Death mask: a mesh study on smooth & discrete

Computational design, Grasshopper, Generative, C#, Exploration, Parametric


An exploration in computational design focusing on surface manipulation, discretization and curve processing. The task was to design a “burial mask for an architect”. This can be real or metaphorical, but the outcomeshould resemble a face and seem constructible. In addition, we envisioned a fabrication method that places some constraints on what is feasible (e.g. latticemesh, 3d printing , waffle structure, tiled surface, etc). 

“Computational design” here means an ad hoc set of methods  borrowed from computer science, computational geometry and other fields, and adapted to specific design problems such as design development, fabrication, analysis, interaction and communication.

Project for

Introduction to Computational Design - Space


Togo Kida, Muhammad Hanif Wicaksono

Traditional African mask designs. 

Project Idea

Masks play an essential role in the traditional cultures of Africa. Often, these masks hold spiritual and religious significance and are used in various rituals and ceremonies. In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his or her human life and turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself.

In this assignment, we were interested in using the identities between tribal masks of Africa to achieve our surface deformation. Key characteristic includes long shapes, lack of depth (almost flat surface), and the simplification of facial traits.

The surface acquisition and deformation process.


The assignment had some technical requirements:

Acquisition: Start with a surface approximating the form of the face. This surface can be manually constructed, scanned or acquired from any source you want. It must be a single untrimmed continuous surface

Surface deformation/ re-sculpting: Apply at least one deformationon the surface by creating a gridof points on the surface, moving them accordingto a vector field you defined and recreating a surface throughthe transformed point grid.(see for example offset surface construction sample)

Discretization: Split the surface into constructible componentsby at least one discretizationmethod of your choicefrom the three listed below. The available discretization methods are contouring, subdivisions, and reparameterization.

Postprocessing: Rationalization or simplification of the derived surfaces and curves.  


Mesh acquisition process using drape and C# component


There were two iterations of code when we used the deformation that achieved the final surface. We wrote custom C# component using Grasshopper, then started exploring with iteration A then made an adjustment using points from that process to make iteration B. The final deformation surface on iteration B. We increased the height, smoothness, and an overall flatter surface than before.

Acquisition workflow

Mesh discretization result. 


In the descretization code, we made a slight modification by introducing the “variable” within the if statement in the base code. The result shows discretization is more dense where the facial features reside.

Discretization workflow


Post processing computational design steps and workflow.

Post Processing

In order to further reinforce the elongated mask concept, we looked into masks with special usages: rituals, magic, and sorceries. In the post processing task, we wanted to create a form that gives an eerie, tribal impression. Further on, the process to explore the form began.

Computational design

    • Step 1: Take 4 points.

    • Step 2: Use the 4 points to create a mesh.
      Also, compute the centroid and the normal of the mesh.

    • Step 3: Using the mesh created, duplicate multiple times by rotating, scaling, and translating them by using scale factor, normal vector, and iteration number.

    • Step 4: Finally, apply Loft to develop a structure.

We are applying various transformation to build the structure before constructing the lofted shape, then applied the post processing to each of the discretized mesh which has unique parameters so it produced a unique look. 


We completed the mask design. The mask has a elongated feature with discretization that emphasize the contour of the mask. The protruding structure gives a tribal look on the mask.