This is how you create a Templar Knight helmet from a plastic 'For Sale' sign.
The basis of design is a Templar Knight helmet as seen in the video game Assassin's Creed. This helmet was part of a full Templar Knight costume. Since I couldn't find a helmet exactly like this and what I did find was expensive, I crafted my own.
• (2) Plastic 'For Sale' sign, 18"x24", one for the body of the helmet, one for the top.
• Super glue to attach the helmet pieces.
• Brass paper fasteners to mimic rivets.
• EVA foam to make the interior headband.
• Paper, cardboard, and tape for the patterns.
• Silver spray paint for the base coat.
• Mustard, yes the edible kind, to create the peeling/scatched paint, as well as a bowl.
• Burgundy spray paint, or a color of your choice.
• Black acrylic paint, water, and a spray bottle for grime.
• Brown acrylic paint and a paper towel for more grime.
• Black, gray, and beige spray paints to mist a light layer of color.
• Hot glue gun to attach the head band.
• Heat gun to shape the plastic.
• Solder iron or wood burner for scratches and damage.
• Paint can or something round to form the plastic so that it does not droop when heated.
• A drill to make holes for the brass paper fasteners and crosses on the face shield.
• A foam brush for the mustard.
• A straight edge to act as a guide when cutting the plastic.
• Electric finishing sander to remove the lettering from the plastic.
• Center punch. This will prevent drill walk when drilling holes for the crosses in the face shield and the paper fasteners.
• Super glue dries quickly. It is very easy to glue fingers together or glue plastic to something you wished you hadn't. Super glue releases fumes that can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Apply in a well ventilated area or use a fan.
• Hobby and utility knives are very sharp. Always cut away from your hands and body. Cut precisely, slow and steady, and use a cutting mat so that you don't cut through anything you shouldn't. A straight edge will help guide the cuts.
• A hot glue gun can burn you. Again, slow and steady will prevent injury. Also be careful where you sit the glue gun down. Remove any combustibles in the vicinity.
• A heat gun gets very hot and can burn you. The plastic you heat up will get very hot. You will need to wear thick gloves when working with hot plastic. You want to heat the plastic, but not melt it.
• Spray paint must be used outdoors in a well ventilated area. A respirator or mask is recommended. Allow time to dry fully.
• Wear old clothes for painting. Chances are paint will find a way to get on your clothes. Be careful where you paint, and where you place your brushes.
Step 1: Plan, Pattern, Cutting
Using various reference pictures, I created a drawing in Google Sketchup. Before I transferred the sketch to paper, I used EVA foam to create a headband. Measuring the circumference of my head, I used the keyed edge strips of the mat for the band. Don't make the band too tight. It will provide comfort and serve to hold the helmet in place. I also added a strip from front to back that would position the helmet vertically.
I transferred my sketch to paper and used my head as a reference to trim the paper pattern to shape. Since the plastic is thin, I didn't worry about material thickness in the transfer from paper to plastic. After a few iterations, I had a paper pattern that fit around my head and the headband. Pay close attention to the eye openings. While vision will be reduced, you want the position to maximize what little you can see. The pattern consists of the lower and upper portions of the helmet. I did not pattern any of the banding or the lower rear portion of the helmet.
I traced the paper pattern directly to the plastic. Due to the size limitations of the sign, The upper portion is split into two sections, as is the upper and lower banding. The face shield fit onto one uncut section. I left a tab across the top for attaching the lower face shield to the upper part of the helmet.
Use a straight edge to guide all cuts. The blade is sharp and could lead to an unintentional cut if you move to fast.
The horizontal bands are 1" wide and the vertical band is 1.5" wide.
I then sanded the red off of all the pieces. This created a nice pink powder at my work area.
Step 2: Gluing, Shaping, More Cutting, Damage
The two seams for the upper portion of the helmet will be at the front and back. A vertical band will hide the seams and reinforce the joints.
Glue the upper portions of the helmet to the tab on the face shield, butting the joints. Test fit the horizontal banding. Align the horizontal banding joint with the upper joint of the helmet. The vertical bands will hide the joints.
For now, we are only working on the front. Glue the bottom horizontal banding onto the helmet. Next glue the vertical banding to hide the joints. You can trim the excess after you glue to ensure the banding doesn't stop short of the edge. The vertical strip at the front has a slight 'V' shape. I used the heat gun and the edge of my work bench.
Now trim the horizontal banding at the back so the joints align. Apply the vertical banding to hide the rear joint. Along both sides a vertical band is cut to fit between the horizontal banding. We will wait before gluing the top horizontal banding.
Use the heat gun to shape the helmet. It should have an oval shape, at least my head and thus my helmet have an oval shape. Your head may vary. The lower face shield should also curve. Heat the plastic, shape it, let it cool, try it on, and repeat the process as necessary. You will need to use a paint can as a form to maintain the shape of the helmet.
Cut a piece of cardboard in a slight oval shape a bit larger than needed for the top of the helmet. Trim it in small increments until it's the right size. This plate will also help the helmet maintain its shape. Once the cardboard is trimmed to shape, trace that shape onto the plastic. Draw another line .5" wider than the cardboard template. These will be tabs to attach the top to the sides. Once you cut out the plastic, cut slits into the plastic to form tabs. My tabs were roughly .5" wide. I heated the tabs and folded them down, using a straight edge to approach a 90 degree angle. Fold each tab down before you begin gluing. The tabs will overlap, and that is okay. Continue to heat form and round the edges of the top. You want it as round as possible for a tight fit when you start gluing.
I glued the first tab to the helmet. I had to heat form potions of the top and sides to ensure a tight fit before gluing. Even after gluing all the tabs, I did additional forming for a better shape.
With the top in, glue the top horizontal band in place. This can also help hide any gaps you might have between the top and sides.
The helmet should have now taken shape. The curves may not be the smoothest, but since this is a battle worn helmet, dents and dings are to be expected.
At this point, I re-cut the face shield as one side was not symmetrical. I traced one side and then used that as a pattern for the other side.
I cut the crosses in the face shield using a drill to achieve rounded ends and then a hobby knife to cut the rest of the cross. I experienced a bit of drill walk. It would be best to use a center punch to counter-act that. Put the punch at the center of the hole, tap it lightly with a hammer, and then you're ready to drill. Use a wood backer when you drill.
Measure the circumference of the top and bottom horizontal band. Space the brass paper fastener holes evenly. I did not glue the paper fasteners. I bent the inside tabs and taped them down with duct tape on the inside to ensure they did not scratch me.
Add the rear bottom piece of the helmet. Leave tabs to connect it to the helmet. You can see this rear portion in the next step after the helmet is painted silver.
Use the solder iron to create scratches. Think about how the helmet would be attacked. Most scratches would be from the front, at a top down angle or side to side. Vary the size and location, while making some deeper by going over the scratch a few times with the solder iron. In the next step when the helmet is painted silver the scratches are visible.
Step 3: Paint, Mustard, Weathering
Now that the helmet has been assembled and battle damage added, I sprayed it with a silver base coat. Before I painted it, I wiped it down with a dryer sheet. This will help remove any dust.
Once painted, let it dry at least overnight. To determine if it is fully cured, touch the paint. If it leaves a fingerprint in the paint surface, it's not fully cured.
We will use mustard to simulate peeling paint. This is ordinary household mustard. Place the mustard where you want a peeling paint effect. I applied mustard parallel over scratches, on rivet edges, and at the edges of the helmet as that is the most likely place for paint to begin peeling. I also used my reference image to match the look in the game.
I sprayed the final color over the mustard as soon as I finished that step. The mustard doesn't have to be dry. This layer of paint dried in an hour. Take a paper towel and rub the mustard (and paint) off to reveal the base layer. It may take a bit of scrubbing to get every last bit of mustard off, but that won't hurt the paint as long as it is dry.
While the helmet's paint is peeling, it doesn't quite look battle used. Take a spray bottle filled with water and add a few drops of black acrylic paint. Shake the bottle to mix the paint and then spray the helmet. I had never done weathering, so this was a learning process.
I wiped away some excess and ended up with items that looked aged and well-used with a nice layer of grime.
Next I wiped brown acrylic paint directly on the helmet and then wiped away excess with a paper towel. This adds dirt streaks to the helmet and adds paint to any crevices the spray bottle may have missed.
To add a mottled appearance I misted black, gray, and beige spray paint onto the helmet. I held the can about three feet away with a few quick sprays of paint.
Step 4: Conclusion
It's hard to believe this helmet started as a 'For Sale' sign. I used hot glue to adhere a dark sheer fabric behind the eye openings and crosses to conceal my face.
These methods can be applied to various props or pieces of armor. Smooth curves can be difficult to achieve when heat forming plastic, but if the end result is something well used the missteps when heat forming look like dents and dings from battle.
The mustard was a neat trick, to achieve peeling paint. Weathering helps the prop look real instead of like a toy. In the real world, things get dirty. I have worn the helmet many times with no issues.
If you have questions, please ask! If you have suggestions, please share!