June 4, 2011

Daft Punk: Part 5

So a lot has happened with the Daft Punk project since I last posted anything about it. A lot involving the project itself, and a whole lot of stuff not involving it. My professional work has really been kicking my butt lately, so I haven't quite been motivated to keep up the documentation of the project. I've also had some camera difficulty since I last posted, so I've lost some photos, specifically those involving the molding of Guy's helmet (except the low-resolution photos from Facebook). Because of the huge gap in updates, I'm not going to bother going into significant detail. I'll just hit on the highlights.

First up, as previously mentioned, Guy's helmet was molded. It was a single piece slip-style mold with a three-part mothermold. The single piece rubber mold means that there are absolutely no seam lines. The only parts that need cutting are the neck hole and the visor. It's a super clean build, and I'm very pleased with the results.



A vacforming visor buck was made out of a throw-away casting and subsequently reinforced with expanding foam. We were surprised to find out that our little vacforming machine could pull such a relatively large piece, and so far we've only had one bad pull from it.


One major component that we didn't want to forget was the hands. I sculpted little MDF finger and palm plates (one for each size needed), then I molded and cast up enough pieces for one full hand. We pulled our hand plates out of styrene on our vacformer. Then they were trimmed and assembled on sprues to make the eventual chrome plating easier.




The final piece of the project was Thomas' helmet. I ended up starting over on the helmet entirely. There was too much I didn't like about the old helmet, and starting over meant I could address certain shape issues from the get-go. So another 3D model was built and processed through Pepakura. Typical building procedures took place. I decided to go with Volpin's style of build by leaving the ears off of the master copy so that they could be lathed later on. It really is the best way to go because it allows you to hide the mold's seam line in the ear cavities, making final prep super quick.




After much searching and hair pulling, a member of Makers Local 256 stepped up and offered to lathe the ear pieced for us. It was lathed out of a chunk of aircraft aluminum, and then I made a mold of it so that hollow fiberglass copies could be produced for the final helmet castings. The original aluminum piece is now a fancy paper weight on my desk at work.


Then a mold was made for Thomas's helmet. It's a two part (front and back) mold with a three part fiberglass mothermold. This has been the most recent step in the process, as just last weekend I finished the mold and pulled two helmet castings.



Currently I'm prepping the final pieces for chrome plating. I just sent all of Guy's components off to Creations n' Chrome in California, which is both scary and relieving. In the mean time I have to finish prepping Thomas' parts for Chrome, and I hope to have them shipped off to California by the end of next week.

On a final note for this post, we've once again altered the final outcome for our Daft Punk project, at least in terms of our appearance at Dragon*Con 2011. We did have a lead on a seamstress that could produce the TRON Legacy jackets and pants for us, but for availability reasons that fell through. So we decided to go ahead and get the helmets and gloves plated so we'd have some good, multi-functional helmets and gloves. To complete our D*Con ensembles, we will be sporting tuxedos similar to those worn by Daft Punk at the TRON Legacy blue carpet premier. Because the tuxedos just have to be bought and not made, we will be able to complete other projects with the attention they deserve.

To view the currently up-to-date Daft Punk photo album, please click here.


  1. Those casts turned out amazing!!! I noticed that with Thomas' helmet, the visor portion seems a little more pronounced than the original cast. I think it only looks that way because the ear cups aren't attached and it looks disproportionate but I was wondering what changes you made on the new helmet as apposed to the original?

  2. It probably looks that way because the ear pucks aren't attached. I've been looking at it so long that I can "see the whole thing" without the ear pucks even being there.

    Some of the changes I made were reshaping the jaw section so that the chin is correct from the get-go (the original didn't have a correct chin shape), I also cleaned up the temples a bit so that they would allow for sharper, crisper lines during the sculpting phase. The other major change was obviously the ear section, and that was done so I could have the ears lathed, but also so that I could approach the dome shape where it meets the ear a whole lot easier with a power sander. With the ear on the model itself, that whole area tucked behind the ears would have been rather difficult for me to make a really sharp 90-degree corner.