Thursday, August 6, 2009

Daft Punk helmet, part 1

EDIT: For information regarding replicas of this prop, please see THIS POST

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is one-half of the french techno group Daft Punk. I was commissioned to make a replica of his iconic gold helmet:

Based off a lot of research images I put together a rendering of the helmet in portrait and profile view, then mounted scaled printouts of these drawings to illustration board. There's a really talented guy named "Featherweight" that makes a variety of props out of cardboard; this was adapted from one of his tutorials:

I know its not much, but bear with me...

I took this and covered the model in expanding foam...

...which was then carved into a rough shape:

This was the coated in air-drying clay and apoxie sculpt to give me the general shape of the helmet.

Ear areas were cut out with a jigsaw to make space for the "D" shaped ear pieces in the helmet:

These ear pieces were cut from MDF and beveled on a router, then mounted into the helmet.

Then came the spot putty

...and the bondo...

I repeated the above steps (A LOT!) until I was satisfied with the curve of the visor area. After that was defined, I added foam and apoxie sculpt around the hemlet to build up the upper and rear "hoop" areas, as well as the "chin." I'm kind of making up the terms for this as I go, sorry if it gets a bit confusing.

In case anyone is interested, I alternate primer colors when building very smooth props so I can see how far down I'm sanding when I revise the shape of things.

Guy's helmet has a sort of circuit board pattern in the ears, topped off with a beveled "puck" that sits above it in the upper circle area of the ear hoop. I had a local trophy shop laser-cut this circuit board pattern into some 1/2" poplar, which I trimmed and inserted in the ears.

After installing these, I trimmed the lines around the ears and behind the rear hoop with a dremel tool:

Based off some really good reference shots posted on the RPF, I noticed these patterns were cut far too deep. I filled the cavities with resin to level them out a bit:

Shown here is one of the ear "pucks" next to a failed test. The one I went with is a MDF piece shaped on a lathe. The one in the background was sculpted out of foam, and couldn't hold detail as well. I ended up molding the MDF one and pulling 2 resin copies of it.

Then, there was more spot putty to fill ever smaller and more minor imperfections. This helmet will eventually be vacuum-metalized in gold chrome, so it needs to be perfect.

The advantage of making the helmet the way I did meant that I could try it on over and over again during the course of the build. I couldn't see anything, but it looked cool nonetheless!

Finally, after some harrowing antics including one late-night trauma where the sculpt was knocked off my workbench, the master was finished and ready for molding. This piece has been wet sanded with 2,000 grit paper and buffed with turtle wax in preparation for molding. Can't wait to pull the resin copies!

Next up is resin casting, electronics, and gold plating... not to mention vacuum-formed visors done by a fellow prop maker friend. Stay tuned!