Introduction: Star Wars Imperial Guard Helmet

Picture of Star Wars Imperial Guard Helmet

This helmet was first featured in Star Wars - Return of the Jedi and was worn by the six guards that accompanied the Emperor. At the beginning of this project, I could not find schematics to define the geometry of this helmet, so I had to rely on images gathered for the internet and referencing screen shots of the films. Once the geometry was defined in 3D modeling, the master was built and the mold created. The castings are rotocasted urethane epoxy resin with red pigment and clear coated with polyurethane. The visors are 1/8" thick smoked acrylic that are thermoformed.

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Step 1: Development

This 3D model was created based off film screen shots, images from the web, and measurements from my first customer. The layers are separated by 2 1/4 inches and represent layers of 1/4" MDF that would be filled with 2" insulation foam and carved to shape.

    Step 2: Master

    Picture of Master

    I got the idea of using rigid layers filled with foam from the way they built the model of the USS Enterprise for Star Trek The Next Generation. The layers were printed out, placed on sheets of 1/4" MDF, cut out and assembled. Insulation foam was used to fill the 2" voids between layers and shaved down to shape. Bondo was used to create a hard shell over the foam. The bondo was sanded down and coated with filler primer and then automotive primer. The automotive was sanded with a 600 grit sanding sponge. At this point, the mold was ready to be made.

    Step 3: Mold

    Picture of Mold

    The mold consists of two parts; a rubber glove mold and a two part support mother mold. The rubber glove mold is made of Smooth-On's Mold Max 30. Thi-Vex and Fast Cat 30 were used at different points to either thicken the rubber or increase the curing rate. The support shell was made of Smooth-On's Plasti-Paste. For detailed instructions of this molding process, check out this video.

    Step 4: Casting and Finishing

    The final products were rotocasted using Polytek's EasyFlo 120 rotocastable urethane epoxy resin. The plastic was dyed using Polytek's Red PolyColor Dye. The castings were trimmed with a rotary tool and coated with Minwax's fast drying polyurethane gloss clear coat. The visors were thermoformed out of 1/8" smoked acrylic and superglued into place.

    In the video, I had already poured the 24 oz portion when I decided to do the video. There's pigment in each portion, so it's red throughout the entire thickness. Otherwise, you'd see blotchy discoloration. The total amount of resin I needed was calculated by multiplying the surface area by the desired thickness of 3/16". So that was 48 oz. Doing the 48 oz in a single pour doesn't work because the weight of the plastic per unit surface area causes it to pull away from the mold as it's curing. This eventually results in the biggest plastic booger you've ever seen. So it has to be divided into multiple smaller portions.

    The portions are still being refined each couple of times I pour them. You don't notice in the final product, it just affects the ease of casting. The first pour needs to coat the entire surface to maintain the same color across the surface. Color does vary slightly from pour to pour and is noticeable. If the entire external surface is not accomplished in a single pour, and needs to be completed by a second pour, you will see a split line between two slightly different colors. The subsequent pours provide the reinforcement needed to complete the full desired thickness of the shell. Splitting the reinforcement pours makes it easier to control the liquid. Due to the pot life of the plastic, the more your pour in, the less time you have to focus on covering the areas that are needed. And the geometry of this helmet provides some very tricky surfaces to cover while attempting not to dump plastic onto the floor.

    The first split I did, as in the video, was the 24-12-12. The 24 oz seemed to be a bit much, leaving a small clump. So I reduced the initial pour and did a 18-10-10-10 split, which yields far better results than 24-12-12. However, the 18 just barely covers the whole surface. So, I'm moving to a 20-10-10-10 split. 2 extra oz won't effect anything.

    Step 5: Results!

    Picture of Results!

    Comments

    misdemeanour (author)2017-08-11

    ^ ^ wow!

    DesireeNLuvBarrett (author)2017-05-21

    Thats amazing. I bought one for my hisband and it was 2 in too small so it was cut and refabricated by some friends at his work. I wish i had seen this before i spent 200.00 on it. Thanks for the great instructable!

    ronanry (author)2016-09-27

    I was wondering, instead of insulation foam, do you believe it's possible to use expanding foam (the kind you use to fill a gap in a wall) at the top of your helmet...

    maybe it will be easier to "cut" in shape ?

    Ethan1023 (author)2016-08-25

    Can you see through the visor?

    pianoplaying music kid (author)2016-07-26

    Awesome! It would be even better when you make the whole costume with the robe and the original white lightsaber :)

    MikaelaHolmes (author)2016-06-24

    Really beautiful result. I've always loved these imperial guard costumes. Such an interesting amalgam of styles. It's amazing seeing all the work that goes into creating something that looks that good. Thanks for sharing :)

    AndrewB242 (author)2016-03-06

    Really great instructable. I'd like to see these guys featured more in the films.

    rbetel (author)2016-02-11

    In the rotocating video, you say you need to do the casting as 3 pours: one 24oz and two 12oz, but then you do a 12oz pour... Did you already do the 24oz pour? Are you putting colour in all 3 pours?How'd you figure out how much resin you need per pour? Why is the second half done as two 12s instead of just a second 24oz?

    Sorry for the confusion. I clarified in the text. Thanks for the questions!

    Thanks for the clarifications! How did you make an estimate of the surface area of the helmet though?

    NathanSellers (author)2016-02-13

    Pretty cool process. It looks great.

    douge11 (author)2016-02-11

    really cool you do great work , it's greeeeaaaaattt!,,

    rbetel (author)2016-02-11

    In the rotocating video, you say you need to do the casting as 3 pours: one 24oz and two 12oz, but then you do a 12oz pour... Did you already do the 24oz pour? Are you putting colour in all 3 pours?How'd you figure out how much resin you need per pour? Why is the second half done as two 12s instead of just a second 24oz?

    jferva (author)2016-02-11

    Brilliant.

    MarcusAvery (author)2016-02-11

    Very Cool!

    MarcusAvery (author)2016-02-11

    Very Cool!

    Carlos Russo (author)2016-02-11

    Amazing!!!!

    AdrianJ3 (author)2016-02-11

    Seeing this photo without having seen the film it was featured in, I thought:

    "Wow! That's some hardass hijab-niqab for one tough Muslima !" :-)

    guesswho520 (author)2016-02-11

    Are these 501st approved?

    opalmox (author)2016-02-11

    One of my favorite helmets of all the various Star Wars sagas.

    KryptoTSD (author)2016-02-11

    What about an Imperial Stormtrooper and a First Order Stormtrooper helmets?

    KryptoTSD (author)2016-02-11

    What about an Imperial Stormtrooper and a First Order Stormtrooper helmets?

    aliencaltech (author)2016-02-11

    There's not a lot of appreciation for the Imperial Guard outfit. Your mask is very well done. It looks great.

    wernerkeil (author)2016-02-11

    Nice, would be great for Carneval (though it just ended;)

    studleylee (author)2016-02-10

    Amazing!!!

    gdomantic (author)2016-02-09

    this is incredible. very professional. thanks for these great instructions

    marc_vid (author)2016-02-09

    You right, I never see any of this guards in any other location, and they are amazing. Great work!

    Jedi_zombie85 (author)2016-02-09

    Very nice work, this looks great

    spacepymp (author)2016-02-08

    Just realized those guards are really different and creepy opposed to normal troopers

    matson23 (author)2016-02-08

    Stunning work, really well done sir

    dufus2506 (author)2016-02-08

    Looks like it would be difficult to breathe while wearing it, but the results are fantastic.

    choctawgh (author)2016-02-08

    These have been my favorite helmets in the entire series, and I love how this turned out. Excellent work, wish I could make one myself!

    About This Instructable

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