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 Post subject: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:59 am 
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It's about time I posted about my Rubies Supreme (yep, another one of those coming up).
My original idea to build a Vader helmet was to sculpt my own from clay then cast up the result in GRP. As I'm sure you all know though, that helmet has got a lot more going on than meets the eye. I was soon bogged down in so much detail that the project was rapidly loosing its appeal. Luckily I mentioned all this to a friend who managed to obtain a Rubies Supreme for me for the princely sum of £40 (I don't think it's ever been unpacked from its box). Now I know that the Rubies isn't exactly renowned for its accuracy but I very much liked what I saw and anyway you can hardly go wrong for £40 can you.
Having taken a good long look at it, and then watched Empire a couple of times, I've decided to go for the ESB look. I'm not going to be too religious about it though; I'm simply aiming to correct the worst of the problems and use this entire process as a learning exercise on the road to doing my own sculpt. For me this is all about the learning experience and the sense of achievement.
Anyway, enough twaddle.
Here's the subject before I'd done any work.
Image
I took a few reference shots just to keep a record of progress.
The first stage was to remove all the bits I didn't need or that would get in the way whilst I worked. This included the lenses, the internal foam, the grill work, tusks and all the ruddy velcro. I'd like to remove the straps too but can't find anything to replace them with when the time comes.

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Next I started to cut way the excess material around the eyes.

Image

Once that was done, I had a much better idea of the sort or work required. I used some Klean Klay to try a few ideas out around the eyes. I don't know about you but I can't help but think that this Vader looks a bit too calm - he's not frowning enough. In case you don't know, Klean Klay is an oil based clay that doesn't dry out so you can really leave things for days at a time and come back and play a bit more. It's also sulphur free so you can cast it if you want.

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Here though, I'm simply using it to try out ideas without committing myself. You can also see here that I've filled in the nose slots and the tears. I used Car Body Filler (P-38) but this proved to be a big mistake; the stuff just comes right off when the plastic mask flexes. I've now switched to Milliput with much greater success.
Other work so far done has been to reduce that neck flare. I used a hot air gun (the sort of thing you use for paint stripping) to heat the plastic then bent the plastic to shape and dowsed it in cold water to set it.

Future plans so far are:
1. Reduce the hollow cheek effect.
2. Thicken that RHS part of the mouth triangle.
3. Make the eyes deeper.
4. Square off the mouth vents and lengthen them slightly.
5. Sort out the band that runs over the helmet.
6. Add that joint line on the nose (roughly where that 4th slot is at the moment).
7. Correct the Nose slots.
8. Sharpen up the whole thing slightly.
9. I'm also toying with the idea of redoing the two upper lines that terminate at the tusks (don't know what you call them).
10. Make/buy replacement lenses and tusks.
11. Replace the grillwork.
12. Sort out the helmet attachment.
After that I'll see how things stand and decide on a course of action - hopefully getting some feedback from here along the way.
My next job before all that though is to give the entire mask a complete sanding so reduce the glossy/matt areas to a uniform finish.

I also have a couple of questions that I hope people can help me with.

Firstly, what width of band for the helmet would people recommend? I've read that 1" wide is about right - is that correct?
The inside of the nose looks to be flat on some screen grabs I've taken but rounded on others - which it right?
All comments/suggestions (other than "don't waste your time with a Rubies" :lol ) gratefully received.
Jon


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:27 pm 
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Just got a bit of progress to report.

Image
Here's an overview of the progress so far. The primer is there so I can sketch detail layout using pencil.

Image
Here's a close up of the lower part of the eye. I've filled in the gaps that the original lenses would have clipped into. You can also see that I've filled in the tears too. That was just done by smearing the Milliput in with my thumb then using thumb and water to get the smooth finish. At the moment, I'm only sanding back to about 600-800 grit wet and dry using White Spirit as a lubricant on everything else. That's enough to keep things looking respectable without going overboard: I'm going to be adding more Milliput later so there's no point in fine polishing yet.

Image
Here's a view looking up to the upper eye lid. Basically the same treatment as the lower eye. That silver nose plug will be coming out for a while. I'll cut it down before putting some of it back again so the the inside of the nose is more accurate. It still wont be 100% right but it never will so I'm not going to stress about it. The journey's the thing and I'm having lots of fun to boot.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:12 pm 
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I would make square the bottom part of the teeth gaps on the mouth. I would also rework the nose slots to be narrower/wider/more rectangular in cross section.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:19 pm 
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I see you removed what you added to the brow. Imo that was a good call.

There's still a lot you can do, and I'll keep checking in on your progress. :thumbsup


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:11 pm 
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Yay, replies.... :toothy

Hi SithLord,
The plan is indeed to square off those teeth gaps. I also understand they need to be made a tad longer too. My plan is to back fill the inside of the area between the tusks with Milliput so I have something to file against.

I'm planning to work on the nose next though. I'm still debating whether to remove the silver plug and redo the whole thing or use what's there and make the best of it - that internal bowl-like silver part just looks wrong to me. Now that there's a bit of primer on the nose, I can sketch the position of that line that looks like a joint and then from that work out the best positions of the three nose slots. I'm taking nothing for granted and so am working to the priciple that the existing ones are completely wrong. It might be best if I simply remove that entire section and rebuild using Milliput - not sure yet. Time and Tea will tell.

Too Much Garlic,
I agree about the brow. That's why I didn't commit myself and just used clay to try the idea out. I'm still not sure if the brow needs to be a little more pinched (as if he's frowning a bit more) but I'll leave it for now and work on other aspects to see how I feel later on. I do think the eyes need to be a bit deeper set though but I can't create a decent enough screen grap to judge. My feeling is that the outside corners need to be about 1/8th of an inch deeper and the nose end of the eye about 1/16th. I'd very much welcome your (and everyone elses) opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:31 pm 
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I would have replied sooner, but it's difficult to actually reply to these Rubies builds too soon. Glad you removed the stuff you added at the eyebrows, otherwise I would have suggested you to file it down basically to how it is on the Rubies. What is basically needed is to add that flat front surface to the eyebrows, but instead of sanding, just build up the inside upper eye socket with apoxie sculpt, while you are working on extending the sockets anyway.

Look in the Authentic Casts section in the Vader Props section for good reference pictures. Since you are going ESB, especially take a look at the TM, to gauge the depth of the eye sockets and other general shapes.

The three notches on the nose bridge should be square in shape when looking at them from the side, so if you go a square object, such as a small file, just wrap it in a single layer of tape, stick it into the notch and then fill at the top and bottom and then pull out the file before it cures completely, but not while it is still too soft. Also, before you do that you need to file the correct shape and length of the notches, as they are lacking towards the right (left in the picture).

However, since the Rubies is a Frankenstein's monster creation where they cut up a face mask into sections, then repositioned things and clued it back together, you won't ever get accurate shapes, so don't worry about that. Just try to match the details as much as possible.

When fixing the sunken in cheeks, don't worry about covering the upper tusk tubes. You just get the basic side of the face right and then you build new tubes on top of that.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:47 pm 
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Thanks for that advice. I've been putting it to good use today....

I had a couple of hours to myself today to carry on with my Rubies improvement program.

Today it was the nose that received my attention. The first thing that leaps to the eye is of course those four slots. How on earth this was allowed to get past quality control is beyond me but the fact remains that they are there and need attending to. The second thing that I noticed is that the nose looks squashed over to the left as you are wearing the mask. I'm not sure how accurate this is but I don't like it so I decided to attend to that too.

I decided that the simplest way to rectify the nose would be to remove part of what is there now and give myself a clean slate to work from. I marked out the area to be removed with masking tape.

Image

This picture also demonstrates something I'm more and more seeing in this Vader: It makes him look like he's had a stroke or something. The entire left side of his face below the nose is a bit droopy.

Now I know that most people would probably reach for their trusty Dremel at this point, but I principally work with timber so I cut each end of the nose using a gentlemen's saw. This is quite a fine toothed, thin saw and it cut the nose beautifully.

Image

If this mask were made of wood, I would next pare out the waste with a sharp chisel. Since I see no reason to change techniques that I know will work just because I'm working on plastic, this is exactly what I did. I was able to control the cuts to minimise the amount of waste that needed to be removed and soon the nose looked like this.

Image

Image

The next stage was to apply the Milliput. The more I use this stuff, the more I like it. I had loads of time to work this stuff into the nose and blend it in. I've blown up a screen grab to the same size as this mask so I was able to use a pair of compasses to take measurements off the print and transfer them to the real model. This enabled me to get the slots pretty close before the stuff set. All I've got to do now is clean up the slots to give them a more authentic look.

Image

Image

Image

As you can see, I was also able to put that 'join' mark onto the nose too.

Since things were going so well, I decided to make a start on those teeth. I've filed the lower ends so that they are far more squared off than they were. They are still not finished but things already look a lot better. I also had time to revisit the nose slots bffore the Milliput had fully cured and use some metal keys (basically, these are just small, thin bars of steel) to better define the slots. I reckon they are about 70% done now.

This is the way things look at the end of today.

Image

Image

Image

When you look at the results now, you can start to see Darth Vader looking back at you rather than a plastic mask.


I've also started looking at the helmet itself too. That ridge needs a lot of work and it might be easier to simply cast the thing 'as is' and then work on the GRP version. If I use a slightly thicker than usual Gel coat, I should have enough material to work on without constant worries of the thing falling apart. I don't really want to recast though so if anyone's got any ideas then I'd be most grateful.

As for the indented cheeks, I'm toying with the idea of using heat to push them out a bit. Again, it's a question of getting some decent pictorial references before I commit myself (I assume those upper tubes should be flat?). All in all though, it's been a fun day and I certainly feel like I've made some progress. This build is doing exactly what I wanted though - it's increasing my knowledge of the Vader Mask and Helmet for when I create my own sculpt. I'm certainly learning what should not be done :lol


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:25 pm 
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There is enough material on the dome to work with, without it falling apart. And, you could fill in the inside of the dome ridge and brow ridge after the work to secure it, so no need to copy the dome. Would be waste of molding and casting material.

Also, on that side shot you showed it is clear to distinguish what they did to the face, which was basically taking the lower eyesockets, upper and lower cheeks and nose and basically cut that piece out of the helmet, angled it and placed it lower and fused the parts back together. Before you had done the miliput on the nose bridge, you could have cut up the mask and repositioned that piece and made it more accurate. Though, would be a shame to undo the work you did now.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:50 pm 
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Too Much Garlic - First things first: Thank you for taking the time to reply with all the pointers. It's been a big help. I've been spending some time checking out the Authentic Casts section and TM in particular. Those eyes go further back than I thought they did. It would also appear that I need to include the area behind the nose and push that back too. I'm wondering can you clarify what you meant by "What is basically needed is to add that flat front surface to the eyebrows, but instead of sanding, just build up the inside upper eye socket with apoxie sculpt."? I take that to mean build up the brow area just either side of the nose. Is that right? Someone else has pointed out tome that I've left a bit of a wobble in the nose where it joins the brow so this will be a good time to get that entire area correct.



Based on your earlier comment about the Rubies is a "Frankenstein's monster creation", I decided to follow your advice and just aim for matching details as much as I can. I have no doubt that I could cut the mask as required, but I'm less sure about sticking that plastic back together again. :lol I'd always be worried about it falling apart on me.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:31 pm 
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Apoxie Sculpt works wonderfully on this plastic.

Anyway, this is just a quick illustration, so please excuse the crudeness, but you should fill up at the green area, which will then help create the flat frontal area that is shown in red.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:21 pm 
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I think I understand what you mean. I want to fully understand what needs doing before I commit myself to anything so I've had a bit of an experiment using clay.

Here's a front view

Image

and a three quarter view

Image

I've only done the eye on the left so I've got something to compare and contrast against. Am I on the right track? I'm still not sure what happens to the lower part of the eye. It looks a bit to me like I'll have to push that back a bit too otherwise any lens I fit will be very angled up. Still, the research is half the fun (well, 25% of the fun).

I've also heated the cheek area on each side and pushed out those hollows a bit. There's still quite a way to go but I didn't want to push my luck.
Finally, you might notice that I've had a look at the thin side of the mouth and done a test to thicken it up.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results and they way things are going.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Yes, that was exactly what I was talking about, regarding filling up the upper inside socket. You should also add the similar depth to the lower eye socket, but you should build it up all the way to the front like on the upper socket, just add to the back of the socket.

There's something about the added nose-bridge piece - from one side it looks good, but from the other side, when looking at the mask from the left side (with the socket you worked on being to the left in the picture and further back), it bulges outwards, where it should be more straight up or even bulging slightly inwards. I'll see if I can get time to draw up an illustration to show what I mean.

Regarding the mouth, I honestly don't think they should be that wide. Basically... the fat one should be slimmer and the slim one should be fatter. Basically... what is too much of on one side should be what is needed to be added to the other side, making them more equal sized.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:45 am 
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I had some time yesterday to work on things. I seem to have ended up changing medium from Milliput to clay :lol:

I had planed to just test the layout of the inside of the eyes but after the amount of work it took to get things looking right, I just couldn't rip the clay out again. So it looks like this project will not only be about learning to sculpt a bit but also how to cast the result. I plan on using the existing helmet though since underneath my clay there lurks a Rubies and that fact will be obvious still.

Anyway, on to my update.

Image

It have started the lower eye lids to finsh pushing the eyes back - making sure to keep the clay level with the existing structure. This has also required that I add a little clay to the back of the nose other wise they'll be an air-gap between the lens and the back of the nose (I tested with a dummy lens). I've also been working on the outside corners of the eyes and the overall look and am now pretty happy with the results. I've also filed some of the nose down too. It now takes a striaght edge held up against it all the way 'round which it didn't before so thanks for pointing that out.

Image

I've also applied clay over those sunken cheeks to build the area up. I then find some aluminium tubing that looks to be the correct diameter and fitted these in place and worked the clay to fit them.

Image

The left one (as you look at the face) looks to me to be sticking out a bit too far at the rear of the mask, not sure how to cure that yet. I may have to totally rework that side. It may be that I'll have to grind off some of the existing tube on that side. I'm pretty happpy with the right side though. You may have also noticed that I've put a small amount of clay on the upper right cheek too. I think it helps lessen that slumped look without having to start carving up the entire mask. I may attend to the right whisker too but I'm not certain the effort involved is justified.

Finally, I've removed the clay from inside the mouth for now. I kept mucking that part up as I handled the mask so rather than keep reworking that area, I admitted defeat for now.

More news later...


Last edited by NikonD80 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:53 pm 
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I can't read your posts as you chose a font color that doesn't match with the light skin of the forum. Just keep the standard color and it'd work on all skins.

But I'm wondering. What are you doing? You are working on areas that don't need work. The sunken in cheeks can be fixed, but it's only at the area to where the line of the side of the cheek stops to the front - you really don't need to add material that far back towards the rear of the skull, or on top of the cheeks. With all that work, you might as well, just have cut up the mask and done the fix I mentioned instead.

Personally, I think it would be a waste to mold the Rubies. You really should work with permanent materials for the rework.

C.


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 Post subject: Re: Making a brighter Rubie
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:07 am 
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I've fixed the text colour. Not sure how I changed that.

As far as the cheeks are concerned I'm basing the work on a comment you made earlier - "When fixing the sunken in cheeks, don't worry about covering the upper tusk tubes. You just get the basic side of the face right and then you build new tubes on top of that." I took that to mean 'build up the hollows until they are flat then build the tubes on top of that'.

The amount of clay I used was the minimum needed to straighten the cheeks out (in fact I was half expecting you to say I hadn't gon far enough). The hollows go all the way back to where the silver of the new tubes ends. The clay beyond that is just to feather into the existing structure. It's incredibly thin: you'd need a set of feeler gauges to measure the thickness of the clay at this point. The ali tube sits on top on the original tube.

Have I misunderstood what you meant earlier? If so , can you please explain so I can correct things. I knew something was going wrong which is why I stopped and posted the pics in order to get other peoples opinion.

My reason for the mould making is that it gives me a chance to learn the process on something that will be easier to rescue if the process goes wrong. I fully appreciate that it's only a Rubies but that's why I think is such a good candidate to use in a learning process. I don't want my first attempt at casting to be on a clay sculpt that I might have been working on for months. I couldn't stand it if something happened then due to lack of knowledge.

Thanks


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