My client got her helmet, she was super happy, and I'm sharing with you how I made it! Read the full article below.
First of all, if you want a proper walk through for how to do a Pepakura build, this site is 1000% detailed and it was the base of how I built mine.
This write up will not be extremely detailed, since it's already been done. I will reference the process with a brief description, and any alterations I made to the process, or something I would do differently in the future. So Let's jump in!
I've made Pepakura builds before, but never costume pieces. So I already had some practice cuting, folding, and assembling the builds.
The first thing I did was do a test print of the file on regular paper to make sure it would fit the new owner's head. Now this was a three hour waste of time and resources on my part. I've since learned how to properly measure a file and scale accordingly before printing.
Pepakura has two versions - the free Viewer, and the Designer which is a paid program and allows you to completely build and design projects; and also measure and scale current designs you downloaded from the internet. *Ahem* I hear "pirates" like to use Pepakura too......
The one plus size of this process was being able to re-align the eye holes and resize them for better visibility. But I could have done it just as easily on the final build.
I was happy with everything, so I printed the full design on 110lbs cardstock. I put it together pretty quick using scotch tape and hot glue. I wasn't happy with the details on the mouth, so I opted to make it out of foam separately. The defined details really worked better than paper and I'm glad I did it.
I went inside the helmet and reinforced any loose flaps, or holes with hot glue.
The next step was to harden!! The 405 recommends using resin and fiberglass mat for maximum hard. I wanted to do a single layer of resin to coat the paper and create a more rigid layer before pushing and pulling fiberglass mat through the inside of the helmet.
Here's a photo of the materials I used going forward:
The resin I bought from Michael's (with my coupon!!) was pretty scary for me to try. The instructions were super specific, like if I mixed it off by one drop, it would NEVER work and they would all know I failed. Who are they? I don't know... THEM.
So I did a small test piece to see how fast the resin dries and what sort of consistency the resin is, etc. Honestly, you should always do a test if you're using materials you've never used before.
The Verdict: It's very thick and dries very slow, which gives you time to slush the resin and work with it. Approximately 8 hours to become sticky-dry and then another 48 hours to be completely dry.
It took me about an hour to do the first pass of resin. I poured it in the helmet and swirled it around as fast as molasses could swirl. As it got thicker, I used one of my stir sticks to help slather it onto any naked paper on the inside of the helmet.
I came back every hour for the next three hours after that to scoop up any extra resin pooling in the top of the helmet.
Two agonizing days later, it was finally dry and ready to play with. I was really surprised with how firm the resin was so I opted to do another resin base on the outside and completely skip the fiberglass layer.
Two MORE agonizing days later, The hardening process was finally done, and we're on to smoothing! Pepakura comes with really hard, sharp corners that aren't necessarily appealing for some costumes or looks.
The 405 recommends using bondo - an auto-body filler. I'm used to using wood filler on my props, so I considered trying it, but the bondo I found promised to be easy to sand so I decided to try it.
It took me about an hour to apply to the whole helmet because I spent a lot of time trying to smooth it out so I would have less sanding time in case it wasn't super easy. I let it sit for a full day because there's nothing worse than trying to sand something before it's dry.
I used my palm sander with 120 grit sand paper to really speed up the process. It went so... smoothly! Ha! OMG. Please don't leave yet....
After the first sanding I marked low points where I was starting to sand through the paper and inner resin layer. You can also see how the light comes through some points.
So I took my hot glue gun and reinforced these points just in case I sanded too far, I didn't want to get stuck with a bunch of holes I would have to try and fill later. After the glue I felt particularly lazy and decided to try wood filler to fill the smaller marks left behind by the bondo. It definitely was easier to sand, but I wouldn't do it again next time.
The bondo doesn't need to be sealed, but a primer is highly recommended. Luckily, the paint I found was a metallic paint + primer which made the whole process easier! Two coats and we were done!
But I wanted the smaller details to pop, so I took a dark grey acrylic to paint in the low points. Look at this baby shine and pop!!
Here's the full breakdown of time spent on this helmet, and then a screenshot of the review my wonderful client left on my Facebook page!
If you're in the market for a new cosplay piece, but don't quite have the time to make it yourself, never fear, Bree is here! I'm currently open for summer commissions!