Stormtrooper Helmet Build – Doggie Style!
I am going to keep this as short as possible. We by no means are experts and this was our first sculpt and cast of any sort so if you are looking for a detailed how-to I would suggest googling tutorials on the different subjects. By “we” I mean Mom, without opposable thumbs I had to leave the work to her while I barked orders over her shoulder.
As much as we would have loved to use a modified pepakura build we knew with my long muzzle that wasn’t going to happen so we would have to do something custom. Lets start with the first and most important part to this build… ME!!! None of this could be done if I weren’t a very tolerant dog. I have been dressed up in one way or another since I came home as a little pup so this build was nothing new to me but most dogs will have a big issue with it. To start this build we had to start with a mold of my head. For this build Mom wrapped my head in a nice thick soft towel (eyes and all) then used fiberglass casting material to cast the top half of my head. The towel not only protects me, it also allows extra room in the helmet to breath and add padding for adjustment and comfort (we planned on making it out of fiberglass), it’s better to have the helmet to big than too small. For the cast itself we used fiberglass casting material we bought off Amazon a while back for another project, this is the medial supply stuff made for broken bone casts. However we only used this since it was laying around and less messy, however we have also done a casting in a plaster and hemp strip mix (much like older humans casts) and this takes soooooo much longer to dry, is messy but supplies are easy to find local.
Sorry, no pics of the casting of my head.
Now that we had my head shape, we cut out big holes for plenty of eye room and big ear holes. The pics below we taken after the complete build, so the black spots are still covered in clay. Next we wired PVC pipes to the side to give the helmet one of its be recognizable features of what appears to be part of the breathing unit.
Next, the sculpt. Lets start by saying Mom never took art class (dang math nerd!) and is not artistic so she knew she was going to need a lot of time. Knowing this need for time we choose to use Original Sculpey Polymer Clay. Helpful hint.. get it at Wally World (Wal-Mart), its cheapest although you will have to check often because our local one here sells out fast. This clay stays pliable until you bake it giving you lots of working time. Below are pics of sculpt.
Once we got everything molded and ready for casting, Mom took it out to the garage and guess what DROPPED IT!!! Yes she DROPPED IT! Luckily the clay was so thick the damage was minimal, however you can notice a little bit on wonkiness in the final helmet which we think was the drop.
So now the casting process. We chose to use fiberglass as our helmet material. Why you ask? Only because Dad is a car guy so he is familiar with fiberglass and we didn’t want to build a vacuum forming system to use plastic (although we want one now!). So step one in this process for us was GOOGLE! We searched and searched on all different home casting techniques. One of the first rules we learned was if you are going to cast a hard material like fiberglass then you will was a soft mold like silicone. However here in Redding, CA you can’t find good silicone casting material so we looked for a good home made recipe. If you google Sugru or Oogoo substitute you will find a lot of good talks about them (add “cosplay” or “helmet” to your search). I went with a mixture 100% Silicone Caulking (clear), corn starch and orderless mineral spirits. The my mixture was approx 1:1:1 but I really suggest you spend the time googling people with more experience. I ended up making a two part mold from silicone followed by a 2 part mother mold made of plaster of paris.
Here is the mold post helmet, I am pretty sure it will not hold up to another pour, however since we did make our helmet from fiberglass I could make another mold using the helmet.
After we made the mold, next was the fiberglass, once again if you want details please look google experts. We used a polyester fiberglass which is the type you get at the auto parts store. When we pulled the mold, the fiberglass was pretty rough, it had lots of bubbles because the first few mixes of the silicone mix wasn’t as smooth as the last several (we learned as we went), but since this is another reason why we chose fiberglass, it can get fixed! We with the help of fillers like Bondo, fiberglass resin and A LOT of sanding by hand (no machines will work with this odd shape) we finally had it! This was the most time consuming part of the whole build because of all curves we couldn’t use any machines or blocks for sanding, it was all by hand.
Next the paint, not much to say, we just used a filling primer, lots of wet sanding (all the way down to 2000 grit) and hi-gloss Krylon paint. The lenses are made from a car window tint on a clear plastic sheet, the kind that comes on reports people make, before you ask, no Mom did not steal this from work we found an old presentation Dad did that had the clear cover sheet. Although we thought about going with the dark green lenses like the actual movie props, trying to find that color tint would have been difficult and lets face it, most people think the lenses are black.
Finally how its strapped on. On the interior we put on foam padding for spacers and an additional layer of craft foam for final padding. We then added loops made of bias tape (folded fabric strips) so we could loop our straps made of bias tape throw. There are enough loops to make two straps that tie under my neck. However these two straps were not enough because if I dropped my head it would slide forward. So we got a 4 inch wide band of elastic that goes around my neck then a few of helmets loops then are tied back into this elastic neck piece. It is a bit of a mess of straps, but it works!
The final product