Introduction: Jagged Crown - Building an Ultra Realistic Prop Helmet
This project has been sort of a back burner for the last year or so and i've finally gotten around to finishing it up and now I would like to share it with you!
This instructable will touch lightly on sculpting, molding, casting and finishing techniques that were used to produce this prop.
A little background info on this Helm: It is a digital design from the video game Skyrim within the Elder Scrolls series. It is an ancient artifact which once belong to a high king of "Skyrim" and is discovered while playing the game.
"Maw unleashing razor snow, of dragons from the blue brought down, births the walking winter's woe, The High King in his Jagged Crown."
I hope you enjoy!
Step 1: Things You Will Need
Casting or Bust to sculpt on (I used a casting of my own head for this project)
Slow cooker (Something to heat up clay)
Monster Makers Sculpting Clay http://www.monstermakers.com/category/sculpting-clays-and-sculpting-compounds/
Various paint brushes
Plastic mixing cups (I used red party cups)
Nuts and bolts
Plastic Gloves (no latex)
Smooth On Rebound 25 ( Silicon Mold) http://www.smooth-on.com/Brush-On-Silicone-/c1218/index.html
Smooth On Plasti Paste ( Mold Jacket) http://www.smooth-on.com/-Urethane-Plastic-/c0_5_1120_1163/index.html
Smooth On Universal Mold Release https://www.smooth-on.com/index.php?cPath=1123_1169
Smooth On Smooth Cast 325 https://www.smooth-on.com/index.php?cPath=1206
Smooth On Smooth Cast 65D http://www.smooth-on.com/-Urethane-Plastic-/c0_5_1120_1208/index.html
Smooth On Colorant http://www.smooth-on.com/gallery.php?galleryid=189
Thivex Silicon Thickener http://www.smooth-on.com/Thi-Vex=-Silicon/c1197/index.html
Paint mixing sticks
Small trowel (I used a cheap plastic drywall trowel)
Spray Primer (Automotive)
Metallic spray paint
Bone color spray paint (I used krylon almond flat)
Heavy Body acrylic paints (Used for aging, Brown/black/ bright orange)
Clear coat spray paint (I used a matt finish)
Step 2: Blocking Out Your Shape
First things first! Get some clay heated up so it is easily molded with your fingers; the warmer it is the less strain you will have when blocking out your basic shapes! I do this using a crock pot filled with warm water, I place my clay in a ziplock and submerge it.
I like to start by blocking out one half of my sculpture first.
Using reference photos begin to play with the shape and lay the foundation for your piece. This step is crucial for getting the overall size and shape of your prop correct, so take some time and get it right as you don't want to go back later because something looks off. Think of this as the foundation of your house, the better this step goes, the better the final sculpt will come out.
After I blocked out my initial form I began adding horns, refining points and bone structure. I did this using my hands and larger sculpting tools at this point.
Step 3: Developing the Full Shape
Once you are comfortable with your one half, you can move on and start adding in your second half of you sculpture.
Repeat the blocking step but this type you can reference your first half but of course make any changes that would occur on the opposite side. This helmet is not a mirror reflection on both sides so I had to change the second side a bit.
Once you have built up the second side you can then begin smoothing and refining your shapes. Although this helmet is full of texture and detail, I wanted to start with a smooth surface before adding any detail. At this point I started adding heavier detail like the bolts and some bone structure elements.
Step 4: Adding Detail
Adding your detail can be one of the best parts of the project. I personally really like this step because it brings the piece to life.
I did two major detail layers on this helmet. First, I started with heavy detail by adding in the hammered finish and the jagged garin onto the horns/teeth. I like my first layer to be heavy because I smooth that down using a stiff brush and alcohol. It kind of works like sandpaper to smooth the finish but retains the new detail.
Next, I would go over with smaller details like scratches and fine details within the bone and once again go over with the alcohol rub.
As you can see, I removed the horns at this point and created sockets in which they can be positioned.
Once the detail was finished I repositioned everything for a final fitment and adjustment. I also filled in all my excess gaps around the bust in order for the next step, molding!
Step 5: Molding Your Sculpture
I used a paint-on silicon for this sculpture because of heavy undercuts. This mold material is built up in layers to get a desired thickness.
Once you paint on your first layer to pick up detail, you can then add thickener to your silicon to create thicker layers moving forward. This mold was about 6 layers by the time I finished.
I made separate molds for each of the horns/teeth because they would need to be cast out of a separate material. I followed the same process with layering for each of the horns. I was able to complete them all at once by setting them up on some scrap wood and screws.
Once you get your desired thickness built up, you need to add some registration marks to locate your jacket mold when setting up for a casting.
Step 6: Mold Jacket
This step involves creating a hard resin shell for your floppy silicon mold. This will ensure that everything lines up when you are ready to cast your helmet.
I used plasti-paste for this step and made a three piece mold jacket consisting of a top half and two sides. The plasti-paste is like working with chunky peanut butter. When you first spread it on, but once it starts to cure, you can mold it with your hands (with some gloves on) to your desired shape. I created a lip to butt the other halves up to as you can see in the images. I followed the same process for the first side of the mold jacket but sprayed mold release on the exposed edges of the top half. I continued with the last open side until the silicon was fully covered.
Once your resin mold jacket is cured you can drill holes and position bolts so it can be tightly closed well casting.
Step 7: Demolding
Once the mold jacket has cured, you can start removing it from the silicon. Carefully work the mold jacket back and forth applying light pressure along the seams. Once you feel the jacket start to release, it should easily pull away from the silicon and the other parts of the jacket.
Once you have fully removed the mold jacket you can begin removing the silicon mold. This can be tough sometimes if you have a lot of undercuts like this helmet does. I found peeling from the front with the help of a couple slits did the trick.
Once your silicon is free of the sculpture, you can return it to the mold jacket and tighten up your bolts.
Step 8: Casting Your Parts
I used two different methods to cast the parts for the helmet.
To create the main helmet I slush casted (roto casting) using Smooth Cast 65D. This process involves pouring a small amount of resin into your mold and "sloshing" it around to cover all of the surface area that you want to cast. The overall thickness of your cast depends on how many layers or slush sessions you do. I did 6 to get a 1/4 thickness on my helmet.
Once the plastic resin sets up, it turns white and you will notice it produces a lot of heat. When this heat dissipates, you can go ahead and demold the casting by removing the mold jacket and silicon like in previous steps. You will be left with a rough part that should contain all of your detail from your sculpt. You can then go ahead and trim off all of the extra material from around the edges of your part.
The horns were cast using Smooth Cast 325 which is also a plastic resin but cures with a straight pore. I added some white tint to the mix to give the cast a milky translucent finish. This would let light transfer through the part to add a cool effect much like you would find in a tooth..or dragon tooth. Once the resin cures you can demold your parts.
Step 9: Painting
I started off by spraying the bone sections with my "bone" colored paint, let it dry then taped off all of those areas.
Once the bone section was taped off, I sprayed the first layer of my hammered iron finish with metallic spray paint; a couple of coats did the trick.
As soon as the metallic finish is dry, you can take the tape mask off the bone section and start with your first layer of aging. I used a mixture of black and brown acrylic washes to produce this effect. Basically, you coat your part with the paint and wipe away the excess. The paint will stay within the details making everything pop out.
To finish the metal texture, I dry brushed with a bright metallic silver just catching the edge of all my detail.
I started on the horns/teeth with a wash in the brown acrylic then layered up with more coats to darken the finish.
Step 10: Assembly
To assemble the helmet, I used two part epoxy. This step required some dremeling of the horn/ teeth parts to fit back into place. I also sanded down to the bare plastic to ensure good adhesion.
12 horns/teeth later, it was ready to try on! It fits well but i'm still thinking about adding some low key padding to the inside or maybe some fur lining.
Step 11: Finishing
To finish off the helmet I went back over with some more paint to enhance the aging and darken some spots here and there.
I also added some light rusting using the black, brown and bright orange paints. These details were all added using a small paintbrush. A combination of dry brushing and wet washes achieved the final finish.
To seal all that goodness in, I gave it a light coat of matt clear spray paint.
Thanks for checking out the process!
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