Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TIE Pilot Helmet

Tie fighters are cool, and their pilots look equally as cool.

That is because their helmets are a cross between a
stormtrooper helmet....
....and an X-Wing helmet

I've already made a few X-Wing helmets, so I will use one of those.

But I will have to make up a new stormtrooper 'face'.

I had a lot of trouble getting the 2 helmets to fit together correctly.

At this point the helmet is starting to look more like an AT-AT driver helmet.

They are pretty much the same helmet.  The AT-AT helmets were originally TIE helmets painted gray with a few nik-naks added on.

I then decided for the face I would use my vacuum former to make a mold of my stormtrooper helmet.  And I simply glued them together.

So much better!  

My next step is to build the 'ears' and the tubes that connect to the ears and then partially cover this with plaster wrap.  I say partially because the face plate doesn't need too much work.  But I will add the plaster wrap to the inside of the face plate that way everything holds together well.

Then I added Wood filler.

Followed by more sanding and filling.

Next I shaped some clay to make the area under the eyes more accurate.

Then I cut out the 2 round areas near the mouth.

And cut out the 'brow' above the eyes.

And applied some more clay which will be smoothed out later.

When the clay dried it didn't stick to the plastic face plate. So I glued them on and added wood filler to smooth out the transition from clay to face plate.
I found an old part of a couch that might work well as the breathing tubes...
...actually they look a bit small.  I'll probably have to go with some sort of vacuum hose.

But anyway...
Next I drew a line at the front of the 'mohawk' on the top of the helmet to cut from.  

Looking at the 2 reference images below you can see that the front of the mohawk is not box-like like it is with the X-wing helmet.

Also the mohawk is considerably wider in the front and back than it is on the X-Wing helmet.

So I cut the box so that making the slant for the front of the mohawk a lot easier.

After looking at the reference image below, I noticed that the back of my helmet needed to be cut back a little.  You can see the area by the hand that the bottom of the back of the helmet is not level with the bottom of the front of the helmet.

The bottoms of my helmet are more or less level, so I drew lined on the back of my helmet so I knew where to make cuts.

After cutting, my helmet is looking more like the one from the reference photo.

Next I mixed up some apoxie clay and applied it to the inside of the bottom of the face.  I did this because the vacuum formed plastic is rather thin and it was moving around a bit and broke off a lot of the plaster wrap that I had applied.  So the Apoxie clay will strengthen it and also give a little more weight to the front of the helmet.

After that dried I started work on making the mohawk a bit wider.  To do this I simply reprinted the pep file for the X-Wing helmet and used the same parts for the original mohawk.

I first glued them to the top of the helmet, and then used strips of cardboard to cover the top of the mohawk.

And using more cardboard I cut out the shapes needed to make the slanted box on the front of the mohawk.

I made the square shape that goes in front of the box on the front of the mohawk out of cardboard, but I am not going to attach it yet.

And below are a few shots of how the helmet looks so far.  It's still quite rough, but it's getting better.

Next I added the triangular shape to the mohawk... seen in this reference photo below.

And then added the "pillbox" to the back of the mohawk... seen in the reference photo below.

Next I added some plaster wrap to the newly formed Mohawk.

Next I applied filler to the areas with plaster wrap showing.

 While that was drying I added clay to the inside of the 'crest' that shows at the very front of the mohawk.

Next I gave the helmet a good sanding.

I also glued on the crest.

and applied some wood filler.

After some sanding it was time to give this helmet it's first coat of primer.

The first coat was a dark gray primer, but I ran out before I finished.  

So when it dried I gave it a complete coat with some black primer.

Above we see the Iron Man, Stormtrooper and Tie helmets drying.
When it was all dry I began shaping the helmet more with wood filler.

And then sanding.

After a good cleaning this helmet is now ready for more primer.

The first coat if primer was light gray.

Below the Tie Pilot, Iron Man Version 2, Horned Boba Fett and a Clone Trooper helmet dry in the sun.

The next coat was a red primer.

And the insides were spray painted black.

When everything dried I then began applying some clay to the areas that needed work.
Most important was the area above the eyes where the vacuuformed mask was attached to the cardboard helmet.

I also added the "rings" that connect the bottom of the belled cheeks to the ears.

...and a few other spots.

When the clay hardened I sanded it down smooth.

Next I created some of the circular elements that are found on the 'ears' of the helmet.

And glued them together.

And then glued it to the helmet.

I applied more wood filler to the helmet and covered the new ears.

While out at the hardware store, I picked up a few things for the helmet.

I found the perfect size vacuum hose.

And some furniture tacks to use for the details on the 'ears'.

Now that I have the hoses for the helmet, I kind of have to make the chest box so that the hoses have somewhere to go.  I looked up some reference shots on and drew out some plans to make one.

I printed out my plans to use as templates on insulation foam.

And then cut the foam out....

Glued it together...

shaped it with my knife...

and then sanded it.

Using more insulation foam and some foam core and cardboard, I started creating some of the elements and glued them on.

Next, I decided to cover the bottom rounded part with a piece of card stock.  I figured this would be faster and easier than many layers of wood filler.

then I made the top of the box, but did not glue it in.  I did not glue it so that I will be able to get the hose in and out easily.

Then I started to add some of the buttons and doo-dads using more foam, cardboard and 2 coin capsules.

And I'm done with adding the little details.  I think my favorite is the thumb tack I used on the bottom black button.  Haha!

On the sides of the box are holes for the tubes.  I decided to go to the hardware store and buy 2 PVC couplings so that when the hoses move, they won't damage the foam underneath.

I made the holes on the sides bigger to fit in the coupling and glued them in place.

I also glued the top on.

Then I gave it a coat of black acrylic paint.  The purpose of the acrylic paint is to seal the foam so that it doesn't dissolve when I apply spray paint.

Then I took it outside for some filler primer.

At first it looked like the acrylic paint did it's job, but after a few minutes I saw that the foam was dissolving.

I'll have to fix it up before I apply any more primer.

To fix it up I decided to take off the buttons and doo-dads that were on it and resurface the whole thing with crafting foam.

I even removed the card stock that made up the rounded area in the bottom.  Apparently card stock alone does not stand up too well to primer either.  There was definitely some warping.

Then I started to glue on the crafting foam.

At this point I liked how the crafting foam went around the rounded area, but I was not happy with it on the flat areas, so I took the foam off the flat areas....

...and replaced it with cardboard.

As I resurfaced areas in cardboard, I began reapplying the buttons and such.

And after a while it's back together!

And then our second attempt at priming.

And I'm happy to say the this time it all worked.
Then I applied some more primer.

I also sanded the helmet and gave it a good cleaning.

And then some primer.

Below the helmet and the chest box dry after a coat of primer.

When everything dried I decided to see how well everything looked together with the tubes.

The tubes were too long, so I trimmed them.

Now it looks better.  I had my girlfriend take a picture of me wearing the helmet and chest box.

Looks about right.

Next I have to do a little sanding to the helmet and the chest box.  After sanding I added some wood filler to a few spots that needed work.

...and then gave everything a good sanding.

I added some wire caps to the sides to finish off the 'ears'.  These are not screen accurate  but cool looking none the less.

Then I gave the chest box a good sanding.  Both the helmet and chest box are now ready for priming.

Black Primer!

Looking good!

Next I gave it a coat of flat black paint.

Because it's cold out it took quite a long time for them to dry.

When the paint finally dried I started to add some of the silver elements to the helmet.

I also added some light weathering.

Next I created some stickers of the Imperial Symbol for the front dome of the helmet.

I made a straight cut from the center outwards so that the sticker will contour to the curve of the helmet.

Next I decided to make the numbers/symbols that appear on the Mohawk of the helmet.

For this I simply used a funny font with the numbers "42377" and I flipped it upside down.

I used double sided transfer tape to stick them onto the helmet.

Next I painted the chest box.

When everything dried it got a glossy coat of clear enamel.

Below the Tie helmet dries with the Uruk-hai, Iron Man v1 and Batman helmets.

Once the clear coat dried I glued in some black visors I created several months ago.

I then inserted the tubes and put a bolt in between them to keep them from falling out.

Below the helmet sits on my recliner to show the size of it.

Finally I added a lot of furniture foam to the inside to make it comfortable and to fit on someone's head.

And after 8 months, this baby is done!

This has been a long and fun project.  I hope you've enjoyed reading!


  1. Hey Tim, there's a lot of work gone into this and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project. I've been planning to do this with one of my X-Wing peps. Which Stormtrooper faceplate did you use?

  2. Hey Phil. I used an older pep for the face plate since I printed a bunch of them at a time before you sent me yours. I had a lot of difficulty getting the 2 models together. I may start over again and use your model, but either way I'll be posting it all here.

  3. Very cool! Any updates on this project? What are the peps you speak of? I would like to do something similar. Can you send me the files?

  4. Hello Dan C and thanks for your comments. Currently the Tie helmet is waiting to be primed. The weather by me has not been very good lately, which is why this helmet hasn't progressed lately. The pep file I used for this was the X-wing helmet and the face plate is vacuum formed from an existing storm trooper helmet, but you can make the face from any storm trooper pep file. The "ears" I made from A Daft Punk "Guy" helmet since they are practically the same size and shape. Send me your email and I will gladly send you the pep files. I would also love to see your progress on this build!

  5. hello, sorry to bother you, I love your tutorial and have been using it to kind of boost me in my project! I was just wondering what diameter of hose you used? Thank you for the tutorial

    1. Hello! First off, it's no bother at all. The hose I used has a 1.5" diameter. The coupling or connectors at both ends had a 2" diameter, but was cut off leaving just the hose. I'd love to see how your helmet is coming along!

  6. Hello Tim

    I was wondering what pep file you used for the x wing helmet?


    1. For the face I vacuum formed a stormtrooper helmet I had. The rest was made from an x-wing pep file Firefek shared with me on the rpf

    2. Go to and look up the user "fierfek"

    3. Thank you so much for your help. Do you think is safe?

    4. I've used it safely before but it's always smart to run a virus scan on anything you download before opening