ATTENTION: PLEASE READ
DON’T JUST SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH!!! If you really want to make a Thomas Bangalter Daft Punk helmet, it’s going to take a lot of time and patience. If you just want one of these helmets fast with no effort, go shop on eBay or something, because you’re not going to find it here. That said, if you DO want to make a Thomas helmet, and you haven’t ever done anything like this before and/or you don’t have many skills in this area, this tutorial is for you. Also, if you’re poor like us then you don’t have to worry about cost, it will only be around $50, which is really cheap for this sort of thing, if you didn’t know. This is our first prop design, and we pulled techniques from a few sources that best fit our simple skill set. It took us about 30-40 hours to complete this build, but that includes time spent messing up with dye and other things that you can easily avoid if you follow this tutorial. We will go step by step and tell you guys as specifically as possible how to make this helmet with very little precise skills. Remember, this tutorial is for complete beginners, because that’s what we were. If some of this seems like baby steps, that’s because we’re trying to help those with no skills in this area. Because of this, this helmet is not perfect. If you’re looking for perfection, go look at http://www.volpinprops.com/ . That said, let’s start the tutorial!!!
1 Pair of scissors
14 sheets of paper (printer paper for pepakura)
1 Sheet of thin cardboard/thick poster board (we used about 2x2 ft but more is better in case you screw up)
1 X-ACTO knife for cardboard
1 Hot glue gun
1 Razor blade (for excess hot glue)
1 Generic baseball helmet, as smooth as possible with as little bulge as possible for the ears (pics and better description further down)
1 Can black spray paint
2 C-clamps (optional)
2 Aluminum cans
Fiberglass and resin (optional)
1 Dremel tool
2-4 Tubes of Bondo (car dent paste, varies with amount of coats)
1 Putty knife (1-1.5 inches wide)
Some 220+ Grit Sandpaper, rougher to start, but really smooth after the final coats of bondo
1 Can of primer
1 Can silver spray paint
1 Sheet of 1/32" PETG plastic, at least 4x17 inches (size may vary slightly)
1 can VHT Nightshades tint
A truckload of patience (this is the most important part)
Step 1: PEPAKURA
Download the pepakura file viewer if you don’t already have it.
Link is here: http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/
After you have done that, Google and download a Thomas helmet file (link here: http://www.thedaftclub.com/forum/showthread.php/17216-Daft-Punk-Pepakura-File-Collection choose your flavor), which you can then print out using pepakura and build as a paper base for the rest of your project. You don’t actually have to do the whole pepakura model, as we will be using the baseball helmet for the entire back part (see pictures below) and aluminum cans for the ears. Cut out the front part of the model, as shown, and arrange on the cardboard.
Then, trace or tape the paper pepakura model onto the cardboard, and cut out the shape from the cardboard using the X-ACTO knife.
Once you have all your parts cut out, it should look like the last picture.
Step 2: BUILDING THE CARDBOARD FRONT
Once you have all the pieces in the above picture laid out on a flat surface for visibility purposes, begin hot gluing the pieces together according to the pepakura. The original paper pieces have numbers on them for what pieces you put with other pieces if you really get lost. We found that it was only useful to build the bottom part of the visor (everything except the two top pieces in the first picture), because that piece needed a lot of bending to get it in the right spot that was basically impossible without the helmet attached.
Add the chin pieces last, it makes the front easier to manipulate.
In retrospect, it is key to trim out the places where it overlaps, such as on the bottom of the eye piece in the fifth picture, and on the top as well. In ours, we left that in and it resulted in bulges in the finished project (not good).
Now that you have the shape of it, you need to add the trim around where the plastic will be. Just do the same as the rest of the pepakura except you’re going to have to make your own piece. It should be around the width of the fold flaps, and as long as the lengths of the edges of the eye piece. We had to add multiple pieces of trim for some areas to make the plastic piece fit more vertically, so you may have to adjust yours if your bottom part of the visor was farther in than the top part like ours was. This just means the plastic will be slightly slanted outward in the finished piece. It may sound bad, but it still looks really good, so don’t worry about it.
Spray paint the inside of the helmet black, to minimize visibility from the outside of the helmet looking in.
Now that you’ve got that done, onto the baseball helmet.
Step 3: ATTACHING THE VISOR TO THE HELMET
Find a good baseball helmet that has no air vents or holes or whatever fancy stuff they have these days. You want a good, smooth, round helmet, like the second picture.
Sorry about the photos, I’m not a professional, as you can tell. Anyway, you can see that in this picture, the ears bulge out a little bit, which proved to be a problem with this helmet. If you can find a helmet with less bulge, that would be better. As you will see in later photographs, there are no vents or anything on this helmet other than the one hole at the top, which was easily fixed with fiberglass.
Now, attach the bottom part of the face to the helmet using a crap-ton of hot glue. Use the pepakura for a reference for the position of the face on the helmet. Use the c-clamps if you want to hold the visor in place until the hot glue is completely dry. This part will take some troubleshooting if you didn’t do something right. We had to bend ours pretty far to make it fit, so you’ll have to see what you need to do to make it work.
As you can see in these pictures, we cut off the visor on the baseball helmet. In order to get the right angle for the visor, you might have to cut off this part, which is easy if you have a dremel tool. If not, well… be creative. Once you have that on there, glue on the top part of the visor with the desired angle. Again, don’t overlap the cardboard, because you will end up with a bump on the top that doesn’t look good.
By the way, those “support struts” are useless, don’t bother with them unless you really want to. Once you have that on there, glue on the trim for the top part of the visor, as shown below.
The ear on the right there turned out to be too big for that attempt, so just ignore it for now, that will be next.
Alright, now your helmet is coming together! You can see the shape of it pretty well, and you can tell if you made any major errors. Your helmet should look something like the first picture, hopefully without the overlap and excess glue. :P
Step 4: THE EARS
Time for the use of the Mtn. Dew cans! Cut the can with the dremel tool around the base about ½ -1 inch from the bottom. I don’t have an exact measurement, so you’re going to have to just eyeball it. Just cut it so the bottom of the Mtn. Dew can is not tilted to one side or the other, you want them to face directly opposite ways so you have an even look. Oh and by the way, it’s not a horizontal cut, it’s somewhat angled because of the bulge of the helmet. You should have a somewhat circular area next to the visor part, so place the ear directly in the middle of that. Don’t worry about the gap, the fiberglass and bondo will cover that later.
What we did was we started with a very large ear and loosely hot glued it onto the helmet to visualize what it would look like. Based off some reference shots and the pepakura, we were able to determine the length of the ears and get them somewhat similar, as shown in the pictures.
I can’t stress enough how much patience is needed for this project, as these simple ears took about two hours to get the shape and size right and the same for both ears.
Step 5: THE FIBERGLASS (optional)
This step is non-essential for the construction of the helmet, as you can finish the helmet with similar aesthetic results with only the bondo. Due to the properties of fiberglass, it will be hard to manipulate or sand the fiberglass after it is dry, so it may be harmful to your project to use this if you screw up this step. HOWEVER, we found it necessary to add this step because it gives much of the overall strength to the helmet, preventing cracks and such from occurring in the final project. I am strongly recommending the fiberglass step to all who plan on wearing the helmet, rather than letting it sit on their desk or whatever. If you’re not going to use it at all, don’t do this step, it’s probably not worth it.
Anyway, that said, place fiberglass strips over the parts where you can do one strip to cover the cracks and corners.
This way, you don’t have to worry about doing a thick coat of bondo over the cracks.
Here’s a picture (#2) of it when it’s wet with resin, note the air bubbles on the top right, on the chin area. GET THOSE OUT. Work hard on this section, you want this to be as good as possible as it will cement the shape of your helmet.
Repeat these steps for the rest of the helmet.
Don’t worry about getting it to cover the trim; you can do that with the bondo, as it doesn’t need that much covering.
After the fiberglass, I put paper over the eye area to see what the finished project would generally look like. (last three pictures)
Step 6: BONDO
This is probably the most time consuming step. It will take you a good hour or two per coat, and you should do 3-5 coats to get it really smooth. We did three, but I would recommend more because ours is not that smooth.
Some tutorials just say, “then comes the bondo,” but that didn’t help me at all, because I had never used it before this. So, I will attempt to explain what to generally do with it if you are like I was and have no experience with it. If you already know how to use it, skip this paragraph. We bought the non-professional version, which comes pre-mixed and has no catalyst, which is why it is red, I would assume. This was fairly easy to use, so I would recommend it for beginners. Squeeze out a bit of bondo about as long as a wooden clothespin onto your helmet where you will use it. Use the putty knife to spread it as smoothly as possible, to give you less pain on the sanding end. Spread it out as much as you can, making the shape of the helmet more round, don’t just put an even coat over the entire helmet, because the different sections of the helmet will need more or less bondo than others.
Once you have a good coat of bondo on the helmet, wait for it to dry and sand off the rough patches. Here’s a picture of before (1) and after (3) sanding.
Yes, I know it looks like it has leprosy, but don’t get discouraged. This is only the first coat, and hopefully you did a better job than we did at making it smooth (this was pretty terrible). It’s not hard to sand, and I would recommend 220 grit sandpaper for the first coat and then progressively finer as you go on.
And then we did another coat.
So once you’ve got a nice smooth feel to your helmet and you’re satisfied with it, hit it with a coat of primer to really highlight the rough spots. (last two pics)
Go back and fill in all the gaps with bondo. This won’t require an entire additional coat (hopefully), so it shouldn’t be as time consuming. Spray it with primer again when you’re finished.
Ok, there you go. You’re almost there if your plastic adventure goes well.
Step 7: PAINTING
Next is the silver spray paint. If you happen to have a REALLY smooth helmet and some extra cash I would recommend a chrome job done by a professional chrome shop. We don’t know anything about these so don’t ask us about them. Anyway, silver metallic spray paint is very touchy, and I recommend a distance of 14-15 inches between the spray bottle and the surface. Less is more, because you can do more coats if you have to and you can avoid runny paint. There are a few pictures of the painted helmet and what happens when you get too close.
As you can see, it gets really ugly, really fast. If you do what we did and totally screw it up, just put another coat of primer over the top and start over, it’s no big deal.
Now you’ve got your painted helmet! All that’s left is the plastic.
Step 8: THE PLASTIC
This part caused us the most trouble, as we went through three different types of tint and none of them worked very well. We think our plastic was too smooth, and the tint had nowhere to take hold. GET PETG PLASTIC, it’s the only thing that will let you do either the RIT method or the VHT Nightshades method, neither of which produced results AT ALL on the smooth plastic. Save yourself some trouble and just do it with PETG.
Some failed RIT tests: (pics 7-9)
Make a paper version of the visor you are going to make so that you can trim and get the shape way more easily than if you did it with the plastic. Then trace the shape onto the plastic and move on to the tint. (pics 4 and 5)
So what we ended up doing was experimenting with the PETG plastic and the VHT nightshades about 5 times before finally getting a satisfactory result. We managed to get a good looking result on the outside on our first try, but you couldn’t see clearly out of it, as it was blurry and spotty. We found that if you warm up the can of VHT in the sun for a while, and then shake it for about a minute (basically what it says on the can), it will assist in a smooth coat. This alone, however, did not produce satisfactory results. On our final experiment, we sprayed the VHT about 3 inches from the surface of the plastic, and just drenched the whole thing with a super thick coat. The tint stuck together enough to provide an even coat. Anyway, this may have been the wrong way to go about it, but it gave us good results. Finally, glue in your visor with hot glue or something to secure it to the inner edge of your visor to prevent gaps in between the two.
VHT Nightshades (pic 10)
some pics of the tinting process (11-14)
Tint comparison (first test with nightshades vs. last) (last pic)
I think you can guess which one is which.
Step 9: THE NOSTRILS
Almost as an afterthought, we added the nostrils for visibility. It took about twenty minutes with a dremel tool, so it was no big deal. We stenciled out the design with pencil and took a dremel tool to cut out the long sections. Using a drill with a small bit, we managed to take care of the short sides of the holes.
Step 10: PUT IT ON
Here are some pictures of the finished build (visor not secured yet)!
We also secured an iPod and a set of earphones in there so we could listen to Daft Punk’s music while wearing their helmet. (last pic)
Thanks for taking the time to read this tutorial! We hope this was helpful, and feel free to ask any questions about the build!
Next time: the LED matrix :D