Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ironman Costume Sidetrack: the Godkiller Helmet

A while back, I made a pretty decent MkIII Ironman costume.  In the midst of a series of distractions and various commissioned projects, it took just a shade over ten months to build the whole thing.

Among the many distractions was this particular helmet:

You'll see this photo again.

It's the helmet for the Space Armor MkIII which Tony Stark uses throughout the "Godkiller" story arc in the comics.  I'm not sure what prompted me to make this particular helmet, but once the idea was stuck in my head I couldn't shake it until the thing was made.  I'm sure it'll turn out to be some sort of brain tumor...

Anyhow, for more photos and some details about how it was made, read on.

I started by collecting lots of reference pictures including this one.  Then I got to work.

I wanted to do the sculpt predominately by hand, but I still wanted the finished helmet to retain some of the design features of my other 3D printed helmets.  So I started out by cutting up a reject casting of my MkIII helmet and stuck the parts on a sculpting armature: 

Then I started blocking out the new shapes with Chavant NSP medium firmness oil-based clay: Godkiller Progress 1

Referring back to the images from the comics throughout, the helmet shape started to coalesce: Godkiller Progress 2

After a few hours, I decided it'd be better to do the sculpting at home instead of in my dusty workshop.  So here's what it looked like at the end of the first evening sculpting session:
Godkiller Progress 3

Godkiller Progress 4

After a couple more evenings, I was pretty happy with the sculpt:Untitled



The sculpted helmet spent a week on the backburner before I hauled it back to the workshop to do some final smoothing using corn oil and some rags to polish the smooth surfaces:
Godkiller Symmetry Tuning


Then it sat in the corner for a few weeks while I finished up the rest of the MkIII suit.  But still I could feel it there, staring.  Watching.  Taunting me with its unfinishedness.

When I'd had too much of its mockery, I decided to teach the sculpt a lesson by pulling a mold.  You dare to tell me you're not getting done fast enough?  Here's some RTV Silicone rubber in your eye:

Since I wasn't planning on making dozens and dozens of these helmets, the mold was a simple one-piece glove mold.  Here's the print coat once it had been applied: Untitled
The print coat is just the first layer of silicone which is applied without any kind of thickening agent added.  It's purpose is to pick up all of the tiny details on the surface.

Note the clay "drip tray" that I'd set up around the neck: Godkiller Print Coat 2

Once the print coat had cured, the next step was to build up a few layers of thickened silicone: 
The ice cube-shaped blocks of silicone are registration keys that will make it easier to line up the rubber jacket mold in the fiberglass mothermold once the original sculpt is removed.  

As soon as the silicone has cured, it's time to make the mothermold.  Since the mothermold will need to split into two pieces, I start by building a clay parting wall along the top of the whole thing: IMG_6191

Then I lay up a fiberglass shell on one side: IMG_6193

Once the first half of the shell had cured, the next step was to remove the clay, apply a mold release to the fiberglass flange, and build up the second half of the mothermold: IMG_6198

Once the mothermold was completely cured, I trimmed down the edges and pried the two halves apart.  Then I put a relief cut in the back of the helmet (avoiding any detail areas) and peeled off the rubber jacket mold: 

Once I'd put the whole mold back together, I went ahead and rotocast the first copy in black resin.  I think it came out pretty good: Untitled

After a bit of trimming and sanding, it looked like so:

A quick coat of primer and it looked even better: Untitled


Since I was in a rush to make this thing done and get it off of my plate, I didn't end up using any exotic automotive finishes or metallic color for the basecoat.  Instead I went with the same Colonial Red I'd been using for the rest of my rough draft MkIII suit: Untitled


The gold was picked out with Krylon Gold Foil metallic paint: Base Colors Side

Then I picked out the black details by hand with a brush: Black Edging 1

Weathering was a quick and dirty blackwash followed by drybrushing a few silver scratches onto some of the edges:
Weathered Godkiller

Of course, now that everything else was looking good, I had to do something about the bits of paper that were taped into the eye holes.

The glowing eye effect was achieved the same way that I did for the MkIII helmet.  I started by cutting a piece of milky, semi-transparent acrylic big enough to cover the eye holes.  Then I put it in the dedicated workshop toaster oven:

After waiting a few minutes, the acrylic warmed up enough to be flexible:
Heated Acrylic Floppy

Then it was forced into place over the eye holes and allowed to cool:
Heated Acrylic Placed

I piled a few soft things and whatever heavy-ish stuff I could find on top of the soft, heated plastic in order to hold it in place:
Weight to Hold Shape

After cooling, the acrylic was a perfect fit, completely covering the eye holes:
Snug Fit

Of course, this would also make it impossible to see out of, so I marked the lower edge of the eye holes on the acrylic with a permanent marker:
Picking Out Edges

Shaped Insert Marked for Trimming

Removing everything below and including the marks would make it possible for someone wearing the helmet to see out from inside.  This was an ideal job for the belt sander:
Shaping Eye Lenses

With the lenses made, the next order of business was to work out an LED circuit to illuminate them:

So far so good:
Eyes Lit 2

Eyes Lit 1

After mounting the battery pack inside the chin of the helmet and installing some foam padding to keep it all from rattling around, the end result definitely looks the part:

I'm sexy and I know it.

Oh yeah, baby!

Godkiller Helmet Finished Left

Godkiller Helmet Finished Back

So that's a done thing:

This is the same picture as the beginning of the article.

Soon I'll be making real progress on another Ironman-ish project:

Stay tuned...


  1. Kaya Tetsu (405th)21 September, 2018 23:44

    Nice! Good to see you're still up to your old tricks. :) I saw a good trick years ago about making glowing eyes in costumes that you could still see through. Have to see if I can find it again.

    I shot you an email. I could use some advice regarding sailboats and I remembered you lived on one for a while.


  2. Are you still using AM128 for silicone molds?

    1. At this point, almost all of my silicone is Mold Max 30 from Smooth-On.