Finishing a Vader Helmet, beginning to end.

Discussion in 'Star Wars Costumes and Props' started by Atarian, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I am new to fiberglass and sanding/filling/etc. And I thought it would be a good idea to get advice from the pros every step of the way. This will help me, and possibly other people who have never done this sort of thing before.

    I have sanded things with a dremel before, but I'm afraid of ruining my pretty new helmet. I have to cut the eyes, triangles, and grill slots out of the helmet. Is there a hand tool I can get so I can go at it that way?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. KevVader

    KevVader Sr Member

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    ...good luck, I'll definitely be following this one. That's a nice CT cast..... :thumbsup
     
  3. ob1al

    ob1al Sr Member

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    I used my dremel and a set of small model makers hand files of various shapes and sizes. The dremel is great, just go slowly and very carefully and leave the edge finishing for the hand tools.

    You can see some pics of my WIP here: http://p083.ezboard.com/ftheukproppartyfrm...icID=1403.topic

    If you need to know anything specific, please feel free to PM me if you think I can help.

    Great cast you have there, really very nice. You're starting from a much better base than I did. I bet it'll turn out to be bobby-dazzler when you are done. :thumbsup

    Regards.

    Al
     
  4. Thundercracker

    Thundercracker New Member

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    I can be of no help whatsoever, I just wanted to say that's a nice lookin helmet you got there.
     
  5. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Bump.

    I'd like to start work this weekend. I can use all the tips I can get.
     
  6. sithlord23

    sithlord23 Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hey there, well, hopefully this helps....I've been completely redoing my Rubies Supreme Vader, I got inspired after seeing a couple of people getting to work on this helmet, and making it look good. I was definitely nervous starting on it, and the Rubies sucks compared to the bucket you have, but once I actually started, the work is pretty mellow. Just take it slow, area by area. I am by no means a Vader expert, but I'm just offering what I've been doing so far, and it worked.

    The grill teeth area, I used a dremel with a drill bit, and made a bunch of small holes in the area I was wanting to get rid of material. Then I knocked the area out(carefully), and then took my time filing it with a smaller single file, and then the bigger double edged file to smooth over the areas. (The Rubies Supreme teeth area, sits higher, and is rounded at the bottom, thus the teeth work on the Rubies).

    The eyes, I cut out most of the area when I took out the lenses(the Rubies lenses are mounted from the front), with a dremel tool. I then used the same files, and then a couple of sand papers( med. grit, then fine).

    After that, I primered it lightly to see if I missed any areas that needed work or smoothing. And that helped big time, and there were only a few areas that needed work, after I primered it.

    I'll be posting a thread, and pics with my work, and my helmet, after its finished. I hope this helps for now. Good luck.:)
     
  7. dcarty

    dcarty Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hi there.
    I've been working on a fiberglass Vader helmet myself recently. If I suggest anything that you already know, please bear with me :) The first thing I'd do, if you haven't already is head to Home Depot or Lowes and get a filtered facemask--you don't want to breathe the dust from fiberglass and those paper masks are useless. (and use safety goggles of course--I know you're not an idiot but I thought I'd mention it anyway) Then on the way home drop by your nearest Wal-Mart or Walgreens and head to the cosmetics section and pick up a couple of foam sanding boards if you don't already have any (my favorites are the red and blue ones that have 4 different sanding grits on them-cheap and enormously useful). I also try to keep a shop vacuum cleaner handy to get rid of the dust fairly often--makes it much easier to see your work.

    Make your cuts from the inside of the mask--mistakes are a lot less tragic that way. I began with a cutting disc--I prefer the fiber cutting discs, just a personal preference-- then switched to a sanding drum. Start far from the edges and work your way toward them gradually. I try to get within a hairs breadth of the edge so I don't have a lot left for fine sanding with the boards. You might even want to start the eye sockets by drilling them out.

    For the "mouth" I went after it with the cutting disc first to chop it down to size then switched to a wide flat stone disc to get the slots closer to the correct depth using the top edge of the disc to do the work. I took some thin cardboard and made a template for a sanding block then cut out a small piece of shim wood to match it. Then I wrapped the block with some rough sanding paper (about 120 grit I think) and evened everything out and followed roughly the same steps for the chin.

    Again, as I'm sure you know, work slow. Sand for a few seconds and check your progress. You should have a very fun afternoon.

    Hope any of this helps.

    Cheers,

    Dave C
     
  8. vaderfanforever

    vaderfanforever Active Member

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    Hey there creamedgeezer. So far, so good. If you plan on makeing several of these CT style helmets, please count me infor one. I really like the look of the helmet...especially the way it sits on your head. It look really comfortable.

    I too am no Vader expert, but have fun with the project. Take your time so it comes out the way you want, and you don't feel rushed.

    We will be watching this one with great interest.

    :cheers

    Elijah
     
  9. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'm not making helmets, the member "celtic touch" made this one. I'm just finishing/painting it.

    Thanks for all the advice, guys. I'm gonna try to get to Home Depot after work tonight for a mask and goggles and stuff.

    I'm excited.
     
  10. vaderfanforever

    vaderfanforever Active Member

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    Do you knos how I can get ahold of Celtic Touch? I love his helmets, and would like to get one.

    Does he even still make them??
     
  11. bowjunkie35

    bowjunkie35 Well-Known Member

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    Search under "members"
     
  12. FON

    FON Well-Known Member

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    Thats REAL NICE creamedgeezer. someday i'll have to get around to obtaining a 20th'c vader... someday :)

    Take your time with that one, it will be worth it.

    Cheers
     
  13. saber_holder

    saber_holder Active Member

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    ......
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2013
  14. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I worked on the helmet today. I was a bit nervous with the dremel at first, but it got easier. I was terrified of doing the mouth slots. but the fiberglass was so thick, I was able to just grind it out from the inside, without damaging the outside.
    I also found a neat little x-acto file at the local hobby shop, so I used that to sharpen the edges and corners.

    I'm gonna start filling the very few pin holes tomorrow, i think. I got "Bondo body filler" is that the right stuff?

    Thanks.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Xeno Kenobi

    Xeno Kenobi New Member

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    Wow Jeff,
    Looks so good so far. I am impressed for a first timer. When I tried trimming a fiberglass DP Deluxe kit a year or 2 ago, I messed up at the flashing at the neck area. The rest is rather easy. Just get used to it. You seem to have gotten a very good casting. Shouldn't be a problem for you. ;) Yeah, it's Bondo Body filler.
     
  16. KevVader

    KevVader Sr Member

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    ...wow, nice job so far.....yeah, the first time using that Dremel spinning at a million miles an hour is a little nerve-racking...but you've done a great job....can't wait to see how this turns out.. :thumbsup
     
  17. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks for all the kind words, guys.

    How thick should the dome be? I've heard that people build theirs up with bondo to get the right thickness.

    Thanks,
    Jeff
     
  18. dcarty

    dcarty Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Looking good creamedgeezer great work. I wouldn't go wild with the bondo. If you can apply a small amount then wipe it off quickly with a paper towel so that it only fills the hole even better. Apply it in two or three very thin applications to build it up with a light sanding in between. The dome of my helmet had about 2" of bondo in it where someone had tried to build it up for a mounting system-yuck. It took me about 3 hours of grinding over several evenings to cut it all out.

    If I remember correctly the walls of the dome on my DP Deluxe were around 1/4" think but franky I don't know if I would even attempt it. That much bondo is going to make the helmet very top-heavy. If you really want to you might fill in the first 3-4" around the edges and feather it out as you reach the interior of the dome. You'll only be able to get a clear look at that much of the inside of the dome anyway once it's in place and it'll be even harder to tell once it's painted.

    My $.02.

    Dave C.
     
  19. KevVader

    KevVader Sr Member

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    .....my JB ESB is 1/4" thick at the edges but slims down in the body of the helmet....my ANh is probably about 3/16" thick......I would agree with the above not too go too crazy with the Bondo...otherwise you'd have days of sanding/shaping...
     
  20. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    ok, the helmet is now sanded and cleaned and sanded some more. I'm just waiting for it to dry so I can put the primer on. Anyone know of a place online I can order Plastikote gunmetal grey and gloss black spraypaints? They are nowhere to be found locally.
     
  21. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    the primer is on the faceask now, and a couple pinholes that looked like no big deal before are now showing up. should I just put them out of mind and continue? or should I fill them up? Is there a spot filler I can use for this kind of thing?
    [​IMG]
     
  22. Cantina_Dude

    Cantina_Dude Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hey,

    What I would suggest for filling pinholes over primer is "Glazing & Spot Putty" made by Bondo. It is a red, air-curing putty that bonds well to primer, much better than the 2-part stuff in my opinion. Once it has hardened, lightly sand it smooth, then hit it with the primer again. Repeat this until the whole helmet is perfect, then you are ready to paint.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    MJC.
     
  23. gplracer

    gplracer New Member

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    It looks real good. I would fill the pin holes too. It is the small details that will make a difference for you. Take your time and you will be happier with the results. How hard has this whole process been and have you done anything like this before? Thanks...
     
  24. wuher da brewer

    wuher da brewer Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wow, you're doing great on your mask. Hopefully I'll get some more time this week to work on my Vader mask.
     
  25. X3RO_SHIF7

    X3RO_SHIF7 Well-Known Member

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  26. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    OK, I started painting yesterday. And I've noticed the black doesnt have that amazing smooth reflective finish I always see on peoples vader buckets. Is that what the Future Floor wax is for?
    [​IMG]
    :)
     
  27. Goldenrod

    Goldenrod Sr Member

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    Its coming along nicely. Not sure about the wax? what paint was used?
    -Goldenrod
     
  28. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Everyone reccomended Plasti-Kote gloss black, so that is what I used.

    Thanks.
     
  29. imported_Darth_Vader

    imported_Darth_Vader New Member

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    i know u made every inch of this helmet...but i think u should leave the painting to a professional. Take it to a local auto paint shop..they will do a professional job. cost may be 50-200...im not sure but worth every penny in the end just my 2 cents. But u did an amazing job man.
     
  30. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The original helmets looked like garbage, so I'm not worried about painting it myself. :)
     
  31. Cantina_Dude

    Cantina_Dude Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hey.

    Looking good. From what I can tell from your pictures, it looks like you have been doing multiple thin, misty coats of the gloss paint. That's fine for covering with the colour, but for the finish coat, it needs to be a little heavier. There is a fine balance here when spraying gloss paints, as you need to put a fairly heavy coat on there, but not too heavy. You also have to do it all in one go, you can't just do a little portion, let that dry, then move on to another portion. To get an even glossy texture you have to keep going until the whole thing is covered. Gloss paint requires quite a bit of paint to be put on at once to allow itself to relax onto the surface (which must be sanded perfectly smooth) and form a nice even gloss finish. The danger of going too heavy in one coat is that it can start to build up and run and ruin the whole finish. If that happens, you will have to let it cure, sand it down, then try it again. I might suggest practicing on something else, a scrap of something, until you get the hang of it. Once you feel comfortable, take a stab at it on your helmet and see how it goes. After the whole helmet is painted and has fully cured, you could try giving it a coat or two of Nu Finish to really make it shine.

    Hope this helps.

    MJC.
     
  32. KevVader

    KevVader Sr Member

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    ....I'd have to agree with this statement....go to a good paint shop and get a professional baked finish....with a clearcoat...that'll shine 'er up. I'd hate to see all your hard work spoiled with a crappy paint job....

    ....love it so far... :thumbsup :thumbsup :thumbsup
     
  33. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    OK, I just layed it on thicker and it looks a lot better, I still think it needs a clearcoat or something, though. I'll keep you guys updated.
     
  34. TallDarkandDisfigured

    TallDarkandDisfigured Sr Member

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    A good method for painting and clear coating(clear especially) is to put on a tack coat(like your first pic), then let it tack up and follow it with a wet coat or heavy coat. This is where you get the shine you want.
    The tack coat is thin enough to hold well to the helmet and gives a grip for the wet coat. Then you have less chance of lifting.
    Add lots of clear, cut and buff it and you'll have a mirror shine.
    I can't wait to get to the paint stage of my Rubies.
     
  35. gplracer

    gplracer New Member

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    I was under the impression that to get a real glossy look a clear coat would be needed and then have to be wetsanded and buffed out with polishing cream.
     
  36. imported_Darth_Vader

    imported_Darth_Vader New Member

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    what r u gonna use for lenses?
     
  37. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The helmet came with lenses, padding, and more :)
     
  38. celtic touch

    celtic touch Well-Known Member

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    Hey Just read this post and think you are doing a fantastic job. Trust me to get a professional finish on the helmet I get my mate who is a top notch auto painter to do em. So I opp to leave to the pros, but Im sure you will get there.Sorry I didnt read the post earlier or I could have pointed you in the direction of how to do a lot of the work on it :( anyway your doing great.
    CT
    (oh I am still making em but atm unpainted ones as my painter has gone overseas)
     
  39. yakcam

    yakcam Sr Member

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    Hey creamedgeezer,

    Man, it's looking great, I cant wait to see it finished. I love progress threads, especially Vader ones.

    Hi CT,

    I spoke to you a looooong time ago about your helmets, are you back in OZ?

    Cheers,

    Kraig
     
  40. celtic touch

    celtic touch Well-Known Member

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    Hey Craig, yep back in the land of OZ, Been so damned hard to do fibre glass work here as its winter and hard to get it to go off, but am in f/glass mode so WATCH OUT ..LOL gee should not steal this thread..of I go ;)
     
  41. Atarian

    Atarian Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    how can I smooth this out? Is there a top coat that will give it a smooth reflective finish?
     
  42. vader71

    vader71 Sr Member

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    It looks like you need to get the surface really smooth first. I would wetsand the whole dome starting at about 1000 grit and work your way to at least 2000.
    I like the Duplicolor brand of spray paints, they make a nice glossy clearcoat that will go on very nice. Test it first though to be sure its compatible with the base paint you used.
     
  43. DarthVader1

    DarthVader1 Well-Known Member

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    -UPDATE-

    As you noticed, there was nothing posted in a couple of months on the progress of this helmet. Reason: Helmet has a NEW -and happy- OWNER...myself. (Thanks creamedgeezer...) :D :thumbsup

    The helmet haven't changed since the last post according to "creamedgeezer", and I should receive it at home in Italy really soon. I will keep posting progress using the same thread, since it's related to the very same helmet. The updates will be slow, due that I don't know when I'm coming back to Italy after my deployment in Afghanistan (hopefully sometime soon). Stay tuned. B)

    Robert :fettrotj
     
  44. Darth Detroit

    Darth Detroit Sr Member

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    What he said. :thumbsup
     
  45. vaderdarth

    vaderdarth Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    When you are spraying, you don't want the temperature of your spraying environment to be too humid or too cold. Either will cause that orange peel effect seen in your picture. If this occurs......it has to be sanded prior to a clearcoat. Next as you spray........keep the nozzel the same distance from the entire piece being sprayed the entire time (9 inches or so) and keep coating until it physically looks wet. Pause periodically and shake that can up again and again. It is very important to keep moving around the piece and don't try to spray in the same place for longer than a second. By the time you come back to that spot it will be dry enough to put another coat. If it doesn't look pretty wet before you stop painting and allow it to dry...........it likely won't look wet when it does dry. The key is to achieve a balance on the surface........you want it wet....but not so wet it runs. This just takes lots of practice. I have had to paint the same dome numerous times to beat some of these problems. Even experience is no match for the power of Mother Nature...

    Dave :)
     
  46. DarthVader1

    DarthVader1 Well-Known Member

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    -UPDATE 2-

    Just received news that the helmet arrived TODAY in the mail. WOW, a whole month to arrive, but it wasn't creamedgeezer's fault, but the mailing process and time of delivery...specially now when Christmas is around the corner.

    creamedgeezer,... THANKS DUDE. :D :thumbsup

    Now to wait until I get back home to start working with this baby. :love

    Robert :fettrotj
     
  47. DarthVader1

    DarthVader1 Well-Known Member

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    I've started the process of sanding the dome for a smooth finish. I did it with a really small-grit sand paper (don't know which one), which it will be DRY sanding, to continue with another coat of Automotive primer, and then to the AUTOMOTIVE PAINT process. Will post pics soon, also with some alterations to the dome.

    Robert :fettrotj
     
  48. Darth Domain

    Darth Domain Well-Known Member

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    Hi, i'm doing my rubies also, just given the dome its first coat of prime, then i'm gonna wet sand beofre the next coat. Its amazing how the primer shows off the imperfections. I was wondering, you said you have dry sanded the dome even though it has already had some paint on it. Would wetsand not be better (i'm still learning this stuff so nned it explaing like i'm a three year old)
     
  49. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

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    Looking forward to more updates on this helmet. What were the mods made to the dome?

    Wouldn't mind owning one of these babies... though, it takes too long to save up for one and too many other things pulling the money out of my hands... .)
     

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