View Full Version : Finished Helmet

05-08-2004, 08:45 PM
Hi everyone. Well I finished my helmet. Ran into a few troubles here and there. Especially with the masking. Although I feel this was a good way to learn the basic fundamentals of finishing a helmet, I don't think I got enough of a chance to play with the potentials of the airbrush. However, the good news is that there are more projects on the way and hopefully I will develop more of a working understanding of the AB. Thanks to everyone who contribute here. If it wasn't for you, This woulda come out a million times worse.

If anyone is interested in the process, I can post it. Though it is long and very tedious.




05-08-2004, 11:33 PM
Hey Warren, this looks great! I love that color combo, it has a soft appearance. Were these a match for the color of the bike?

I recognize the flames and it looks like a mechanized scull with riveted panels and horns? Correct me if I'm wrong!

I think it would be great if you posted an explanation of how you did it.


Maryl Lehman
05-08-2004, 11:36 PM
Warren, that looks great! We'd love to see the WIP for it (work in progress)! I'm always curious to see how other artists do their artwork. Great job! :clap: :clap:


05-09-2004, 02:06 AM
Nice! Looks like an animal with metal and rivets on it. Looks pretty clean to me. Yes, feel free to post some progress shots and descriptions. I love reading wip threads.


05-09-2004, 03:34 AM
looks very nice indeed....and did you do the clear yourself?...


05-09-2004, 04:27 AM
Hi guys. Thanks for the support. Though this is not going to be helpful in terms of airbrushing technique, it may help you should you ever decide to take on this type of project...now i just need to figure out this whole uploading thing...

05-09-2004, 04:32 AM
ok. So that worked. The whole idea came out of this crazy japanese cartoon I saw. It was called Panda-Z and had ....well, a giant robotic panda. the image u see before is the first basecoat of createx autoair paints. These are water-based and non-toxic... but the minute I took off my mask I didn't care what the createx people said, I was keeping the mask on! This image is of the helmet masked in 3m masking tape. The low tack tape wouldn't even stay on the helmet, so I had to stick with the medium tack.

05-09-2004, 04:35 AM
After I finished the masking the entire helmet (oh yes, I forgot to mention that you will have to mask out the entire interior of the helmet as well. The chemicals used later on in the clearcoat process will destroy the foam padding inside.) I drew out the basic designs for this helmet. I didn't want anything loud and pronounced, but a subtle change in color to speak for the design.

05-09-2004, 04:46 AM
Now this is almost where I begin to realize I jumped in way too deep, too fast. After cutting out the mask for the flames I jumped straight to the paint. Threw down a light layer of metallic silver (you can see the slight line of tape adhesive I had failed to clean off). Then, touched up one edge with bronze and the other with pearl white. I laid down another coat of the silver. However, I did some slight mixing in-between and bottled them up for the other side (which I assumed I could replicate just as easily). I then proceeded to the face, masking off the flames which i had just finished. This was achieved by laying down a coat of bronze, then silver, flat white in highlights, pearl white over flat white.

05-09-2004, 04:55 AM
Now this is when everything went pretty much to hell in a handbasket. I attempted to reapply the mask I had taken off of the face in order to apply the black for the eyes and the horns. However, paint seeped under the mask and pretty much ruined the entire feel of the face. I tried to do a touch-up with my limited AB skills, but in leaning at an akward angle, dripped paint from my AB container onto the face! By the time I had realized this, the deed was done and the paint was dried (createx autoair dries really quickly!) After glowering at the mess I had made, I decided to entirely redo the face. This solved the problem fairly well, but had several problems in itself.

1) The extra paint created a lip at the mask.

2) I could not recreate the original effect of the paint, and the result is much more dull than the original.

I retrospect, I should have gone to sleep and sanded down the paint once again the next day. And THEN repeated the process.

05-09-2004, 05:03 AM
After the face was finally resolved (to a point where I wouldn't throw the helmet out the window). I attempted to reuse the flame stencil for the other side. But by now, the tape had folded up in so many different ways, there was no way to retrieve the original image. So I had to replicate as accurately as possible the flame design as the other side (If you see it in real life, you will notice the horns come closer to the flames on one side). Although I reused the paint i had stored away, the left side came out much more bronzed. If I was to do it over, I should have done the flames all at once.

Although I had redone the panda face, there were still runs of paint in certain places, so I decided to pencil in some details (my airbrush cannot get this thin) to take away the attention from the mistakes.

05-09-2004, 05:21 AM
With all the painting done, it was time to apply the clear coat. Hiring a professional to do it would have cost 60$. If you are only going to do 1 helmet- HIRE SOMEONE!

A quick Cost breakdown:
The clear was Dupont Chromaclear HC 7600. A quart cost 45$ with the fast-drying activator. A Husky detail spray cost another $60 (I have other projects :rolleyes: ) And the loads of sandpaper came out to $20. Not to mention the Rubbing and polish compounds at $10 each. Assorted terrycloths and rags at $5

If you do decide to do the clearcoat yourself, don't do what I did!

First clean off the job with denaturated alcohol (which I didn't do...)

I decided to lay down the clear coat outside since I live in an apartment. The minute I threw down the first layer, Las Vegas dust, hair, organic matter all became permanently embedded into the helmet. After seeing this, I moved it inside to lay down thin coats every 5 min. Unfortunately I got what they call 'orange peel' and had to wait for the next day to sand down all the bumps and air bubbles. Boy- sanding sure takes a long time.

Then I sprayed about 5-6 thin coats every 5 mins. Then, cleaned everything off and waited for the next day to sand and polish. Sanding the helmet from 600 grit - 1500 grit took about 4 hours. Cleaning with the alcohol and applying the finishing and polish compounds another 2.

This is why people charge $300+ to paint helmets!

If any of you decide to undertake a rigorous project, PLEASE email me with questions so you don't have to go through the same thing I did.

But I am happy with my results, but not satisfied with my preparations for the project. And yes, It does match the scooter in the background of one of the first pics :D . Once again, thanks everyone for the support. I hope this will help someone.. somewhere. somehow.

05-09-2004, 07:48 AM
Thanks for posting your step by step. You did a nice job on the helmet. Did you have any problems with the createx peeling up when you removed your tape?

Just so that you are aware, when painting a helmet you void the warrenty of the helmet. You render it a novalty item. Should you ever do one for someone else you must make them sign something saying as much.

If you had sanded the helmet down to start over again like you said you wished you hadn't it would have spelled disaster. Sanding on auto air or any water based acrylic paint causes the paint to peel off in balls rather than sand off in a powder.

Prep-Sol works better than denatured alcohol. I do not use it on acrylics and I will have to try just to make sure there isn't a chemical reaction. Denatured alcohol is readily available at Wal-Mart in their paint department. Never use rubbing alcohol thinking that it's "close enough".

If you enjoyed painting this helmet and you think it's something you would like to do in the future invest in some urathanes. Automotive paints are 100 times more versitile and easier to work with.

6 hours to buff the helmet seems like alot. Sanding to a 1500 is overkill and polishing compound is a wasted step as well. Polishing coumpund does no more than what wax will. There really is no abrasive in it, it pretty much just cleans out the pours. If I would have sanded at all, I would have done it in one step, then straight to the rubbing compound.

05-09-2004, 03:39 PM
Thanks for the advice Penny. The Autoair stayed on fairly well and I had no problems with peeling. I wanted to stay away from urethanes because I live in an apartment and don't want to kill my neighbors :p . That and they're awful expensive too. The clearcoat I used said not to use any type of wax for at least 120 days. I was also getting heavy orange peel (I think that's what they call it when the clear looks like the skin of an orange) so I had to get it down smooth. Hence, 4 hours of hand sanding. How do you apply your clearcoat to avoid this?

05-09-2004, 03:53 PM
urathanes run from around $28 - $32/16 oz so although you have to buy larger quanities at once they are actually cheaper to use. I do not spray them in my house and I sympathize with the apartment bit but you can make a ventilation system for them for use in your house easy enough.

Yes, that is orange peel. To avoid it I use prep sol and I don't use auto-air. I think that is one of the problems of using auto air. I'll let you know later this week if you can use prep sol with acrylics. Orange peel occurs when there is either oils on the surface (anything as small as fumes or skin oils will cause it) or if there is a chemical reaction in the paints. I just got done spraying something with white rustolium only to change my mind and want it black instead. I got out the non-rustolium can of black, preped with sanding and prep-sol as usual only to get fish eye. The only reason fish eye could have occured is due to the incompatability between the two paints. I overcame my problem but this is an example of how little you need to get a problem.

Maryl Lehman
05-10-2004, 01:12 AM
Thanks, Prepsage, for the WIP! It was very informative and interesting! It turned out great in spite of all the problems! :)