Nov 072013

This post is part of a meta-series. Click here for a list of all posts in this series.

I’ve been quiet on this front of late, but not idle. When we last left off, I had nearly finished gluing the cross-sections into place. Once finished, my concern about the main profile board proved well-founded, with the board making a gentle but noticeable arc from front to back. This meant the centerline of the entire helmet would be incorrect once finished.  However, I noticed that I could manhandle it into correct alignment. I hatched a scheme to create a platform for the helmet into which I would drill regular holes for dowels that would enforce the spacing between each profile. After doing just the center two and two toward the rear (around cross-section 8), I realized that the dowels just weren’t rigid enough for the idea to work. They bent too easily, meaning the heavy mass of cardboard was better at shifting their alignment than they were at keeping it aligned. I ultimately went with a simpler approach and tried to fix each of the cross-sections in place by anchoring them to other cross-sections with masking tape. It mostly worked.

Next came the insulation foam.

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Sep 192013

This post is part of a meta-series. Click here for a list of all posts in this series.

As of September 10, I finally had all of the cross-sections cut!


I’d been working in the basement, since the stairs were finally done, but all of the pieces felt a bit damp (not severely so, just…not as firm as one might expect).  I brought everything upstairs to dry out for the night before I started gluing the cross-sections to the profile. I’ve been doing that two-at-a-time, more than a little frustrated by how “slow” Elmer’s is to bond. Really, though, that’s just impatience talking.

As I’ve been going, I noticed that the thin cardboard of the main profile is actually bending a fair amount, which I’m going to have to figure out how to correct before I start filling in the foam. Would be a shame to go to all this trouble to achieve a fair amount of symmetry only to have my entire axis be wobbly!

I also had a minor crisis last night, when I realized that I had mislabeled cross-sections 25 and 27 (part of the “face”). I realized this when I went to put on cross-section 26 (i.e. after 25 had set) and it was larger than its predecessor. I checked my Blender file and all was well, but the profile I had in Blender did not at all match the profile I expected to see for 25, based on the printout template and the cross-section itself. Sure enough, I had mislabeled it (and 27) in Photoshop! Cue emergency surgery to slice that cross-section off of the main profile and replace it with 27.

I just attached the “true” 27 a few moments ago. Here’s how it’s shaping up:

(Bonus: In the background on the right, you can see the two toaster ovens that I’m going to use to form the plastic-warming oven for my vacuform table!)

Aug 312013

This post is part of a meta-series. Click here for a list of all posts in this series.

Right now, it’s all grunt work. I’m steadily making my way through each of the cross-section cut-outs. They’re tedious and time-consuming, but I had the good fortune to secure a large supply of cardboard boxes completely free thanks to a well-timed arrival at Lowe’s one morning. An employee was in the process of unboxing a number of items and placing them on shelves. I asked if he was going to throw away the boxes, which he was, and then asked if he’d mind me taking them off his hands, which he did not. Jackpot!

Today, I finally bit the bullet and printed out all of the cross-sections. I had been printing them out two and three at a time, waiting until I had finished the cardboard version of each before printing out the next batch. Instead, I now have the flexibility to tackle as few or as many in a sitting as I want. I’m about halfway done cutting out the cardboard versions.

I added an ongoing project cost list to the meta page, as well as a list of tools I had on-hand when I started, for anyone interested in trying to replicate this method.

Some pictures:
Finished cardboard cross-sections Remaining paper templates


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Jun 272011

Stairs are proceeding slowly but steadily. In cutting the risers down to their proper height, I realized that using a bucket laden with water as a clamp to keep the board in place was probably not the safest approach. I headed to Lowes and picked up an assortment of clamps, along with some polyurethane to seal the boards once they’re stained, and got all of the risers cut and sanded. Next step is either more sanding (the stringers), more sawing (the support beams), or staining (steps and risers). Or maybe some combination thereof.

Also had a bit of an epiphany about how to deal with creating molds for things that need to be symmetrical, like helmets. This might be obvious to those who are old hat at creating molds, sculpting, or anything in that vein. But basically, it involves creating the 3D model in Blender, then taking slices at regular intervals and printing those slices onto paper. The paper template then gets cut onto MDF (or even cardboard) and reassembled. The gaps between the slices gets filled by weather foam, which is nice and sandable/slicable. Done and done.

Started playing Dragon Age: Origins this weekend, which I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. Enjoying it so far (and amused as hell how easy it was to get Morrigan to sleep with my character), but after L.A. Noire, every single game’s faces just don’t measure up. I’d rate DA:O’s visuals far higher overall, but the amount of performance depth that comes with the tech behind L.A. Noire’s faces is incomparable. Ah well.

Did another 1,250 words on the second draft of Misfits. I’m almost certain that it’s going to need a third draft, but that’s fine. Better to revise it as many times as it needs to be a solid, enjoyable piece of fiction than to rush it out the door.