Hello! I'm a newcomer to this forum, although I have been reading it for ages, as I gathered up enough nerve to actually plunge into prop making. Just a few weeks ago, I decided to build a vacuum forming table and heater system, which, after a few wasted sheets of styrene now works like a charm! I'm in the process of putting together a video of my setup as we speak.
Over the past few days I decided it was time to get some serious mould making done, and went to my local Canadian Tire (yes, I'm in Canada - how did you guess!) to get what I thought I needed to make a mold...... 4 trips later, I'm still in need of more materials lol.
So, equipped with my newly built vacuum forming setup, and scraps of knowledge I acquired from youtube, whitearmor.net, and this site, I decided to tackle a Fett helmet project. However, soon I realized the magnitude of the job was too great for a first project, (and that vacuum forming might not be the best way to go about it after all), and settled on something smaller and simpler to start. So, I designed this insectoid/mandalorian-esque bounty hunter mask that I made up, basing it loosely around the mask of Revan. Here's how it was done.
(By the way, I posted this same thread on whitearmor as well, for those of you that are on there, because I want to get as many people's opinions and tips as I can, since I plan on doing a LOT more projects in the very near future!)
I started with a few sheets of scrap HIPS, both .06 and .08 guage, and cut out the pieces for the nose bump.
... and glued them together.
Next, I created the sides from more plastic and spare garbage around the garage, and covered it with Bondo.
Next, I sanded the face, and vacuum formed the dome (out of an old Boba Fett Don Post cheapo helmet I cut up a while back), and stuck it on with more Bondo.
Some more Bondo later (Bondo and I have at this point became best of friends), and the helmet started taking shape.
Next, after everything was sanded down (hours of sanding, and applying polyfilla - yeah, not the best choice as I soon discovered, but it's all a giant learning curve as this is my first project), I primed the mask to see if there were any trouble spots.
Priming turned out to be a BAD IDEA! I got too impatient, and went straight to my vacuum forming table.... needless to say, while the pull turned out to be good, the mold was quite damaged. I didn't take a picture, but when i peeled the plastic off, the primer stuck to the mask due to the heat and pulled up some polyfilla with it. I ended up doing some more research, and decided to stick to bondo, and purchased some epoxy putty for the fine details.
Another problem I ran into, as you can see from the photo above, the mold is hollow, and I didn't think to build it up to make the pull smooth. So, once formed, the plastic wrapped itself around the edges, making it an absolute nightmare to remove. I had to very carefully cut it off, which ended up damaging the mold further.
When I finally had my mask cut out, I decided it was too wide; so I heated up above the heaters i use in my "oven box" and squeezed it until it took on more of a narrow shape. I then glued a plastic strip to the brow to bring it out a bit more, and built up the nose piece with more plastic to make it more prominent.
Once that was done, I covered the inside with plaster of paris to make it rigid, and built up the edges to avoid the problem of the mold getting locked in during a pull.
The next pull was a success, although the plastic brow and nose piece came loose after I moved the mold, which made me realize I needed to solve the problem of mold damage after each pull. So, I poured bondo inside the mask, and I mean I loaded it in there! When it hardened, I broke off the plastic, and had my mostly-smooth, sturdy, reusable mold (which would have to be sanded and built up a bit before it could be pulled over).
Finally, I had my mask and began the next step, which is painting! I love painting!
And, finally, after a day of painting layers, and detail, the mask is done! I ended up cutting a slit down the middle of the nose to give it that mandalorian-esque look, and did some more painting! I painted the inside black (next time I'm going to use black HIPS, since I prefer the insides of my lids black), sealed everything, and installed a green visor which I cut out from a bunch of face shields I bought on ebay for my TK lid project.
In the end, the mask looks like this!
And finally, me wearing it. The black hoodie is to simulate what it would actually look like if worn with a dark lord style hood lol. Not the same, I know, but you get the idea.
When the strap is tightened, it squeezes the mask to the sides of your head and makes it look even more narrow, which gives it an insectoid look.
So that's it! First vacuum forming and mold project complete! Next, I'm going to do an actual Revan as well as Darth Nihilus masks (which I have already laid out the plans for), and go from there! I think I may create armor pieces for this mask as well, and do an actual costume out of it. The ultimate goal, however, is to do a good Fett Helmet, as well as an accurate stormtrooper lid.