Create Realistic Paper Mache Sculptures and Masks

Even if you’ve never sculpted anything before!

It’s easy with my printable templates, some cardboard, and a layer of paper mache.

See more Lion King headdress patterns below…

Build Your Own Custom Set of Patterns and Save! Get 15% Off Any Order of $30 or More. Use code 15%OffOver30
Build Your Own Custom Set of Patterns and Save! Get 15% Off Any Order of $30 or More. Use code 15%OffOver30

About the mask and sculpture patterns…

These downloadable patterns are designed for adults (thirteen or older). They will help you create sculptures or masks you can be proud of. This is not the paper mache you remember from grade school!

Because they’re designed for adults, young kids probably won’t have enough patience to cut out the pattern pieces and tape them together. Some of the patterns also require sharp knives for cutting cardboard.

However, many children have helped their parents and grandparents create sculptures and masks using these patterns. The kids and adults have a lot of fun, and they’re excited when they see how well their sculptures turn out. Plus, creating art together is a wonderful bonding experience that will be remembered for years.

cow mask pattern pieces and instructionsHow do the patterns work?

Most of these armature patterns create all the basic shapes for you. Just cut them out of card stock or cardboard as indicated in the instructions, tape the pieces together, and cover them with just one layer of paper mache or paper mache clay.

Then add your own creative touches and a coat of acrylic paint, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind mask or sculpture that could be treasured for years.

A few of the patterns go on the inside of your sculpture, and you add the rounded forms with crumpled paper or foil. The life-sized standing elephant, the unicorn and bunny, and the baby panda all work this way. This is the same way all the projects in my best-selling book Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay are made.

Do you have to use paper mache to create sculptures and masks with these patterns?

Paper mache and paper mache clay work well for these sculptures. That’s how I made most of these masks and sculptures myself, with the exception of the baby unicorn and mini-bunny, which were made with Apoxie Sculpt.

Some people have covered the wolf and lion masks with fake fur. And one of our younger artists was in a real hurry to complete a school project, so he used spray paint directly over the cardboard on his wolf mask. It came quite nice. So use whatever material your own creative genius comes up with, and then come back and show it off so we can see how it comes out. 🙂

Do you have a question or need help with your pattern?

If you have a question about putting your pattern together or painting it, leave a comment below or on the Daily Sculptors page. I read all comments and answer them as soon as I can, usually within a few hours. Some of my readers might ideas for you, too — we have a very supportive community on this site.

Downloading your files: To see exactly how the downloading process should work, click here.  If your pattern doesn’t download correctly and you can’t see the solution on that page, let me know right away so I can help. This is a one-person business, but I check my inbox regularly and will respond as fast as I can.

Patterns for Paper Mache Sculptures and Masks

558 thoughts on “Patterns for Paper Mache Sculptures and Masks”

  1. Hello Jonni! My name is Heaven Nicholson and I am a college student. I have been inspired by your work to make a piece. I was wondering if Mod Podge could be used instead of varnish to protect the finished paper mache sculpture. Thank you so much for your amazing work and time.

    • Hi Frank. I don’t have plans for a rhino mask, but it sounds like fun. I’ll put it on my ever-growing list, but it will probably take me a long time to get to it. I don’t have an official zebra, but quite a few people have used my horse pattern for a zebra. If you scroll down this page you can see how they came out. I believe someone turned the pattern into a headdress by attaching the neck of the horse to a bicycle helmet, but the pattern doesn’t have instructions for making it into a mask.


    • Gosh – I don’t know, but it’s a really good question. Did you see Amy’s giraffe? It’s 7.5 feet tall, and she used my pattern for the head. I’m sure she’d be able offer some suggestions – even if it’s just a guess, it will be a much better guess than mine. My house isn’t big enough to make a sculpture that big, so I haven’t had a chance to experiment with it. If you put a comment below her post, I’m sure she’ll answer when she sees it.

  3. There is an inexpensive cutter machine called, Silhouette Cameo. You can put your drawing in the software. The software can also import a variety of image file types (JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIF files) and then Trace the image using an auto-trace function to create cut lines. Further information on this can be found at: The cost for Camaro is $269.00

    Would you consider placing your designs in Silhouette?

    This would mean people with Cameo could buy your designs, load them in the cameo and have them cut out in a minute’s time.

  4. Hello Jonni. Do you ever use wire armatures with any of your recipes and if so how well does it stick to the wire? Thanks for your response.

    • Hi Janice. I use wire inside an armature when I’m making something with very thin legs, like the tiny dogs I wrote about in one of my books. But I don’t usually put paper mache directly on wire. I believe some people have done that for figure sculptures, but the difficulty with any water-based material is getting it dry all the way through. A few layers of paper and paste, or a very thin layer of paper mache clay or air dry clay will usually dry in a few days. If used in a larger lump, without a foil or paper armature under it, it could crack or go bad before it could dry. You might want to ask the folks who visit the Daily Sculptors page if anyone has some experience with wire armatures.

  5. I just ordered the new skull pattern a few minutes ago and it failed to download. My card information went in OK I believe. The skull image flashed on my screen then some sort of unrelated advertisements interfered and the download is not showing in either of my download folders. please check this for me to see if it was processed or not. I have ordered patterns from you before and have had no problems.
    Thank you for the attention to this matter.
    Thank you for the patterns and tutorials. I am greatly inspired.
    God’s Best Blessings
    Pat Thompson


  6. I have a question about the non-flour clay recipe. You mentioned that using the DAP brand of joint compound makes the clay rubbery, but is it that it won’t hold a shape or that it dries super flexible. If it’s the latter, I may actually have an application for it with my puppet making.

    • When I’ve used DAP in the past, the clay got much stiffer than it should have, or it got little hard rubbery lumps. And some containers of DAP had no bad effect at all. I think the ingredient that causes the problem is boron, which helps create Flubber when mixed with Elmer’s glue. The dried paper mache clay with DAP isn’t rubbery or flexible. Maybe it’s possible to create that effect with different proportions in the mix, but you’d need to do some experiments. It might be easier to control your experiments if you use a non-DAP joint compound and add measured amounts of Borax laundry powder. Let us know if you invent something exciting! 🙂

      • Borax Laundry Powder? What does it do? Please, what approximate ratio of Borax to joint compound? Do you mix it in its powder form? Intriguing! Thank you very much!

        • I don’t use Borax in anything. I just mentioned in my comment because I think that’s the ingredient in the DAP joint compound that keeps it from working for our paper mache clay recipe. The boron combines with the glue to make Flubber – fun stuff if you’re a kid, but not helpful for making paper mache clay.

  7. This non-flour paper mache clay recipe has awakened the sleeping sculptor inside me. I never dreamed I could do so much with something so simple, and I am so thankful. I can’t wait to send a picture of the amazing mask I’m finishing now for cosplay at a convention next month. I’m not an artist. I can’t even draw a decent circle or a straight line. But it seems that sculpting is a different beast altogether. I’m inspired and excited to see this project coming together exactly how I picture it in my head.

  8. Hello, thank you for your reply and explanation
    the recipe im using contain flour,its for paper mache clay so I use white glue, flour, compound joint etc.

    But I think the problem was with the thickness and the humid weather.

    Thank you

  9. Hi there!
    I am wanting to make a life size donkey head and lamb head for our children’s Christmas production. Do you happen to have a pattern for this that I can purchase?
    Thank you!

  10. hello, im using paper clay to do some pots, but after 2 days from the drying process it got mold inside. any idea why?

    thank you

      • Almost 2 cm thick, I use a plastic container and cover it with cling film so I can remove easily.
        I usually use this method with regular paper pulp and white glue never had this problem before

        • I’ve never used the paper mache clay that thick. It was designed to replace the traditional paper strips and paste. I try to keep it around an 1/8″ thickness, and add more layers if needed after the first one is dry. The recipe contains flour, which molds like to eat – they might not be as attracted to the paper and glue mixture.

    • Did you happen to mix flour and water in your paper maché recipe by any chance?? Using the floor and water recipe is ok for the short-term, but 2 days to begin molding is the quickest growth in the paper maché world that I’ve ever heard of!! The flour and water recipe is definitely NOT a good one for any long-term projects as flour is organic; and therefore is doomed to mold once wet and exposed to air.

      I often see students or children who are very proud of their paper maché art that they want to keep it to display and to show it off at home…. until they discover that mold has begun to change their art projects into smelly spores.

      It frequently begins to mold inside and/or in the tiny crevices (especially in behind the paper maché display – the side that’s not facing outward, but rather that’s likely facing a wall). So it’s always good to check on your paper maché art often to ensure that no mold growth has started to form when using the basic recipe containing flour and water.

      I hope this helps to answer your question, as well to assist others who might be using the flour and water recipe for their long-term paper maché art projects!

        • I have found a couple air dry clay recipes call for vinagar or lemon juice to control mold on them could you add to any of these recipes

          • Maybe. I haven’t tried it, because I never have problems with mold. If you get your sculpture dry as fast as possible, and seal it so it doesn’t absorb moisture from the air, you don’t usually get mold. If you live in a really humid environment where it’s almost impossible to get anything dry, you would want to use a paste that doesn’t attract mold, like the Elmer’s Art Paste.

  11. Hi there,
    I found you on Pinterest with a posting of chicken heads that look to be on an out building. Bright colors whimsical and fun.
    Do you happen to have a pattern for these?
    Thanks so much, Lydia

    • Hi Lydia. Those chicken heads are adorable, but I didn’t make them and there is no pattern. The artist, Andrea Morgan, shared the photo in a comment on this site years ago, and many people pinned the photo. Unfortunately, those pins link back to my site instead of to the artist’s site. You can find her work on her Etsy shop here.

  12. I’ve never sculpted at all…well, I did do some clay sculptures in a college class a very, very long time ago. I wanted to try making a paper mache ornament of a female worship leader, one hand with a mic and the other lifted in praise. I’ve been thinking somewhere in the 6-7 inch range. Not exactly sure about the best way to start; how to do detailed areas like hands, hair and facial expression. Could you give me some suggestions?

    • Hi Terry. You’ve chosen a very challenging project to start with! There are two projects on this site that might help you:

      Debbie’s figure sculpting post
      My video series for the three wise men.

      We don’t get many guest posts about paper mache figure sculpting, and I tend to sculpt animals myself. However, you can find many great tutorials on YouTube. Even if they’re sculpting wih clay instead of making an armature with crumpled paper or foil, the sculpting itself will be basically the same. It’s just the materials that are different. Have fun with it!

      • Thanks Jonni. I found your three wise men series after I wrote my initial post and started with the first one. I also went to some of the links you had listed there and ordered a few supplies. I’m going to watch your other wise men videos and Debbie’s figure sculpting post you linked to above and hopefully get started with an armature. Thanks again for your suggestions. I’ll post a pic when I finish it…if it looks good! 🙂

  13. Hello, I would like to know how you make the animal mask patterns from scratch? I am making masks for a business and I need help. Thank you! .UwU.

    • Hi Kalise. Are you going to sell the mask patterns themselves, or finished masks? Unless you intend to sell the patterns, it would be much easier and faster to make multiple copies of your masks using a silicone mold. I have a video showing how that’s done here.

      To make a mask pattern, I create a clay model, like the fox sculpture I used for that video, and I make a mold. Then I create multiple copies of the mask, cut them apart, scan the pieces, attach them to cardboard and cut them out. Then I tape them together and see if the pieces fit correctly. It usually takes at least ten tries, and with the instructions included it takes me three to four weeks to complete a pattern, working full time. In the same amount of time I could have created seven or eight original masks using paper mache over clay, or 30 or more using paper mache in a silicone mold. The patterns really only make sense if you want to help other people make a mask of their own using your design.

      Another option is to do a Google search for how to make low-poly papercraft animals. I think there are some videos on YouTube showing how to do that with Blender and Pepakura. They aren’t realistic, but the angles and triangles do look interesting. 🙂

  14. Hello I Love your work it’s amazing! I make gnomes and came across yours and watched many of your you tubes as well. Was wondering to make an outside one do you think instead of joint compound the premix concrete patch would work? I seen it on Amazon when I was looking up the supplies.

    • Hi Diana. I’ve wondered about the concrete patch myself. I don’t use joint compound on any outdoor sculpture, because it will just melt when it gets wet. The concrete should work, if it can be applied in a thin layer without cracking. If you try it, I really hope you’ll let us know if it works! 🙂

  15. Hi Jonnie.. First time here.. love your work! I was wondering if I sent you some pictures of my horse if you could make a pattern for me to work with?

  16. It has been my experience that over time my flour based paper mache projects gets weevils in them and I have to throw them away. I make the project using the first flour based glue, usually using 3 layers of newspaper-allowing to dry between each layer, paint gesso next, acrylic paint next, and finally spray with varnish. After 10-15 years the weevils show up…I’ve been teaching art for 33 years. I finally switched to straight Elmers.

    • Thanks for the tips, Betty. I haven’t had that problem myself, but it really depends on the climate and what part of the world we’re in. When you say you use Elmer’s, do you mean the white glue, or their Elmer’s Art Paste? I know bugs and mold have no interest in their paste, and a small carton makes up a whole gallon of paste.

  17. I am all set to began some paper mache masks, after watching your tutorials.. I have
    run into a problem collecting newspapers as they really aren’t printed much anymore.
    I collect newspaper flyers, and brown packing paper but that isn’t getting me
    much. What about the Kraft brown paper rolls? I like the idea of brown paper as
    most of my masks are supposed to be carved wood. Can you recommend some papers,
    I could acquire on ebay or somewhere.

  18. Hello Jonni!

    i’ve been following your work for a couple of years and love what you do!
    i was wondering if you take pattern commissions? i’ve been searching for a realistic rat head mask for a wile but have yet to find one to my liking around the internet. most of which are too cartoony or low poly.
    looking forward to hearing back, thank you for your time!

    best regards, Alex 🙂

    • Hi Alex. No, I don’t take commissions for the patterns. Each one takes me weeks to create, so I’d have to charge way too much money – I’m really slow! 🙂 However, I hope you’ll go ahead and make a rat head mask yourself. My patterns always start out with a clay model, and then I make a mold so I can produce multiple copies of it. That’s needed so I can get all the pieces to fit together correctly. But when I only need one mask, I put the paper mache right over the clay model, and the mask is done in a day or two. If you’d like to see how to add paper mache to a clay model, watch this video. And have fun with it!

        • Just my opinion, but just looking at the pictures I believe you could modify the Timon mask and make a fairly realistic rat mask.

          • Yes, that could work. The ears would go up higher, and the snout would probably be longer. If you try it, I hope you’ll let us see how it turns out. 🙂


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