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  1. Hugh Holder's Avatar
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    Apr 27, 2012, 5:22 PM - Hugh's Mass Effect II N7 Armor #1

    I have been receiving a lot of messages about my N7 armor progress, how it was built, and what I used to make it. So I decided it would probably be a better idea to just post that information here for all to see rather than continue to answer messages one by one! I don't have a blog or another build thread, but if you like my work, would like to see updates on what I do, and have a facebook account you can find me here:


    So I have been wanting to make a set of this armor for a long time, but I just never had a moment to sit down and actually start it. In fact, this project actually began by accident. I was able to acquire the game model rip of part of Shepard's armor from Mass Effect 3 and was trying to develop a workflow that would allow me to source texture information from photos and imbed it into a 3D object's texture space. Long story short, I wanted to compare ME2 texture to ME3 then decided to see how good a 1024 resolution image actually printed via Pepakura.

    Yes, I know - another "pepakura" build. Not REAL prop building, blah blah or whatever elitists say these days. To each their own - I've been adapting all sorts of software I use in my career to help me build cool things on my free time (including digital sculpting packages) and Pepakura is a very useful way to quickly bring templates to scale and print off. While I could use illustrator to create beautiful vector images and scale them to print, with an established scale between my 3D modeling software and Pepakura already set up I don't have to double check my measurements. So to be honest, I've stopped using Pepakura for paper builds and actually only use it to develop full scale templates for other materials - in this case, foam.

    Which at this point I should mention that I DID NOT MODEL any of the original 3D objects mentioned in this project. As far as I know these were sourced directly from the game. Typically, I prefer to do my own modeling because I find that sourced models do not have the proper edge flow for real world building. But in this case, I was provided the texture maps with a model that still had UV texture information. So it turned out to be an invaluable resource to use in construction. And because these aren't my original models they are available for free

    Before I go into the details I would like to thank EvilFX and the rest of the talented artists who pioneered this build method and sharing their discoveries with the materials used. Here is a link to the blog of EvilFX and Volpin which I used for research before starting my project. Thanks!

    N7 Armor Build by Evil FX
    N7 Armor by Volpin

    What is the goal?

    This

    Alright, cool. Now lets talk about how to get there. I used those EVA interlocking foam mats you keep hearing about. They really aren't that rare, they just seem to be overlooked a lot and placed in different departments of different stores. Mostly because no one seems to have any clear knowledge of how or when they are supposed to be used. I've found them in Target, Walt-Mart, Harbor Freight, Ebay, and Amazon.

    Templates, Blueprints, & Patterns

    So you have patterns and foam. Wait, you don't have templates you say? Evil FX and Volpin made their own? Oh yeah, there is a really cool guy on the RPF (and 405th I think) Named Narayas that was kind enough to do that for you...


    Be aware that he created those in illustrator/photoshop and he has detailed a way to scale and print those properly on his blog mentioned in his thread. So you'll have to do more reading, sorry bro.

    But if you don't want to use those and aren't below using the primitive build-by-numbers ways of Pepakura then I guess you can use the plans that I slaved over..


    They are pretty simple. There are NO TABS, this isn't a paper build. The only tabs that are active are only active because you are supposed to attach those two parts together to make a larger template to trace on your material.

    I didn't pay attention in school and can't measure, TELL ME HOW!


    Well, I can't help you with that. But for me I just made a 3D mannequin based off of my own nearly naked body (sorry, you gotta use your own) and scaled that within Maya. Then I take whatever object, in this case the entire N7 Shepard Armor and scale it up to my height. I actually didn't scale the parts individually to fit me. I find that if you scale each part to fit specific areas of your body then you always end up looking like an alien grey. So I took a chance and scaled the entire armor grouped to 72 inches and prayed that it would fit. Turns out that at my height, Commander Shepard and I have similar builds except he has a much smaller head and feet, sucka.


    I should also mention that I didn't just take the model as is and scale it up. The model imported triangulated, and since Maya's quad function NEVER works for me I had to clean up the parts manually. I also took the liberty of deleting the under suit and "soft" parts that weren't going to need templates. There were also times where I had to split polygons and change the actual 3D model to properly follow the texture. Thankfully these are problems that you don't have to worry about


    Using the first image of the thread, along with other turnaround sheets that I made, I was able to print off reference pages to have available as I worked in shop. These gave me good visual ques on how far parts should sit from one another.

    Build Time


    As I mentioned before. The project kind of took on a life of it's own. I started with a gauntlet and biceps using left over foam from another project. The next thing I know I'm stealing my girlfriend's dress form to keep all of the parts off of the floor.

    As far as building it, there is no trick to it. The templates only really give you an outline and you have to figure out how to get the part to look the part and fit where it is supposed to. There are no easy answers unfortunately. The best advice I can give you is to take your time, try to build one part every 1-2 days, and constantly look at your reference.


    And yes, that helmet is made of foam. The only reason I decided to go with the open face helm initially was so that I could drink my beer comfortably at DragonCon. But, turns out I don't really like wearing an oven on my head very long anyways and I thought that I might be able to upgrade it to the "Breather" version.


    Which I could, neat! That helmet is about 118 different parts and took about six hours to build. The entire suit is at about 104 hours for the main assembly.

    It kind of feels like building with LEGOS, only you have to measure and cut out your legos and sometimes they don't fit perfectly together so you just have to force that s*** to work - actually, it's nothing at all like LEGOS. But DO think of each small part as a puzzle




    And so over the weekend I began the 2nd phase of the project. Next up is sealing, painting, and weathering. Only because I want a darker look and the foam was a bit too light for me.

    Updates to come. Thanks for reading and good luck on your projects!
    Last edited by Hugh Holder; Apr 28, 2012 at 8:26 PM.
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  3. liquid6's Avatar
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    liquid6's Xbox Gamertag liquid6
    Apr 27, 2012, 5:37 PM - #2

    ......!!!!! oh my
  4. 405th Midwest Regiment Member mkshane81's Avatar
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    mkshane81's Xbox Gamertag mkshane81
    Apr 27, 2012, 6:45 PM - #3

    I've been following this on facebook as well, and this is just an absolutely great build Hugh!! I know you've slaved over this project, as you so elequently put it, and I know that I'm not alone when I say Thank You for sharing it with the rest of us. This is definitely another inspirational build. Job well done sir!!

    -Matt
  5. CoolC's Avatar
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    Apr 27, 2012, 7:10 PM - #4

    All I can say is I'm speechless... Really amazing work as usual.
  6. New Recruit
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    Apr 27, 2012, 7:18 PM - #5

    That's... nice.
  7. Valcara's Avatar
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    Apr 27, 2012, 9:31 PM - #6

    looks really awsome, its great you posted so many reffrence links. i love where this is going!
  8. New Recruit xSURR3NDERx's Avatar
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    Apr 27, 2012, 10:41 PM - #7

    Wow! I'm really liking what everyone is doing with the foam! I'm too stuck on the old school myself but I think I may have to try this stuff out.
  9. Member Since
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    Apr 28, 2012, 6:01 AM - #8

    I think this is the first foam N7 helmet I've seen... and it's amazing! Can't wait to see it all painted and weathered...
  10. 405th Midwest Regiment Member thorn696's Avatar
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    Apr 28, 2012, 7:05 AM - #9

    Epic work of art. Love it.
  11. Remraf's Avatar
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    Remraf's Xbox Gamertag Remraf27
    Apr 28, 2012, 12:27 PM - #10

    It looks like you covered the places where raw edges of foam showed with another material. Smart. What did you use for that?
  12. Hugh Holder's Avatar
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    Apr 28, 2012, 1:02 PM - #11

    Thanks everyone

    Originally Posted by Remraf View Post
    It looks like you covered the places where raw edges of foam showed with another material. Smart. What did you use for that?
    I didn't actually cover the raw edges, at least that wasn't my intent. It is actually 3mm styrene that I cut out and glue on the edges of the foam to work as a "guide" that makes the part hold its shape. If you look at my first shoulder bells you can see a very distinct seam line where the two parts lock together. That line was exaggerated when I used a heat gun to shape it. So I decided to stop using a heat gun and rebuilt the shoulder bells. Since then I've used styrene to form complex curves in foam. It takes longer than just heating the part but it keeps the build cleaner.

    Also, I used the adjacent edges of the actual 3D model to serve as a template for those styrene edge guides. So in a way I was using every part of the original 3D model. If you look at the neck guard it has a distinct "U" shape to it, not necessarily just a round curve. If you pay attention to those subtle things in your build then all of the parts will start to fit together very well.
    Last edited by Hugh Holder; Apr 28, 2012 at 1:06 PM.
  13. Sky_Walker's Avatar
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    Apr 28, 2012, 4:25 PM - #12

    beautiful...
  14. Remraf's Avatar
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    Remraf's Xbox Gamertag Remraf27
    Apr 28, 2012, 7:19 PM - #13

    Originally Posted by Hugh Holder View Post
    Thanks everyone



    I didn't actually cover the raw edges, at least that wasn't my intent. It is actually 3mm styrene that I cut out and glue on the edges of the foam to work as a "guide" that makes the part hold its shape. If you look at my first shoulder bells you can see a very distinct seam line where the two parts lock together. That line was exaggerated when I used a heat gun to shape it. So I decided to stop using a heat gun and rebuilt the shoulder bells. Since then I've used styrene to form complex curves in foam. It takes longer than just heating the part but it keeps the build cleaner.

    Also, I used the adjacent edges of the actual 3D model to serve as a template for those styrene edge guides. So in a way I was using every part of the original 3D model. If you look at the neck guard it has a distinct "U" shape to it, not necessarily just a round curve. If you pay attention to those subtle things in your build then all of the parts will start to fit together very well.
    Still smart, even if it was for another reason. I that's a good idea about using those pep pieces for the guides. I usually just ignore those when doing foam builds. Thanks for the tips.
  15. New Recruit
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    May 7, 2012, 3:08 AM - #14

    I am going to start building a N7 armor set soon and i want to know roughly how much 60cmX60cm sheets doest it take for the full armor. As I am not going to use floor mats, but rather order directly from the importing company. I can order 1mX1,5m sheets and thick from 2mm to 30mm. And since I have such a wide choice of thickness, I wonder should i use a different thickness that that of the floor mats everyone is using?
    Last edited by Hextoza; May 7, 2012 at 3:40 AM.
  16. Cinderblock's Avatar
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    May 7, 2012, 3:12 PM - #15

    this build is amazing, as fuuu lol my little brother wants a set of this armor, and your build is going to help me with making it soooo much.
  17. Hugh Holder's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 11:14 AM - #16

    Thanks everyone!

    Here is somewhat of an update on the project/s:

    So while also working on another 3D rifle, along with the two costumes I need to get done, I have slowly been working on developing this little guy.

    The model was sculpted in ZBrush and broken down into several parts. Each part is a Dynamesh 3D object. I plan on laying them out as a sheet and combining them together with smaller dynamesh cylinders - forming a layout similar to a model kit.



    So, hopefully that will all work out. I have ordered one of Zander's AMAZING Mattock kits, bought all of the painting supplies, and am anxiously waiting to get started on that.

    The N7 Armor is halfway sealed and ready for painting. Not much to show on that front. I will be uploading images of everything once I get the new ear parts installed on the helmet. Speaking of which..

    I sculpted (the biggest breath mints in the world) as one friend said and had them printed up.



    The price was good and the quality was better than expected. I had to sand everything down before casting the parts but everything came together perfectly.

    I have also had to start on the Ashley armor for my girlfriend. All of the patterns are unfolded and ready to go. We actually got the arms finished in a couple hours. Pics on that are coming as well once we can do a test fit.



    Thanks all!
  18. 405th Midwest Regiment Member mkshane81's Avatar
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    mkshane81's Xbox Gamertag mkshane81
    Jun 16, 2012, 12:14 PM - #17

    Nice update Hugh, looks like you've been busy lately.

    -Matt
  19. 405th Mountain Regiment Member ACDCrockr209's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 1:03 PM - #18

    Can't wait to see some pics of the armor, bro!
  20. Hugh Holder's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 6:44 PM - #19

    New helmet pic! Installed the new ear parts. Looks much better!

  21. Toja's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 8:18 PM - #20

    deluxe, This is very good
  22. Annanymous's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 9:03 PM - #21

    those details are stunning!
  23. onmi shift's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2012, 10:32 PM - #22

    how did you tranfser the file from maya to pepakura? i use maya at school but then again im still learning.
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    Jun 18, 2012, 5:25 PM - #23

    WOW. Hugh, this is amazing! i wish i was that good with foam working! i think i might be tackling this one after my odst (i used your helmet, and it turned out fantasticly!)
  25. Hugh Holder's Avatar
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    Jun 22, 2012, 8:29 PM - #24

    Putting the pvc armature to the test right away this afternoon. Makes it easier than flipping the part over. I went ahead and added some holes for the belt strap to feed through, assembled the latches for those straps (which will be attached later), and installed the straps running over the shoulders.

    One other thing that bugged me was the lower back area. It didn't follow the curvature of my back like it does on Shepard. So I did what any reasonable person would do and cut a 9 inch piece of metal, bent it into an S shape, and attached it. Sitting is overrated anyway. The metal bar is actual very light and easy to manipulate so it can be adjusted. It's also pretty easy to remove if I have an Oh God Why moment.

    The First layer of sealer is down. This might get expensive...




  26. 405th Midwest Regiment Member mkshane81's Avatar
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    mkshane81's Xbox Gamertag mkshane81
    Jun 23, 2012, 10:05 AM - #25

    This continues to look great Hugh, nice update buddy. I'm excited to see this thing finished.

    -Matt

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