Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Grey Knight Terminator Helmet from Warhammer 40K

A while back I got bored one evening and started tinkering with a maquette sculpt for a Grey Knight helmet.

I suppose I needed a new challenge, so I had to make it full-sized.  Here's the finished result: 
Angry Glare

To see more photos and details about how it was made, read on...

The original maquette sculpt was done entirely from memory.  When I'd decided to make it full-sized, I figured I should go back and refine the sculpt in order to better familiarize myself with the shape.  Here's what it looked like before I "accurized" it:

After a bit of tweaking, I'd arrived at a quick and dirty approximation of the the terminator-style Grey Knight helmet:

Finished Maquette

With that done, I started to work on the full-sized version.  I started with a reject casting from my Mk8 Space Marine helmet mold.  I occasionally wonder why I keep these bad castings, but then I start a project like this and I'm glad to have a basic shape to start from.  Then I start hacking it apart.

Once I'd removed all of the helmet parts I didn't want, I added some 1/8" foam PVC sheet (more commonly called "Sintra") to make the whole thing a bit taller and build the trademark plow shape at the front:
Base Helmet Hacked and Mods Begin

The forehead was cobbled together from a few more scraps of Sintra:
Grey Knight Termie Taking Shape

Then I made the ends of the vents out of more Sintra and took the ear caps from the original cast and re-attached them to the new helmet in a different orientation:
First Day's Progress

So here's how the prototype looked after the first day of tinkering:
Test Fit Front

Test Fit Side

To get a better idea of how it would look whenever I get around to making the armor to go with it, I set the whole thing into a large plywood tube I had sitting around from my ED-209 project:

Simulated Collar
Thus ended the first day of tinkering on this project.

The next day I started by building up the vent ducts on the top of the helmet.  In order to keep from having to make 1-inch thick blocks of Bondo or whatnot, I started by adding filler blocks made of insulation foam:
Thickening Side Vents

I layered on a bit of Bondo to make a sandable surface over the vents and, because I really wasn't happy with the shape of the plow-face, I added more Bondo to the chin and nose area:
Rough Left Side

Here it is with a coat of primer:
Primed Brow

Primed Right Side

Primed Left Ceek

A few days later I went back and did some more filler and sanding work to smooth out some of the smaller flaws:
Smoothing in Progress

Then I closed up the eye holes with some scraps of styrene:

12 June 47

Followed by a bit more filling and sanding:
12 June 48

And a coat of my standard lightish-red gloss prototype color:
12 June 49

Here's the prototype in all it's shiny pink glory:
Finished Prototype Front

Prototype Finished Right Side

Since the prototype was cobbled together from whatever garbage I had sitting around, I couldn't really expect it to hold up to much abuse or even look good on display for very long.  In order to make a more durable version, it was time to make up a mold.  I started by mounting the prototype to a piece of cardboard and packing some thickened silicone into all of the undercuts:
Overhangs Filled

Then I built up silicone over the rest of the helmet:
Print Coat and then Some
Note the cardboard wall around the base of the helmet that forms a drip tray to keep silicone from drooling all over the table and onto the floor.

Once the silicone mold had cured, I laid up a two-part fiberglass mothermold to keep everything straight:


I didn't get any pics of the actual rotocasting process, but it's pretty straighforward.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the process, you simply pour enough resin into the mold to coat the inside, then roll the mold around to make sure the whole thing is evenly coated.  When the resin cures, you're left with a hollow shell.  If you want extra strength, you can repeat this process until the cured resin forms an adequately thick shell.  Here's my assistant Kate with the first cast copy of the helmet:
Kate Likes the Knight Helmet

As usual, I made more than one:
Helmet Casts Lined Up

I used a Dremel tool to cut out the eyes and clean up the neck hole.  I also cut the trademark cross into the left side of the nose and a Forstner bit to drill an array of 1" holes into the left cheek.  Then the whole thing was primed and sprayed with a gloss black basecoat:
Gloss Black Basecoat

Once the black had set up, the thing was a coat of Duplicolor Chrome paint:
First Silver Coat

Then I cut out a couple of pieces of blue-tinted 1/8" acrylic, heated them up until they were flexible and pushed them into the eye holes with a soft cloth to get an appropriately convex shape for the eye lenses.  Once they cooled, I glued them in place and had Kate try on the helmet:

I tried it on too, of course:

And I saw that it was good:

Along the way I installed a couple of LEDs inside the forehead to illuminate the eyes:

Here's a shot of the helmet before I'd installed the perforated aluminum grill inserts into the cheeks:

Once I'd installed the grills, I gave the whole thing several washes with watered-down black and brown acrylic paints.  Here's a closeup showing the resultant weathered effect:
Weathering and Finish Closeup

And two finished helmets sitting on the workbench:
Grey Knight Terminator Helmets Mostly Finished

Finally, here's a few more photos of the finished helmets with better lighting and a variety of angles:

Right Side

Left Side

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em

I've got more projects in the works as usual, so be sure to stay tuned for more updates...

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  1. Are these helmets for sale? Or rather, would you be willing to part with one? Unpainted, unadorned, I don't mind. I had considered making one out of eva foam, but having one premade would be a big help. I just started my Grey Knight project. I have one boot done... it's going to be a long summer. :) Please let me know if you are willing to sell me one.


  2. I love your work, look at it from time to time. Would love to see more warhammer stuff from you, maybe some of the Alien factions. Wish I had money to commission you with, I would love Necron weapons. But I will continue to admire from afar. :P