Saturday, July 27, 2013

What I've been up to? Learning how to make furniture using Google SketchUp!

A few months ago the company which I work for bought a 3D printer.  Me being the entirety of the art department, I had to start learning how to use this new printer, and thus had to begin learning 3D software.  My company spent so much on the printer that they didn't want to spend any more money on the software, so I started learning SketchUp - which is free software.

A coworker of mine became impressed with my 3D work that he asked me to design a bookshelf for his home - complete with an electric fireplace and space for a painting.  Below are images of the final bookshelf which he loved.

I had so much fun making the shelf for my coworker that I began designing furniture that I can hopefully make myself.  The most important piece of furniture that I am lacking at my home is a decent computer desk.  So that is where I began....

Each day I would design a new desk.

Some were a little complex.

Some were downright simple.

Then I began measuring out the desk to fit a specific area in my apartment.

Since I am a complete amateur when it comes to wood working, I decided to make a lot of my pieces using 2x4's - which hardware stores can easily cut for me, and are not overly expensive.

But I do plan on one day having some wood working tools, so some designs do incorporate materials like plywood.

One day when I actually get around to making my desk I will be sure to make a posting about it.

Some times I didn't feel quite like designing desks, so I started work on other things I could possibly build - like bed frames.... 

...or some entertainment units....

....Kitchen tables...

...Work tables (for my one day garage or basement)...

...or simple shelves....

...and even a feeding station for my dog.

But the most fun was making bowling lanes.

This I hope to build one day when I have a spacious back yard, or basement.

Many lanes were made, but since they all looked very similar I only posted a few.

I hope to get into wood working some time soon.  I thoroughly enjoy making helmets and props - but making quality items like desks and furniture would be a great skill to have.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Clone Trooper Helmet (The Clone Wars)

For my next project I decided to make a clone helmet from Star Wars; The Clone Wars.  These helmets are a more cartoonish version from those seen in Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

I already have a clone helmet from Episode II, seen below.  My plans are to make the cartoon version, and hopefully introduce myself to molding and casting several of these helmets.

I also bought the matching toy Clone blaster.  This blaster lights up blue when you pull the trigger, and it also shoots nerf darts.

I will eventually paint that black.  Next I used a pep file for this helmet.  If I have never mentioned it in my earlier posts, I get most of my files from The Replica Prop Forum - a really useful site.

I printed out the pep files and cut them out.  I then taped them onto cardboard.

Since I have the measurements from the pep file, I printed out the bottom shape of the helmet and mounted it to heavy cardboard.  I made sure that the shape and size were correct by taping the bottom ring of the helmet template to it.  I'm happy to say that I got it right.

I did not keep the mohawk on the top of the helmet attached as it will be easier forming and smoothing the helmet without it.

Next I covered the inside and outside with plaster wrap.

When the plaster fully dried I gave the whole helmet a coating of wood filler.

I then reprinted the visor area and the back of the helmet and mounted it to cardboard.

I did this to raise and add some smoothness to those areas and build them up a little once the plaster dries.  I also remade the Mohawk using insulation foam and my pep file.

I then covered the foam with cardboard.  Having a solid piece for the Mohawk will be easier than filling it with plaster wrap. 

The cardboard proved too rigid to bend around the mask smoothly...

So I used it as a template instead and cut out the shapes on thin crafting foam.

This worked out much better.

Once the filler dried I gave the whole helmet some sanding outside.

Next I reprinted the pep file and traced them on thin crafting foam.  And then I glued them onto the helmet.

When the foam pieces were dry, I added wood filler to fill in the spaces between the foam and the helmet.

I also added some spackling paste to shape the dome of the helmet better.

When the paste dried I gave the gave the whole helmet a good sanding.

Once the helmet was cleaned I gave the helmet a coat of black acrylic paint.

The paint will seal up the porous nature of both the crafting foam and the spackling paste.  When the paint dried I did some more touching up with wood filler.

Some of the detail around the mouth area was lost, so I cut a new mouth area from thin crafting foam and glued it on.

The 'brow' was also not as rounded as I would have liked, so I cut a strip of thicker crafting foam and glued that on as well.

Then I applied wood filler to the new areas, and sanded everything when it dried.

Then I cleaned up the helmet and gave it another coat of black acrylic paint.

When the paint dried I mixed up some apoxie clay and used it around the inside rim of the helmet.  This will help strengthen the rim.

Next I printed and mounted to cardboard the back dome rim and the circles that are on the 'ears' and the back of the helmet.

Below the cardboard rim is shaped to fit the helmet.

And then glued on.

The circle on the ears also was glued on.

The circle on the back is a bit thicker, so I used a piece of EVA foam and glued it onto the back of the helmet.

When the glue had dried on the new pieces, I used wood filler to fill in the new additions.

I also filled in other areas for touch up.

Followed by sanding...

...and another coat of black paint.

Next I glued on the Mohawk to the top of the helmet.

And then I filled in the areas around the Mohawk, and a few other areas.

When the filler dried I sanded everything.

Then I cleaned up the helmet and took it outside for a coat of red filler primer.

Below several helmets dry, including the Clone (TCW) helmet on the far right.

When the red dried it got a second coat of gray filler primer.

With the 2 clone helmets side by side, I noticed that the front 'cheeks' look rather flat.  Below you can see the brow is nice and rounded, but the cheeks are not.

So I went back to my pep file and created 2 cheeks from thick crafting foam.

And then I glued them on.

Now the mouth part wasn't sticking out the way it should, so with more foam, I recreated that shape and glued it on.

I added smaller pieces of foam to widen the cheeks slightly and narrow the visor.

I also used a thinner piece of foam to fill in the space at the front of the Mohawk.

Then I used wood filler to fill in the new gaps and spaces, and to also fix up a few spots.

When the filler dried, the helmet got sanded and cleaned.

Next, primer.

Unfortunately it began to rain expectantly  so my helmets had to be moved inside for drying.  Luckily my landloard did not complain about the smell, and nothing bad happened to the helmet as a result of the rain.

While examining the helmet after the rain it came to my attention that I am messing up the mouth area.

The mouth extrudes from the front somewhat. but it also is even in height with the lower rim of the helmet.  So next I started cutting away areas to make it look correct. I then fixed up those spots with wood filler.

Using my mouse sander, I sanded the mouth area.

Next I used a saw to cut the mouth mike area away, as well as the rectangular shape on the back of the helmet.

Then using strips of cardboard, I reshaped the areas.

Then I used wood filler to fill in the small gaps.

Then I sanded it smooth.

Next I glued on some coin capsules to redefine the circular shapes on the ears and back.

Then I took it outside for a fresh coat of primer.

While the  primer dried I decided to start working on my clone blaster toy.  First I removed the screws and disassembled the gun.

I don't care if this gun never shoots a nerf again, but I do want it to flash blue each time I pull the trigger, so I wrapped the clear portion with the blue LED in painters tape.

Then I gave the pieces of the gun a coat of primer.

Followed by flat black paint.

While that dried I went back to the helmet.  I decided it was time to remove the visor area.  I did this with an X-acto knife.

This took a long time considering the many layers of this helmet.

Then I used some wood filler to smooth out the edges around the visor and a few other spots.

Back to the blaster...
I reassembled everything once it dried.

 I forgot to paint the trigger, and a piece on the inside, but that is ok.  Next I used a silver paint marker to add some wear and tear.

Next I sanded the helmet once the filler dried.

After cutting out the visor area, the plaster wrap inside the helmet was becoming loose and frayed.  I decided to add resin to strengthen the inside.  A lot of resin seeped out onto the outside of the helmet, so I wound up covering the entire helmet with resin.

When the resin dried I began sanding the drips and imperfections left by the resin.

Once sanded I cleaned the helmet and brought it outside for a coat of primer.

Unfortunately the resin left a lot of imperfections that I didn't see earlier.  The matte primer brought out a lot of these imperfections.  So when the primer dried I went back to sanding.

Then I gave the helmet a coat of white acrylic paint.

Followed by a second coat of white.

There is still some rough textures left behind by the resin and sanding, but I think it will give the helmet a good battle-worn look.  So after a few more coats of white I decided to break out my air brush and start weathering the helmet.

After airbrushing I used a little black and silver paint to add a few more scrapes.

Finally I added the mic using a piece of thick black crafting foam.

Then I took it outside and gave it a few coats of clear enamel.

When it dried I traced the shape of the visor onto a piece of cardboard which I used as a template on some tinted plastic.

I cut out the plastic and glued it to the inside of the helmet.

And I'm done!

Below are a few of my clone helmets together.

As always, this was another fun project.  I didn't get around to molding and casting yet but hopefully when I do, I will make more of these helmets.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: I can not distribute the pep file as per the original creators request.  If you are looking for this pepakura file, please look on  I have already found 2 just by typing "clone pepakura" in the search field.  Again, I can not distribute the file  - so please don't ask me.  Thank you.