Friday, August 31, 2018

The Wolf Helm of Russ

Forever ago I got a slow start on my rendition of the Wolf Helm of Russ, an ancient artifact of war belonging to the Space Wolves chapter of Space Marines in the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000.

There are a lot of different renditions of this helmet.  Here's just a couple:

All of the reference artwork I could find tends to show the helmet with slightly different details, so I decided to take a bit of license with the design and streamline some of the goofier details.  Here's the fully-wearable, life-size end result:
Finished Wolf Helm of Russ

To see how I made it, read on...

I started with a raw cast of one of my old-school beakie Space Marine helmets.  Then I ground off the temple camera housing, the ear caps, and a few other bits before splitting it in half lengthwise, adding a 1/2" gap, and taping over all of the resulting holes.  Then I rotocast a couple of layers of resin inside the thoroughly hacked helmet to make it one solid piece again.  At that point, it looked like so:
SM Beaky Helmet Base Widened and Ears Removed

This gave me a solid base to work from that I knew would fit over my head as well as a reasonably smooth helmet shape for the back of the head.  Then I started sculpting on top of it.

In order to cut down on the mass of the clay I'd have to pile on, I started by pouring on some expanding foam:

Foam Buildup Round 1

Lots of it:
Foam Buildup Round 2

Once it had cured, I went at it with some body rasps and a hand saw until it was roughly the right shape:
Foam Shaping Begins

Then I started building over the top of that shape with some oil-based clay.  Here's a blurry selfie during a late night sculpting session on my boat:
Late Night Sculpting

The next morning I found it looking like so:
Rough Shapes Blocked Front

Not a bad start:
Rough Shapes Blocked Side

After a couple more sculpting evenings, I had this thing looking pretty good:
12  Mar Sculpt Progress 001

12  Mar Sculpt Progress 002

12  Mar Sculpt Progress 003

Molding began with gluing a cardboard neck into the bottom of the helmet, then mixing up a batch of silicone with thixotropic additive so I could fill in all of the undercuts:
Overhangs Filled

Then I mounted the neck to another piece of cardboard and built up a drip wall:
Drip Wall Set Up

The rest of the molding process was a pretty standard brush-up mold topped off with a few pre-cast silicone registration keys:
Jacket Mold Done

The mothermold was a two part fiberglass arrangement:
Mother Mold Progress


Once the flange was drilled, the fiberglass shell was removed.  Then I made a relief cut up the back side of the helmet and demolded the sculpt:
Demolding Helmet Sculpt

The first copy was rotocast in four layers of urethane resin:
First Pull De-Molded

After a quick bit of trimming, I was pretty happy with myself:
Alas, poor Ulrik

Side by Side

Of course, as long as I had a mold, I might as well go ahead and make two:
First Two Pulls

Once the helmets were both trimmed and sanded, they both got a couple of coats of primer:
Priming Wolf Helm

The canine teeth were sculpted separately.  My friend Danielle (seen above with spray can) did the rough sculpts in epoxy putty.  They were then ground and shaped and sanded until they fit their respective notches in the skull:
Wolf Helm Pair Fairing in Teeth

Once I was happy that they looked the part, the helmets were given an overall coat of "Heirloom White" satin paint:
Wolf Helm Pair in Primer

Then I picked out the teeth by hand in plain gloss white:
Picking Out White Teeth for Ulrik

Now it was starting to look like something:
White teeth for Ulrik

Once the paint was good and solid, my assistant Rachel set to work weathering them with varying washes of light brown and earthy yellow colors:
Rachel Aging Wolf Helmet

She did a pretty good job:
Aged Right Side

On both of them:
Two Helmets Aged

The next step was to add this little wire/hose detail:

Different renditions of this helmet have varying amounts of hoses and wires attached.  I decided to keep it simple.  The thing I couldn't make up my mind about was the metal stud details:

I finally decided to do one helmet with them and the other without:
Plain and Studded

The next step was to build a custom display stand:
Stand Nearly Done

The stand itself was made up of multiple parts of MDF cut on a CNC machine, then glued and screwed together before being painted to look like cast iron.

Add a bit of white mesh behind the eye lenses and that's a done thing:
Finished Wolf Helm of Russ Side

Finished Wolf Helm of Russ Front

Finished Wolf Helm of Russ

It's only a matter of time before I get around to writing about my next insane project, so stay tuned...

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