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SixFootBlue

Custom Resin-Cast Kanohi, Take 2!

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So recently after a (failed) attempt at casting some bionicle 2015 parts...
 
I figured using DIY silicone putty wasn't going to cut it very well when putting mask molds together. So I dropped 30 bucks on some legit tin-based liquid silicone for mold making and gave mask making another go. Same mask as my very first attempt last winter, with more or less the same techniques.
 
And here are the results!

 

Kanohi Rau

 

The mold:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6311224

Side-by-side comparison:
http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6311225

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6311225

 

Spray painted duplicates (Bonus Ta Matoran):

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6311226

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6311227

 

(UPDATE) Dyed resin:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6313152

 

 

(UPDATE) Kanohi Kaukau

 

The mold:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6309106

 

Comparison:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6309107

 

Matoran:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?i=6309108



The pics don't really do it justice, but trust me, the mask is just as glossy as a fresh-out-the-canister 2001 kanohi (though unfortunately the silicone picked up some of the handling ware on the surface).


The best part is silicone molds can be re-used hundreds of times as long as you don't stress them too much, and clean them properly.
 
The mask is glossy and fits nice and snug on mata and metru toa heads. Some imperfections on the surface were due to some errors in the casting and mold making, as this was my first time creating a mold from pourable silicone. I should be able to avoid these in the future. Other than some super tiny bubbles hidden away behind the mask, and greater light passage due to the type of plastic used, the final product was more or less a near-perfect replica of the original mask. :D
 

Once I've practiced the method enough, I may put together a tutorial video on how to cast masks out of resin.

Edited by SixFootBlue
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Woah dude, this is awesome. You could experiment with multiple spots to pour resin into the mold and get some cool color gradients.


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Woah dude, this is awesome. You could experiment with multiple spots to pour resin into the mold and get some cool color gradients.

 

I actually have been brainstorming ideas on how to create streaked/marbled kanohi so I'd be able to create metru-matoran type masks :D . The resin I typically use starts to solidify within 2-3 minutes after its activated, so I'd probably need someone to mix one of the colours of resin alongside me so I could have enough time to get both of the colours mixed and ready to pour. Afterwards, it should just involve some streaking with a toothpick, then sealing the mold.

 

I considered using 24-hour curing resin, but given the amount of time it would take to cure, the colours might blend too much. Also this process has been pretty prone to error so far, mainly in finding some noticeable bubbles that need to be filled in later, so the prospect of spending multiple days to finish a mask isn't to appealing.

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Sweet! I have always wanted to make my own masks, I'm looking for some silicone to make the molds myself. It's good to see the results can be this good ^^

I want to make Damek the Matoran, the MolToran leg piece is gonna be hard to make.

The mask you made seems to have some kind of "moustache pattern" under the eyes - is it present in the original mask too? Was it meant to have it?

It would be interesting to make custom masks (through custom molds), for example adding Kopaka's eyepiece to another mask and so on.


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Nah the "moustache" pattern was unintentional. Since this was my first time using liquid silicone, mistakes were made of course. ^_^

 

Basically I cast the front part of the mask mold first. The back of the mask was filled with modeling clay, so I needed to remove the mask in order to get it out. The problem was removing the mask broke the original seal it had with the cured silicone, and thus a thin film of silicone leaked through the eyeholes when I cast the second part. There's another part like that on the top left part of the mask as well.

 

Two ways to avoid it that come to mind are

 

A) Carefully dig out the modeling clay without removing the mask from the mold at all.

 

B) Cast the back part of the mold first. That way, after the seal is broken, any leakage will be behind the mask instead of in front. Basically just hide all the imperfections on the back where no one will see them.

 

 

As for making custom masks, I have yet to try it, but I would consider using a platinum base silicone for making those molds. As it turns out, tin base silicone has a very very VERY small amount of shrinkage. On a single cast it's not very noticeable. Maybe some slight looseness on the mouth peg, but nothing major really. But after repeat casts of a duplicate, it's possible it could start to become a problem. According to the Alumilite brand's website, their platinum base silicone experiences zero shrinkage, so it's probably the one to use.

 

Also, if you can, try and get as many of the pieces that you need off of bricklink or something, or try and find a resin that's rigid, durable, and not too flexible. I used polyurethane plastic for this, and although its very durable, it's a little more flexible than lego plastic. Also f it's exposed to higher temperatures, it becomes much more flexible and there's a possibility the shape can warp. I'm only planning on using this method for casting masks, and some other simple parts, mainly to get them in colours they were never manufactured in, or colours that are tough to get. It's not the best method for casting an entire bionicle figure.

 

Best of luck to you. :3

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Yeah, I want to make only parts that were never made in a certain color - or that are too expensive in that color (for example misprint masks like Kapura's).

I wanted to make the missing 2003 Matorans like Kongu or Onepu, or Damek. Since I modded my sets I don't need the hip piece (that would have been quite hard to make anyway). For now I wanted to make a purple Miru.

 

About the "moustache" pattern, at least it's symmetrical, it looks like made on purpose and it's hard to notice ^^

 

I was thinking of putting some clear film between the mask and the clay while making the mold, in that way it should be way easier to remove and the original mask shouldn't get dirty.

I was also considering melting actual LEGO pieces to make my custom masks in the same material as the original ones. Basically I would put the pieces in a funnel connected to the mold. Then anything goes in the oven, the plastic melts and enters the mold just like resin would. I have many doubts about this approach working, but I wanted to give it a try anyway.

 

I hope to see more custom masks by you soon! :)


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I'd probably not recommend melting down bricks, at least without using a dedicated oven for it. Melting plastic often releases fumes that can be hazardous to your health. If you're still set on it, maybe you could ask flintsmith for some advice on it. Last I remember they were casting hard plastic krana using melted down lego bricks.

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Found this post in the topic he made about the Krana.

I was thinking of melting the pieces in an open area, using an extension cord for the oven (not the oven my family uses to bake).

I doubt I'll ever manage to try out my theory though, I doubt I'll ever get the chance :\


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This mold is very accurate, I would love to see the other 2001 kanohi be made and if I had money, I would gladly support you by purchasing a mask. 

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Tomorrow I'm going to start work on making a mold for the 2001 kaukau mask, and eventually buy some clear resin for it, so you should be seeing more from me soon!

 

Also the thought did cross my mind about selling masks to help pay for materials? (Silicone is kind of expensive). Problem is that would probably be illegal since these are basically bootlegs. I mean I know they aren't manufactured anymore, but I'd still be getting money from lego's IP and idk how they'd feel about that.

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Wow you've done a very nice job on these. And I agree with Lewa up there. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of us who would want to buy one or a few (dozens) of masks.


Every hero is born from his enemy; every leader, his followers; and every father, his children.

 

 


 


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So a couple updates. Used the last of my silicone to make a 2001 Kaukau mold. I managed to dodge the errors I made with my first mold cast. Had some issue with bubbles on this one, but I figured out how to fix it when casting the front. I've also been working on replicating some of lego's plastic colours using alumilite dyes. So far I've pretty much matched Medium Blue, and I'm close to matching mata blue. I don't have any other dyes other than fluorescent green though so I can't experiment with others just yet. I've also got some glow in the dark pigment powder coming in the mail, so that should be fun to play around with, especially when I get some clear resin.

 

I think more often than not I'm going to stick with resin dye. It's quite a bit cheaper than using paint, especially since you don't need to buy primer, and you can have more control over the colours compared to spray paints. Though given I'm mixing quarter ounces of resin at a time, it can be a bit tough to measure out exact amounts. (I've had to work with a system of dabs or drops of dye on the tip of a toothpick, haha).

Edited by SixFootBlue
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Loving the Kaukau, it's very accurate and I can't see any flaws. Also Which colors do you think would be the easiest to replicate and which mask would be the easiest to mold?


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Loving the Kaukau, it's very accurate and I can't see any flaws. Also Which colors do you think would be the easiest to replicate and which mask would be the easiest to mold?

For replicating colours, I'm not sure how accurate my answer is since I only have blue and neon green dye. Off the top of my head though. Medium Blue, Yellow, light grey, dark grey, black, white (white dye makes the plastic more opaque), and tan are likely easy to replicate, since you should be able to make them from single dye colours without having to do any colour mixing. A lot of the other colours may require subtle hints of other colours in order to get the right shade. (For example, mata blue is going to require maybe 3 parts blue dye to one part fluorescent green or a smaller part of yellow pigment.)

 

As for masks easiest to mold... Well the silicone captures all the detail perfectly, though if you have a mask with a lot of deep pits in it, you're going to want to fill them while pouring your silicone, and fish out any trapped air with a toothpick, so you fill them completely. I've yet to try anything beyond 2001 kanohi, but perhaps masks with lots of thinner parts sticking out (ie Tahu Mistika's mask or Antroz's mask) may be a bit more challenging because you'd need to make sure the resin fills those gaps without any air gaps or bubbles. So I'd say 2001-2002 kanohi are the easiest. Also krana and kraata should be easy to mold as well.

 

One tip I have for casting any mask is basically to do it in two steps. More often than not if you try and cast the entire mask all at once, you'll have trapped air where the mouth peg should be, even if you try to avoid it. An easy solution is to just fill the mouth peg and any surrounding depression with resin, lay it face up, and then put the other mold half on it so it takes the appropriate shape. Then once that's cured, mix up some more resin and pour it into the main mask mold, and then cast as normal. You don't need to worry too much about wastage since this process will only use like half an ounce of resin. Even less if you have mixing containers that can measure smaller amounts (My mixing cups go by 1/8th ounces so I usually just mix up a quarter ounce at a time).

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I'm really impressed with what you've been able to do here!  My knowledge of resin-casting and mold-making is limited, to say the least.  The thought of trying to replicate a mask is daunting to me, but your posts have have been a wealth of information and inspiration!  The masks you've made so far are incredible, especially the Kaukau.  I'm looking forward to seeing a custom dyed cast.

 

I've been using supplies from Smooth-On, and I'm not sure how their prices compare to what you've been spending, but they offer a couple options if you're looking for a slightly longer cure time.  I'm using smooth cast 325 with the powdered metal, but you could probably use any of them (haven't read up on the others).  The smooth cast 300 series, a basic white plastic, is available in four different options, with cure times ranging from 5 minutes to 4 hours.  Resins are definitely not cheap.  There are so many options on that website, I had to do a lot of reading before committing to buying anything.  I'm happy so far with what I've been able to produce.

 

Keep up the great work!  Cant wait to see some updates!

 

J•B

Edited by The Cartographer
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This is really cool! :) The Bionicle community is so lucky to have people who do such amazing work and are willing to share it.

 

I guess you can see more variations than we can, because to me the masks look pretty much perfect! It's incredible that you made such flawless-looking masks! These were even higher quality than what I would have at best expected!

 

And I know lots of us 2001-03 fans will be happy to hear that the old masks are the easiest to make. :P Like everyone has said, keep up the great work when you can!

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I've been using supplies from Smooth-On, and I'm not sure how their prices compare to what you've been spending, but they offer a couple options if you're looking for a slightly longer cure time.  I'm using smooth cast 325 with the powdered metal, but you could probably use any of them (haven't read up on the others).  The smooth cast 300 series, a basic white plastic, is available in four different options, with cure times ranging from 5 minutes to 4 hours.  Resins are definitely not cheap.  There are so many options on that website, I had to do a lot of reading before committing to buying anything.  I'm happy so far with what I've been able to produce.

Smooth-on was the first site that I was referred to when researching materials for casting, and they've got quite a nice selection! Unfortunately I live in Canada, so shipping up here gets to be pretty expensive on top of the cost of the materials. I get all my alumilite casting materials from a local store I found online, and they're pretty much second only to smooth-on so it does the job just fine. But hey whatever works. :)

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Smooth-on was the first site that I was referred to when researching materials for casting, and they've got quite a nice selection! Unfortunately I live in Canada, so shipping up here gets to be pretty expensive on top of the cost of the materials. I get all my alumilite casting materials from a local store I found online, and they're pretty much second only to smooth-on so it does the job just fine. But hey whatever works. :)

 

Well it seems to be working for ya just fine!  :P


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Aw man, I'd love a black Rau so I could do a MNOG-faithful Ahkmou.  Sweet though, can't wait for the tutorial.

 

Also, where'd you get the mold material?  I've been wanting to make my own set of dice for a while now and I tried to make a mold out of silicone caulk.  Were you able to find it at a hardware store or did you get it online?


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Aw man, I'd love a black Rau so I could do a MNOG-faithful Ahkmou.  Sweet though, can't wait for the tutorial.

 

Also, where'd you get the mold material?  I've been wanting to make my own set of dice for a while now and I tried to make a mold out of silicone caulk.  Were you able to find it at a hardware store or did you get it online?

I found a local store that sells it. It's Alumilite Quick-Set RTV Silicone Rubber. You can order it online from their site if you can't find it locally. There's also another silicone formula they sell that I think you can find at a Michael's art store, for about the same price, but it's softer.

 

I don't really recommend using silicone caulk. I've tried it out a few times with mold making and find that it tends to react chemically with urethane resins (you get a ton of super tiny bubbles just coating the surface of your piece). Epoxies don't seem to react with it though.

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