Introduction: CHEAP Cosplay Helmet

Haven't we all at some point or another wanted to be a power ranger?
or master chief?
or iron man?
or gray fox?
or anyone with a full head helmet style mask.

but lacked the initiative/fund to do all the casting and sculpting required to make an awesome helmet.

WELL HERE IS YOUR ANSWER:
in this tutorial I'll teach you how to make a full head mask without casting or sculpting that can look almost professional!
for under really cheap!

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

For the base:
cardstock
Scissors
glue
newspaper
(pepakura/printer OPTIONAL)

You may want to add raised detail in EVA craft foam

Fiberglass resin
fiberglass hardener
fiberglass mat
rubber gloves (OPTIONAL but recommended!!!)
Body-filler

(and maybe some white spirit to clean up the mess)

OH SO MANY PAINT BRUSHES!
OH SO MUCH SANDPAPER!
and

Step 1: Creating a Basic Frame

To begin you will need you base. for My example ill be making the white ranger helmet from the original mighty morphin power rangers.

This is where most professional level masks are started with full head casts and clay sculptures.
we however are using a different ,much cheaper and quicker, method.

You can begin by cutting card into strips and taping it into a frame around your head. and then filling in the gaps with paper mache to make your very basic mask form.

HOWEVER if your mask is a lot more intricate than this you can look for something called a PEP FILE

A pep file is a .pdo you can open in a program called pepakura. that prints 3d models into paper craft frames.
id suggest using a slightly thicker card-stock as your paper.

This can be a very fiddly process and might not be perfect your first time, but keep at it!

Step 2: Detail

This is a very loose step because it can be ordered differently.

if your detail is already on your basic card frame then it can usually be fiber-glassed along with the rest of the helmet.

In my case i designed foam decals to sit on top of the head shell. but since i was adding heavy plastic onto the shell i decided to resin the foam decals on much later in the build.

In the case of other masks you might want to do all the detailing as part of the head shell. but it all comes down to your designers preference.

Step 3: Fiberglass

Now i suspect many of you, like i, have found it difficult getting a clear answer on how the fiberglassing process works.
in most cases you will buy a kit that will contain:
fiberglass resin
fiberglass mat
hardener
and probably a little cup,stirrer and some gloves (BELIEVE ME! YOU WANT SOME GLOVES)

ITS ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED YOU USE A GOOD RESPIRATOR!!!! (however i'v been just fine without one before)

the process is fairly easy but you will have to work fast
find a clear, well ventilated space and lay out your tools

You will want to mix the hardening paste to the resin in the measurement suggested on the box/instructions.

I usually add a little more hardener than necessary (this will reduce the available working time but reduce sticky-ness later)

in my case i didn't want to lay the mat on too thick and risk the helmet becoming too bulky later on. but this comes down to personal call and skill.


Then the idea is to paint the gooey fiberglass resin onto strips of the mat (trust me you'll want it all cut into strips before hand)
and then stick it onto the basic frame we made before
if you were competent the basic frame should be thick enough to stand up to the moisture in the resin.
in a case where you want to add as little bulk as possible you can just paint on the resin and skip the mat altogether

A few times i have made my frames too thin and they tend to distort under the weight of the resin.


You will never get your fiberglass to sit perfectly and will always have some cut off needed. don't worry about this too much as this is just to add the base plastic and strength to your mask.

It might take several hours (or overnight) to dry to the point it stops being sticky, and then strap yourself in for A LOT of sanding.

Step 4: Filler

There are many alternate fillers out there.
some people like using auto-filler as theirs. some people use a product called bondo.

I went for polycell POLY-FILLA a type of SPACKLING PASTE in the U.K for filling holes in walls.
It is cheap and in my opinion easier to work with and just as effective as many of the more expensive alternatives.

I worked inside with mine, but again you'll want a well ventilated, clear area in any case.
You'll want to coat the mask pretty much in it's entirety. trying to get a nice even spread. if you have raised details in your base you can either work around them or coat them just the same.

In my case i worked in layers. filling in small lumps and such after each coat dried.
the surface dries lumpy but is very easy to sand if you compact the filler correctly against the mask.

And again. you are in for A LOT of sanding.

Step 5: Making It Wearable

Now this will differ with each mask.
but the basic components are:

Hinge.
Opening
and latch

the power ranger latch system is fairly easy. i separated the mask into its 2 parts and used elasticated fabric bands glued to each part inside the mask to keep them together.

i then added compressions spring latches to their respective places to lock the helmet closed against my head.

you might wish to go for a more subtle locking mechanism in your mask. such as using magnets to hold the parts together. or putting the latches on the inside.

BE SURE YOU CAN ALWAYS GET OUT WHEN YOUR HEAD IS INSIDE!
we wouldn't want to have to smash it up to set you free and ruin all your work.

Step 6: Finishing Touches.

By this point your mask will look very near to how you expect it to be, there may very well be a few holes to fill and gaps to cover.
but this will all come down to how you have done so far.

Paints are an almost obvious point to make. again with preferences with each person its impossible for me to tell you what to use.
I would recommend a high gloss primer spray paint, at least as your base, and using scotch tape to seal out the areas you don't want colored if spraying specific areas of the helmet.

My white tiger ranger mask is lacking a little color but is looking damn good at its near finished stage,

You may also wish to add a visor! I got myself some car window tint film and i intend to add a thin plastic visor after my paint work is done.

Also you should make the extra effort to make sure it is comfortable to wear. consider sanding the inside a little. and adding foam padding to make a nicer fit.

I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU CAN BREATH WELL INSIDE YOUR HELMET. THINK ABOUT IT!

That concludes my tutorial on Full head mask making. I hope it helped and your feedback is always welcome and appreciated!
THANKS FOR READING!

Comments

author
MichaelJ3 (author)2014-08-24

what did u use for the base?

author
Carmasclar (author)2013-09-10

I really love this I am wanting to make this for a cos play. I do not know if I am missing the step but what are you making the raised sections out of?

author
IdiotEngine (author)Carmasclar2013-09-15

I used EVA foam from
An old yoga mat. But you can use craft foam or even cardboard! Provided you resin over it later

author
mintk (author)2013-08-22

Love love love this! Going to create a master chief one for Halloween.!

author
IdiotEngine (author)mintk2013-08-22

Sounds awesome! be sure to vote for me in the weekend project challenge. i'd be very grateful

author
Gregbot (author)2013-08-21

cool!

author
IdiotEngine (author)Gregbot2013-08-22

thanks buddy, be sure to drop a vote!

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