This is a rewrite of my original build log on Roosterteeth.com, which is available here: http://roosterteeth.com/members/jour...php?id=3273701
Due to the 405th.com limit of 25 images per post, this will be posted in multiple parts, as I migrate all the pictures across.
I have been cosplaying for a few years now, first as Cloud Strife from FFVII: Advent Children, then as a future concept on Assassins Creed, and earlier this year as Deathstroke from the TV Series Arrow. I have always admired and wanted to do a Spartan suit, but at the time it seemed above my level. At that stage, I could only find tutorials and walkthroughs on the Pepakura method, and I tried it for a bit -but the sizing was wrong, it wouldn't stay together - I gave up after about a week, and threw the parts away.
I was inspired to go ahead and do it by Danielle, a fellow cosplayer and Roo-Teether at Sydney Supanova 2014, in early June. She had made a full Halo 4 Master Chief costume from EVA foam, which looked incredible, just…amazing. I resolved then, to try the Spartan suit again - this time, from foam.
But which character? Well, Season 12 had just started, and Felix was new, he was badass, he was a good guy – and the episode where he throws the knife and then just says “I am ****ing AWESOME”..?
I did a quick Google search, and found some reference images, and set to work in my mind. The upper pieces like the helmet and chest were a bit daunting to look at, so I thought I would start at the bottom, with the feet. I had some steel-cap boots from Masters that I had left over from Deathstroke, so I would build the boots around them.
I started by heading down to my local foam and rubber store, and checking out some of the foam they had there. I ended up getting some thin, blue foam (which, in hindsight, is the WRONG foam to use for detailing – I’ll explain why later). I had some leftover lengths of thicker black foam from my Assassin’s Creed costume, so I used the small pieces I had to make up a single boot.
I made the black pieces just from guestimating the size/proportion, based on the pictures (also wrong – don’t worry, I’m getting to it!) I felt pretty good about it, so I also made some arm pieces, and started the shin pieces.
I also ordered some Plasti-Dip spray, which was apparently the stuff that was the best for using to seal foam armour. I coated the pieces in a decently thick coat of Plasti-Dip, and left it overnight. Next morning, it looked….WRONG. It was all bubbled, wonky, just really bad quality.
This disheartened me a fair bit, so I went back to examining YouTube, 405th.com and asking anywhere I could find. After a few nights researching, I came up with my lessons learnt.
1. Wrong Foam. I had been using 3mm black foam, which, apparently, wasn’t EVA foam.
2. Wrong detailing foam. The blue foam I had gotten was really soft, like pool foam or the side of a trampoline. It had no resistance to Plasti-Dip, and was also “open cell foam” – meaning it bled air underneath the Plasti-Dip, making it bubble and lumpy.
3. Foam needs to be treated and sealed first. Plasti-Dip will not stick straight on to foam – the foam needs to be sealed first, to give a firm surface to stick to.
After the hard lessons learned, it was time for a new method.
The Right Stuff
The first step in the new method was the proper foam. I bought a four pack of grey 5mm EVA foam floor mats, like giant jigsaw pieces. Clark Rubber is much more expensive than Bunnings for getting EVA foam, but for some reason, the Bunnings here in Canberra only sold EVA foam with giant holes in it – not solid. So, I paid much more extra, but got the stuff I need. I also invested in a good Bosch glue gun, as I knew by now that my $5 one wasn’t going to cut it. I also got some 2mm craft foam from Riot Art and Craft, for detailing. Then, I sought out some better reference images.
Using YouTubeDownloader, I downloaded local copies of Red vs Blue Season 12 Eps 1 – 5 in 1080p, which I then played in VLC and used the ScreenCap function to pull very large-scale stills of Felix. It became apparent that the “Machinima" model and the “VFX” model were quite different close up – the Machinima model was the one in normal, head-bobbing conversations, rendered in Halo 4 – but the VFX model was the one rendered for non-standard visual effects and motions, like martial arts, the knife throwing or throwing the caught grenade back to Tucker.
Machinima/Halo 4 Version
It's subtle, but you can definitely tell the difference - particularly around the crotch plate, the boots and the shoulders.
With these caps, I decided to attempt the helmet. It came out ok…but given that I used an old Motorcycle visor, the rest of the helmet looked very rounded, and I deemed it a failure. Tossed it, and moved on.
The failed helmet:
Bonus: the visor, before I cut it to fit:
Shortly after this, I retrieved some Pepakura unfolds of the armour sets from 405th.com (with some help from Danielle and Jordan on finding the right ones), and loaded them up in Pepakura Designer for close comparison and modelling. The armour set for Felix, from the RVB Wikia page, is:
Arms: Twin Plated
Legs: XG-89 Narrow
Weapon: Halo 4 DMR, and Halo 4 Sticky Detanator
A useful tool I discovered later on is the ability to measure between two points on a model (in the 2D menu). However, this relies on the model being scaled correctly. I would first measure a reference with my own body (like the width of my head for the helmet, the width of my shoulders for the chest), and increase the scale of the Pepakura model until it matched. With this done, rather than printing out the unfold and tracing it, I just measured a piece in Pep Designer, drew the measurements on to a piece of foam, and cut away.
In terms of tools, I upgraded from a Stanley knife to an Xacto knife from Officeworks, with a load of spare blades from a craft shop, and also invested in a hotknife/wood burning kit from Bunnings. The hot knife is pretty much a soldering iron with an attachment for Xacto knife blades, and is awesome at making clean, long cuts, and making detailed cuts into the middle of pieces.
I also used the back (blunt) edge of the hotknife to “score” or melt fine lines into pieces, to give a much more fine level of detail than sanding or straight out carving it in. This was particularly good for the arms, thighs and armour skill plates.
Given the right tools, it was time to start again.
My tried and true method now for each piece, is as follows:
- Load up the model in Pepakura Designer
- Decide what pieces will be layered, and measure/trace the base pieces onto paper.
- Measure the paper pieces against your own body for scaling, and trace onto the foam.
- Cut out the pieces using a knife. Test against your own body for scaling, and cut or sand back to scale.
- Sand and grind the base pieces, bevel edges, and glue together. Test against body again.
- Trace detailing lines and cut out recesses/cutouts/details.
- Cut and glue thin detailing foam as necessary.
- Optional: glue mounting studs to back of pieces.
Now that I had a new method, I set to the REAL work.
I re-cut the boot pieces, and fitted them roughly together – looked much more bulky by comparison. Excellent.
After this, I started on the thighs – the first ones were far too angular, being from two separate pieces glued together.
I tried again, with one piece wrapped around – much better.
To add some solidarity, I made some inner-thigh pieces, and glued them at the front, but attached with black elastic at the back, for comfort and some expansion while I walked. Given that I don’t exactly have the smallest thighs, I was concerned over how they could go rubbing against each other – and whether I’d have to walk like a cowboy. Thankfully, they fit pretty well.
Next, I completed the crotch piece, butt plate and the armor skill/shield for the small of the back. I based the crotch on the VFX model, which I ended up changing later.
Not pictured, I made two small plates that go between the thighs and crotch plate. These pieces are both stenciled into the undersuit and are usually attached straight to the thighs, but I made them separate so I could sit down/bend down easier.
Around this time, I got my SnakePit Studios undersuit in the mail. It was super expensive, but I got it on sale at $380 as opposed to $500, and it was worth ever cent. It looks fantastic, it’s super comfortable and really light and durable.
At the same time, I cut some small plates from the craft foam for gloves, and stuck them on to some old ski gloves I had. The fingertips are capacitive, so they work with touchscreens and smartphones.
Next, I made up the shoulder pieces. They stuck out quite a lot, but I made them hollow for fitting of lights later. It was actually surprising difficult to figure out how to do the bicep part without it looking too big, bulky or out of place.
In hindsight, they’re probably a bit small, but they fit decently. I initially only had elastic around the back to keep them on, but I ended up having to also put 4 press studs to keep them up. With this combination, they were very solid.
After the progress I had made in learning and redoing pieces, I decided to re-do the arm pieces with the right foam. I didn’t need to make any design revision, just copy the same design.
I initially glued the base piece together into a full tube only at the back, keeping the front separated to expand for my hands to get through. This still ended up being very tight, so I separated it and glued some elastic over the front, so it could expand a bit more, but still stay on.
I also attached a press stud at the join between the back “wing” and the base tube piece, to keep them from sliding off my arms.
At this point, I had a pretty bad setback – I accidentally gave myself a second-degree burn on the inside of my right thumb. This happened when I went to grab the hotknife, and my thumb slipped over the edge of the guard. Out of the game for a few days.
Part 2 to follow.