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Over the past few months, I have been rebuilding my Tau Empire Firewarrior Cosplay and I recently completed the helmet. This thread gives an overview of the helmet, but I have a much longer and more complete video series on the build which can be found at the bottom of the post.
To start off the build process, I sketched the basic shape of the helmet and did my best to figure its dimensions relative to the size of my head.
The basic form of the helmet was built from Monster Clay. This is an oil based clay which becomes soft and sculptable when heated up, but as it cools, it holds it shape. On top of this clay base, I used heat gun to stretch out a layer of 3mm craft foam. This material is the thin colorful foam sheets that you can buy at just about any craft store. After the foam was added, I used my heat gun to apply a layer of Worbla, which is a thermoplastic commonly used in Cosplay. When heated, Worbla becomes very flexible and can be stretched over an object. As it cools down, Worbla then takes the shape of the object below it. The combination of the foam and Worbla result in a lightweight, but strong piece of “armor”.
The various foam and worbla pieces were built in parts and them assembled together after removing them from the clay base.
Unlike most cosplayers, I have one additional step to helmet in that I coat the piece of armor in resin. In particular, I use Shell Shock from Smooth On. This type of resin starts off as a liquid like most resins, but it very quickly turns into a gel and it can stick to near vertical surfaces. This gel behavior makes this type of resin great for coating things like sci-fi armor helmets. After the resin cures, sixty grit sandpaper can be used to smooth out the surface.
The resin has several purposes. First, it hides mistakes in the Worbla. It takes a lot of practice to get a smooth Worbla surface, but when combined with resin it becomes quite easy to get a smooth surface. Second, I like the look of resin the best for Sci-Fi armor when compared with PVA glue, Worbla, or Plasti-dip. Third, the air bubbles that sneak into resin can be used to create really cool battle damage effects. Most of the battle damage seen in the completed image above was the result of the resin and did not require me to anything other than apply paint. Finally, the resin layer hides the fact I can build the Worbla structure out of scrap pieces of the material. That is why the image of the pre-resin helmet had a patch work structure.
To create the groves in the helmet, I used a Dremel tool to first cut groves and then sanded them down with 60 grit sandpaper.
For the final details, the helmet was painted with spray paint and coated with a matte clear coat. The weathering and battle damage was artists quality acrylic paint that was brushed on and quickly wiped off using a rag. This process was repeated all over the helmet to give it a black stained look. Adding straps and padding to hold it on my head was just a process of trial and error. Finally, I debated as to what the back of the helmet was made of, and I decided on making it a cloth material. The hunter camo cloth matches the rest of the clothing I wear under the armor.
The antenna was several layers of foam core board glued around a piece of aluminum. The entire piece was then wrapped in HVAC tape to get the shiny metal finish and it was attached to the helmet with a magnet. For the sensor lights in the front, I built a simple circuit based around an Arduino to get the lights to blink in sequence.
The entire build of this helmet is documented in a ten part YouTube series if you are interested in the details of a certain part of the build. I even included some of my mistakes and how I fixed them in the videos.
Here is the first video out of the series of 10 videos:
This particular method of armor building is probably the most labor intensive and most expensive of all of the cosplay armor methods, but I feel it gives the best final look. Of course, this process can be used to build just about any type of Sci-Fi armor from Warhammer 40K or another franchise.
Thanks for reading
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/09/26 02:05:21