In Watchmen, did Rorschach's ever changing mask react to his emotions, or did it morph on its own?

5 Answers 5


No, it did not react to his emotional state. While the technology might have existed, and Ozymandias might have been able to make it, Rorschach's mask was actually part of an accident from his career working with a dressmaker.

From the Watchman Wiki:

Rorschach's mask (which he refers to as his "face") consisted of a specialized fabric, one that was actually two layers of fabric with viscous black and white fluids trapped between them. The fluids remained in constant motion, being affected by heat and pressure, however the black and white colors never combined to form gray. The patterns formed by the fluids also maintained a constant symmetrical pattern down the midline of whatever shape the fabric had been formed into.

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Kovacs first discovered the fabric when he worked for a dressmaker. The fabric was originally made into a woman's dress and the marketing of such a product would be linked to Dr. Manhattan. The product's first customer was a woman named Kitty Genovese, who was unhappy with the dress, calling it "ugly" and refused to buy it. Kovacs thought differently however, and took possession of the fabric for himself, saying it was "very beautiful." At home he used heated instruments to shape the fabric into a full head covering, a face he "could look at in the mirror."

Curiously enough, there is thermochromatic paint that can change its appearance due to exposure to heat (from the breath of the wearer) but it does not yet mirror itself yet.

  • 1
    Kitty Genovese? Aw, man, this is one time that I'm not happy that I get the joke.
    – Kyle Jones
    Dec 17, 2012 at 5:36
  • 1
    I think you are the only one besides me. I decided against making the link... Dec 17, 2012 at 5:42
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    Although you could say that the mask design was shaped by his emotions indirectly. Certain emotions can trigger physiological responses, anger causing a rush of blood (accompanied by a slight rise in temperature). While emotions certainly aren't the direct cause of the mask design, they can certainly contribute.
    – Steam
    Dec 17, 2012 at 16:20
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    Just to be clear, the dialogue indicates that Rorschach acquired the material, then saw the bit about Kitty Genovese, and decided that she was the woman who'd ordered the dress. The implication is as likely that it's all in Rorschach's head, his insanity creating connections so that the world is a little less random and terrifying for him.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 31, 2014 at 4:05
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    "being affected by heat and pressure" - And in fact this makes me think it indeed reacted to his emotional state, be it only indrectly, which is also the reason why its symmetric, since the face is. In fact this is one of the most fascinating aspects about this mask, that it can indirectly react to his emotions. At least "No" is a far too definite answer on this one to be correct.
    – TARS
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:41

It's really left unanswered within the comic. It's most likely random, but as you can see by two of the answers provided, people have found patterns in it, just like a real Rorschach test. So it's symbolic of the idea that random patterns may provided consistent seemingly non-random reactions from people.


Yes, It did. For example, look at his "face" when he discovers that Blake is Comedian, that the dogs were eating the girls bone, and when the cops had him surrounded; all of them have the same pattern on his mask, showing that that was his "surprised" expression.


yes it did the moment I realize this was when doctor Manhattan was about to kill rorshsack his mask shrank into the middle showings for the fear. it made it look like he was cowering in fear


It definitely does in the Zack Snyder movie. There seem to be a few consistent expressions within the original book that reappear in similar situations. Side note, the book says it’s two layers of latex with fluid in the middle. How did he breathe?

  • Could you edit in any evidence for this? Also asking questions in answers is not how we do things here as we are a question and answer site and not a discussion forum. If you want to ask your own question you should ask it as a separate one.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 15, 2019 at 5:44

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