ShadoKat's Samus Aran (Metroid Prime 3) helmet sculpt - WIP

ShadoKat

Member
A huge, bold, italic, underlined THANK YOU to everyone whose inspiration, encouragement, and advice got me so far along in this project! There's no way I could have done this on my own! Yes, this is an incredible feeling! I almost didn't even sleep that night... and I can't... stop... touching it!!! I'm glad I went this route with the sculpting and molding and casting. It's like, "I made this!" It's just so... I don't know, "real" I guess :)

On this edition of "Trial by Error: Learning through Failure with uber-noob ShadoKat": PLASTI-PASTE! For anyone else interested in using Plasti-Paste but have never worked with it, there are things you should know... First, it's expensive. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but this one mother mold used half of my $65.00 gallon kit. Second, mix up two or three smaller batches in separate cups rather than one big one. The data sheet says the pot life is ten minutes, but usable time is more like five. Anything past that it becomes VERY sticky, clumps together, pulls on itself, and just becomes VERY hard to work with. I didn't learn this until I was half way done. On the first side, I started with the parting flange and, by the time I was done applying it, the stuff that was left in the bowl went on like... well, I don't know, but it was a bad, sticky mess. On the second side I mixed up one batch, and jad a second on hand and ready to go, but didn't actually mix it until I was done putting on the flange. It was just MUCH easier that way. I was also able to fix up the first side by marking out the blotchy spots lightly troweling in a small batch, but it took more time and more product.

plastifix.jpg


Doing this made the mother mold much cleaner and, I didn't have to work as hard to get the prickly bits off of it. (Plasti-Paste? More like CACTI-Paste!!) Other than those things, the stuff is pretty awesome! Minimally toxic, low odor, easy to measure, easy to mix, easy to apply (in small batches), and a short cure time.

My inner hypercritic notes that the cast is just a tad bit rougher than I thought it would be after all the work I put into the clay. Looks like I didn't take out as much of the unevenness as I thought. Still super happy, just already thinking of ways to fix it, but I need to get going on the rest of the suit before too long. Probably start with sanding down the high spots, but not sure where to go from there, especially to fill in the low spots. Apoxie Sculpt, perhaps? Any tips or suggestions before I go thread-hunting?

Also, I'm pouring a second cast tomorrow night, but I'm kind of having a hard time re-seating the cut seam into the mother mold... any tips on that? The first cast has a ridge along the cut seam where it didn't quite line up, and it's ever so slightly raised on one side (I wanted to make it line up with the detail line down the center, but silicone isn't exactly transparent, and it got lost after the first thixo layer). It will likely sand right off, so I'm not terribly worried about it, but if I can avoid it in subsequent casts (or molds, if it has to do with my molding technique) I'll be much happier.

As always, thanks for the compliments and encouragement :) Reading these I almost think I'm looking at someone else's thread LOL!
 

Achille

Member
Also, I'm pouring a second cast tomorrow night, but I'm kind of having a hard time re-seating the cut seam into the mother mold... any tips on that?
I can't tell for sure, as you didn't post pictures of your finished mold, but it looks like your method for parting was to paint on a skin of silicon, then make your part seam, and cut through that seam at the end (I'm thinking this because you place your "parting seam/fin/mohawk" after you slather on a couple of layers).

If you're going to do a two part mold, why not start with two parts initially? Make your seam out of a water clay (Easily moldable and removable from your piece), and do each half one at a time. That would give you much more accuracy as to where your seam is located.

It's possible I'm completely missing how you went about this mold... In that case, ignore everything I just said. :p
 

ShadoKat

Member
I can't tell for sure, as you didn't post pictures of your finished mold, but it looks like your method for parting was to paint on a skin of silicon, then make your part seam, and cut through that seam at the end (I'm thinking this because you place your "parting seam/fin/mohawk" after you slather on a couple of layers).

If you're going to do a two part mold, why not start with two parts initially? Make your seam out of a water clay (Easily moldable and removable from your piece), and do each half one at a time. That would give you much more accuracy as to where your seam is located.

It's possible I'm completely missing how you went about this mold... In that case, ignore everything I just said. :p
Good tip for a two part mold! You're saying to put on the water clay before the silicone, or after the first layer? I'd be a bit concerned about clay sticking to the clay if I put it directly on. No, you're mostly right... Using this video right here as my reference, I put on two thin layers of silicone, followed by one thickened layer. Then I gently placed on the plastic fin, using mostly gravity to keep it in place, and laid down some thickened silicone on either side of it to keep it in place. I thought that thickened seam would give me a semi-key for the mother mold, as well, but it didn't work out quite as well as I thought it would. Maybe if I had made it thicker... Anyway, once I put a second coat of Plasti-Paste down on the left side, I carefully removed the plastic fin and did the right side. The plastic shim also left a nice (if not as centered as I would have liked) parting line in the silicone, which I followed with my blade when I de-molded. You are correct, the silicone mold is mostly in two parts, I cut it from the top of the visor all the way down the back. In retrospect, I didn't need to cut that far. I've seen a lot of people leave their molds as a single piece and, even though I probably could not have done that, I'm thinking what I probably should have done is start at the back and only cut up just far enough to get the piece out. Another lesson learned, I guess.
 

ShadoKat

Member
Might I ask again if you're going to be selling casts? I would very much like to get one.
Yes, sorry, I meant to say something about that... Seriously, thank you!! An offer of purchase is probably one of the best compliments ever!! Yes, I would very much like to sell some casts, but probably not for a while. I don't yet have access to the Classified's section, and I want to do some research there first to try to get an idea of what a fair price might be. I understand that such discussion is kind of taboo in these parts of the forum.

Kind of on that subject, I just finished pouring and slushing the last batch of plastic a second cast and am waiting for it to cure... Did you know that SmoothCast works as an ideal chemical for waxing arm hair?
 

Cobbatron

Well-Known Member
Hey I dont know if you said this or not, been a while since I've been on this thread, are you going to be doing any more helmets from the metroid series? If so I have a request...
 

ShadoKat

Member
Moving on...

Second cast didn't come out very well, it seems one side of the head caved in a bit right at the ear-banana. There is a registration key right there, so either the key is not form-fitting enough or it's too heavy. Starting a third cast right now using what's left of the SmoothCast 300 from my trial kit instead of 321. Going with smaller batches this time to get more even coverage. Also, I had an idea how to keep the visor inside the helmet. We'll see how that goes.

Hey I dont know if you said this or not, been a while since I've been on this thread, are you going to be doing any more helmets from the metroid series? If so I have a request...
If I do, it won't be for a LONG while yet... I need to get to the rest of the suit. (I'd LOVE to know what you have in mind, so please e-mail me.) Speaking of which, I started on the shoulder bells yesterday.

bell-1.jpg


I'm using the helmet as a base to get the size closer to "proportionally accurate" compared to the character and in-game models. (Seriously, I felt sick when I started mutilating the helmet sculpt for this part, LOL!!) Luckily, the shoulder bells, as well as most other parts of the costume, are symmetrical, so I only need to sculpt it once and make two casts of it. Unfortunately, I developed probably one of the worst blisters I've ever had right on my "clay pressing" thumb, so that's put me out of commission for sculpting for a few days :'(

Lots of work to do on the helmet, but figuring where to start is giving me decision-paralysis. I think I need to pull a really really good cast, first...
 

ShadoKat

Member
Thumb is healing up quicker than expected, I should be able to get back to sculpting tomorrow night. In other news, I bought some microballoons (basically it's just an extremely hazardous white powder) and mixed up a small batch of resin to try it in. What I was hoping was that adding them would thicken up the resin to a gel-like consistency so I could just brush it into the thinner spots (the the sharp corners, the flanges at the back, etc.) but it didn't work out that well. It gelled up as it cured, but it was still too viscous to stay in any spot without running. Actually grabbed a brush near the end, but it had lost too much viscosity by that point, and I think I ended up making it worse. Fortunately, the mold is holding up pretty well, so I think I can get a few more pulls out of it before giving up entirely on experimenting with rotocasting techniques.

So... Does anyone have any tips or advice on rotocasting? My arms hurt, and I end up losing too much plastic when it drips out. One problem is I'm using SmoothCast 321, which takes about 15 minutes to set up enough so that I can stop rotating (and the mold is HEAVY). Does anyone know of an effective thixotropic additive for urethane resins that will work like Thi-Vex does on silicone (basically what I wanted the microballoons to do)?

Thanks!
 

neimad94

New Member
From what I have seen from my own never ending research, this is a very high quality sculpt, and from a fellow n00b's perspective, those vents on the back TERRIFY me. I would think twice before i started sculpting or casting those, but you pullled it off amazingly! I share the problem of jumping into projects to only discover its about 4 feet over my head, but every once and a while i get the motivation to try something else. I think this helmet might be some much needed motivation.
 

ShadoKat

Member
It's been a slow last couple of weeks... Had a huge cleaning-up getting ready for a house appraisal, so I have to put away the sculpt and most of the other stuff until that's over. Boooooo!!

Pulled the third cast, though, and it actually looks pretty marvelous, shape-wise... I think I'm going to use it for the final! The two-tone resin (which won't matter once I paint it) actually blends pretty well, and I added some extra layers of resin mixed with microballoons (which makes a huge mess), which made it noticeably lighter than the other two. I tried to get the extra layers into specific spots, especially inside the flanges, which were really thin on the first two casts, and they came out much better than I expected! Got a suggestion to use Shell Shock for that kind of spot-application. The inside is really rough, though, and I'm not sure how to address that, but hey, it's just the inside, right?

Figured I'd use my first cast as my "practice piece" to try to get a feel for how to proceed, and I'm glad I did! Got a bit of Dremel time over the last couple days (only second time ever using it). I cut the holes for the hoses... AMAZING difference the hose makes!

side-x-side.jpg


Not shown, I also cut out the visor. Took a while to figure out how... started with a knife, and finished with the Dremel just tonight. That process was fraught with peril! the cutting wheels are not very precise, and the Dremel is too bulky to maneuver around the helmet while holding it sideways. The body of the Dremel bumps into the helmet in such a way that I can't angle the cutting wheel where I need it to be. I switched to a grinder bit, but it's obvious when you try to use it that it's not made for cutting. Made a few gouges. Also, I scoured Home Depot and Harbor Freight, but the only hose I could find is the kind used for hiding wiring. It's split down the side and it's too stiff, making it bow out where the slit is. Now I get to start sanding... I'm a bit nervous about it, but I'm actually looking forward to it! Note to self: need a sanding block and some dust masks.

So, here are my current questions:

1. What are the best/most useful Dremel bits for precision-cutting-out of hose-holes and visors?

2. How/what can I use to grind down the rough spots on the inside?

3. Would an electric sander be helpful, or should I just stick to "by hand" for now?

4. What kind of putty (besides Bondo... preferably with minimal toxicity) can I use to fill in the low spots and gouges?

5. Where can I get some really good-looking flexible hose about 1" in diameter?

Thanks in advance!!
 
For question one maybe this http://www.tylertool.com/drem225flex.html
and question five I would assume any where that sells pool hoses...??

Sorry I'm not much help as I have many of the same questions as you just bought my Dremel last week and I'm pretty new to all of this. What I really wanted to say was that this is amazing and since you sound like you're as new to this as I am bravo that is one hell of a helmet. I'm really impressed with it, I must say I fight every day with my helmet and strive for perfection but it looks you have found it at least in the form of Samus's helmet.
 

AceNat

Well-Known Member
this is truely amazing, i can only hope that when i start modling and casting they will come out as good looking as yours :)
the only question i can help you with is the hose one.. how about vaccum hoses? thats what i used for the little vents on my chief helm, they come in different sizes and are flexible !
 

ShadoKat

Member
this is truely amazing, i can only hope that when i start modling and casting they will come out as good looking as yours :)
LOL!! You're just saying that because you can't see it up close ;) Seriously, though, thank you, that really means a lot to me, especially coming from skilled people like you whose amazing work gives me inspiration! In fact, thanks to everyone that has commented! Like I've mentioned before, this is my first time with sculpting and molding, so I'm just blown away that so many people have said such nice things about this project :) So, really, thank you all, it helps keep me going....

Thanks for the tips, I've hit the usual suspects for hoses, but I'll try the pool and vacuum specialty shops to see what I can find there. Now (as always) I have some more questions...

It is pretty rough in certain spots (one of the drawbacks to inexperience, I guess), but I just started sanding the prototype, and it is smoothing much more easily than I expected, so that's encouraging. Currently I'm using 100 grit for the really rough spots and general unevenness, then I'll continue the whole thing with 220, then to 600. How much finer should I go after that? Am I going too far as it is?

Also, it may be premature, but I'm already thinking about painting. I've been reading painting tutorials, but I'm probably like the only person NOT going for the "battle damage" look, so I'm wondering... how many steps will I need to get that metallic sheen I'm going for? For even coverage I'll be using spray paint. I'm currently thinking: 1. primer 2. black 3. chrome 4. color 5. clear coat Will this work or do I need more/fewer steps?

As always, thanks so much!!
 
I don't think 600 grit is "too far" at all. Too far is when you sand right through the casting which I'm pretty sure we can all trust you not to do ^_~ . Honestly, if you're going for a high gloss finish? It's typically recommended to go up as high as 2000 grit for wet sanding.
 

ShadoKat

Member
Just finished with the 100, and about to go start with the 220, but I'm giving my hand a rest... then I see this...

I don't think 600 grit is "too far" at all. Too far is when you sand right through the casting which I'm pretty sure we can all trust you not to do ^_~ . Honestly, if you're going for a high gloss finish? It's typically recommended to go up as high as 2000 grit for wet sanding.
My hand hurts all over again! 2000 GRIT!??! As in "two thousand?" Jeez, I wouldn't even know where to get that... okay, yes I probably do... And now that you've brought it up, I HAVE to do it ;) Assuming I am able to get some, though, how many intermediate steps would that take? Could I go straight from the 600 to the 2000, or are there others that should be done first? Also, I've heard of wet sanding, but I've never done it or even seen it done before... it sounded complicated, so I did a little research... it's not. However, it looks like the super-high-grit should be wet sanded over the paint, rather than the cast itself, is that right? Does wet produce better results than dry, or is it just because of dust, or is wet just easier at such high grits? Ugh, I think I'm going to need some mechanical sanding assistance...
 
WOW! This is truly amazing work. Your clay skills are fantastic and your cast came out looking great! Keep it up. I can't wait to see what you do next. :)
 

CPO mendez

Member
O. M. F. G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Loves hina

Jr Member
typically for sanding, i think 600 grit would work just fine. basically your just trying to get it smooth enough so that the scratches wont show through the paint. ive wet sanded lacquer guitar finishes and the highest we go to before buffing is usually 1600 i think. 2000 might be a bit far, but im not sure how smooth you want it, might make the paint not stick too well if you go to 2000. if you dont sand enough before painting and want it smoother, you can always sand the paint and buff it or add another layer
as for puttys, i always hear the spot putty is great for small holes and stuff, for larger ones i wouldnt know.
as for trying to thicken the smoothcast, i believe you were doing, smooth on sells products to thicken it, adn for rotational casting they smooth cast roto, which is actually cheaper than the 300 series if i remember.
and if you never figured out what was inhibiting the silicon, if its not the clay, it might have been the vaseline. its a petroleum based product, and tends to eat most plastics.
 
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