Zer0 Helmet Build (detailed post)

I decided I wanted to make a borderlands costume, and as zer0 was my favorite character, I went with him. The two most complicated pieces of the costume are the helmet and the sword. There are a few places that you can buy helmets, but some of them look a bit off, so I committed to making one myself. Below is the process I used, so buckle up, its gonna be a long post!

This is what the helmet looks like from the game, and what I will be modeling everything after.

The first step was to build a 3d model of the helmet so I 3d scanned my bust and modeled the helmet around it:

I exported the visor and headshell as once piece and pulled it into 123d make to break it into layers.

…about 145 layers on 32 sheets of 9x12" foamcore to be exact. I chose black foamcore which really sucked to try to write on. its very important to be able to see how each piece is numbered, especially when there are hundreds of pieces. Youll be able to see later on why black foamcore was a better choice in the end however.

I also picked up some fairly thick metal wire for keying. Bend it straight and use it as rods to make sure everything is aligned.

The next step was just putting them all together. I used rubber cement and thick metal wiring to get everything in place. Rubber cement holds well enough, and is also easy to pull apart should you get your alignment off. I knew that I was going to be covering this in bondo which would ultimately keep it together, even if the bondo failed.

This is the fully glued up helmet. I decided not to do the lower small piece with foam because they only had 1 rod and were just spinning, not really holding any shape.

Time for bondo! coat it. work it into the corners. sand down smooth. very long and dusty process.

Its starting to take shape. Here is where you can see why it was a good idea to use black foamcore. When you start sanding down too far you have a very visible notifier that you need to stop sanding there. This will keep you as true as possible to the original design. Very helpful.

Once the visor had been coated significantly to hold its own shape without the rest of the skeleton, I cut it off and began to cover the rest in bondo and get the visor ready for vacuforming.

Here are the solder joints for the jawline pieces. So much better to sculpt without the foam in the way.

The visor is smooth enough for vacuforming, and ready to be primed. For .080 PETG, smoothing to 320 grit will be more than adequate.

I had to make a scaffold to support the visor during vacuforming, so I subtracted the mask from a solid shape to get a perfectly fitting profile buck

I pulled this into 123d make as well, and used the cross support layout to create the pieces which were laser cut out of 10 pieces of 5mm ply which I will most definitely be using in the future. I love working with this stuff on the laser. I took the extra step of just engraving the pieces with their numbers before cutting. This took a bit more work and double the steps which I think could be done way more quickly on the glowforge. However having them numbered made things move much more quickly in construction.

I then had to get a vacuforming plate ready, which was a whole other build process in itself. I did however use the laser to cut out templates of the corner cuts I had to make on the aluminum sheets for consistency. There were 3 different corner cuts for the pieces of plates. I used leftover foamcore, and then traced around them. Then I did the rest of the plate construction. Ready for vacuforming!

Testing the fit of everything and practicing pulling the plastic out of the oven and placing it over the buck. This part was a bit nerve racking as I only had 3 pieces to get it right.

SUCCESS!!! now to cut and pry this off the buck. What a pain! Once the pieces were cut off and cleaned up its time for dying.

After that I had to finish a few more details on the headshell and sand smooth. (there was a bit more cleanup after this, but this was fairly close to the end product minus some edge sharpening, and pits being filled in).

Now its time for primer and cel shading to match the original helmet. I used filler primer, watercolor markers, sharpies, and paint pens to get the final finish. I secured the visor with neodymium magnets to make it removable so I could drink/converse/cool off easily, and covered the ear holes with fabric so that I could hear out of them and get some airflow.

A piece of leftover EVA foam on the back of the inside was all that I needed to keep it sitting properly and comfortably as I modeled it around my actual head.

The Final Product:

It turned out great and I got to wear it all weekend. Visibility was the same as a pair of sunglasses. Hope you enjoyed this post, let me know if you have any questions!


That was an impressive process to watch unfold. Well done!


That’s awesome! Great job! Looks just like the game!


Wow! Super impressive build! Thanks for the detailed post.


Absolutely gorgeous!!! Well done! :open_mouth:


Very professional product!
The post was just long enough to detail the fab, thanks for that!


Wow, that is the most impressive thing I have seen today for sure. Bravo sir.


Holy smokes! A Glowforge in your hands will be mind-boggling!


It’s great to see that this technique works so well! I’m intending to do the same process with the Titan Trials of Osiris gear soon as I get my hands on the forge and wasn’t entirely sure if it was going to work. Thanks for the minitutorial!


Awesome! So you dyed the plastic t o make it tinted? What type of dye is it?


So here’s the thing… You are doing exactly the kind of work that I plan on doing when my GF shows up at my front door. You knocked this out of the park!

Amazing job @takitus, you have just made my week AND dropped a major health potion on my excitement levels for getting my Glowforge.

Quick question. If you had molded and cast the base in plastic and did your finishing work on the cast base, would the base have been too light weight?

If not, I imagine it would make it much more comfortable. How heavy is the helmet?


I would also like to know the answer to this question.


I used 4 packs of idye poly black boiled in a fairly large metal container. Anything this stuff touches will be permanently dyed. You can get it from jo-ann fabrics for about $5 a pack.

One thing to keep in mind is that these are heat formed plastics, and the dye instructions say to use at boiling temperature. This obviously wont work. The best temperature to dye PETG is around 140 deg celcius. Anything 150 and over will start to deform the plastic. You will more than likely need two giant vats of water on boil while dying these in order to keep the temperature where you want it. I tried to generally keep mine between 130-140 and if it went lower than 130 I would dump some more hot water in, but slowly as to not get the boiling water on the visor as its going in.


Thanks @JonS!

To answer your question, it would be slightly lighter if I would have molded and casted it instead of just going as is. It ended up being pretty light because a lot of the inside was foamcore, so it was really comfortable to wear weight wise. For the size, it was modeled around the 3d scan of my head, so the fit was great. A friend of mine has a helmet of the same character that was resin cast, and the weight is almost exactly the same.

I have planned since the beginning to mold, cast, and sell copies of the helmet. I was running short on time before the con this past week in which to mold everything as each step can take up to 24 hours to cure. Now that the con is over I have to go back and fix a few small areas that arent 100% symmetrical and clean up the dings it got during the con. Im gonna be a bit sad about sanding off the paint job as I really like how it turned out, but I plan on 3d scanning it beforehand just to have a reference for next time.

Then its time to mold, cast, and repaint one of those badboys for myself! I cant wait


That is INCREDIBLE work. What are you using for 3D Scanning?


-=- Terence


Thank you!

I picked up a structure sensor ( http://structure.io/ ) a few years back, and it has been invaluable in so many situations.
It is basically a re-engineered kinect, so using a kinect with their skanect software will return similar results.


I love my structure sensor! are you using the original app or one of the new ones?


Oh I will be buying one of these. :smiley:


Bruh! What the fridgehole! Amazing work! Great paint job, spot on.


I havent tried any of the new apps other than skanect. Have you found any to be better than the others?