Monday, December 12, 2011

Cyborg Ninja Helmet: Part 2

After I cut everything apart I started to work on cleaning up the edges and filling in the gap that resulted from using the Dremel to cut it apart.

I taped everything together to check for what areas needed more work.

You can see here that there's a gap in the fit of some pieces in the horizontal direction, namely the bottom pieces. This is because they're under stress but because it was one piece before it wasn't evident. When it gets cut apart they naturally flex in a bit to relieve the stress. I can just skim some body filler on those areas later.


The way that I'm fixing edges is by using the "bondo squish" method. I'm using aluminum foil there because body filler doesn't stick to foil very easily. I cover the edges in some body filler and just lay it down on a flat surface. When the body filler dries I have a nice flat surface and both sides are also parallel with each other.

For the gap where two pieces come together I had to employ some clamps. I covered the clamps in aluminum foil too so they don't get covered in body filler.

There's a round piece in the front center of the helmet that will eventually contain an LED. I cut a circle from sintra and hot glued it the forehead piece of the helmet. The final sizing was tweaked a bit to match available sizing of acrylic rod so the OD is 1 1/4" and the ID is 3/4".

I probably should have done this a lot earlier. The two cheek pieces are not totally identical because of it being cut out with a Dremel and I can't make perfect cuts with it yet. So I used my original paper template and made two sintra templates which I sandwiched together and finished the edges together so they're more accurate.

I then heat formed them to the actual cheek pieces so I can get the cheek pieces to match these templates. That made the cheek pieces more symmetrical with each other.


Here's the forehead piece with the sintra circle from earlier. It was hot glued into place and then skimmed with body filler to create the bevel.

For the "bondo squish" method I use a brush and some chapstick to coat one surface, apply some body filler to the other side, and press together. The side with chapstick comes off without any body filler sticking to it.

Here's the forehead piece connected to the back of the helmet. The connection made between those two pieces is really quite nice thanks to the above method.

Mockup of the pieces together. The cheek pieces still need to have the central eye area cut out.

I cut out some sintra pieces.

Which are then hot glued in place and then skimmed over in body filler before being sanded down.

More body filler followed by more sanding.

Detail shot of the central eye area. Still needs a bit of work on the cheek pieces. It needs to be widened up a bit to match the top.

Cutting out some more pieces out of sintra for the smaller sensors.

Here are some of those sintra pieces fit in place. They're pressure fit for now.

I had to cut some of them in half where pieces come apart. These were hot glued in place and skimmed with body filler to create the bevel. All of these pieces are sunk 1/8" - the thickness of a the sintra I'm using (I used a circle of sintra as a gauge).

I realized that the center line wasn't actually straight in the back so I had to redraw it. Coincidentally the pentagon wasn't symmetrical so I just redid all of those detail areas. Two layers of masking tape makes it a bit easier to work along.

The lines were cut using a dremel with a cutoff wheel and a steady hand. I went back over it with a small hand file to clean it up. The circles were marked using a drafting template from an engineering class.

Circles cut out using a dremel.

Sintra circles inserted and hot glued in place.

Again, skimmed in body filler. I find it's easy to use a utility/hobby knife after it sets to trim and clean it up (for me is about after 10-15 minutes). Timing will vary based on how much hardener you use but it's best to carve when it's firm but before it fully cures.

Another test fit of all the pieces together. This should be the final iteration. Every time I make some small change it messes with the fit of the pieces and this time when I corrected the lines where the pieces meet on the side (namely where the cheek meets the forehead piece and the back of the helmet) it really messed it up. It took me about 2 hours to get the fit to this level. Referencing some earlier images it seems like the fit isn't quite as good but I think at this point it'll still work fine.


Back of the helmet. The top hole contains a piece of 1/4" acrylic rod which is what the small sensors will be made of.

The small button parts are 1/4" and the beveled hole has an OD of 1/2".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cyborg Ninja Helmet: Part 1

I'll preface this by saying that I have only played Metal Gear Solid and none of the sequels. However, I loved the character design for Cyborg Ninja and I decided to make this my next cosplay project. I'm starting with the iconic helmet.

I found a version of the helmet that someone had made and unfolded in Pepakura. I printed it out and proceeded to make it out of cardstock. The only thing is that it was designed too narrow so it would end up being too tall if the width was made to fit me.

I decided I'd give 3D modeling a shot and started creating the helmet in Blender. I made the helmet in one piece for 2 reasons - I wasn't confident in modeling multiple pieces that need to fit together and it would be easier to model just a single piece. The plan is to make the helmet and then cut it apart later.

I got a bunch of reference images and took some pictures of my head with the helmet superimposed so I could use it as reference when making the 3D model. I don't really have a background with 3D modeling so I had to read a lot of tutorials first.

Next, the finished model is exported to Pepakura and unfolded. This is then printed out onto 110 lb. cardstock and then cut out.

The pieces are scribed with a ruler along all the lines that need to be folded so the folds are really crisp. The pieces are then glued using regular Elmer's white glue. A thin layer is optimal so you don't have to hold it for minutes waiting for it to dry.

The way the helmet is designed I can't put it on to check the fit so I was only able to check for an approximate fit when half of the helmet was glued. The helmet narrows in size around the mouth area so it can't just slip on.

I actually made three different Pepakura models. The first one was using a Pepakura model someone made and unfolded but after making the forehead piece I didn't really like the shape so I decided to make my own from the beginning stage of making a model. The second one was a bit small so I rescaled and the final one came out the right size.

Here's the profile of the Pepakura model.

The supplies I'm using for resin and fiberglassing. The chip brushes were from Harbor Freight. Be sure to wear a respirator when using resin and fiberglass. A simple dust mask doesn't stop the organic fumes.

The entire outside of the helmet is coated with a layer of resin and then the inside gets some resin and about 2 layers of fiberglass cloth. Make sure to tap the resin into the fiberglass and not just simply brush it on. 2StoryProps has a nice tutorial on the process complete with videos. Also, resin can eat through certain plastics including that blue cup you see there. I know some people use plastic cups so I guess these were just cheaper plastic. I had some Yogurt containers and that worked fine.

When the fiberglass and resin dries the helmet becomes very stiff but still remains very light.

Body filler is then put all over the helmet and the cycle of body filler and sanding begins. Spreading the body filler in thin layers helps to minimize the amount of air bubbles.

I started off using Bondo brand body filler but it's not the best to work with in terms of spreading and sanding. I heard about Evercoat Z-Grip from a friend a while back and decided to give it a try. It's specifically made for automotive use so you can only find it at certain stores. I got mine at Carquest.

Here's some body filler being mixed up. It has a slight greenish tint. I also picked up a spreader which is made of flexible rubber so you can pop off the hardened body filler when you're done.

After a few rounds of body filler I sprayed a coat of gray primer to make it easier to see what needs work. The gray primer I'm using is Rust-Oleum Automotive self etching primer since I had some left over from working with resin model kits.

I decided to pick up a contour gauge so I could make the helmet more symmetrical. I also played around and drew on what the final helmet would look like.

Some areas are patched and then sanded again. Here you can see the various layers of body filler and primer. Light gray is Bondo, dark gray is primer and the light green is Evercoat Z-Grip.

Another coat of gray primer to check for defects. Then it's time for the spot putty for small defects. It was a lot cheaper to get the super huge size of spot putty.

A coat of brown primer. Here I'm using Krylon brand since it's cheaper.

If you look closely you can see that I filled in the right cheek (left side of screen) a bit more to match the left.

I made a paper template to get the shape I need to cut out. I think I made at least 10 different versions. You can also see the string that I'm using to mark straight lines for reference on the helmet.

I tried using a Dremel to make the lines but it was difficult to get a really straight line which is evidenced by the horizontal and vertical lines. The pentagon was first drawn on paper using this method and then traced it on to the helmet. I used two layers of masking tape for a bit of added thickness and then scribed it using a scriber then went over it with a small needle file.

The pieces were cut apart using a Dremel. It was actually cut apart before the last picture but I forgot to take a picture of the pieces until after. The problem of using the Dremel is that the cutting tool isn't the thickness of a piece of paper so you end up with approximately a 2mm gap in between all pieces.

I'm currently working on filling in all the gaps between pieces so it comes together cleanly. I tried the helmet after it was cut apart and it does indeed fit me. It's snug around the ears but it's not too bad. The reason for this is that there's about 0.5cm extra thickness due to the body filler to get the outside smooth. I probably don't need it this thick if I cast it. My initial plan was to cast this if there's some interest so if that happens there will be more room around the ears.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Roy Mustang Cosplay

Have you ever wanted to make your own Fullmetal Alchemist military uniform? I will detail exactly how I made my own from scratch. I will prove that you don't need a lot of experience (this is actually the first thing I've ever sewn by myself) and you also don't need fancy things like commercial patterns and dressforms. I drafted all the patterns myself so if you are attempting to make your own make sure to get your measurements correct. First off I want to thank AndSewingisHalftheBattle for all the info they had on how to make the uniform. I used it as a guide and made a few adjustments and improvements along the way.


Jacket - the jacket will give you the most trouble by far. It's quite boxy in shape and has an overlapping front panel that had a fold down rectangle. There are two epaulets, one on each shoulder. The cuffs fold up and have a V-shaped slit in them.

Pants - fairly regular looking slacks except that they appear to be a bit wider at the bottom where they tuck into the boots.

Butt cape - this is what everyone else calls the thing that wraps around the waist and goes all the way down to the shins. Open on the front and the back has a long slit running from the bottom up to about 1/3 of the way down from the top.

Boots - there's some debate on what type of boots they wear. All the source images I found showed the boots as being totally smooth meaning there are no laces.

White gloves - not much to say here. Find white cotton gloves that fit, nothing fancy.
I have a link to the PDF file of the pattern I drafted so make sure to check out that file. Just scroll down a bit to find it.