Intro: Star Wars - Republic Commando Helmet
So, have you ever wanted to be in the GAR, (Grand Army of the Republic) but you live in a galaxy too far far away? Then you are in the right place! And if what you want is to be in the Avengers team, or fight alongside Aragorn and Legolas with an axe, this is also your tutorial! You can make almost any helmet you want.
So, let's go with the material:
-Fiberglass sheets (in my country these are sold in packs, like giant pieces of fabric or paper)
-Polyester resin (usually sold in cans, like paint. In some big stores, you can find packs with the fiberglass and the resin)
-Polyester putty (also sold in cans)
-Paint (the colour depends on your preferences)
-A sheet of transparent plàstic (like the ones that can be put in printers) or any kind of transparent plastic that can hold itself (I mean, that it has to be a little rigid)
-Reflective Solar Mirror Window Film, better if it's self adhesive (and of course, chose the colour that you like most)
And now tools (nothing expensive)
-Plastic plates and plastic glasses
-Latex or vinyl gloves
-Lots of paint brushes (cheap ones)
-A knife (ideally a mini-tool like a dremmel)
-Lots of sandpaper (a small sander can be very useful)
-Even more patience than sandpaper
-Protective mask or clothes to cover your face (you will make lots of dust)
Once you have all this, let's get to work!
Step 1: FIrst of All: Searching Your Helmet
First of all, go to that page http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/download/ind... and download the "pepakura viewer" programme. It's free, and easy to use. Now, install "cute PDF" http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.as... , which will allow you to print the patterns of your helmet.
Once you have them, start searching the helmet you want, using the word pepakura -for exemple, "star wars stormtrooper helmet pepakura file; iron man helmet pepakura file"-. Once you find what you want, download it (.pdo extension) and open it with the viewer. Most of them are free, some are not. There are lots of webpages with lots of patterns and files.
You'll see a 3-D model of the helmet or object you want to do, and you can flp it and turn it around. On the left part of the screen, you'll see the pages of what you want to do with the patterns. Try different options (thicker lines, show numbers, etc). Once you have it as you want it (I strongly reccomend you to use numbers on the patterns), go to settings and print it, selecting the Printer called Cute PDF. This will transform this file into a PDF. Now, you can see if the lines are too thick or not, and change them if you like. Go to a copyshop and print the PDF in cardboard (it should be thicker and more rigid than normal paper).
Well! Now, let's take some patience, some glue stick, a pair of scissors and start cutting the lines of the patterns. Watch the 3-D model in the computer and follow the lines that will guide you (page 4, this strange large piece of paper sticked to the page 9 piece). Or you can cut them all (keeping them in separate plastic bags, and then following the model in the pepakura viewer start sticking them. Listening to music is highly recommended.
Step 2: Put Your Gloves On!
Hey! Look how nice your helmet looks! Maybe it folds itself a little bit (don't worry), or maybe the patterns were too small or too big. If that's the case, you have to readjust the printing scale.
Whatever the case is, congratulations!
Get some tape and try to cover all the spots of the helmet you can (from the inside of the helmet!). The outside part has to look without tape. Now, remember the polyester resin? Put your gloves on, and in a very well ventilated place, put some resin in a plastic glass, and mix it with the catalyst provided with it -in the can there will be the proportions, but it doesn't have to be perfect, just put a stream to the resin. If you put too much, it will get hard faster, if you don't put enough it can take days for the resin to solidify. Luckily, the first steps will allow you to try different proportions, because for the moment, it's not that important.
You have to paint the inside part of the helmet, but I recommend you to "paint" it in different parts. The first time, cover only the right side of it, or the back and let it dry. It will take you some sessions to have it all covered, but be patient. The porpouse of this is to give the helmet some rigidity, but you don't want it to be hard at all, just with some more consistency. Everytime you aply a coat of resin, the glass and the paintbrush will be useless because once the resin hardens, the brush will be as hard as a rock, so throw it away after using it.
Once you have given it two coats, get some chopsticks or ice cream sticks, or something like that and with some tape, hold everything on it's place (remember that it was a little folded or "sunken"?). Once you have it hold as it has to be, try it on and look yourself in a mirror. This way you'll see if it needs some more sticks holding something on it's place.
Now, with gloves on (really, use them because fiberglass will itch like hell if you touch it with your bare hands) cut it in small pieces (some squares, some rectangular, different sizes) and with some resin, stick them inside the helmet. Don't try to cover it all at once, cover a small part and once it has hardened, cover another one. Use the pieces that fit best in each part (smaller ones in folded zones of the helmet, bigger ones in the flat zones), and try to make all the shapes the helmet has. Once the whole inside of the helmet has been covered, repeat the process once more (it will take you a few days because you'll have to wait for the resin to harden properly). Once you have finished, you will have the structure of the helmet! It should be very hard, if a part of it moves, add some more fiberglass. You want it to be sòlid as a rock.
Step 3: Get Ready for the Dust!
Now it's time to use the sandpaper and smooth the polygonal and "squared" edges made by the paper on the outside of the helmet. Try to give it a smooth and rounded shape. If you make some small hole sanding an edge, don't worry, it will all be covered with the putty. Also, you'll have to cut all the excess of fiberglass (as you can see on my picture, there was some of it going outside the visor and neck "holes". Ideally, cut them with a dremmel, but if you don't have one use a knife or a small hand saw.
The putty also comes with a catalyst. Mix some of it with a scraper or a spoon you don't want anymore. Again, there are probably exact proportions on how to mix it, but it's the same than before. The more catalyst, the faster it will harden. With the help of the scraper, put some of the mix on the outside of the helmet and extend it. You can use a humid sponge, and it will be easier. Don't try to cover all the helmet at once, do it in small areas, and try to make it as smooth as you can. Once hardened, sand it a little bit, and cover another area of the helmet. Once your first coat is done, comes the hard work. You have to start sanding everything untill it gets a smooth texture. You'll find lots of "holes" and cracks all over the surface. Cover them with some putty, and sand them. This process will take you quite a long time, so be very patient, go outside (the working zone and you will end up covered in dust) and cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Use a small sander if you can, it'll help you a lot.
Once you think you have finished, lay a coat of paint (better with a spray). It will help showing the imperfections. Using a flashlight will also be useful (the cracks will have some shadow)
Step 4: Good! Your Helmet Is Almost Done!
Now choose your favourite colours and paterns (I painted mine to look like the Republic commando 038 "Boss", from the "Republic commando" videogame). I also left some cracks on the helmet on purpose, so that it doesn't look "brand new". With caution, paint the the lnies you like, or draw something on it... whatever you like!
Also, if the inside looks awful or it doesn't fit properly (too wide, it moves when you wear it) put some foam inside untill it feels comfortable on your head. Just don't cover the zone around the visor zone.
Step 5: Now the Visor! (or Sight, or Viewer, Don't Know the Exact Word)
Grab your helmet, take some paper, and put it inside the helmet, as if you wanted to make the "glass" of the helmet with it. With a pencil or anything that marks on paper, draw the lines of the visor on it. Take it out, put the paper under the transparent sheet of plastic and with a permanent marker, trace the shape (first imatge). Make it 2 fingers bigger at least. because you will have to use that extra space to glue it. Now add the window film on it (use the manufacturer's instructions and try not leaving small air bubbles on it). If you can't make it without bubbles, try cleaning the surface with a solution of water and soap, (window cleaner liquid) and without drying it, try to stick the film carefully. The liquid will come out when you press it, so there will be no bubbles left. Now it's turn to stick it to the helmet!* Use a strong glue that can stick plàstics together, and you'll be ready to join the GAR!
I wanted to get my helmet dirty so that it looks used, but I couldn't. I know I wouldn't make it rigt, so I didn't do it. If you want to know how to do it, look in other forums or in Star Wars costumes asociations.
*If the surface on the inside of the helmet is too irregular to stick the plastic visor, try to smooth it with sander, or adding some polyester putty to create a flat area.