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JustKelly's Phasma build

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OK, well I've been on the fringes of the 501st for a little while now as an R2 (and latterly BB-8) builder. But I've decided to jump in and do a Phasma because...well, because I really dig her look, basically. I got a helmet from Thorsson (mainly because he has the separate "frown" piece which just makes painting so much easier) and was able to get it to look good enough that yesterday I took the plunge and ordered a full armor set from KB. Exciting, and very different from droid building from what I've seen. Should be fun, though!

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Do check out the Phasma CRL & the Phasma Build threads.  They are the single best places to figure out how to get started.  Good luck!

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Do check out the Phasma CRL & the Phasma Build threads.  They are the single best places to figure out how to get started.  Good luck!

Oh yeah, all over those things. In fact, someone on the FB Phasma builders page made a nice checklist that I'll be referring back to. I need to catch up on pix, though. Get up to speed :)

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OK, so the first thing I did was practice getting a chrome finish. Going by the movie references, I decided to opt against a full mirror by doing actual chrome plating or professional spray chrome (Angel Gilding, etc) and go with an upper-level airbrush solution. Fortunately, I had a ton of plastic hemispheres sitting around from when I did BB-8's radar eye lens, and so went through several of these, working out different techniques to see what would work. Here's an attempt with Alclad:




This really gave me the look I was shooting for, but further experimentation showed that Alclad tended to come off wayyyy too easily. So I wound up doing some more experimentation, and came up with the following recipe:

  1. Initial sand down
  2. Multiple light coats of glossy black 2x primer + paint (rustoleum)
  3. Wet sanding with 400, 1000, & 2000 grit papers in that order
  4. Polish using turtle wax rubbing compound + polish until shiny
  5. Dose with some nice clear coat (I don't have the stuff in front of me; picked it up at an automotive store. Will see what it was later.)
  6. Airbrush Spaz Stix Ultra Mirror Chrome, very light coats building up
  7. At least 24 hours cure before I so much as breathe on it hard
  8. Buffing with a soft cloth between layers of Spaz helps smooth out the finish and leaves it comparatively durable
  9. Sadly, no clear coat I tried (even the manufacturers' solutions) really left the finish in a satisfactory condition

Fortunately, I had the test hemis and the "schnozzplate" on Thorsson's helmet to experiment on, so by the time I got to the helmet proper I had it down to a science. The next post will cover that.

Edited by justkelly
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As I mentioned before, I got my helmet from Thorsson since KB doesn't come with one and I rather liked the separate nose piece (also I like how he calls it "schnozzplate" ;)). Anyhow, I got it pretty quickly and was impressed by it. It's heavier than I thought: turns out it's spun-cast and not, e.g., vaccu-formed or anything like that. Substantial.




So, step one was to sand it, smooth out the rough edges, and do something about some eyeholes. So off to the local makerspace I go, to take advantage of their high-power rotary tools.


After sanding the surface down, I started on the excess material at the bottom of the bucket, grinding it away and rounding out the border so it was comfortable.








Much better.


Next up was the eyeholes. It turned out one of the bits available for the rotary tool was ideal for boring an initial hole into the eye areas, and then I could use a series of bits to work my way out, switching to smaller ones as I got to the borders. Here's what I used, more or less in order:




Then I took it home and did a little hand-sanding along the inside to smooth things out.



(this is not the final sanding; just showing how it looked when I was done with the rotary tools)


After that it was time to sand, paint, sand, paint, scream, grumble, sand, and paint. On to the next post!

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OK, to the helmet proper. I pretty much worked this technique out on the "schnozzplate" as mentioned before, so I won't go too far over it again. I have a nasty tendency to overspray and add really thick coats where a light touch is needed, so this has been an opportunity for me to kick that particular habit. For one thing, I've started using a spray gun trigger that attaches to my spray cans. These are surprisingly nice, and give you way more control. Great for putting down the black layers. Also, I find airbrushing more or less demands a lighter touch, so that's helpful.


Anyway, after painting, wet sanding (400/1000/2000 again), and adding the clear coat (Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel it was), and getting everything all smoothed out, I was left with this:




Actually this doesn't quite do the helmet justice, as it looked rather better in person. Really, really glossy. Here's another view, with the schnozzplate already done:




Note that I put a black border into the schnozzplate line. There seems to be a lack of concensus on this: If you look at the movie footage, it seems to be there in this part, but not necessarily elsewhere on the various groove lines in the helmet. An informal poll seems to suggest a lot of people put the black lines everywhere because it makes them "pop". I may just stick to the frown for now, and if needs must I can always go back and add them in.


Incidentally, the line was added by wet brushing: that's where you take some paint (in this case, Testor's black hobby paint), thin it out, and "wash" the color over the area you want to add it to. Then you go back and wipe most of it away, leaving only the "residue". I used this technique a lot when weathering R2-D2, and recommend it (along with dry brushing, which I'll no doubt get into later) for any prop maker's bag of tricks.


Anyway, one trip to the paint booth later, and I had this:




Now we're talkin'.


Thorsson's helmet comes with a piece of bubble lens that's been formed to fit inside the helmet. I thought it was going to be a hot glue job or maybe E6000 (you have no idea how much of my stuff is held together with E6000. It's freaking crazy), but Thorsson suggests using gaffer's or Gorilla tape. This is so you can easily swap out between bubble & flat lenses as needed. Makes sense. So I just happened to have some Gorilla tape laying about...




I love the way the paint looks inside there.


View from outside:




The schnozzplate I wound up putting on with double-sided foam tape, so I could line it up properly before applying pressure. It's just different enough in contour from the helmet that gluing it would be hit-and-miss to get it to line up properly. I toyed with using rare earth magnets to hold it in position, but all the ones I had were either too weak or way, way too strong. Eh, so it goes.


Behold, the end result:




Finally, just for fun, I dug out the old helmet I started last year, using a 3D-printed shell and off-the-shelf rattlecan paint. Check it out:



What a difference a year of learning technique makes, eh?


Anyway, that should do it for now. Until my armor comes, I'm kind of in a holding pattern. I may get my 3D printer back up & running, and start working on the blaster to give me something to do. I also have some BB-8 parts that need to show up, and the usual variety of non Star Wars projects. Still, I'm sure I'll be back at it soon enough. My goal is to be ready for Episode VIII, or better yet Halloween. It's not by design, but so far my Ghostbusters proton pack and R2 both made their public debut at Halloween gigs. Heck, I might even finish before convention season is over, if I get a wiggle on. We shall see.

Edited by justkelly
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OK, so it turns out I'm not completely dead in teh water until my armor comes. There's a few things I can do to keep the momentum going.


For one thing, I got a bodysuit. Turns out Amazon has some rather inexpensive neoprene body suits. Here's one I got for only $32.


Got it in today's mail, and found it fit really nice, and at only 1mm, isn't going to be a heavy thing to have to trudge around in all day (I'm a scuba diver, so I'm used to 3mm-5mm wetsuits that believe me can be a pain in the butt sometimes).


Naturally, having acquired it, I had to go out and model it. Vogue:




What can I say? I'm ready for my debut:




Or perhaps not.


In the meantime, I got my 3-D printer (a Robo3D R1+) up and running again after having lost a screw in the print head assembly a while back. This meant I could start printing the lovely print files that were found right on this very website. After dialing the printer settings back in and getting it back into its groove, I was able to fire off a few initial pieces of the barrel:




I'm getting very good results with the same settings I'm using to print my BB-8 parts (medium quality with 3-layer shell on top, bottom, and sides, 25% fill). The first half of the barrel (the long bit up there) is hollow all the way through, so I had to give it a 3mm brim inside & out to make sure it stuck to the ferschluggener print bed. Fortunately, the other half (printing now) has got rather more surface area on bottom, so it should hang on all right, knock wood.


Incidentally, if it looks like I'm going into a lot of detail on this stuff, that's because I am. I know people refer to build blogs to get details of a how-do-I-do-this nature, and I often find myself wishing people dove into specifics. So I'm making a point to do that here as much as I can. Feel free to ignore the text and look at the pictures.


Anyway, I'll carry on churning out bits of the blaster, then start post-processing them (sand, paint, etc) and hopefully that will keep me occupado until the armor appears.

Edited by justkelly
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  • 2 weeks later...

OK. So, sorry for the quiet interval. Frankly, other than buying the suit and some gloves, all my updates since the last one would have been "Printed more of the blaster" over and over. But that's done now, so behold:




One blaster's worth of parts.


You can see I've done a little work on some of the parts using putty. This is where I get down to cases and really work the post-processing magic.


For no particular reason, I decided to start with the shoulder stock assembly. Here's the shoulder guard after preliminary dry sanding:




Next came the 3-phase wet sanding I already described. Notice I'm only really concentrating on the large, empty area:




Now I'm experimenting with a nice gloss lacquer as my base coat. It's giving me very nice results post-sanding.




(BTW, get a good look at the gun barrel. It's about to get some serious treatment too.)






Elbow grease. Accept no substitutes.


Next up will be hitting these guys with the spaz stix, finding a good matte black for the black parts (I find super-flat primer black makes plastic parts look less "plasticy"), and starting on the other bits & pieces. Lots of sanding, lots of painting. That's going to be the majority of this build. I think I'll add some "scratch & dent" on the black parts as well. Not a lot, just here and there. 

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OK, so after polishing the crap out of some parts and things, I took 'em down to the shop and broke out the Spaz Stix. Here's what I've got so far:






Couple things I noticed putting this together. For one, the drill holes in the Barrel Rear 1 & 2 didn't line up properly, not with them meeting flush with the Hub. I wound up using the Hub as the guide.


Also, the End Cap Clip is shown with the "circles" facing the rear of the gun, whereas most of the reference shots I've seen have it the other way round. Again, I went with the reference. There seems to be no agreement as to whether the circles are painted black or silver, but since the image clips I've seen from the movie seem to go with silver, I'm going that way.


Anyway, next up is the rest of the front barrel. The barrel itself is looking good, but now I have to do the bits that go onto it. Will update when I have done that.

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OK, so hi folks, I'm back. So most of the blaster has been wet sanding, painting, and assembling according to the instructions it came with. But one thing that got left out was the circuit for the "Hengstler" unit. So here's what I did:




Short version: 9V + => 10mm diffuse white LED => 330 Ohm resistor => SPDT switch => 9V -


Long version: The positive (red) line from the 9V battery plug goes to the positive pin of the LED. The positive, or anode, is always the longer pin on an LED. This matters, as LEDs (and diodes in general) are one-way streets.


The negative (cathode) pin of the LED goes to a resistor. I'm using 330 Ohms to go with this particular one. This is important, as allowing too much "juice" through the system will cause your LED not to work--or rather, it will work REALLY, REALLY WELL for just an instant, then cease to work ever again. That's bad. The calculation is very simple, and based on Ohm's Law, which if you're interested in electronics at all, is something you should learn. For now, a simple explanation and handy-dandy calculator can be found here.


The resistor, btw, can be put in "forwards" or "backwards". It's all the same.


An SPDT switch stands for "Single Pole, Double Throw". This essentially means one input, two outputs. The switch determines which of the two outputs get the "juice". Note that we've only got one output wired here. That makes the switch essentially a SPST (single/single). This is a very common use for SPDTs. You can read more about switch architectures here.


Also, note the use of heat-shrink tubing around the solder points. In close quarters like this, you want to use something to keep the wires covered so you don't get short circuits.


Anyway. Moving on from that, I didn't have any red cellophane, so I used the crafter's friend: a plastic milk jug. Seriously, these things are so great for creating diffuse light covers. Two coats of red paint, and I was in shape.


Dig the end result:




So that's done. Now I just have to wait on the armor. Armor guy says he's only got a few bits to go, so I should have it soon. Looking forward to it!

Edited by justkelly
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Nice polish job. I've yet to finish anything from a 3D print. still looks like a lot of work.


It is. There are different ways of speeding up the process. ABS prints can be smoothed with a "bath" in acetate vapor, but they lose definition in the process & this is not good for your lungs. The sandable primer mentioned below is also handy, but really it does come down to elbow grease in the end.

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