Theatrical Mask Making - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
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Nathan Pritchett
Nathan Pritchett
Fablab manager
I am the Executive Director of the Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa, a non-profit makerspace located in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma that provides education, community, workforce and business programming that teaches innovation, design-thinking, problem-solving and change-making, together… Read More


This lesson takes the creative mask making style of a Broadway theater show (think the Lion King) and combines it with a tech-based lesson in digital design and fabrication. Students will use 2D design software to create mask parts that are laser cut from EVA craft foam and assembled onto a mask armature using glue.

What You'll Need

  • Computer
  • 2D Design Software, Inkscape
  • Laser Cutter
  • Half or Full Mask Paper Mache Armitage
  • EVA Craft Foam 2mm, Assorted Colors
  • Forming Foam Moldable Clay
  • Modge Podge
  • Acrylic Paint and Brushes
  • Barge All Purpose Cement Glue and Brush
  • Pencil, Paper, and Ruler
  • Embellishments


Lesson Materials

The Instructions


To get students excited about the topic and ready to explore the process of mask making, the instructor will present examples of theatrical masks.

  1. Show photos of the Simba, Mufasa, Scar, Sarabi and Nala masks from the Lion King.
  2. Ask students to describe how the masks support the character’s identities.
  3. Shows video clips from the play.
  4. Discuss the Word to Know: Inspiration – Gather information and don’t limit yourself. Look for what resonates with you.
  5. Ask students to share their personal experiences from attending a live theatre or play.
  6. Ask students if there are other examples of masks or costumes from plays, movies, or television that they enjoyed.



Students will explore and research theatrical masks from theatre, movies, and television.

  1. Discuss the Word to Know: Ideate – Coming up with new ideas.
  2. Ask students to review different websites for current plays in New York (, as well as other cities like London.
  3. Ask students to explore photos and videos of the shows.
  4. Ask students to gather inspiration for their own mask design. Will the mask represent a person, an animal, or a superhero?
  5. Discuss the Word to Know: Prototype – Making your idea real or tangible in some way so that people can interact and give feedback.
  6. Using pencil and paper, ask students to unleash their inner creative genius to sketch design ideas!
  7. The instructor can encourage simple sketches to visually prototype their ideas.



Using what they've learned from engage and explore stages, students will create their own theatrical mask designs. The instructor will present the project materials and instruction on software and hardware tools.

  1. Discuss the Word to Know: Innovation – Designing new solutions to meet the requirement of our project.
  2. The instructor can explain any constraints to the project, such as scale, materials, tools, and time.
  3. Using a ruler, ask students to identify the specifications and details of their design.
  4. Using 2D design software, students digitize and model their prototype sketch designs.
  5. Using a laser cutter, students cut the digital design files from EVA craft foam.
  6. Using cement glue, students construct and assemble the EVA craft foam parts onto the paper mache mask armature.
  7. This lesson can be finished here with a more two-dimensional, simpler mask, suitable for younger students. If a more complex, three-dimensional effect is desired, continue to the following steps.
  8. Create texture by adding forming foam to the mask.
  9. Seal the EVA foam and the forming foam with Mod Podge to prepare for painting.
  10. Paint with acrylic paint, gradually developing color and texture.
  11. Finish by applying a coat of Mod Podge to create the desired finish (shiny, matte, gloss, glitter, etc.).
  12. Add accessories to the finish mask, such as beads, feathers, additional laser cut parts, or other fibers for embellishment.



As students are building their mask, the instructor will guide them through iterations, revisions, and improvements to their original mask design.

  1. Discuss the Word to Know: Iterate – Repeatably making new versions of an idea with the intent to make it better.
  2. Ask students to keep improving their ideas.
  3. If there are problems, take time to correct them with new ideas.
  4. Encourage students to solicit constructive feedback from others in the class.
  5. Discuss the Word to Know: Collaboration – By working together and combining our knowledge, we can produce something better than any one of us can do on our own.
  6. The instructor can ask students to not just think about what’s right and what’s wrong but consider why it works or doesn’t work.



The instructor will lead a discussion with the students of what they have learned during the project.

  1. Once complete, the instructor can ask students to share and reflect on what they’ve learned – the good, the bad and the unexpected.
  2. Ask students what they enjoyed most about the project.
  3. Ask students what was most challenging about the project.
  4. Ask students if they could do the project a second time, what would they do differently.


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