Saturday, August 20, 2016

How the part 3 masks were (probably) painted

As I mentioned in a previous post, the hero mask created for part 3 has been one of the toughest for hock painters to nail down and the color has caused some controversy over the years, mostly due to the fact that it looks different in different photos and screen shots.

Was it white?


Or yellow?

How could it look so drastically different from image to image? None of the masks in later installments seem to have this apparent disparity.

Back in December 2009, I contacted Robb Wilson King, the set designer from part 3, who gave me some very important clues. He said the mask was painted an "off white" that was enhanced with what he described as a "slight aged patina" that gave it a "cream color" (all his words).

The original shooting script called for Jason to wear a white mask, so that was the starting point for the effects team. To make the white mask look creepier and fit with the rustic setting of the film, it was evidently sent to King to make it look older and weather-beaten.

Set designers will often use antiquing media found in art supply stores in order to make things on set look old and creepy. You can see the obvious crackling paint used in The Walking Dead in the Season 3 prison interiors, for example.

Robb Wilson King said he used an "aged patina" to make the mask look old. There are two main types of patinas: those used to age metal and those used to age oil paintings.

King probably use the same methods that oil painters have been using for decades to give their paintings an antique look: a combination of an amber patina varnish and a paint cracking medium, such as those made by Maimeri.

Patina varnishes come in several varieties and can give any paint work a subtle golden tone while maintaining the clarity of the underlying artwork. The tone can be deepened with additional coats, which can be applied with a sponge brush.

There is evidence on the original mask that the white basecoat, the yellowish tone and the cracking were three separate layers. You can see it under the forehead and cheek chevrons. In the lower photo, there are still yellow varnished spots but with no cracks.

More evidence of a separate translucent layer: On the part 3 stunt mask, there's a bunch of "skid marks" likely made with a dremel on the cheek you can see in the shower scene. Today that area on the mask is whited out, and some painters interpret this as an alteration to the mask that sanded them away, revealing the white basecoat on the back. Not so. The skid marks are still there in the white area, indicating the white color is actually on the front of the mask where they sanded the varnish away. See for yourself...
 This is pretty solid proof that the yellowish layer was a transparent amber varnish, not a flat spray paint.

So for anyone who has been confused... remember watching part 3 back in the day and concluding Jason wore a white mask? Your childhood eyes weren't deceiving you. The mask was white.

So can a mask be painted just like the originals and come out the same? May as well try it. So I bought the Maimeri patina varnish and repainted a Crash project82v4 with Krylon Dover White. I then did all the weathering right on the basecoat.
Six coats of varnish later, the mask took on the perfect caramel-beige color you see in the movie mask. I ended up with runs and color inconsistencies for lack of a decent sprayer, but you get the picture... 
Once you sand off the nose and some other scuff marks it really starts to look authentic.

After evening out the runs and adding weathering... the final result:
Like painters and fans have been saying for years, you can't get the original mask's peculiar amber color in a spray paint. That's because it's not paint at all-- its an antiquing varnish. In direct sunlight it looks very yellow, but in dimmer room lighting it looks very beige due to the way the varnish refracts light.

In warm light...

Compare with the real thing...

It seems that Robb Wilson King experimented with different styles. For the hero mask, he went with a paint-cracking medium over the varnish, but the stunt mask is hand-scratched right into the basecoat. Ironically its almost impossible to tell the difference in the film. All that work for nothing!

So why does the part 3 hock appear white? It could be that they started shooting before it had properly yellowed, which takes about 3 days. It seems more likely, however, that the bright stage lights they used for night-time shooting washed out the transparent yellow layer and reflected off the white paint beneath.

So there you have it. This is most likely how the movie masks were painted: a basecoat of white paint, followed by an amber patina varnish. If you want to paint one of these, You may want to add a cracking medium on top of that if you're doing the hero mask. Be forewarned: varnish is tough to work with on a hockey mask, which is probably why David Miller and all later hockey mask painters just used acrylics and oil paints. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE Feb. 5, 2018: So an additional observation... it seems clear to me that the two masks finished by the FX team for part 3 painted them exactly the same way at first: White basecoat, then scuffed the paint, a varnish layer on top of that, then chevrons and final clear coat. Pretty simple design. Through most of production, both the hero and stunt masks showed only the scuffing in the basecoat, which looks darker because its been varnished over:

But by the showdown in the barn, the hero mask had some painted-on weathering added to it in a dull gray or brown. You can see the clear difference here:
 So for those who had observed that the mask was initially "clean" in early scenes, such as when he comes through the window-- I think you are correct. It had some scuffs for sure, but the "dirt" washes hadn't yet been added. So when you're painting a part 3, you have to pick: window or barn scene?

Just for fun: here are some photos of other masks where artists have used Maimeri's amber patina varnish to get that accurate golden tone you see in the movie mask.