Deadmau5 Head – Halloween 2011

Alix and I were going to the Deadmau5 show at Petco Park in San Diego on the 28th of October and being so close to Halloween we decided to make our own deadmau5 head to commemorate what would surely be an amazing night. A few weeks before the show I went online and found schematics detailing the size, angles, and proportions that make up the very distinct look of the iconic mask and we went to work! We also found an excellent guide on which made this project possible.

“Official” deadmau5 schematics

The full list of materials we used was staggering and took a few days just to find online and at least two weeks before they all arrived.

14” acrylic lamp post globe with 5.5” neckless opening
6” acrylic lamp globe
4’x8’ Dow blue extruded polystyrene Styrofoam sheet 1/2” thickness
12” fully threaded rods 8/32” diameter (4pcs)
1 ¼” fender washers (4pcs)
8/32” wing nuts
Professional grade ratcheting hard hat
4 ft El Glow Wire
Lighting for eyes – 10x Super Brite Blue LEDS
2yds fabric
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Liquid Nails for foam adhesive and applicator gun
Clothes steamer
Ball end sewing pins
Dremel with bits for cutting, sanding, and drilling
Jigsaw or open ended hacksaw
Fabric measuring tape
Single-edge razor blades
Small jaw clamps
Metal Mesh Food Cover Dome
Nylon tights or sheer chiffon for mouth
Electrical or duct tape
Poster board
Sharpie marker
Safety Glasses
Protective Gloves
Wire cutters
Rubbing Alcohol

The Materials Arrive

Our cat “One” lends a helping hand cataloging materials

The first step involved taking careful measurements around the globe (which came from a lamp post depot) to cut the holes for the neck opening and mouth. We used to a dremel to cut the acrylic and then sanded the edges smooth.

Alix begins cutting the globes

The ears were cut from a special type of light weight insulation in four pieces with threaded rods run through the centers. This way we could thread them through the top of the helmet with washers and wing nuts so we could remove them when needed. This made the ears incredibly durable and secure.

Threading the ears

We added an industrial adjustable hard hat inside the globe for fit and comfort. I’d be wearing this for a number of hours so comfort and stability were critical. We secured it inside the helmet by drilling a number of holes through the top and flooding the space between with hot glue.

Test fitting was half the fun

Alix had a few extra yards of this amazing soft and furry fabric that made our deadmau5 helmet really stand out. It made a huge mess putting it together, but the final results were amazing.

Soft and fuzzy

The mouth was made from a screen dome used for keeping bugs off your food while camping. The diameter and curvature matched the size of the dome perfectly. All we had to do was cut out the shape, spray paint it black and then wrap it in a see through fabric.

Almost done!

I wanted the mau5 head to be visible from space so I enlisted the help from my friend Roy who rigged up some custom circuit boards powering 10 of the brightest Blue LEDs you can buy. We also wrapped some blue EL Glow wire around the eyes and the outside of the mouth.

I’m pretty sure Roy is a Wizard

Here is a test with everything in place. I attached the domes to the head with hot glue after shaving the excess fur away to make a secure seal.

Oooh, Ahhh

At the deadmau5 show we were constantly mobbed by fans taking pictures and making offers for the helmet. There were a lot of others who made their own helmets and it was a blast to take pictures and meet all the wonderful people who made the event special. Almost everyone was in costume and besides a slight neck ache the next day everything went according to plan. Out of the 500+ photos we took, we only managed to bring one back with us.

Happy Halloween!

Guess it pays to be tall..

We went to another Halloween party later that week and managed to snap and few more shots.

‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed mau5

Sometimes I lost my head

We took the head around town for a few nights and had some fun with people around the community. Here is Collette from Zia’s pizza rocking the mau5!

We get our pizza from this guy!

A local drummer played a whole song while wearing the mau5 which was more entertaining than this picture suggests.

Music sounds better with deadmau5

We handed out candy to the trick or treaters the next night and while most of the little ones thought I was Lilo from the Disney movie surprisingly a lot of people recognized me as the mau5!

Would you take candy from these people?


Here is a demo video outlining the features of the mau5 head!

Thanks for reading!


PlanetSide 2 Nanite Systems Nerf Repaint

I needed a break from the digital world and decided to create a custom loosely based on the guns from the PlanetSide Universe. I started with a Nerf Longstrike along with a few additional pieces scavenged from other Nerf guns and some other parts.

Stock Nerf Longstrike

I painted over it in photoshop to work out a concept. Ultimately I decided to go with a Nanite Systems paint scheme instead of the Terran Republic version I painted here.

Paint-Over Concept

The plan was to repaint the gun, add some LEDs and mount a laser diode in the sight. I didn’t have the time for the laser, but the LEDs added a really nice visual touch.

Nerf Gun Disassembled

I took the gun a part and created detailed schematics of where all the screws and parts went. There was over 50 screws, and at the end I only lost 1.

Base Coat

I sanded and prepped all pieces by washing them in a soapy mixture to remove the mold release and then sanded all the logos off the gun. I added a base coat of Krylon Fusion paint. This gave it a smooth surface to work on. Always wear eye protection and a respiration to avoid breathing in paint.

Base Detail

I laid down a few coats and let the paint dry over night. I then brought everything inside to begin detailing. I used Games Workshop Citadel paints to detail the gun. Chaos Black, Bolt Gun Metal, Mithril Silver, Tin Blitz, and Codex Grey got the job done.

Details details

I also used a special paint meant to heat seal BBQ’s which creates great tooth. When you dry brush those areas it creates a very convincing worn metal look.

Primer Coat, Base Colors, Wash Coat, Dry Brushing, then Details

I drilled some holes in the body and installed the LEDs which Roy helped me with again. I also bought some dowels and cut them to the same size as bullets and filled up the clips to give the gun some weight. Here are the final pictures!

Before and After

Aris Kolokantes Bat Sculpture

I really love the work of Aris Kolokantes and find that his sculptures make really dynamic subjects for speed sculpts within ZBrush. I chose this sculpture below for reference and inspiration. Check out

“Albino” – Aris Kolokantes

I started the model with zspheres, then once I reached a certain subdivision level I rebuilt the mesh and projected all the exisiting detail on to the new surface. This allowed me to get even greater details for the finishing touches.

Here is my early progress:

Retopology and higher detail levels

Final Model

Polypainted and rendered using layers in Photoshop

Click the image for full resolution


The Comicon Challenge 2011 Part 2

I’ve been really busy this week finishing a number of projects up, but I did have some time to finish up my zbrush sculpt for the Comicon Challenge. Next is retopologizing the hi-res and UVing followed by lots and lots of baking.

Here is a test render using some basic settings in the BPR renderer. I made a number of changes including a half mask with straps so you can see her hair and ears, pouches, a holster, seams, stitches, extra canisters for her gun, and a revised bandolier and belt.


TFW2005 and Razer Present – The TFW2005 Video Game Photoshop Contest

A few weeks ago my favorite Transformers forum TFW2005 announced a contest in conjunction with Razer asking contestants to “Create, draw or photoshop an image showing TFW2005 as a video game from any gaming era.” My two favorite things, how could I resist?

I had some free time during lunch today and decided to see what I could do in a few hours seeing as I have so many other projects in the works.

Here is the base mesh I created in Maya. Real fancy.

I imported the pieces into zbrush and went to work.

I subdivided the pieces until I had enough geometry to really get the fine detail I was looking for. Overall I spent about 45 minutes up to this point. I rendered out a number of single frames each one containing different materials and lighting information so I could composite them in photoshop.

Next I added his paint and put it all together on the cover of an XBox 360 game.

Click here for the full resolution image

Not bad for a few hours of work! I’ll post an update if my entry wins a prize in the contest.

Update: I won the Grand Prize!

Thanks for reading!

The Comicon Challenge 2011

I’ve been pretty unmotivated lately in terms of creating real time characters, but my friend Satoshi convinced me to participate in Game Artisan’s Comicon Challenge. This year the theme seemed pretty interesting:

“This year’s theme for 3D Character Artists and 2D Concept Artists is “Alternate Universe.” You can either change the time period of your comic book hero or his/her gender. For instance you can make a 1842 Western styled Captain America (cowboy) OR a female Captain America OR you can do both – an 1842 western-styled (cowboy/girl) female Captain America. If you decide to mix and match, it’s your choice!”

I had a difficult time coming up with something I REALLY wanted to do since most of the obvious choices were already taken. I did some searching and I found something with potential. Before Neil Gaiman got a hold of the Sandman as we know him today, he used to be a Golden Age comic book hero with a really simple aesthetic and something I really like…a gas mask!

Here is the wikipedia entry on The Sandman

I decided to use a similar time period (1940’s) but change his gender and make a sexy femme fatale equivalent.

I just started so here are some work in progress images of what I have going so far. I’ll be updating this blog with entries whenever I make some significant progress. The base mesh was created in Zbrush using Zspheres and all the other pieces started off as simple primatives in Maya which were imported using GoZ.

Early Character Turns

Mask Detail

Inspiration Sheet

Quick Paint-Over

You can follow my progress in my thread on Game Artisans

Feel free to leave any comments or critiques!

Quick update I made the other night:



The Innsmouth Look

I recently re-read many of H.P Lovecraft’s more famous works and after visiting, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” I was inspired to create a portraiture of someone showing the later stages of their transformation. This is the result:

Click here to view the high resolution image

Zbrush, Maya, and Photoshop were my weapons of choice. I created the base head using zspheres and all the other accessories started as cubes in Maya. I used the GoZ feature to quickly get them in the scene in the correct scale to the head.  Here are some early wip (work in progress) shots that show a bit of my process

Innsmouth WIP 01

early stage of sculpting

Innsmouth Look WIP 02

defining the major details

Innsmouth Look WIP 04

polypainting progress

I decided to go for a still image so I didn’t have to worry about poly count and I could just let myself have fun without worrying about technical constraints. I also decided to try a new method of rendering out multiple passes and layering them in photoshop. This allowed me to tweak them individually which gave me an amazing amount of control over the final image.

I also modeled some addition props such as a brooch, and a pendant, but unfortunately I didn’t feel like they added anything so I left them out. They are supposed to resemble some of the strange golden jewelry the citizens of Innsmouth would receive from Dagon and his Deep Ones.

Here is a brief tutorial I put together on how I achieved the final results.