Evan1701's Newbie ESB Fett Helmet Paint-Up

Evan1701

Hunter
I figured I'd create a second thread dedicated just to the helmet, since there are going to be a lot of posts and pics.

For starters, here are my current resources:

Welshwarrior's Youtube series: How to paint a Boba Fett helmet - YouTube

Paint by numbers guide: "Paint by numbers" Humbrol Visual Guide - ESB & ROTJ Helmet & ESB Armor

TF's ultimate paint-up: One last wafer thin ESB paint job...

Another really nice paint-up by Jayvee: *UPDATE-COMPLETE 5/3/12:Jayvee's deluxe ESB paint up (with an awesome BGHunter lid..)

For starters, my supplies:

1. DVH fiberglass lid, with separate resin ears, rangefinder, and Borden connector

2. Sandpaper- 120, 150, 180, 220, 400, and 600 wet/dry. I'd skip the 120, you can see the scratches through the primer currently so I'm hoping it will even out after I put the airbrushed paint down. Also picked up some 0000 steel wool in the same aisle, which will be used throughout the whole process.

3. Airbrush with compressor. Bought a nice double-acting airbrush on Amazon for $35, and borrowed my dad's compressor. You can swap this out with a cheap airbrush and canned airbrush propellant, but I'm really trying not to half-ass this like I do most other things in life.

4. Rattlecan primer with Humbrol enamel paints for the airbrush, plus thinner to mix with the paint. I used TF's paint-up almost exclusively for my list of paint.

5. Lots and lots of plastic bags and some nice green tape for masking off. Got some Humbrol masking fluid as well.

6. Little plastic individually sealing tupperware containers for mixing custom paints.

7. Crappy little helmet stand I made myself out of a foam head from Michels, some wooden dowel rods, and a thick foam base. Covered it with a garbage bag during paint.

8. Dremel, for cutting out the visor and the Borden connector hole.

9. Electric drill for drilling out the holes for the ears.

10. Bondo for filling the pits on the ears. The helmet had some minor air bubbles, which I decided to let slide and just touch up with paint instead. Didn't really feel like messing with the bondo just yet.

11. Respirator, goggles, and dust masks to use while cutting, sanding, and painting.

12. Latex gloves, which I should have used and didn't so now my hands are covered in paint.

13. Needle files. These little buggers are worth their weight in gold. There are little build-up areas all over the helmet that I filed down, and they were very useful when cleaning up the visor.

14. Replacement visor from Amazon. $13. It's a shade 3 which may be too light, but I tested it out yesterday with a camera flash and my face isn't visible at all. Worst comes to worst, I wasted $13. Big deal.

So now that that's over, let's get into the details!
 
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Evan1701

Hunter
First thing I did was wash the helmet with water and dish soap, using 0000 steel wool to get all the release agents off.

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Next, I cut the visor out and sanded down the interior of the visor area with needle files. You need to do this in the corners where the dremel can't get to.

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After this, I dremel'd out the hole for the Borden (I'm going to stick it in and glue it in place), and drilled out all the holes for the ears since I'm bolting them all on. The reason for this is to make them easier to paint. I really don't want to have to mask around them. I also test fit the visor here, which I cut by laying the visor I bought from Amazon over the front of the helmet and marking where it needed to be cut. I stayed on the larger side so as to not make it to small, and had to incrementally cut it down to fit.

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Since the ears need a lot of extra work with the bondo and epoxy, I decided just to move on to painting the helmet. I sanded down the whole thing, starting with 120 and working my way up to wet sanding with the 600. I would suggest not going with 120, since I scraped the crap out of the helmet and you can definitely see it through the primer. I expect this to diminish after several coats of paint, but if not, hey, Boba is battle damaged, right?

After sanding, I sprayed 2 full coats of primer on. I got it to heavy on the back around the MQ-1 and had to wipe it off and respray. No big deal. I'm trying not to be a perfectionist about this whole thing, which is really hard since that's just how I am. But the real Boba was far from perfect.

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And that's it for today! Tomorrow I begin airbrushing, starting with the back panels. I'm going to follow Welshwarrior's tutorials here almost to a tee. So rather than spray the whole thing silver like a lot of folks tend to do, I'm going to mask everything off after the primer dries and do each section fully individually.
 

Ghostphoenix01

Jr Hunter
Good luck. I'm working on my first 2 and have a thread goin. It's a fun and rewarding process once things start to get their finished colors.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Good luck. I'm working on my first 2 and have a thread goin. It's a fun and rewarding process once things start to get their finished colors.
I'm so excited. I still need to find some tracing paper for the stencils, and I need a plastic-tipped brush to apply the masking fluid, I'm hoping to find that stuff today perhaps and lay down some silver on the back panels. I also need a bunch of countersunk screws for the ears since the hardware the helmet came with doesn't quite work. Since the ears are being bolted on, I could technically wait until the very end to do that.
 

Ghostphoenix01

Jr Hunter
Make sure everything fits and is right before you start doing any major painting. That's what I did anyways and would do it agin. But I also did the full layer coats with the base,silver, and the dark gray. To me that was a good way to go.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Make sure everything fits and is right before you start doing any major painting. That's what I did anyways and would do it agin. But I also did the full layer coats with the base,silver, and the dark gray. To me that was a good way to go.
Yeah we cut down the visor and sanded down all the ears parts and I test-fit them to make sure they fit flush. I haven't actually installed the screws to the ears yet because I don't have the screws, but that's pretty easy stuff. I pushed the Borden into the hole to be sure it fit, although with several layers of paint I will most likely need to file it out to get it to fit. I want to paint the ears, Borden, and rangefinder separately so that it's easier, also so that it looks a little nicer.

I haven't installed the visor yet either, I'm going to glue it in and it was going to be impossible to mask it off without getting paint all over it so I just stuffed a plastic bag inside the helmet and taped all around the open tee area so it's flush. I'm probably going to leave the helmet interior unpainted, I kind of like the raw yellowish look it has currently. I'm just going to fill it up with foam padding anyway.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Got the back panels masked up and ready for paint tomorrow. I'll be starting with silver and working my way up the layers, masking each with masking fluid using RafalFett's stencils traced onto the helmet via wax transfer paper.

Personally, I don't think it could have been masked any neater. Like I said, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I used a metal tool to press the tape into the corners. It won't be perfect just because it's hard to wrap the tape under the raised brow edges, so for the most part I left it alone.

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Darth Voorhees

Well-Known Hunter
Preferred Vendor
Lookin good!

You shouldn't need much work on the ears, mostly just flattening the backs a bit. In the future i will be making the molds 2 pc so then the ears should be practically "plug n play" havent had the time yet.

Did i not send ya the screws? you should have gotten a small sealed baggie with all the screws. If you didn't receive it, or misplaced it, (or threw them out LOL [[inside joke]] ) i will send you another, just let me know!
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Lookin good!

You shouldn't need much work on the ears, mostly just flattening the backs a bit. In the future i will be making the molds 2 pc so then the ears should be practically "plug n play" havent had the time yet.

Did i not send ya the screws? you should have gotten a small sealed baggie with all the screws. If you didn't receive it, or misplaced it, (or threw them out LOL [[inside joke]] ) i will send you another, just let me know!
I didn't throw these ones out haha, I just either don't know what each screw is for or I got the wrong ones or wrong quantities. I got 2 large countersunk screws, 4 normal buttonhead screws, 1 small countersunk screw and then the one countersunk screw already in the rangefinder with the wingnut. However, the upper RH ear needs 3 countersunk screws for the ear cap to sit flush, and the big countersunk screws were too big (the head doesn't fit into the countersunk section molded into the ear). The little countersunk screw fits in the upper RH ear but is almost too small, so I figured maybe it was for the Borden? And then since the big countersunk screws are too big, I figured they were for one of the ears. But then I wasn't sure what the 4 regular screws were for... I just decided to set it all aside and work on painting the helmet since I can bolt everything up later once I figured it out.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Got the silver down last night on the back panels. Like I said before, rather than focus on the helmet as a whole and go color by color, I'm narrowing it down to section-by-section and going from primer all the way through the colors for each section- back panels, dome, cheeks, mandibles & trim, ears, and finally weathering.

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Evan1701

Hunter
Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally finished masking the silver damage on the back panels.

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I already sprayed the light gray 147 on, but it was such a light color you couldn't even tell the difference between it and the silver so I didn't take any pics. Also, I know most folks advise against this, but since the gray 147 really doesn't have much that needs masking, I'm going to leave the silver masking on until after I spray the next color, which is the dark gray 106. After that gets tacky I'll take the light gray and silver masking off together.

The gray 147 also did not go on very heavy no matter how little or much thinner I used, so much so that I could still easily see the purple masking fluid through the paint. Do you guys think this is bad? I'm still new to this whole airbrushing thing. I start with basically a 1:1 ratio, and it comes out in little clumpy "spats" if anything comes out at all. As I added thinner it seemed to get finer, but I could barely see the color! It was like I added too much thinner, but I know I didn't because it was hardly coming out at all.

I would like to leave all the masking on until I'm done with the back panels- after gray 106, I'll have concrete and then the blue/green. After that I would take all the masking off. I've seen folks advise against doing that when you're painting the whole helmet, but is it bad to do it for just individual sections? I'd like to get everyone's thoughts on it.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Remove the masking after each layer and then re apply after you put your next stencil down.
After chatting with the members of our Garrison, our Squad Leader painted a ROTJ Fett a few years ago and was appalled by this advice. He said he left all his masking on and only took it off at the very end since you have to remask each time. I'm honestly not sure what to do at this point. Since I'm painting in sections vs. the whole thing at once, I'm erring on the side of leaving the masking down and peeling it all up at once when I'm done with the section. I think it would be detrimental to leave a helmet's worth of masking on for several months, but since I would really only be leaving the masking on for a few weeks at a time, maybe it makes sense to leave it on to avoid remasking? If I get a couple small chips because of it I don't think I'd be terribly upset. The stencils are hard enough to follow as it is, about half the time I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be masking inside or outside the lines.
 

Grimstuff

Hunter
It can end up being.. really tough to remove some of the masking after it's stayed on there for a few weeks and has several layers of paint creating a shell over it. But yeah, I would say it's faster and easier to paint that way.

I think if you're going for a really high-accuracy perfect replication of the original damage, redoing each layer will give you more control, but will of course take a lot of time and detail (and you'd probably want to use the paint-over method instead of the layered masking method for that anyway).

If you're ok with a little more loose patterning and possibly a little paint scuffing later, leaving it on and just applying the fluid really thick so it's easier to remove later is probably the best bet, especially if your stencils are giving you accuracy trouble anyway (you'll never be able to perfectly remask some of the finer details, leaving lots of unintentional exposed layers.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
It can end up being.. really tough to remove some of the masking after it's stayed on there for a few weeks and has several layers of paint creating a shell over it. But yeah, I would say it's faster and easier to paint that way.

I think if you're going for a really high-accuracy perfect replication of the original damage, redoing each layer will give you more control, but will of course take a lot of time and detail (and you'd probably want to use the paint-over method instead of the layered masking method for that anyway).

If you're ok with a little more loose patterning and possibly a little paint scuffing later, leaving it on and just applying the fluid really thick so it's easier to remove later is probably the best bet, especially if your stencils are giving you accuracy trouble anyway (you'll never be able to perfectly remask some of the finer details, leaving lots of unintentional exposed layers.
Yeah, honestly if I was just building the helmet to display in the house, I'd be unmasking and remasking. But as it is, I didn't resize the stencils so I kind of have to move them around as I'm drawing to get everything looking right, so some damage is off here or there. And especially since a lot of the damage builds on itself (especially the large silver/gray damage area on the RH back panel), if you don't have the stencils perfect and suck at doing masking fluid (like I kind of do), going for "close enough" is fine by me.

I'm also building the Fett to wear, and I troop a LOT, so this whole costume is gonna get nicked and scratched and scuffed and I'll just have to be okay with that. I have chips all over the bottom of my royal guard helmet where I'm constantly whacking myself with the force pike.

On another note, I finished up the light gray masking and am going to spray the dark gray some time today. I'll have some more pictures to show soon. :D
 

Evan1701

Hunter
So I decided today that I am so bad at airbrushing. It took me 4 coats to get a nice even look, but after I was done, it ended up looking great! Note that the gray is a lot darker in person.

First, the final masking!

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Then, the dried paint!

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I'll start stenciling up the dark gray damage tomorrow, and then I'll be shooting the concrete.
 

Mullreel

Well-Known Hunter
Masking and unmasking is time consuming but I highly recommend it. The build up of layers can will get really out of control if you keep it on. I might do two layers without unmasking but probably not more than that.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Masking and unmasking is time consuming but I highly recommend it. The build up of layers can will get really out of control if you keep it on. I might do two layers without unmasking but probably not more than that.
I might peel a little up tonight before starting the next round of stenciling and see how it goes. Since the hardest part of the dark gray is being stenciled in the big damage area on the RH side, it might be easy just to slap a huge glob of masking fluid on there.
 

Evan1701

Hunter
Lots of updates! Yay!

So the first thing I tried after a few days of letting the dark gray set was peeling up multiple layers of paint with masking fluid all sandwiched in between. It really wasn't that bad. I think I'll have to "pick" at it a lot more than normally, where you would pull it up all in essentially one huge sheet (if you're lucky). That is a minor setback to me vs. having to mask and remask everything constantly. So I've decided to leave it all. Much easier for a newbie like me.

I spent probably 3 or 4 hours total stenciling and masking between 2 days. I had to do a lot of it freehand because my stencil doesn't quite line up, but oh well. I'm not letting myself get bogged down in the details, or else I'd never get anything done trying to be a perfectionist.

Let me tell you, that light gray was a PAIN to get over top of the dark gray. Wow. The beige over top of the light gray, on the other hand, was like cake. I was worried I was doing it too heavy, but it definitely came out lighter than the color on the little can, and it looks a lot like the color for Daniel Logan's ESB Fett paint up so I think I'm good there.

So, as promised, here are the pictures!

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Evan1701

Hunter
Final color is done! ........ unfortunately it is super orange peel-y. Once I realized it, I realized at least the concrete is like that too, if not more colors. I think the silver was okay. I didn't realize there was any sort of technique to avoid orange peel, but apparently you have to really know what you're doing.

I replaced the 0.2 mm needle with a 0.5 mm needle in hopes that it will send more paint through so it doesn't start drying before it hits the surface of the helmet. That, I realized, was my problem. Because the needle was so small in diameter, I was having to hold the airbrush really close to the surface, but if I got too close it ran, and too far away it was orange peel-y. Ugh.

So tomorrow I'm going to take all the masking fluid off and give all the paint a good rubbing with 0000 wire wool, or maybe a wet sand? What do you guys think?

Here's some pictures with the concrete masked up and then the blue/green sprayed on.

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The dark splotches are where the orange peel is really bad. The coat itself is really thick. The color went on really well actually.
 
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