In the last post about my new cosplay project, Transformers Animated Slipstream, I talked in fairly general terms about why I’d chosen this character and mused about some of the challenges I’d likely face and materials I might use during the build. Since then I’ve grabbed my craft knife and glue gun and things have got real! I actually started by planning out the clothing I will need to wear underneath all the foam and plastic but as (1) I’m still waiting for a top I ordered to arrive and (2) the textile element has to be the least interesting part of the costume, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today….
Today we’re talking helmets!
Building Slipstream’s helmet was going to require a very different approach from the one I took for Arcee’s. As it needs to incorporate an eyepiece, this helmet needs to be smaller and fit much more tightly to my head. For this reason, I wasn’t sure that foam alone would be the best medium, so I searched around online for inspiration and instructions.
Now I’ve never actually played Skyrim (though like any good citizen of the world wide web, I can, of course, quote all the memes) but it turns out that the game’s iconic iron helmet was pretty much exactly the shape I needed, for the base at least. So praise be to Will at Storm the Castle.com for sharing this tutorial. This impressive helmet is made using cardboard and papier maché! I downloaded Will’s templates and followed the basic instructions – which were really clear and worked out great (cheers Will) – but I chose to make some adjustments, changing the shape of the eye pieces and making the mask and headband out of foam rather than cardboard.
The Skyrim Helmet tutorial then recommends blowing up a balloon inside the outline and using papier maché to create a firm shape. I hadn’t done any papier maché for years so it was good fun to get pasting! I used about 10 layers of newspaper in total before popping the balloon – BOOM! (actually B let it down really gently). I’m impressed with how firm a base this provides.
The tutorial also includes a template for the back plate of the helmet, which I followed, although again I did it in foam rather than cardboard as I would be building on it with additional layers later. The next stage was to start getting less Skyrim and more Slipstream, which meant building her crest out of foam. I’ve made mine a little taller than in some of the source pics (although this being TFA it varies a lot from screenshot to screenshot), the idea being that it will lengthen the overall appearance of my face as I simply don’t have as long a chin as she does. Although really perhaps I am still coming over just a little Prime? Anyway, if it doesn’t look right later I can easily cut the crest down, but it would be hard to build up again, so I’m happy to leave this for now.
Next, I added the cheek guards (ultimately, I plan to add an elastic strap inside these to help them keep tight to my face) and an additional layer of guard to the back, as this needed thickening up before the side vent pieces could go on.
Speaking of which, the biggest challenge with the helmet build was precisely how to do those vents at the side. I had been planning to try make them from foam but it was B who had the stroke of genius – why not use actual vents? After a quick trip to B&Q, we had some cheap plastic gas vents that we could cut to shape. These were then set in place with more foam and a little card.
I’ve got some sheets of red acetate to put in the eye holes (that will make things interesting when I wear it: now in glorious tomato-vision) but that won’t go on until after it’s all painted.
The next step in to give the whole thing a couple of good coats of PVA glue to coat the foam and create a smoother surface for the acrylic paint to go on. I’m not planning to do any painting until it’s all built as I’ll likely need to custom mix the teal, maybe the purple too, so it’s safer to mix up one monster batch of each that’ll see me right through than to risk smaller batches and having to match the colour.
Next time, I’m going to talk about null-rays! There’s a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the build and I’m pleased with how it’s going so far – and it’s all thanks to Skyrim, who’d’ve thought?