First I had to retrieve the 3D model from the DOW2 game.  This was done using SGA Reader 2 [1] and Santos Tools 2 [2].  SGA Reader 2 allows you to extract the model files from Dawn of War 2, and Santos Tools 2 allows you to import the models into 3DS Max.  After hunting for a while through the DOW2 files, I found the armor model I wanted in /art/race_eldar/troops_wargear/armour/farseer_armour_taldeer/
When using Santos’ model viewer, it looks like this:

Random side note, if you zoom in on that soul stone on her chest, you get this:

Damn blood ravens!  What are YOU doing there?!

Anyway, I had the model I wanted.  I used Santos Tools plugins for 3ds MAX to import them into the workspace and deleted everything but the helmet:

What I chose to do here was to take a series of face-on “slices,” print them out, and adhere them to some 0.25″ MDF.  Having never used 3dsMAX before this, this bit was extremely challenging for me.  I’m sure for somebody well versed in it I look like I’m patting myself on the back for figuring out 2+2=4 here, but with zero experience, trial and error WHOO.  I deleted all of the soul stones, removed the “fin” from the back of the helmet, and used a slice plane to remove half of the helmet:

(That square underneath the helmet represents 1″x1″ ) From here I would use the numerical controls at the bottom of the screen to position a slice plane, slice the helmet head-on, select all the unnecessary vertices and delete them, select the vertices on the edge of the newly formed slice, and cap the holes:

For reasons beyond my comprehension, it seems like when you cap a hole using selected vertices like that, it always uses the texture file associated with the model at hand.  I tried to get the cap to be some neutral color like blue, but gave up pretty quickly.  Don’t forget to go change your render size to something large when rendering.  I took all 21 slices into photoshop and aligned them using the 1″x1″ square underneath:

Here’s how it looks with some of the slices removed:

There’s that cap-texture screwing me up!  I had to go through a process of making silhouettes of each layer and then including the silhouette of the NEXT layer so I could line it up easier:

Looks much nicer!

After a few tries, I figured out that the helmet had to be 15% larger, so unfortunately that 1″x1″ square at the bottom had outlived its usefulness.  Since the helmet is much larger than a sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper and I don’t have access to a plotter, I had to section it up and include a means to align both the slice-pages and the ultimate product.  After some failed experiments I ended up with adding a few dowel-alignment holes and putting the alphabet across the pages a few times:

[Here’s a PDF](2.6MB / 70 pages) of everything I ended up printing out.  I used a very high-tech light box to be able to see through the paper and align the alphabet, but this light box can only be used while it’s daytime:

Damn, my windows are dirty.

It should be noted here that I made the choice NOT to include that soul stone on top of the helmet held by the two uprights.  I did this by just cutting across them in the paper stage of things.  The reason for this was that I feel as though it would ultimately make casting the helmet difficult:

From here I adhered them (Using adhesive spray) to sheets of 0.25″ x 24″ x 48″ MDF I got from my local Home Depot.  I vastly overestimated how much MDF I would need, turns out you only need 5 sheets (Probably 7 if you decided to keep that one soul stone on there).  Remember that since it’s a mirror image, you just place another sheet of MDF under the one you’re working on and cut them both simultaneously!

I just cut that one with only a few slices on it in half and used that for the mirror-layer.

The pieces were originally cut into their individual secions using a sawzall, which makes an AWFUL edge but cuts quickly enough (Bandsaw didn’t have the “reach” to handle pieces so large).  From there I used a punch to start the holes to be drilled

Figures the picture I would take has me not punching it dead-center.  Oh well.
Then I used a drill press to drill out each double-stack of MDF in successively larger holes

1/16″ -> 1/4″ -> 3/8″

I then sliced up a 3/8″ dowel from Home Depot (I got 2) into little plugs and hammered them into the holes.  Dowel size seems to vary slightly, the 2nd dowel was loose in the holes, but the 1st dowel needed to be hammered in.  The ones that needed to be hammered in worked MUCH better to keep the pieces aligned during cutting, so re-use those if you have to:

When cutting, you want to try and keep the blade just on the outside of the lines:

Screwing up isn’t the end of the world, this is all going to be sanded and bondo’d, so don’t get too worked up over the sawblade not cooperating.

When it’s all done, slice up that 2nd dowel and put it all together!

That’s where I am now.  Thing’s pretty heavy!

Make sure it fits on my head
Glue it all together
Sand forever
Sand forever pt 2
Silicone mold
Rigid mold
Slush cast




The sanding/bondo/hole filler steps took ages.  Priming between layers definitely helps, but it does add time to your process if it’s too cold for the primer to dry.  I can’t decide if using gap filler primer would have been a better choice or not.  It would have helped fill in all the pinholes and odd points here and there, but I’m afraid it would have dulled some of the sharper areas.

Drilled a 1″ hole under where I sort of guessed the center of gravity was and put a 1″ dowel in there.

I tried to build a sort of stand so I could work on it while standing up, but since I lack basic building knowledge it immediately fell apart so I had to clamp that 4″x4″ post you see there to the back of a chair.

An extremely flamboyant chair.


Tried to seal up an area of my basement that leads directly to outside with drop cloth and a fan.  Couldn’t bondo outside because of weather + temperature, but I didn’t want to stink up my house with bondofumes.  It wasn’t as effective as I wanted it to be.


At some point I cannibalized an old microphone stand because moving that giant 4×4 post around was dangerous for all the door molding in my house.

I had to bring the helmet in at some point because even after an entire night, the cold weather did not allow the bondo to cure.
That last one is this old autobody filler we scrounged up:

I wouldn’t even know where to get it.  My dad sent it over saying they had tubes of it but don’t do autobody work any longer.  It was like a quick drying clay paste.  It smells REALLY pungent, so well ventilated area + respirator.

Found a mostly nice day to get outside and wet-sand it.  Here it is after 600 -> 1000 -> 1200 grit wet sanding.  (Harbor Freight sells a variety pack of high-grit wet-sandpaper)

Note that it’s still wet here, it’s not THAT polished.

Detail layer of Smooth-on Rebound 25.  I originally started with 2 trial size orders, but I SHOULD have bitten the bullet and gotten the gallon unit from the start.  I also wish I had done the Volpin method of laying it on its side, creating a clay dam, and doing it one half at a time.

Added some Smoot-on Thi-vex to thicken the Rebound 25 to fill in the face area.  What should be quick drying time between layers was greatly lengthened by the temperature.  I had to use a small space heater aimed at the helmet to facilitate curing.

Used up both trial-size units.  Getting all of the parts A and B out of it by the end brought out my extra lazy side

Note that normally I would a small food scale I picked up at Target for a few dollars to make sure my parts A and B are equal by weight.  Since this is the end of the bottle, though, I just had to assume that there are still equal parts in each bottle.

This looks like delicious cadbury cream egg filling.

Looks like I need to add in another picture here, but I have the Rebound25 mold all done, complete with registration keys made from pouring excess into dixie cups.

I finally did go ahead and get the gallon sets of Rebound25, and my god

That is a lot of rebound.

When I finally get a cast of this, I’ve got the materials ready to make the “fin” on the back of it

After consulting, I’m going to go with the two broad faces being made from sheet styrene, which I ordered from

and the filler be made from pink insulation foam.  I’ll intersperse plastic spacers in there for some more support

Got the jacket mold all done, but of course I’m too stupid to take a picture of it while it was all together.  The best I can do is the jacket mold with the starts of mother mold braces on it

Well, at any rate, the jacket mold was done.  Since my helmet was a weird shape, I took a rough guess using card stock and taped on little shreds to fill in the gaps.  I didn’t take a picture, but I’ll draw a DIAGRAM AW YEAH:

I traced that shape onto the 0.25″ MDF using a ruler’s thickness to at least attempt to maintain some uniformity.  The outer edge of it doesn’t really matter as much, so you can be fairly lax when you get to band sawing.  These took a try or two, especially the sweep on the back of the helmet, I had too much gap between the MDF and the jacket mold, so I had to cut it and poorly attempt to attach a replacement piece.  These MDF braces come in pairs, by the way, and I attached them with 1/4-20 1″ nuts and bolts.  One thing I wish I had done differently was omit the bolt CLOSEST to the “meeting point” at the top of the helmet.  It makes it difficult later to put plasti-paste in there without getting it on your bolts.

I put a layer of tinfoil between the MDF there so that if I got overzealous with the plasti-paste I wouldn’t fuse the MDF pieces together.  I tried to put sculpey in the gap between the brace and the jacket mold for the same reason.  If the plastipaste got pushed underneath and stuck the two MDF pieces together, it’d be a lot of cursing and dremeling to separate the two, especially if it was underneath.  The braces were too loosely held on there for me to effectively apply the gap-filler sculpey, so I made a small batch of plastipaste and applied it around the apex point to hold everything in place.  I wish I had done a better job, but this was my very first foray into plastipaste so I didn’t really know what I was doing.

It’s good practice to properly label your equipment

By the way, it’s confirmed that smooth-on makes the most delicious looking toxic stuff ever

Didn’t help that I would use two plastic spoons to get it into that plastic measuring cup there.  Very tempting.
Definitely grab 2 or 3 of those softer plastic measuring cups.  I got mine at home depot, they’re in the painting section.  Aside from providing you with accurate enough measurements for your 3:1 paste:resin ratio, it makes removing the leftover plastipaste a breeze without having to resort to mixing liners.

NOTE: Make sure you thoroughly mix your plasti-paste before you start measuring out to mix.  There’s an oil in that paste that needs to be mixed in, a paint mixing stick would work really well for this.
I used 12oz of paste, making sure that there were no air pockets to throw off my measurements.  I then added 4oz resin and got to stirring.  Now, I wore latex gloves for this because it’s messy as all get out, but I should have consulted the instructions first to see if latex would in any way impede its curing.  It sounds like an overly cautious maneuver, but the Rebound25 explicitly states NOT to use Latex as it will cause it to never fully cure.  I applied it with a popsicle stick, which worked well enough.  You can stand to be fairly sloppy on your first application, just make sure the right amount is in the right places.  At between 15-20 minutes after mixing the resin in, your plastipaste will become the consistency of warm wax.  It’s at this point that you can push it around / smooth it down with your gloved hand.  The paste should NOT be coming off onto your glove, but will be a bit tacky.  I find that slapping it produces good results:

Those more yellow looking spots are newly applied uncured paste where i thought some spots could use some extra strength.  Going to let this sit for 24 hours and then open it up!  Also I’m going to towel off the outside, this stuff is crazy oily when it cures.

Pulled the mold apart, took a bit of help from a flathead screwdriver

Got a chance to take that shot of the jacket mold

Took a new razor, and since I didn’t do it in halves from the start, cut a squiggly line from front to back

Had a bit of idiocy here totally unrelated to the beverage pictured.

Mixed and poured my first bit of SmoothCast65D, as I was waiting for it to set I realized that I hadn’t used any mold release.  I frantically scooped out all the pour-plastic that I could, which was a bummer, and waited for it to dry.  I then hit it with the mold release and started it all again.  I ended up doing it in 6 pours, which still left certain bits too thin.  I probably could have pulled the cast that night but I didn’t want to risk it

My first pull!  You can see that the jacket didn’t sit flush in the mother mold on the top of the head there (our right side).   The two jacket mold haves were meticulously matched when I did the casting, but then when I had the “Oh shit no mold release” moment it all went to hell.  This leads to the mold coming out like this:

This squiggly bit is one piece, just has a strange surface on it.  The chin, though, didn’t fuse together:

Can’t see SHIT, captain!

Marked out where the screw ups are.  This is all to be painted over anyway, so it’s no big deal.  Also cleaned up some of the squiggly parts with razors and sandpaper.  Much of the fuse-line is going to be obscured by head runes and such.


Testing out some gem sizes for the sweep.  That full-sizer might be a bit large.

Full-sizer works well on what I call the “air-intake”



Time to get that fin done up.  Used the paper-scrap method to get it to sit flush against the helmet back

Transferred that to some sheet styrene

Traced the fin shape onto the styrene and cut out 2 layers of it

Here it is on the helm, fin is a door hazard

Realized that even if I doubled up the styrene layers, the fin was just too large and thin at points and would be flopping all over the place if I shook my head “no.”  Those points are likely to catch on something as well, either a door frame or SOMETHING.  Here’s what I came up with:

Polycarbonate.  They apparently sell .093″ thick sheets of it at Home Depot.  I know I could get it online somewhere cheaper, but since the Depot is 1/8 mile away, it was just too convenient.  The idea here is to have the sheet styrene be the outermost layer, then a piece of polycarb that bridges all the cutouts, then a layer of polycarb WITH the cutouts, some sort of separator/standoff, then cutout poly, whole poly, and styrene.  It’s like a big plastic sandwich.  The hope is that the polycarbonate bridging the cutouts will prevent it from catching on things and since it’s clear, hopefully not noticeable.

For standoffs I picked up some 1/2″ ID PVC pipe connections from home depot and laid them out on the polycarb cutouts:

This was too many, I ended up going with 7 total I believe.  The outer diameter of the pipe connectors were between 1″ and 1.25,” so I bored holes a 1″ hole drilling bit and decided to use the lathe to turn the connectors down to 1.”

Bored all 4 layers at once to keep them aligned.

I love that old lathe.  The belt has a tendency to slip, so you have to get the chuck rotating as you start it up like so

(Click to play GIF)

Also I saved the shavings from the PVC, I remember reading somewhere that you can mix old plastic shavings + acetone and make a good plastic adhesive.  Might have been ABS specific, though.


The holes/pegs helped keep all 4 polycarbonate layers aligned while I cut the shapes out on the band saw.  Apparently the built in light on my band saw broke, so I had to make due.

Worked better than the real thing.

There are the layers all separated.   Those protrusions on the left sides are to fit into slots I cut in the back of the helmet.  It was excruciating, cutting into the helmet like that.  Definitely wear gloves/goggles/rebreather, because dremeling SmoothCast65D results in a fine powder that actually behaves like smoke.  It coats everything and just can’t be good for you at all.

Even with the protective plastic layers on the Polycarbonate, it doesn’t look as bad as I thought.  That will be removed when it’s all affixed together.  Also notice there that I put some bondo on the helmet to fill in a few of the gaps.

At this point I realized that I was stupid for having turned all of those PVC connectors to a uniform diameter.  I needed a shelf for the polycarbonate to sit on, so I went and got new ones, turning them down only to the width of 2 x .093″

DARE ruler: important tool.

Well it worked like a charm, here’s the fin:

I know it kind of looks like it’s leaning back a bit far in those last two pictures, but the helm is angled more forward when he’s on my head, so it looks normal there.  Now I have to make up some plasticard bits to close up that gap between the layers.  I used masking tape to get an accurate distance.

At this point I put the fin work on hold and started to work on the head adornments.  For this I just used EVA foam.  I was having a lot of trouble making up a CAD template for this, so I just eyeball/ruler’d it:

I’ll probably be extending those “F” looking bits out a little more, luckily the part is small enough that I don’t have to start a new foam sheet for it, can just use scrap bits.  That big gem there is just a placeholder/size tool.

The last bit for this week is that I bought some cheap sunglasses whose red mirrored lenses I plan to cannibalize for the eye parts.


[APRIL 11]*********************************************************************************************************************************

Okay, so PAX East is all done, costume held together!  I went from “carefully plan, photograph, and document” to “OH GOD THERE’S NO TIME JUST DO WHATEVER” mode, so there’ll have to be more diagrams and less photographs here.

It pained me to do so, but I finally cut holes in my helmet.  I traced the gem size onto the helmet in pencil and used a razor to cut a starter hole.  I then used a dremel to make the hole the correct size:

Now this is the part where you make sure you are fully protection geared up, because this smoothcast, when hit by the dremel sander, throws of gorrillions of tiny plastic hairs, and you end up looking like a muppet:


I then focused my attention on the fin:
While the original plan for this part was to use plasticard, it just was not cooperating and I was in no mood for it’s crap – cardstock it is!

They’re all a uniform width and hot glued into place.  It’s easier to make the piece too long and trim it down than it is to try and measure exact distance.
Glued some gems into place, ran the wiring in the stupidest zig zag pattern I could manage before gluing on the opposite face:

(That 2nd picture has the gem masked off because I’m about to prime/spray it)
Now this is where I stopped taking pictures because OH GOD WE LEAVE TOMORROW.  I’ll take more retrospective pictures when I get home, but I can bullet-point what happens:
-Glue on the rest of the layers of polycarbonate / plasticard to fin.  Hot glue didn’t work because I needed to do it all in one go and the glue would cool too quickly.  Ended up using gorilla glue’s superglue
-Get fed up with trying to CAD the designs for the top of the helmet, just ended up using rulers and straightedges, transferring to foam.  Sealed and primed foam.
-Primed helmet, painted helmet gloss black.
-Adjusted fin mounting slots with a file, secured the fin with loads of hot glue.
-Glued gems into place, started wiring up but decided it would be too much effort that I needed to direct elsewhere, so temporarily abandoned the light-up portion of things.
-Got some shades from Wal-Mart, popped out the lenses, dremeled them down to a more manageable size: