Character Creation of Ranik Tantham: Part 2 The Helmet

-Levi Peterson

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​When an artist starts a sketch or painting, they must think about what details they want to catch the eye.  Or, if there is a particular section or detail they want noticed, how best to draw the eye towards it? This is the same for costumes and props. Usually, for a costume, it is a specific prop or detail, such as Gandalf’s staff or Captain America’s shield. It tends to be a visually striking piece that becomes instantly  iconic for that character, almost like a signature. For characters that have armour, the helmet tends to be the focal point. For instance, picture Darth Vader in your mind right now. I'm willing to bet the first thing that comes to mind is his helmet; this is because when a character is wearing a mask or helmet, their face is covered, which means said mask or helmet must emote for them. In the case of  Mandalorians, this is just as important, as the T-Visor helmet has become an iconic symbol not just for Bobba Fett, but the society as a whole. This means each Mandalorian has a unique helmet, and this is the journey of how I made mine.

As mentioned above, the helmet can make or break an armoured costume. It tends to be one of the first things people see, since we naturally try to look other people in the eye. It can set the tone or attitude for the whole costume. It is also a unique thumbprint that each creator adds to their costume, because unless they are portraying characters that have a set uniform, usually no two helmets look alike.

​As an example here are two that I have done: the one on the left was one I did for my brother and the one on the right is my MK-I for this mandalorian kit. My original was essentially a cheap halloween costume Mandalorian mask that I did some Fiberglass work on to make it more acceptable. It was a good first try and I am happy with what I had, but an opportunity arose to upgrade to something better.

This is what is called a “raw cast”, a prop made out of resin that has not gone through a finishing process. I picked this up during a Black Friday sale and was extremely pleased with it. However as this was a commercial cast from a fairly prolific company so I set out to make it my own. I started my customization by mistake! During casting, sometimes extra material is added called flashing. Usually a smart prop makeruses a cutting or sanding tool to remove it. I decided it was a brilliant idea to just break it off. Thankfully it was on the back, and mostly only ruined the bottom edge, but I had an idea. My character was supposed to be a trench warfare or urban combat specialist, so it would make sense that extra armour would be added to it. So I decided to add extra panels to cover my crimes and add some unique elements to my helmet.

This was the first step to making this helmet mine. I also added some extra details to sell the “hazardous environment” feel: mainly a helmet filter and hose connecting to a backpack. Using a 3D printer, I slowly built up my details until I reached this point.

At this point I was satisfied with what I had done and all that was left was to paint. From there it was a simple process of sanding, basing, and adding my colors. It was nothing particularly different from my original paint job, only without the extra decals Finally I was rewarded with this.

Overall, I am very happy with the upgrade. The helmet itself is a lot more sturdy with a thicker profile, so it looks better and it is one more piece that makes this kit more unique to me. For the costumers who wear the Mandalorian armour, our helmets hold a unique sense of pride and accomplishment. Like I previously mentioned, a helmet can make or break an armoured costume and they also tend to be the more difficult or expensive element of the costume. It is our “face” when we don our kit, and this particular face is one that I am extremely proud of.


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