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PUBG Mobile asked if we would make a prop helmet for their upcoming 2nd anniversary, so I decided to turn their iconic level 3 helmet into a functioning welding helmet!

  1. Start with a Helmet
  2. Bend Acrylic Sheets
  3. Paint and Weather
  4. Add Welding Visor

1. Start with a Helmet

For this prop build, I decided to start with an existing replica military-style helmet. T he helmet I used was made for airsoft and wasn’t an actual tactical helmet. It is ABS plastic that I found on Amazon. This was great for a few reasons; it was less expensive than a surplus military helmet, and I could used acetone welding to connect things to it or to alter it if needed. The helmet also came with a clear plastic face shield that I could use if necessary. There were also face shield attachment points already installed on the helmet which was one less step as well.

If you are interested in prop making from films or video games, look into existing pieces so you can achieve a greater level of accuracy and it helps with workload. I used the life-cast of my head as a helmet stand while I put this prop together. In the game there is a very specific chin piece that this helmet did not have. Because I had a lot of work to make it a welding helmet, I chose to just use the military-issue chin strap that the helmet shipped with.

2. Bend Acrylic Sheets

The most iconic element of this helmet is the face shield. It looks like an older welding mask but dangerously short for your face. I would imagine that the helmet in the game is supposed to made entirely of metal, but we’re going to fake it. My plan is to bend a sheet of clear acrylic into the helmet’s curved contour, add the eye piece, and then paint the whole thing to look like metal. To bend the left-over acrylic sheets, I used my powder coating oven (essentially a toaster oven) set to around 200 degrees F. I experimented with the heating times and found that the thinner acrylic took about 7-10 minutes to become pliable enough to bend without loosing their rigidity.

After bending the sheet, I drew the outline of the mask, based on some reference photos, directly onto the plastic. I cut the shape with a cutoff wheel on my Dremel tool. Drilling the attachment holes were troublesome. First, I used a brad-point bit in reverse on my drill before drilling slowly and it cracked the plastic. I had to start over and this time, I used a step bit to gradually drill the hole to the appropriate size and it worked super well.

The eyepiece juts out from the face shield and I made this element from more clear acrylic. Using a bendable curve matching tool, I transferred the face shield contour shape to more clear acrylic. This shape became the top and bottom of the eye piece. After adding the sides and a thin front frame, the eye piece was ready to attach to the face shield with some acrylic cement. I built up some more layers of acrylic to mimic some of the other random helmet elements and glued them in place. Instead of actual rivets that the game helmet used, I modified some rounded tack and glued them in place to really solidify the metal look.

3. Paint and Weather

At this point, the prop helmet didn’t look anything like the game version. All that was about to change with a few coats of metallic paint. To keep the metallic look consistent, I painted the helmet and the face shield together. Once dried, the helmet looked too nice, it didn’t look like a battle-hardened piece of combat gear. I used a mixture of weathering wash, rub-n-buff, and watered-down paint to add scrapes, shot marks, and scuff marks. I was really happy with how it came out with just a little bit of weathering.

4. Add Welding Visor

At this point, we have a really accurate video game prop! We could be done right here, but I wanted to go a step further by making it functional welding helmet. To accomplish this I order a replacement welding shield made out of polycarbonate. This is a super-tinted piece of plastic instead of an auto-darkening piece of specialty glass. The polycarbonate visor was heated in the oven like the acrylic and bent into a curve to match the eyepiece. I used hot glue to lock the welding visor in place and it was ready for action! The big downside of this helmet design is that it doesn’t cover your chin. To be an effective welding helmet, you would definitely want to use a bandana or some kind of cover to protect the rest of your face from sparks or the intense UV light from welding.

It Totally Worked!

Using our prop helmet, I was able to weld just like I could with my regular welding helmet (except that is doesn’t auto-darken). It looked really cool and I’m super happy with how it turned out. Understandably, by combining a prop helmet and a welding mask it isn’t really perfect for either application separately. With the welding visor you can’t really see out of it, and a welding helmet that doesn’t cover your whole face isn’t really practical. Thanks to PUBG Mobile for sponsoring this project and asking us to make this cool prop. It was another great example of recreating something iconic from bare materials.