Friday, January 13, 2012

Featherweight/Astronaut Assault Helmet

There is a guy named "Featherweight" who makes cardboard helmets.
I learned of his site from an amazing artist named Harrison Krix who does incredible prop making, and here is his site.  I draw so much inspiration from him.
Anyway, I decided to try out one of Freatherweight's  helmets in an effort for me to learn new ways of making props, and to get better at using Bondo.

You can see Featherweight's tutorial here.  I will show you my steps below, and hopefully this helmet will come out as well as his.

Let's get started!
The first step is to cut four 1" x 12" pieces of cardboard.  Featherweight appears to use corrugated cardboard.  As mentioned in an earlier post of mine, I have higher density cardboard which I get from my job, however those sheets are only 8.5" x 11", so i cut extra strips.

I then used 3 of the strips and fit it around my head and hot glued it together.
I then added a strip or two and shaped it over my head.

Featherweight suggests making a 2" circle and placing it in the center of the 'top' of the helmet.  I did this, but I think it should be larger than 2".

Then use more strips to cover the width of your head.

The next steps are to cut pieces and bend and warp them to fill in the space between the top strips.  I did not do as pretty a job as Featherweight.

I then filled in the gaps from the inside with additional strips of cardboard and hot glue.

I then scored some cardboard and shaped it for the sides of the helmet.  I cut out a piece that will allow me to see and breathe.

And then hot glued them to the helmet.
Using left over cardboard I made a 'chin' area.

The base of my helmet is done.
All in all it did not take too long to do this.  Maybe an hour at most.
I still have to perfect my method, but that will come in time.

So, after a short lunch, I came back to my helmet and it felt tight.  So I removed the "ears" and reglued them to the outside of the helmet (above).  Much better looking, and fits better too.  I even started making another one to serve as a 'skeleton' for a future pepakura project.

Next step - BONDO!
Today I bought one of these Bondo scrapers.  I think these are a wise investment, as they are quite sturdy for mixing and applying bondo.  They also clean up quite easily.
I bought a pack of 3 for $5.

So I did put 2 layers of Bondo on the helmet, but I can't seem to find the photos I took of it.
After I sanded the Bondo down, I added wood filler to add layers and smooth the surface.
Below are images of the helmet with filler.

And below is an image of it sanded.

Then added some spackle.

The helmet is definitely rounding out.  A few more layers and the top should be perfectly round.
I still have no idea what this helmet is going to become, but I will continue to post my progress when I have decided it's fate!

Fast forward a few weeks.....
I had this helmet on my shelf for a while and one day I popped it on and it reminded me of a photo of me...
This is a photo of me wearing a kids Nasa Astronaut helmet from the museum of natural history.
It's silly.

So, initially I was going to make my featherweight helmet an Astronaut helmet.

So, I sanded down the spackle.

And then I applied some plaster cloth/gauze.  

I am actually amazed by the plaster cloth.  it dries quickly and it's as hard as fiberglass and resin.  After it dried I added a coat of wood filler to really smooth out the surface.

Next step: sanding.

It's looking pretty good, but it is still a little uneven, so I added some spackel.

Almost done!  I then sanded the spackle and then applied it's first coat of primer.

After the primer was dried, I then used some watered down wood filler to fill in some little nicks and holes.

I then sanded everything so that it's nice and smooth.  Below you can see the sanded helmet with a bag of flex tubing I bought at home depot.  I plan on using the flex tubing to cover the openings on the bottom of the helmet and for the face.

Below are some awesome images of the flex tubing in place.

I will glue on the tubing once the helmet has been painted and coated with protective enamel.
My next step is to paint the helmet a silver color.  The spray paint I used can be seen below.
I decided to use a textured silver to give it that slight glittery look.  It should also fill in the slight areas that needed to be filled that I missed earlier.  Below are images of the first coat of silver paint.

SO after it dried it looked pretty darn good.  I decided to paint on my NASA logo.
Because of the curve of the jaw area, I was unable to successfully use the stencil I prepared, so I wound up drawing it by hand.
I then painted in the logo using enamel paints.

Then I added the flex tubing again.

I'm not too sure how I like my paint job.  The logo looks slightly off-center.
I may have to repaint it all..... but I haven't decided if it's worth it yet.
After all, these helmets are for practice.

Hmmmm...decisions, decisions....

Ok, I decided to throw some random symbols on the helmet to help balance it out.

Here are some clearer shots.

I still have to glue on the flex tubing, and give it all a coat of clear enamel, but I feel it still needs more...

I took a 2 liter soda bottle and cut off the top and bottom and it fits fairly well across the helmet.
This is going to be a face shield of some sort, but the fit is a little too tight if I put the plastic on the inside.
SO I have to figure out a way of putting it neatly on the outside.

The above 2 photos show a few more graphics on the helmet and the tubing finally glued on.

Then I got carried away with adding little bits of shapes.

Fast forward a few months....
I made a Vacuum former in April 2012 (seen here).

I tested a sheet of clear styrene on my daft punk helmet.

The piece ripped in the back, so it was no good for that helmet, but it will work well with this helmet.

I am going to build a frame of the visor first and then attach it to the helmet.

But before I do, I wanted to get rid of the NASA on the front since it was bothering me.
Using silver and black markers, I made some weird shapes.  It still kinda looks like NASA, but I think some of it will be covered by the visor.

So, next I decided I wanted to make this helmet look a bit more unique.  The black wire cover in the face area really bothered me, so I ripped it off.

Then I took the interlocking parts of some foam floor mats and creatted a large zipper look to the back part of the helmet.

Then added some wood filler around the face area to level it out.

Once it dried I sanded it smoothly.

Then I took caps of a Krazy Glue bottle and added them to parts of the helmet.

When everything was dried and cleaned, I gave the helmet a coat of primer.

When it dried, I took some thin crafting foam and started to create a crest for the front of the helmet.

Then added a second strip.

While that dried, I thought of how to attach the visor to this helmet.  The best way (to me) was to recreate part of the Daft Punk helmet pep file from which the visor originated.

I only assembled the parts around the visor.  Then I cut out more cardboard to reinforce the shape and glued it on.

I played around a little to see how I wanted the visor to be attached....

...not too sure if I like it yet, but I proceeded to cover the visor rim with plaster wrap and set aside to dry and harden.

While it was drying I decided to add more elements to the helmet using crafting foam.

When I had enough of adding elements I gave the whole helmet a coat of primer.  This is important as the crafting foam is quite porous and needed to be solid.

After the Visor rim dried, it was rather flimsy.  I may not use the visor after all.

I'm starting to think that the helmet is looking better without it.
So, next I added some black spray paint.  I was going to use the same silver textured spray paint as I did earlier in this blog, but decided I wanted the helmet to be black instead.

Once the paint dried, I started to paint on red and white elements.

The back of the helmet in between the interlocking pieces were painted a light blue color.

Then I took some silver paint and really roughed up the helmet as if it were in some heavy battle.

When the paint dried, I took the helmet outside and gave it a few coats of matte clear enamel.

And we're done!!

It definitely doesn't look anything like an Astronaut helmet anymore.  It looks more like some kind of Astronaut Assault helmet from a Sci-fi video game.

For the last step I added a visor - which was just a sheet of plastic with Nite-Shades sprayed on it.

But whatever you want to call it, I feel it is complete now.
I hope you've enjoyed reading and Thanks!