Helmet Step by Step-Half Man

Helmet Step by Step-Half Man tutorial walks readers thru painting a Cyborg helmet design with easy to follow directions. I’ve found this design sells like crazy; so much I get tired of doing it. Got to pay the bills though so when asked to do this design for a customer I try and change something in the design every time just to keep it interesting. Although this article covers airbrushing a motorcycle helmet many of the techniques (masking techniques) can be applied to other surfaces. I was asked on the forum how I did the wires so here it is with a little added extra on how I did the teeth. By Don Johnson, airbrushgallery.com

Airbrush Supplies Required:

House of Kolor paint systemSpray Mask, Iwata HP-CS


motorcycle helmet

We begin with a new white full face helmet for this design. I’ve gotten to the point I only work on new helmets for customers; black or white solid color helmets. Avoid working on helmets with factory graphics you will never hide those factory graphics they will just continue to bleed thru anything you try and paint on top of them. After taping all the trim off, scuffing the helmet, washing it I applied House of Kolor Orion Silver to the half of the helmet that will be our Cyborg leaving the other half white. To accomplish this I use a mini spray gun or touch up gun, no masking just let the silver fade down into the white. Two coats of House of Kolor UC 35 clear are applied as I do not like working on base colors unprotected. Its much easier to lay graphics out on a scuffed clear coat surface then try and do it on a freshly painted unprotected base color. I’m not a big fan of inter coat clears like SG 100 they seems to create more problems than they are worth for this type of application.


scuff pads
helmet scuffed

After the clear has been given 24 hours to dry the entire helmet is scuffed once again getting it ready to add the art work. For those of you who have not used a Scotch Brite pad I included pictures above of the pads I use, medium pad. With scuffing you are just knocking off the shine of the surface to provide some tooth for the paint you are about to apply something to bite into, adhering to.



spray mask

Masking objects that are not flat is always a problem, getting the masking material to lay flat, wrinkle free that is. To add the lower jaw and teeth to my Cyborg design I use Metalflake Spray Mask (thanks to Mick Cassidy for turning me on to this stuff) as masking material. It conforms real well and is easy to lay your design out on after which cutting the design out is a breeze.


spray mask applied

To apply the spray mask I use a cheap hairy brush applying three coats allowing 45 between coats. Here you can see what it looks like after being applied before it dries; after it dries it pretty much transparent and pretty smooth.


time to dry completely.

Above is the spray mask after it has been given time to dry completely.


drawing the design

With the spray mask dry the design layout can be accomplished easily by using a pen and drawing directly on the mask. Here you can see I have started laying out the teeth, upper and lower jaw of our Cyborg.


drawing jaw

In this picture you can see I’m working on the human side of the helmet which I left white; it will be much easier to get a good skull color from a base of white. Here I’m seeing where placing the upper part of the lower jaw and lower part of the upper jaw will look best. As you can see I’ve changed this several times simply by Xing out lines that will be no longer used in the design


cut design out

Once I’m happy with the way the design fits the helmet it just a matter of cutting different pieces out and adding color. Above you can see I’ve chosen to start with the darkest color in the recessed areas between the teeth and jaws. I use a X -Acto knife applying very little pressure letting the new blade do the cutting, once cut its easy to pull the masking from the area you wish to add color too.


airbrushing teeth
airbrushing teeth

With my dark color applied to the recessed areas (House of Kolor KK Root Beer) I pull the masking off the teeth and apply Glad Press and Seal to mask these tiny areas. Again using a X Acto knife I cut each tooth out of the Press and Seal. As you can see above the teeth are already a nice bright white from the original base color of the helmet.


airbrushing wires

Now to tackle those wires in our Cyborg design I cut the masking and remove it from the areas where the wires will be. Using just House of Kolor base SG colors I simply free hand my first group of wires in place.


applying fine line tape

Once the first color wires have been given 30 minutes or so to dry I use 1/8th inch fine line tape to mask the wires off. For smaller wires you of course would use 1/16th inch fine line tape to mask the wires off. With my first group of wires covered I chose another base color and add another group of wires.


design completed

Repeating the process of masking the wires off the third color is used to produce a third group of wires.


airbrushing black

Using the same dark tone you used to paint the recessed areas of the jaw, teeth we apply it to the area between the jaw and back of the skull and our little window in the back of the skull. I would avoid using a solid black color here and leave the area with high lighted and shadow areas just to make it interesting.


airbrush wires

Pull all your fine line tape and there you have a very nice group of different colored wires. There is NO reason this same technique can not be applied when painting a T Shirt, craft, bird house, illustration fine line tape will work just as well on those surfaces. All that is left to do is to go back in and free hand in some shadows on wires which would be beneath another as the wires cross and you’re done. There you have it a pretty simple, quick and easy way to create a group of lines, wires having different colors.

helmet finished
helmet finished
helmet finished

Above the Cyborg helmet after clear coat is applied for the last time. This a great selling design as I said before; please feel free to take it add your own touchs, hope it makes you some extra Christmas money as it has for me.

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