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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:14 am 
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I'm back! Sorry for the delay. While the AOK Forums were down, slow, and seemingly about to give up the ghost, I decided to take some time to carefully determine if there is possibility of a successful outcome.

There is. And I'm close. Right now it's dark so I'll post some results in the morning.

PC-7: Good or Bad?

I have come to feel that PC-7 is the wrong material -- at least for me. It never seemed to fully cure. It gunks up the sandpaper and fiiles when you try to sand or shape it. When it cures, it seems to have a great deal of plasticity so it flexes, but the downside is that if you try to use it with fiberglass, it won't bond too well and it will break off.

I've recently tried two new things: PC-11 and AquaMend. PC-11 is the marine-application (read: underwater) fiberglass repair cousin of PC-7, and AquaMend is probably PC-11's equivalent, and made by the same guys who make QuikPlastic.

I have also a renewed respect for Faststeel, which I originally used, which I mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial.

I will share my thoughts regarding each in more detail tomorrow, but suffice it to say that in moving forward I will not use PC-7. Maybe it's too cold here, and maybe even after leaving out in the sunlight it simply hasn't cured, which isn't the product's fault, but I can't wait until it gets over 70 degrees F. I have to move ahead.

By this time I now have five projects I am working on concurrently. So now that I've benefited from studying two real Don Post Deluxes, a DP CA recast kit and a DP DLX recast kit, I've gained some valuable insights as to how to make the Rubie's facemask look more realistic.

Also during the recent downtime, I went back to some of the online tutorials that initially inspired me, as well as examined the work of various vendors selling fiberglass recasts of reworked Rubie's helmets.

One thing that consistently bothers me is the lack of attention to detail. Some immediately grab their putty and fill up or refile the ridges of the bridge of the nose and then trumpet how "screen-accurate" the treatment is -- and all the while they've only approached that modification one-dimensionally.

Another thing modders to is immediately saw out the eye bevels, slap some putty into the inner upper- and lower-eyelids. Take a moment to study a licensed or a recast of a screen-used helmet. The eyelids don't necessarily just lay flat but they may be at an angle. The eyes are so important to the character of Vader. The shape of the eyes can give Vader menace or make him look like a klutz. You can easily take the simple route and put flat black lenses, and sure enough you'll create a simple ROTS look. But if you find dark and reflective egg-domed lenses, you'll create that deep ESB/ROTJ look.

Comparing their work to the Don Post, there is a lot that modders have missed, and yet with the little that they've done, once they've shot it with gloss black paint, it seems utterly awesome.

So over the next few weeks I'm going to redo a few things. I've redone the eyes and narrowed the bridge of the nose. I had already lowered the mouth vents per NoHumorMan's suggestion, but I will lower them further. The benefit I have that some might not have is that I have several good helmets and kits that provide a good three dimensional basis of comparison. I've begun to rework the eyes, so this must be the forth or fifth time I've filed back down to the black plastic after laying down all that primer and QuikPlastic.

But this time I have an eye for the refinements.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:21 am 
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Enter the Power Tools

At this point, I've decided to just go all out. I have already exceeded the cost of the helmet in terms of primer, putties and tools. And don't talk to me about sandpaper! Since I have decided to invest in some fiberglass kits, I've decided to invest in a hand-sander, as well as add to the little micro-tools to my Dremel arsenal.

What I am about to share with you, I do not recommend unless you have a sander. A sander will make it much easier. I'm also going to try to do (yet again) a few things I've not seen other modders do.... plus a thing or two to yank their chain a little! :lol

Image

My initial attempt wasn't bad, but it needed serious refinement. It became unslightly. You will recall that the middle "rib" looked a bit choppy, and the sides that I ground away looked rough, and it was going to require some serious sanding because primer just can't cover that up. Neither can putty alone.

So enter the sanding disc. This is a reinforced disc and one of my all-time favorite tools when working with fiberglass stuff. It cuts through anything with ease, and handles the Rubie's plastic and doesn't seem to gunk up. I think the wider surface area may allow for better heat dissipation too, as heat buildup will cause plastic to melt, and if melting plastic has nowhere to go, it'll feel inspired to gunk up your bit.

Here I am using the disc to once again establish a border for the middle "rib". Anything past that line would have to be leveled down.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:30 am 
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Now you really don't want to go too deep with that disc, which means it's important that you look very carefully at what your'e doing. If you had reinforced the interior of the dome, then good for you. I think PC-11 and AquaMend are going to be good options for that. They seem hard but with a slight bit of flex to it, and seem to bond with a tenacity. Conversely, I've been able to pick off and remove PC-7 with a metal putty tool.

Image

Wear eye protection. If you don't want to wash your hair, wear a shower cap. Why? Because you're going to be watching this up close. Establishing the surfaces on either side of the middle "rib" is vital to your success. The more you can establish these surfaces, the less hassle you'll have in the sanding process.

It's also very important to do your best to keep the profile lines of the "rib" as smooth and straight as possible. If you make a mistake, use something like QuikSteel. Now you heard me frown at it at the beginning of the tutorial. But 80 grit sandpaper has done very nicely against Quicksteel. Moreover, I use a Black and Decker "Mouse" hand sander, so even if I mess up the plastic surface with 80 grit, I can immediately treat it to 220 grit, and then after that do some wetsanding to re-establish the firmess and smoothness of the plastic surface.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:33 am 
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Image

So here is the end result of the Dremel tool treatment. What's that??? Yes, you guessed it. I am officially attempting to redo the "eyebrows" of the rim. As you can see on the Rubies, it's one thing to get the rib more pronounced, and even if you do it right, the helmet looks just wrong because the eyebrows of the rim go straight across to form a uni-brown.

Nuh-uh. So after studying the ROTJ-style dome of the Don Post Deluxe a little, I decided to remove some material. Now this part is tricky because, again, you don't want to go too deep. But here is where a Black and Decker small "Mouse" hand sander is going to come in extremely handy. You don't have to buy the "Mouse". There are others that are good.

More to come. I need batteries to get the other images off my camera....


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:49 am 
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And this is where the fun begins. The hand sander is officially my Best Friend.

Image

It doesn't look like much right now, but when I was at this stage about two weeks ago, I was just starting to get used to using the hand sander. The black areas you see had begun to smoothe out, but the important thing is to always tilt the helmet away from you and to see it at an ant's eye level to see how much more sanding you have to do.

Again, I don't recommend PC-7, but in this picture...

Image

... I attempted to use putty to fill in those areas I just discussed. It has since been all removed (forcably) and replaced with QuikSteel which has been wonderful and shapable with 80 grit sandpaper.

Again, it's important to establish the necessary areas before doing this, else you're filling in and smoothing out your finish and yet there are still bumps and distortions that prevent the mid "rib" from gaining definition.

In this particular case, the change from the dome surface to the rib was very abrupt, and so putty is needed to fill up the cracks and to round things off.

Image

And here's a first examination of my efforts. I have found that gray primer is a very nice neutral color to allow you to see shapes well. At first I thought black primer (even black fiberglass) is cool, but black has a tendency to hide details and inhibit proper visualization. Gray is better. Sure, it's fun playing with a project that's black because Vader is a black-themed costume, but the worst thing that can happen is for you to find distortions and stuff after you painted it. Then you'd have to remove all that paint and sand it all down to re-establish the last known good surface!

Now it may seem like I did the entire dome but I didn't. I only did the front. The top is the least likely-to-be-seen area, and it's somewhere up here (an inch or two away from the injection molding hole) that I chose to begin transitioning from sharp to shallow. This is going to be tricky. As it turns out, the rib on the back of the dome is quite pronounced, and I don't see any reason to mess with it.

From this point on, I continued sanding down either side of the mid rib, as well as the mid rib's own two sides and surface. The rim's "eyebrows" or "frown" have begun to look better and better. I've worked extensively to not only eradicate those grind lines I carved in, but to smoothe out the transition so that the line where the neck protector joins with the skull cap is of similar "blurr".

More photos to come! Stay tuned!!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:15 pm 
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Very impressive progress on the dome... you are a braver man than I am... I would never have attempted this without having strengthened the dome on the inside first.

Though, be careful not to reshape the curve of the line at the front incorrectly. It should not go down to the corner edge of the center strip, but should connect with it, so that if the line continued, it would meet the corner edge of the opposite edge of the center strip, if you know what I mean?

This is the look you should be going for.

Image

Am really looking forward to your next update. Your walk-through of the various products is most informing, so thanks for providing us with these insightful trial and errors. :thumbsup


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:53 pm 
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Great work on fixing up the dome! Very impressive!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:31 pm 
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Thank you!

Actually I did reinforce the interior, but now that my experience with PC-7 gives me pause, I may start to remove the application and use either PC-11 or AquaMend.

I have posted my findings of PC-11 and AquaMend at:

http://www.aokforums.com/thepropden/the ... ut432.html

I will have to do some tests to see which does a better job adhering to plastic. I'll let you know. I have other plans for the dome I have yet to reveal.

NHM, thanks for the tip on the frown. As with the mouth vents, you point out aesthetic things that I sometimes miss even having stared at these things for so long!

NOw onto a progres shot.

Image

Hoo-yeah it's starting to come around. Again, shooting it with gray primer helps me catch my mistakes. I'm at a point now where I get the Rubie's dome confused with a another DP DLX recast dome that's primed in gray sitting on my bench. And that's a nice problem to have.

I've essentially been attacking the frown using 80 grit paper on my Black and Decker Mouse sander.

I'm trying very hard to not have to add any putty to restablish a foundation and to have to sand again.

Image

And here it is at a different angle. Towards the top of the helmet, the right side of the "rib" looks more blended now than earlier on. The left side still needs some touchup sanding. The front of the frown needs to be filled in somewhat with some putty. It's getting there. So while it may not be identical to what NoHumorMan pointed out, the shaping turning out okay.

So the next update will be velly velly int-a-lesting!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:52 pm 
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Yeah... don't worry about it... there are so many details... hard to keep track of them all. Also... I don't know how long you've really studied the Vader helmet or how you are usually working with visuals - I have spent nearly 2½ years with the Vader helmet and still don't know everything... hehe... and you know... I'm only suggesting these things because I'm in awe of your progress and think you are able to go that extra mile. I'm in no way doing it to be mean... hmm... well... maybe... but don't tell anyone - no, seriously... I'm not that evil! :lol

It's definitely looking more and more like a regular Rubies dome... or as you mentioned... even the DP DLX, which has a slightly more pronounced dome ridge... so that is definitely a testament to your work and effort. So, well done and can't wait to see more! :thumbsup


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:31 am 
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Hi CS....that is looking great! Your making me think I should work on my rubies dome....hmmm work on dome or....shove toothpicks under my fingernails.....hmmm can't decide. :wink: Looks awsome man!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:58 am 
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NHM,

No worries, I know you're not being malicious, though I do understand there are people out there are hoping I succeed because I'd be blazing a path that they can follow. I hope I live up to everyone's expectations.

The dome modification turns out to be so-so and I'm starting to once again run into the Law of Diminishing Returns. The original prop was made by sculpting a clay positive. My approach, however, is modifying some PVC or vinyl (or whatever it is) plastic and trying to force it into a different shape through grinding, putty and sanding. The sander has its limits, and I find that I much rather work with resin.

The cost and time invested is now reached the cost of a fiberglass kit. The only reason now to go forward with perfecting it is fore purely artistic reasons. I have to say that modders who did the bare minimum were smart because just those few modifications were done economically and they were easy to please. At the very least, they are happy, and 99% of fans won't know the difference.

Me, I still don't have a blasted helmet I can troop in!


Last edited by CSMacLaren on Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:02 am 
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T-VIRUS wrote:
Hi CS....that is looking great! Your making me think I should work on my rubies dome....hmmm work on dome or....shove toothpicks under my fingernails.....hmmm can't decide. :wink: Looks awsome man!


My original Plan "B" was to completely reinforce the interior of the helmet and to eradicate the Rubie's middle rib and establish my own. I think I can do it so that it looks reasonably nice, like the way the ROTJ looks like some wide and flat piece of plastic that's stuck on there and then blended.

However, by obligerating the middle rib to achieve a perfect ROTJ look, I'd utterly compromise the helmet and split it in two.

Currently I don't have the confidence in these various epoxy products to serve as a binder of the two halves to go thiis route.

But if you feel inspired and want to take the risk, go ahead. :lol


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:47 pm 
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Eyes and Bridge of Nose Revisited - Again

Image

Now, having a Don Post Deluxe to compare my Rubie's helmet against, I started noticing that -- again -- the bridge of the nose isn't quite correct. Simply packing putty on there to try to make it symmetrical wasn't enough. Simply making the ridges more rectangular instead of rounded wasn't enough. There is a bit of concaveness on the Don Post. After all this hard work to file and sand this area, I'd have to essentially grind a lot of it away. Was it worth it.

Also, the way I built out the eyes was wrong. True, the bridge of the nose needs to sweep down to form the lower eyelids, but I had to create more "cornering" instead of have this area too rounded. The lower corners of the eyes would help make the bridge of the nose stand out.

Image

In the above photo, to the right is the Rubie's. The one on the left is a Don Post Deluxe recast from Homer1138 of Germany (Yes, I bought that mystery "stunt" helmet and am working on it. I'll post a new thread). Please save your comments on the Homer for the Homer thread when I do it, though. Let's focus on the Rubie's in this thread.

Even though the Homer has its issues, for the most part the shape is pretty integrous to the Don Post Deluxe. Having shot both with gray primer shows that the Rubie's isn't looking too bad.

If you look very carefully at the bridge of the nose of the Rubie's, you can see that the surfaces to the side of the ridges are now ground down and more contoured with the nose. I still have a bit more to go and this area is area is difficult to sand. I initially used a file, and once the surfaces were established I was able to get a hand sander on the bridge of the nose and sand them further. I'm going to try to do more work here.

So what's next for the Rubie's? Well, I'll see what I can do lowering the mouth vents even more, add the "tear drops" depressions in the upper cheek faces, and I'm going to reduce the thickness of the nose walls (I couldn't find my Dremel sandstone ball).

I also purchased some detail files (they work great for fiberglass kit mouth grills) and I used these to sharpen the detail of the far corners of the eyes.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:47 pm 
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Back to the Dome

After a little more sanding and priming:

Image

The funky line on the middle rib is simply a little too much primer shot at close range. Very easy to sand off.

Image

Here the frown is starting to look a little more natural after some further sanding in the transition areas.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:48 pm 
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I was not consciously trying to duplicate the ROTJ theme. I had a peek at the DP DLX recast kit and simply took note on how more pronounced it was than the Rubie's stock state.

The question from NHM is if I plan to do a complete ROTJ look and at this point I'd have to say no. This isn't to let anyone down but a ROTJ look means the middle rib has to be incredibly even as well as flat.

Now, I can do the ROTJ if I have determined the proper putty that can bridge the two halves of the helmet but at this point in time and due to the cold weather prohibiting the trumpeted PC-7 from curing, I am very gun-shy at trying anything too drastic that basically compromises the structure of the plastic completely.

The other reason is artistic. It was a challenge to get my work on the front to seamlessly blend with the back. The very top of the helmet is the transition zone. If I create a ROTJ flat look only to the front, it won't look right. If I flatten it on the entire helmet, the whole rib won't look right (and there may not be enough original plastic material to support such a modification.

The primary pain modders go through is being unable to see the middle rib once they've shot their dome with gloss black automotive paint. Here, I have a distinct advantage. My middle rib is very well pronounced, which can only be helped by the reflectiveness of gloss black paint and good lighting.


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