How to: homemade templates


Sr Hunter
Hi all :)
It's been a while since I've had any "active" projects. I'm getting ready to do a helmet paintjob for a member and since we have a long weekend,
I was thinking I'd do a tutorial of sorts to show how I do my helmet painting templates.
There are some amazing .pdf files on the site from Count Dookie that cover almost all of the ESB helmet, and if you use those,
you could adapt some of the steps I'll explain to make them fit your helmet.

OK, on with the show!

So you've got your nice, shiny new Boba bucket and you want to do a killer paint job, but you're just not sure where to start.
You puzzle about it till your puzzler is sore! (apologies to Dr. Seuss :p)


A lot of us want to do an accurate paint job. In other words, get your helmet as close as you can to what was seen on screen, or in the exhibits.
So you might wonder how you can go about it.

Or you may just be wondering:


I'll try to help out with the answer to one of those two questions! (y) Read on.


What you'll need is a method to place the details and damage from the real helmet as accurately as possible onto your helmet.
Since 99.9999999999999% of us don't have access to the LFL archives, we'll have to make do with reference pictures.
There's a free resource right here on TDH with millions of reference pictures of all sorts of different parts of the Boba Fett costumes, with some incredible shots of the different helmets. OK, maybe not millions, but there are at least 3 or 4 oodles. :) If you're not familiar with the TDH Reference Archive, go to:
User ID is: tdhmember
Password is: ilovetdh
It really is an unbelievably rich resource, provided most graciously by this very site which we all know and love!

I've been using these pics for years. In fact, I've got a large portion of them saved to my 'puter and use them all the time when I'm doing painting projects.
Don't believe me???? Well here's proof!


Next, I'll explain how to make your very own painting templates!

NOTE: You must have a helmet in hand to use this technique! There are several different helmet makers out there, and each of their helmets have slightly different measurements.

In this tutorial, I'm using my FPH helmet as an example. The helmet I'm about to paint is also an FPH.

First things first: supplies. Nothing high tech here, folks, just some standard tracing paper, a ruler, and a pencil.
A bit later in our program, a small paintbrush will come into play as well.


You want to use a ruler that has very small gradations. I prefer to work in millimeters when I measure my pictures.
I can just get more accuracy that way than working with 1/16ths of inches.
But hey! Whatever floats your sail barge! :p

What you'll want to do is take a measurement of a certain part of your helmet. I work in small sections and make many templates when painting.
I'll use the rear keyslot area as an example here.

I measure the width of the keyslots on my FPH helmet:


Next, I'll find a picture in the reference archive that shows the most direct angle of the keyslot area. That's important!
You're basically transferring a 2-dimensional image (reference picture) onto a 3-dimensional object (your helmet.) So to avoid distortion, find the most oblique image you can find. It will make the shapes and proportions of your details better.

Once you pick your reference image, simply scale it on your monitor till it matches the measurement of your helmet.
I've scaled this picture of the keyslots until the width is the same as my FPH helmet:


The next step involves some steady hands and some patience! Hold a piece of tracing paper up to your monitor and trace the shapes of the details.
When I do this, I usually trace the outlines of the silver and gray damage only.
Once I paint these onto my helmet, they give me enough "landmarks" to add the darker maroon by eye.


After you've traced the damage areas, here's what you'll wind up with:


So now you have a traced outline that's scaled exactly for your helmet!
But. . . what do you do now??? How do you actually use this template???


Hmm. . . there has to be a way. . . umm. . . magic??. . . no, not magic. Let's see. . . if I find a lamp with a Genie inside it. . .
nah, that would take too long. . . A-HAAA!


What I do next is pretty crazy. So crazy it just might work! :D

I flip the tracing paper over and trace over all the outlines on the back side. This gives me a mirror image of the template.


After you've traced onto the back of the paper, it's a simple process of holding the template (right side out again) against the helmet and rubbing it onto the surface. I just use the back of a skinny paint brush to transfer my pencil lines.

Here I'm transferring the pattern onto a sheet of paper.


What you'll wind up with looks like this:


Once your template is transferred to the helmet, you can use it as a guide when painting on the damage. I still keep the reference pictures handy while painting. The templates give me a great guide for shapes and proportions, but it's practically impossible to transfer every tiny detail. So the good ol' eyeball is still tremendously important!


Well, hope that gives people some good ideas about learning new painting techniques and improving accuracy! If you'd care to comment I'd love to hear from you guys. :cheers

No comments about me being a huge goofball. . . I'm well aware of that already! ;)

Thanks for reading,


Sr Hunter
wow, that's pretty hard core! no wonder your stuff always looks so great... you put more time into those templates than i usually spend painting!! very impressive!!

Rich D

Active Hunter
Very entertaining and informative tutorial! I'm always impressed by your ability to capture the minute details, and also to get the overall surface weathering to look so authentic. (y)

This is really similar to the technique I used (with the same reference photos) to make those ESB pdf stencils a while back.


Sr Hunter
side note and thread hijack: note the way the forum turned count dookie's use of the phrase "reference photos" into a link to that section of the wiki.

pretty cool :)


Jr Hunter
Hilarious and amazing all at once! :lol: Great how-to Eric. Gave me a good laugh and that "How-it's-made" moment. I guess you could even skip one step if you mirror the image on your monitor just before scaling+tracing it.

Always great to read your posts Eric.(y)(y)(y)



"With great power comes great responsibility"
Oooh...oooh! I know whose FPH he's getting ready to paint!!! :D

Incidentally, though i will not be painting a helmet in the near future thanks to Eric, I might have stumbled on something to make life a little easier that I need to experiment with if I decide to do another one later. When I did the rear of my Mystery bucket, I used the Dookie templates (heh heh...dookie...) but taped them over graphite paper and traced from the front of the template onto the surface I was painting. Worked like a charm, as the graphite paper leaves very clean lines. I'm now thinking you could probably use craft bond spray to glue the graphite paper directly to the template to ensure absolutely no shifting -- which happened a little with the tape. That would eliminate the whole reverse tracing and also make starker lines to paint against. I may try it on some of the remaining detail on my MH, and I'll post photos if I do.

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Sr Hunter
Glad you guys got a chuckle out of this post. :)
If anyone's got their own preferred methods, go ahead and post 'em! I'm always for learning new painting methods!


Jr Hunter
ok! here are my thoughts. draw it out. copy it to your pc. print on label paper (you know the kind used for labels to post on mail, paper but sticky on the other side). cut out with an exacto blade. place it where you need to paint and presto. perfect. wish i would have done that when i painted mine. it comes off real easy. i did this on some other items i weatherd and it came out awesome. you just need to be real creative when you do multiple layers of weathering.