To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, people are being advised to make their own PPE (personal protective equipment) in the form of cloth face masks. While these masks won’t necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19, they can potentially help prevent you from giving it to other people.
Online, you'll find several tutorials showing you how to make cloth masks using supplies you have at home such as old shirts you no longer wear. You can choose to make yourself a plain mask, or you can get creative and make your mask both functional and decorative.
For example, you can make a set of masks based off of popular video game or anime characters. It requires a little more planning in regards to picking the right fabric color and purchasing items that’ll allow you to decorate your fabric with designs, but it’s definitely doable with a little extra time and patience.
Not sure where to start or what to base your mask on? We’ve got a few ideas for you that’ll help you create a cool custom face mask reflective of your own personal style and interests!
Creative gaming and cosplay PPE face mask ideas
The first and easiest example is the usage of patterned fabric, like the aforementioned idea of using an old shirt that you no longer wear. To show how this works, we recommend watching tutorials like this one posted by YouTuber Crafty Daily.
In the video, Crafty Daily will show you how much fabric you need on hand, how to cut it, and how to sew it together.
If you don’t have patterned fabric at home that you like, you can purchase patterned fabric online from a craft store or places like Etsy which feature a wealth of cute designs including a whole page of Pokemon fabric!
Continuing the Pokemon idea, you can create custom Pokemon face masks without relying on patterned fabric. If you have a yellow shirt, you can follow the tutorial from Crafty Daily and then when your mask is complete, draw a Pikachu face with adorable little red cheeks, a mouth, and a nose.
To draw things on fabric, you’ll either need fabric paint or fabric pens which can be ordered online, through craft stores, etc. For example, check out this fabric pen set from Crafts 4 All on Amazon or this fabric paint set from ARTEZA.
Once you’ve picked your decorative method, you can follow existing examples online like this design on Etsy. You can also order stencils to help guide your artistic hand like this Poke Ball stencil from StencilShapes on Etsy.
If you fell in love with K/DA, the makeshift k-pop group put together by Riot Games last year in order to promote League of Legends, you’re not alone. Right now, the music video for “POP/STARS” by K/DA sits at a whopping 328 million views.
If you’ve never seen the video, a skin for League of Legends champion Akali is shown that features a neon face mask with a mouth reminiscent of the Japanese yōkai, Oni. The face mask design became extremely popular with cosplayers, and Riot Games even sold their own official version, though it’s sadly out of stock on their website.
Setting aside the official mask being out of stock, you can use the design shown as a reference for making your very own cloth mask version. You can also use beginner tutorials like this video from YouTuber Foxtail. All you need is a black shirt or equivalent piece of fabric that can be cut and crafted into a mask.
You can go the elaborate route by ironing the teeth on like Foxtail does in her video. Alternatively, you could do something similar to the Pokemon mask idea where you draw the mouth design by hand instead.
Dishonored 2 - Emily Kaldwin
If you’re looking for a simple decorative design that’s inspired by a video game character, look no further than the mask worn by Emily Kaldwin in Dishonored 2. In the game, Emily wears a mask in the neck gaiter style that’s navy blue with gold adornments.
You could replicate this in a simple cloth face mask, or you could go the full neck gaiter route although it’ll be a little warm to wear during the summer. Rather than having to draw something specific, you could use the gold adornments on Emily’s mask as inspiration and draw your own art in a style that you like.
You don’t necessarily have to replicate it perfectly in order to get a similar visual effect. Of course, you could take the time to make it as accurate as possible if you like as well.
Are you a Mortal Kombat fan? If so, you’ll already know that several Mortal Kombat characters use face masks including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kitana, Mileena, Reptile, Jade, Ermac, Smoke, Erron Black, and so on and so forth.
You get the idea, a lot of Mortal Kombat characters use face masks, giving you more options when it comes to designing a custom mask.
You can use similar methods as those listed above, using the right color fabric and some fabric pens and/or paint. You can also do what YouTuber OMANK KACAU did by creating a paperboard Sub-Zero mask to wear over his existing white fabric cloth mask.
It’s a bit more involved than creating a fabric face mask on its own, but you can’t deny how cool the final product looks.
Soldier 76 - Overwatch
Another mask you can make using OMANK KACAU’s paperboard method is the one worn by Soldier 76 in Overwatch. Again, you’re going to want to have a cloth mask underneath, but once you have that you’re free to make and structure the top layer to resemble Soldier 76’s silver mask.
For additional help, you can follow this tutorial from YouTuber Much Props who shows more of the mask’s shape and how it’s structured!
Octane - Apex Legends
Another great video game character mask to replicate is the one Octane wears in Apex Legends. Similar to other mask suggestions, you can mirror the color and design of Octane’s mask fairly easily by picking a black base cloth and then drawing green teeth along the top and bottom edges.
To add complexity, you can try and replicate the three valves along the front using a similar method to OMANK KACAU’s Sub-Zero paperboard mask by having a base cloth mask underneath, and a full paperboard Octane mask over the top.
Using that method, you’ll be able to add depth to the valves rather than drawing them on or leaving them out entirely.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Link Gerudo Town Outfit
Can we talk about how cute Link looked in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when he camouflaged himself in order to gain access to Gerudo Town? It’s pretty rad if we do say so ourselves.
If you want to wear a nice summer outfit and channel your inner ‘female’ disguised Link, you can easily replicate the Gerudo Veil he wears using a turquoise blue cloth base and a white fabric pen and/or paint.
Tokyo Ghoul - Kaneki
Deviating from video games for a moment, another badass mask design is the one work by Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul. You can go about recreating this mask a few different ways.
One, you could do a black base mask and then draw on the zippered mouth design, or you could add depth and structure to it by following tutorials like this one from YouTuber Kei Senpai.
Kakashi - Naruto
Okay, let’s say you’re more about designing a full outfit rather than a mask. Well, you can always go with Kakashi from Naruto. His mask is extremely basic in that it’s just a black mask in the neck gaiter style, so any black neck gaiter will work.
However, to add to it and turn it into a full cosplay, you can try and recreate Kakashi’s outfit from scratch, or purchase one that’s complete from sites like Amazon.
Note that the second option can come off as more of a ‘Halloween costume’ style, but if you have a black mask and want to do something more with it but suck at creating cosplay, it’s definitely an option.
The mask ideas listed above are only a few examples of ways you can transform a self-made PPE cloth face mask into something more. If you have other examples of creative cloth face mask designs, we encourage you to share them with us in the comments below!