning to uv the geometry and it would be great for projection / testing if I could build a blendshape between the flat cut out model and the respective 3d version.
My 3d software does not support blend nor 3ds, but I could import the dxf just fine - maybe you do have a full 3d version of the pieces as .dxf or .obj? Thanks so much, lot's of fun!

@carstenk - I've added an .obj of the original mesh for you. A link to the .dxf of the flattened pieces can be found among the older comments and also in the "derivative" section (thumbnail with red lines).

hey Kongorilla, We love you design and have made many ourselves here in our office and we also made a printable version too. We were wondering what would you think of a small version about 20mm tall that you could print in metal to use as a pendant, We would use shapeways to print them, What do you think, good idea?

Well, I'm biased, so of course I like the idea. ; )  If it makes someone happy, and the rules of the license are respected, it's all fine with me. I'd love to see a hundred derivative works, especially if they make improvements on the original (which is far from perfect).

Another possibility would be to use it to make a mask in metal sheet.  You would have to solder it and file the joints to make sure it had no sharp edges, however.

 See my first "EDIT" in the description area above, which was prompted by that suggestion being made a few other places around the web. Because paper is flexible, I felt free to remove fold lines that I didn't like for aesthetic reasons. For something like sheet metal, they'd have to be added back in (it's probably apparent to anyone where they should be, after a little scrutiny). However, it would be better to adjust the original mesh, redesigning it with sheet metal in mind.

Bottom line: Everyone should make a paper version first before considering other materials.

I am planning to donate the images of the mask to the VA Medical Center Craft shop, so everyone can use them to make masks.  You could use this to make a mask in suede leather.

Man, it would be great if they get some use from the mask. I never thought of something like that.

The suede idea gives me the willies, though. I'm picturing a 21st century version of "Leatherface" from 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Brrrrr. That said, now that I've been sent so many pictures of people wearing the plain paper version, I've got a constant case of the willies.

done in gold foilboard, it would be a bit reminiscent of Klytus from the 80's version of Flash Gordon.

I made one with a longer forehead. It has 16 LEDs controlled by an Arduino for a Mr. Roboto-like effect. You can watch a demo over at YouTube: http://youtu.be/DGwSBb8qtfshttp://youtu.be/DGwSBb8qtfs

We had problems gluing the tabs together (Probably because we have sausage fingers here) so we used selotape

We have made a 3D Printable version as we love this so much and we want to try and print one now! Great work

Ryan King
The 3D Library

What is really interesting about this is that every one looks different somehow, even though it is the same template

Perfect for my art project. Thanks for sharing ideas.

Would you mind sharing a dxf for those of us without the right software.

Pepakura is capable of exporting the paper layout as a dxf. Is that what you want? (I know very little about dxf files, I must confess). I'm hesitant to add a dxf to the download section until someone checks out the file. Also, it seems many people are downloading every file in the download section, when they only need one of the zips. I'm picturing 1,000 downloaders coming from the BoingBoing post wondering what they're supposed to do with the pdo file, for example.

Anyway, here's a dxf for you to check out. Let me know if it's useable. Pepakura can also export the pages separately, if that's preferable.

(P.S. I wish Thingiverse had two download sections -  something like "Download Thing" and "Download Source Files".)

Thanks a lot. I downloaded the Pepakura trial, it looks really cool but I couldn't export dxf without buying a license. DXF, EPS or PDF are all great for 2d line manipulation. You can use dxf for direct cutting on lasers or what I have a CAD razor blade cutting table :) I will test the dxf and get back with you to verify the files. Were these drawn in mm or in.? So I can scale my import correctly.

I expect the file to be in mm. I just did a quick import test in Blender, and it seemed to confirm that.

DXF worked great. I've cut out three already and will be gluing tonight. Thanks.

Is there a distinction between the fold lines and cut lines in the DXF?

Looks great!   any chance to have this model released in a .3ds format?

jleslie48 - I added a 3ds for you.

It could be done with laser cuter!!

Is it possible to simplify real head scan? F.e with "reconstructme"

Most 3D modelling programs have a feature that will reduce the polygon count for you (in Blender, it's the "decimate" modifier), but the result will never be as good as when you do it manually, especially when reducing to a poly count this low. However, it's very easy in Blender to bring in a head scan and use the snapping settings to draw a new low-poly version of the head using the high-poly as a guide. The new polygons you create snap right to the surface of high poly model. For that matter, you could import both this mask and your head scan, and "shrink wrap" this mask onto the scan.

BTW, here's an example from a few years ago of someone doing what we're discussing:

you could use the pepakura designer app to make our own.
sadly only windows.
awesome feat is if you work by photos while moddeling you get fully coloured output.

Hi yzorg. Yeah, I included my Blender and Pepakura files in the downloads, hoping to see people do their own modifications. I didn't UV map the mask, but that's easy to do at this poly count.

This is great!  I love to see well done papercraft, please post more here!

I'll be making this for Halloween.  I work in printing, and do lots of mockups of die cut packaging.

A handy tool I use for cutting and scoring is an Olfa XA-1 knife. When the blade is retracted, the metal tip that the blade protrudes from makes an excellent scoring tool as it is thin but blunt so won't cut the paper, just makes a nice dent in it.

I'll be printing mine on a paper product called Yupo, it is a synthetic paper product with the consistency somewhere between card stock and light plastic. It is fairly waterproof but can be printed on with a laser printer and cuts and scores easily with normal tools.

Thanks for the tips! I've got some Yupo, but I've never tried to glue it. Any recommendations? Some of the Yupo I have is the translucent kind. That'd make a very creepy mask!

Somehow I imagine if corporate entities had faces, they'd look like this.

Man, that mask is creepy, ghastly, and gives me the willies! Perfect for Halloween! Mwahaha ha!!!