Helmet and mask specialist Ironhead Studio uses 3D printing to fabricate wearable pieces for Hollywood films. The latest spectacular creation is Hela’s headdress from Thor: Ragnarok.
Anyone with even half an interest in the day’s movie goings-on won’t have failed to notice the color-soaked spectacle of Thor: Ragnarok. The third outing for the Asgardian god of thunder and his hammer Mjölnir (or is it mew mew?), it’s a riot of flashy visuals and fantasy/superhero costuming.
Refreshingly, for a film set on fictional worlds filled with gods and monsters, practical effects and props are used as much as possible, with CGI filling in the blanks and rendering only the impossible. This extends to the costumes, too.
Antagonist of Thor: Ragnarok, Hela, possesses perhaps the most striking of the film’s costume pieces. A sharp branching headdress that exudes darkness (she is the villain after all), the studio responsible for its creation — Ironhead Studios — revealed that the piece is 3D printed at DesignerCon in Pasadena, California.
Speaking to Adam Savage’s Tested at DesignCon, studio head Jose Fernandez explains that, while mostly computer generated, the movie’s production required a physical piece to add presence in some scenes. In addition, the wearable version of the headpiece would give actor Cate Blanchett the feeling that would come with wearing such an imposing costume.
Using SLS to fabricate the antlers for the headdress, Fernandez continues “This particular process is very rough as far as the outputs, they look like a sandcasting.” Post-processing the grainy texture of the prints, the studio’s artists apply multiple finishes to achieve an otherworldly appearance.
The Hela headdress isn’t Ironhead Studio’s first rodeo 3D printing custom fitting props. Fernanzez previously worked on four of the recent Batman movies. Previously plaster casts of the actors were required to create an accurate Batman cowl. The resulting foam masks would have to be enlarged to accommodate for shrinkage, and even then the process could result in a poor fit.
With the advances in 3D scanning and modeling, Fernandez can rough out the appearance he wishes for a mask, before tweaking pieces and sizing in modeling software and 3D printing a wearable mask on demand.
“It’s still labor intensive, but now I can use my labor to make it better, rather than just make it fit, which is great” he adds.
Thor: Ragnarok is still showing in most cinemas, so it’s not too late to check out Ironhead Studio’s work for yourself.