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  1. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 9, 2013, 2:51 PM - WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #1

    Ever since I saw the Rocketeer when it first came out, I've wanted a Rocketeer costume. Recently, I decided it was about time that I had one. Now, I could have bought a helmet kit and painted/detailed it, sure - but I love a challenge, and half the fun is building the thing, so I decided to go all-in and build mine from scratch.


    The plan is to sculpt the main part of the helmet in clay, and then slush-cast it in resin, and then put a layer of fiberglas inside for extra strength. I'll likely build the fin using some technique that makes it more durable than a resin fin might be (my fear is turning my head and whacking the back end of the fin on something, breaking it off).


    So, to start the process off, I built a cardboard version of the helmet to try and judge how big the thing would be, and to have a little fun. I didn't use any kind of pattern, just some photo reference and making it up as I went along.




    The cardboard version ended up being obviously too large, but it was fun to build and my daughter loved it.

    UPDATE, 6-12-13: I junked the first try that's detailed in the next few entries and started over again, so unless you just want to see what I did wrong, you might want to skip down a bit.

    UPDATE, 6-22-13: The second try was a fail as well. Third try coming up...

    UPDATE, 7-1-13: Third try under way, using Monster Clay.

    UPDATE, 10-12-13: Complete! This is a long thread, with many twists and turns and false starts and re-do's, but it all works out in the end. Here's what the final product looks like:
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Oct 12, 2013 at 9:51 PM.
  2. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 9, 2013, 2:59 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #2

    My next step was to make this odd little headgear to figure out exactly how small a thing I could fit on my noggin. I look like some 1970's Jack Kirby comic book character.

    Then I filled in the open areas with cardboard and tape. Then I started covering it with clay.



    If I had it to do over again, I'd use something more solid and less absorbent than cardboard. The cardboard got soft from the clay and that caused a bit of annoyance as I went along.
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Jun 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM.
  3. Radioman's Avatar
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    Jun 9, 2013, 3:02 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #3

    Nice start. There are some Pepakura files for the helmet floating around. There's one in this thread about 2/3 of the way down. That might help you with a pattern.

    http://www.therpf.com/f24/foam-speed...-added-148889/

    Mark
  4. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 9, 2013, 3:12 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #4

    After a couple of applications of clay, I started to get something approximating the shape I was after.

    To get it off the bench to work on it, I shaped a block of styrofoam into an appropriate shape, covered it in duct tape (to keep styrofoam bits out of the clay), and mounted that on a short mic stand. I put the helmet sculpture on top, and voila, instant sculpting stand.

    I sculpted an eye as a test, even tough it really was too early in the process, because this is the first time I've sculpted anything in clay in 20 years, and wanted to practice. Turned out to be a good idea. From how it looked from various angles, compared to photo reference, it was clear I needed to make the face a little flatter.



    I re-shaped the face and started working on the bottom edge. Since the following pic, I refined that a bit more, and worked on making sure both sides of the helmet were symmetrical.



    I've also smoothed the surface a bit. Next up, a bit more smoothing to get rid of any last bumps, then on to adding details.

    One issue that I keep battling is having cracks appear in the clay as it dries. I realize it's going to shrink a bit, but hopefully once the main part of it has dried enough, I'll stop getting new cracks to repair.
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Jun 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM.
  5. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 9, 2013, 3:17 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #5

    Nice. Thanks, Radioman. If I decide this isn't going well with its cardboard under structure, I might fall back to using that as a pattern. Do we know how accurate it is, size-wise, and in its general shape?
  6. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 10, 2013, 2:13 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #6

    I was concerned about the small cracks and realized it was because the clay was very thin in spots, combined with the styrofoam block inside pushing against it, combined with the mushy cardboard under-structure. Something had to be done. I carefully pulled it off the styrofoam block and laid it on a soft pillow - it's dry enough that it can be handled, so far so good.

    The cardboard was quite soft. To my astonishment and delight, it was pretty easy to remove without seriously damaging the sculpt, so I was able to add clay inside to shore up the thin spots.



    Next up, a better way to support it from below, after I do some work on the lower edges, including making sure the shape is correct (as long as I've got it upside down)...
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Jun 15, 2013 at 11:57 PM.
  7. RPF Premium Member oysteinhole's Avatar
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    Jun 10, 2013, 3:08 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #7

    Looking forward to se the result ...good work
  8. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 11, 2013, 2:23 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #8

    oysteinhole said: View Post
    Looking forward to se the result ...good work
    Thanks!
  9. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 11, 2013, 2:32 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #9

    I did a bit of work on the lower part, getting the shape correct (the jaw area was too rounded). I found a great reference image online of the bottom of one of the helmet kits, and used that as a guide.

    Ok, then it was time to rig this thing so it can stand up again. I got some plastic pipe for a socket for the stand to plug into, and suspended that inside the sculpt with expanding foam. The foam expanded a bit more than expected, so watched it and scraped the excess away for a while, until it seemed stable. Then off to bed...



    When I came down in the morning, I was greeted by this amusing sight:



    I guess there was some foam trapped down there that really wanted to get out! I trimmed off all the excess foam, and mounted it on the stand once more. Tonight, more refinements on the overall shape, and smoothing out the bumps before adding detail like the eyes, mouth, scoops and side stripes.
  10. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 13, 2013, 4:10 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #10

    Do-over time!

    I haven't sculpted anything in so long that I forgot a bunch of the basics, and they came back to bite me. I've been patching up cracks a lot, hoping that I'd finally licked it, but when I got home from work today, the whole thing was coming apart, and not because it was drying up (I was keeping damp rags over it) but because the many layers of clay were not properly sticking together, and the expanding foam I was hoping would provide my rigid base was not rigid enough, and actually shrank a bit.



    I tore the whole thing up and threw it away. I know I could re-use the clay by re-hydrating it, but I just want a clean slate. I'll be building a more solid support for it, and buying another 10 lbs. of clay. This time it'll be better.

    When I was 20 years younger, this would have been soul-destroying, but I've gotten a lot more patient over the years. I knew going in that I was winging it, and I learned a lot just by doing this (and failing). I'm going to leave these beginning entries as a cautionary tale for others deciding to jump in and do this like I did.

    I'll be back soon with updates on the do-over.
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Jun 14, 2013 at 5:49 AM.
  11. tauriice's Avatar
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    Jun 13, 2013, 6:39 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #11

    Have you thought about the oil based clay? It doesn't dry out and smooths out really nicely. Can't wait to see your rebuild. I really want to tackle a slush cast but haven't attempted it since I spent tons of time making a Loki helmet that was way too small. I decided to go straight pep on it and haven't looked back. I'm hoping if I can build a really nice helmet out of pep, I will be able to slush cast it again. I'll be looking to your thread for inspiration.
  12. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 14, 2013, 5:53 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #12

    tauriice said: View Post
    Have you thought about the oil based clay? It doesn't dry out and smooths out really nicely. Can't wait to see your rebuild. I really want to tackle a slush cast but haven't attempted it since I spent tons of time making a Loki helmet that was way too small. I decided to go straight pep on it and haven't looked back. I'm hoping if I can build a really nice helmet out of pep, I will be able to slush cast it again. I'll be looking to your thread for inspiration.
    Hi, thanks! My concern about oil-based clay (which may be unfounded) is that I'd end up denting it or otherwise damaging it accidentally. I suppose if the thing is on a stand like I'm doing it, and the clay gets reasonably hard when it's cool, then it might survive long enough to get cast. I might take that route for future projects. For now though, I'm doing the water-based stuff again.
  13. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 14, 2013, 5:58 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #13

    Ok, do-over in progress:

    First, I glued and screwed together a series of round and oval wood pieces, and bored a hole in the bottom of the stack to accept the top of the stand.

    Then I added over 20 pounds of red air-dry clay, and built it up in one evening to the approximate shape of the helmet. This time I'm doing the clay properly, and we're not going to see cracking due to an insufficiently solid core or layers of clay not properly bonded to each other.



    I'm happy that I was able to get back to this level of completion this quickly, it keeps the momentum of the project going.
    Last edited by TimeyWimey; Jun 15, 2013 at 11:58 PM.
  14. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 15, 2013, 11:55 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #14

    Today I got the general shape of the helmet finalized (took a while to get everything symmetrical and in proper proportion), and started sculpting details.

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    Jun 16, 2013, 4:18 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #15

    Holy Poopsicle stick... your original cardboard helmet was impressive enough... love each new version. Very impressive... I shall console myself with the fact that I haven't really had any "crafting" experience since maybe highschool... and even then it was basic. Some great ideas you've got and quite inspiring.
  16. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 17, 2013, 6:49 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #16

    blennus said: View Post
    Holy Poopsicle stick... your original cardboard helmet was impressive enough... love each new version. Very impressive... I shall console myself with the fact that I haven't really had any "crafting" experience since maybe highschool... and even then it was basic. Some great ideas you've got and quite inspiring.
    Thank you! This is actually the first thing I've sculpted in 20 years, and by far the largest. Having to re-learn the techniques as I go a long.
  17. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 17, 2013, 6:53 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #17

    OK, the basic sculpting is done, now it's on to refinements, smoothing, and working on the fin.

    I'm going to have to do a bit of fine carving, sanding, and bondo on the final resin cast to clean up imperfections, and I think I'll add the "welding" lines on the final piece as well.



    The ribs on the sides seem just a bit too thick, among other things.
  18. Plaster surgeon RPF Premium Member animefan's Avatar
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    Jun 17, 2013, 5:31 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #18

    Wow looks very nice so far.
  19. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jun 22, 2013, 9:33 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #19

    Yep, oil clay is the right way to do this. I got the air-dry clay version basically done and ready to make a mold off it - but as it dried, it developed a large crack on one side, and distorted a bit. In retrospect it should have been obvious that enclosing a solid uncompressible core inside of clay that shrinks as it dries would inevitably turn out this way.

    So, I'll be starting over again, with oil-based clay. I'll keep you updated.
  20. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jul 1, 2013, 6:15 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #20

    Back on the saddle again:

    I ordered Monster Clay, and boy was that a good idea. I love this stuff.

    First, I dug out a lot of the interior clay from the existing air-dry clay version, and removed most of the right side of the face, since it was cracking off. Then I scraped down the surface all over about 1/8" and scraped lines into it, and filled in the open right side of the face with cheap (but still non-sulfur) Plastalina I got from the hobby store. Now it will be my armature.

    Once my Monster Clay arrived, I warmed it in the oven and started applying a thin layer of it all over the armature, and filled in the rest of the missing section. After it cooled and hardened, I scraped it smooth. Then, I began adding the details, including carving the eyes and mouth, and sculpting the side ribs and the scoops.



    It still needs a little more refinement, but I'm approaching the limits of my clay sculpting skills - there's going to be a lot of clean-up and smoothing on the final resin cast, but I've been expecting that all along.

    I'll be ordering the materials to make the mold and cast the resin shell tonight.
  21. The Cog's Avatar
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    Jul 2, 2013, 4:43 PM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #21

    Keep going! This is going to look great! I really want to start working on one of my own, but have to get a few other props done first. Keep us updated.
  22. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jul 9, 2013, 6:57 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #22

    Just an update to let you know this project is continuing - molding and casting supplies arrive this week. I could possibly be doing the silicone mold on Thursday or Friday. I'll post updates when I have them.

    I hope this thread will inspire those people new to this process, and warn people away from the approaches I've tried and failed at!
  23. RPF Premium Member sauer33's Avatar
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    Jul 10, 2013, 6:18 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #23

    omg that's amazing
  24. MaddMaxx82's Avatar
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    Jul 10, 2013, 8:06 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #24

    Awesome!

    Sent from my SGH-T889 using Tapatalk 2
  25. RPF Premium Member TimeyWimey's Avatar
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    Jul 12, 2013, 8:38 AM - Re: WIP - Rocketeer Helmet Sculpt and Cast #25

    Mold-making begins...

    Got the materials all set up and ready to go. I got the silicone and additives from Monster Makers. Weirdly, they came with no data sheets. I had to look on their website to see how much thickener and fast catalyst to use. No data on curing time.

    Putting on the first thin coat of silicone:

    The print coat on and gelled, ready for the next (thickened) coats. Turns out it cures to the touch within an hour or so, even without fast catalyst.

    First thickened coat goes on:

    Last thickened coat smoothed on, letting it cure for an hour before the bandages:

    Mother mold bandages go on, and a coat of wax along the edge so the front half won't stick:

    Front of the mother mold applied.

    The next morning, pulled off the mother mold and carefully peeled off the silicone. The mold looks cool inside-out.

    Here's the finished silicone mold and mother mold parts.

    Here's what it looks like assembled, but we'll leave it apart until tomorrow, when we'll do the casting.

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