Halo 2 Anniversary Arbiter Build | The Great Journey Continues!

Zoogami Snowfox

Active Member
I'm finally attempting it!
From the very first time I played Halo 2 in a church, I've been a fan of the Halo Universe.
Although some games have been rocky, the Halo costume community has always been great!

I have learnt most of my build techniques from talented people here on the 405th.
It was actually these forums all the way back in 2011 (10 years... wow I'm old), that originally inspired me to build costumes.

My first attempt at a Pepakura Reach build went horribly wrong, but overall it was a great learning experience.
My second attempt didn't start too well either, but after some friendly advice and research, I think overall the foam build turned out alright.
[Custom Halo 4 Build]
My third attempt allowed me to use what I had learnt so far, to try to make a pre-launch build. Learnt a lot from that one...
[Agent Locke Build]
My fourth attempt (first non-halo build) pushed me to attempt something new and ambitious. What it taught me, was sometimes one can be a little too ambitious.

Past Builds - [1st] Halo Reach Fiberglass Build | [2nd] Halo 4 Spartan Foam Build [Normal/Button Fox] | [3rd] Agent Locke Foam Build | [4th] Khajiiti Werewolf Transformation Build
Zoogami Studios Facebook Cover 2018 End Update.jpg

One build I have always wanted to do was make an elite/sangheili, however I never had the courage to attempt it... until now.

So begins my great journey to make a Halo 2 Anniversary Thel 'Vadam Arbiter Build!

First the game plan.
My goal is to put together a full suit (armour and undersuit) as well as either an Energy Sword or Needle Rifle to wield.
I feel a have a pretty good build outline in place, which I'll go through as it comes together.
I'm hopeful the build won't take too long overall, and aim to have regular updates, so enjoy the ride!

Main Reference Images for the Halo 2 Anniversary Arbiter Model
(1a) The Arbiter Main Reference Pics.jpg

The Great Journey Starts with the First Step - The Stilts
Before I get too crazy, I need to work out the overall height/dimensions.
To do this, a stable base is required, literally.
Looking into other builds, and using Chaos Costumes digital templates to start, using my foot and some paper I sketched up my stilt design.

I noticed a lot of stilt builds tend to use a 45° angle base, however for this build I have ended up going with a 30° base instead.
When measuring up my foot, I felt a 30° stilt will provide me the 'sangheili look' I'm going for while providing more 'comfort' with the lower angled heel.
Once I had got the main design worked out, I put together a cardboard prototype to visually assess the concept.
After a bit more tweaking, an extra base height increase, and some size trimming, I am all ready to make the real thing.

Left to Right - Chaos Costumes References | 30° Stilt Prototype Process (Cardboard)
(2a) Stilt Prototype Progress - Arbiter.jpg

Finalized Cardboard 30° Stilt Prototype
(2b) Stilt Prototype Complete - Arbiter.jpg

I am hoping to smash out the wood version over the weekend so wish me luck!
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So mild success over the weekend.
Wasn't able to completely finish the wooden version of the stilts, but so far so good.

Left to Right - Materials for Wooden Stilts | Stilts so far
(2c) Wooden Stilt Leg - Arbiter.jpg

After a test fit I began to question to myself if these would actually work for an elite.

For full realism I would have to use digitigrade legs, however these would be very impractical to wear at a convention in crowds.
Knowing me, I'd be KO'd to the ground so quick.
The other option was to do a full straight leg design where you add bits to the knee and calf to build out the 'elite leg'.

I plan to meet somewhere in-between.
Using the stilts I can add a good amount of bend in, and plan to use the 'calf armour' to hide the rest.
It won't be perfect, but will be a good and safe compromise.

Sangheili Leg Concept - Foot Stilt with slight bend at knee to create 'illusion' (Purple - Leg, Red - Armour to 'hide' leg)
(3) Wooden Stilt Leg Concept - Arbiter.jpg

Hoping to finish them up soon, in the meantime my hex fabric arrived today :D!

Undersuit Hex Fabric (Supplied from Cosplay Fabrics by Wyla)
Undersuit Hex Fabric - Arbiter.jpg

See you soon!
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Nice! They look pretty dang sturdy. Do you plan to use some sort of bracing to ease the burden on your legs when doing the Sangheili walk?
Love the effort you're putting into documentation. If I'm lucky I might see your cosplay at a con!
Thanks :D It feels great to post here again on the forums after so long. Definitely motivates me to keep working on it!
I haven't got any cons planned as of yet but when the build is complete, I'll 100% be attending some!

As for the stilt support, I've been following Chaos Costumes concept.
The concept uses metal bars on the sides and elastic/springs at the back of the leg.

I do however plan to use a leg strap instead of a plastic knee support for more comfort.
Not sure if it will work just yet, fingers crossed, but I did find some really good elastic strips from Bunnings for 'muscle' support.

Bolts, Glue, Stilts, oh my!
To get my shoes attached, a strong glue resin and bolts were used.
2 holes were surgically cut out of the shoe base for the bolts to sit under the inner sole.
Due to the design of the stilts, the only place I could place these bolts was in the middle line of the shoes.

After some testing I found the front bolt was too painful to wear for even short periods of time.
To resolve this, I removed the front bolt, and replaced it with a strap attached on top.

After the front corners of the stilts were cut back, metal braces were installed on either side of the ankle/heel.
These will connect the metal bars to the leg strap, and in theory will rotate when I change 'walk styles.'

At the back of the heel, a metal ring brace was installed to be used for my elastic strip bands.
In theory, they will act as an extra leg muscle to reduce some burden on the legs while in 'sangheili walk' style.

Left to Right - Bolted Shoes | Shoes Attached to Cut Stilts | Front Bolt Removal |
Lower Metal Braces | Elastic Strip Test | Completed Stilts Pre-foam

(3c) Wooden Stilt Leg Concept - Arbiter.jpg

Once all the pieces were attached, I began to fill the stilt gaps with upholstery foam.
I am finally at the stage to start building out the 'sangheili leg form' with foam, until I ran out of glue sticks...

Left to Right - Gap Filling with Foam | Basic Sangheili Foot Form | Sangheili Feet so far
(4a) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.jpg

Time to get some more glue sticks.
See you soon!
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These Stilts were made for walking, now they look like feet.
One of these days, these stilts are gonna, end up being complete!

Hey all, its been a few days since my last update, got a bit to share.

Bit by bit I have been using upholstery foam to shape the Stilts into their Sangheili Feet counterparts.
The biggest challenge during this stage was to get the feet somewhat symmetrical.

To get the 2nd foot the same size, I traced out the base of the 1st foot.
Before I could start bulking out the overall shape, I need to make a base layer to cover the shoes.
By wearing the stilts, I could glue down the first bits to match the form of my feet.

Once the base layer was applied, the bulking stage began.
After a heap of foam and glue, I had a large enough structure to start carving into.
With a cutting knife, bit by bit the Sangheili's toes started to take shape.

Left to Right - Foot Base Template | 2 Bases Ready for Padding | Shaping the Top of the Shoes |
Base Cover over the Shoes | Bulked out and Ready to Shape | 1st Sangheili Toes Cut Out

(4b) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.jpg

After I had gotten the rough shape done on the 1st foot, I started bulking out the 2nd.
Overall I would say the 2nd was a lot harder to shape due to needing it to 'match' the 1st foot's form.

Left to Right - Symmetrical Toe Cutting | 2nd Foot Ready for Carving | Both Sangheili Feet Ready for the Next Stage
(4c) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.jpg

After a quick walk test, I am quite happy with the overall look.

The next stage is to smooth them out with a 2mm layer of craft foam (like what I did with my previous Khajiit head build).

Sangheili Feet - Prepped for Smoothing with Craft Foam
(4d) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.jpg

Foam Stilt Walking Test 2

Hope you like :D
See you soon!
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Love react for this part alone, double love react for the awesome job! What's your plan for skinning and texturing?
Couldn't help myself :lol:, glad it made you laugh!

Good news with the skin/texturing is that except for the head, the arbiters body is covered with his undersuit.
I plan to use the hex fabric for the texture, however I need to run a few tests on the material first.
In-game the undersuit is more grey/blue, so I'll need to see if dyeing or spraying the fabric will work best.
Looking to make the hex more 3D as well, more on that soon.
*screams* Those look so good! I am so excited to watch you bring him to life! I never thought I would see the Arbiter in real life and you are making my dream come true! Keep up the good work!
Thankyou! I hope I live up to the hype!
I love to see any feedback/ support while posting, its half the fun of the build. :D

Just a quick update today.
To get the stilts more in line with Arby's feet, I needed to cut the back out.
My biggest concern was balance. What if I cut them and the stilts become too easy to fall over in....

With a bit of measuring and luck, I can safely say it worked perfectly!
No loss of balance, in fact they even weigh less now so more easy to walk in. Phew...

Arby's Foot Comparison - In-game to Real Life.
(5a) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.JPG

Now to finish shaping these out.
See you soon!
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Been a few days since my last update.
Progress on Arby's feet have been going well.
Due to the lockdown progress has been a little slower, but alas the build continues on.

Feet Shaping -
As I was shaping out the back of the feet, I felt the toes were still too big especially when you account for the armour.
Once I was happy with the new shape, I started skinning the foot with 2mm Craft Foam.
This will allow the fabric to sit smoother over the foot.

Arby's Left Foot - Toes & Base Shape Finalised
(5b) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.JPG

Arby's Left Foot - Craft Foam Skinning so far
(5c) Leg Stilt Foam Process - Arbiter.JPG

Knee Pad -
For knee and leg support while wearing the stilts, I went with a leg strap instead of a plastic knee piece.
I did this mainly for more overall comfort, while it will also be easier to attach the metal bars and elastic.

I started by duct-tape wrapping my leg to draw out the rough concept design.
Once I had a rough idea for the leg strap, I transferred the taped pieces onto paper.
After some finalising the design, using my new paper templates, I cut out the fabric pieces.
For extra strength, I added fusing to some pieces.

Left to Right - Duct Tape Concept | Leg Strap Pieces Mock-up |
Finalised Paper Design | Leg Strap Patterns Ready for Fabric | Fabric Pieces + Fusing Ready for Sewing

(6a) Knee Pad Process - Arbiter.JPG

I forgot to account for the extra width for the join to overlap, however I was able to fix this by sewing on and extra piece.
Velcro was used for the join, and some foam padding was placed in the knee piece.
I still need to sew on the pieces to join the metal bars to the sides, but I need to wait until I finish shaping the stilts first.

Left to Right - Finalised Leg Strap with Foam Knee Padding | Metal Bars / Elastic Placement
(6b) Knee Pad Process - Arbiter.JPG

Until next time, Arby out!
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Update Time!
The stilts haven't been worked on too much these past 2 weeks, its been more of a research & testing session for the Arbiter's undersuit fabrics.

All the Fabric Tests...
Part A - Dyeing

From Spotlight I found a suitable material for the undersuits 'leather strips' called Zephyr Vinyl PVC.
The Gunmetal colour was the closest I could get to Arby's in-game model, however I was hoping to fix that with some fabric dye's.
After a good amount of research into synthetic fabrics, I picked up some Rit Dye, and a really large pot.
I went with the 2 different blues, Kentucky Sky & Sapphire Blue.
Following Rit's instructional dyeing videos, the PVC fabric changed colour really well, however the hex fabric was unaffected.

Left to Right - PVC Original Fabric Colour | Big Pot with lots of Dye | PVC New Fabric Colours
(7a) Fabric Dye Tests.jpg

Part B - Vinyl Sprays
After looking into other ways to recolour the hex fabric, I came across a solution via Dupli-Color Vinyl & Fabric Spray.
I applied a few coats to each sample, and the colours were turning out great, until they had dried...
Although the colour had changed well, the spray coatings made the fabric quite solid, so much that the flexibility was majorly reduced.
A lack of movement like this would cause a ripple effect later through the build, so it was back to more testing.

Left to Right - Hex Fabric After Dyeing | Fabric Samples with a few different spray colours
(7b) Fabric Spray Tests.jpg

Fabric Samples - Before & After Dyeing/ Spray Coats
(7c) Fabric Samples.jpg

Part C - 3d Hex Shaping
While researching into fabric dyes and sprays, I had an idea in theory that would make the hexagon fabric look more 3d.
One method was to make my own hexagon mold to cast latex sheets.
The benefit would let me have a 3d hex shaped undersuit that more actually matched the Arbiter's in-game model.
This however was outweighed by my own inexperience with latex, while the Hex fabric I had already bought, would be put to waste.
(From what I could find, latex can't be sewn either.)

My second idea, was to use craft foam to 'shape' the hexagon fabric.
I could do this by cutting out holes and gluing the fabric's hex fillings down.
After testing a few different glues including super glue, pva, and hot glue, I couldn't get it to 'sit' well.
It was after this I came across Selleys Kwik Grip Adhesive Spray, that would in theory work perfectly.

Using a basic hex pattern from google images, I modified it in Photoshop to match the fabrics hexagon shape, before duplicating the pattern to cover a full A4 sheet of paper.
Once printed, I began the tedious task of cutting out all the hexagon fillings, before using the now cut out template to trace the pattern onto craft foam to cut out once more. So many hexagons...
After the hexagons had been cut out in craft foam, I used the adhesive to join it to a back foam piece, and then onto the fabric itself.
As the adhesive start to set, I used a metal stick to press each hex fill down.

I will need to adjust the hexagon template to make it match the fabric pattern better, but overall it worked surprisingly well!

Left to Right - Hexagon Template Printed Out | Paper Hex Fills Cut Out | Craft Foam Hex Fills Cut Out | Joined to the Fabric via Adhesive
(7d) Fabric 3d Shaping Test.jpg

Here's a quick video of the Hexagon Fabric in motion after the adhesive set!
Hex Fabric 3d Test

Now to get back to those pesky stilts...
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Zach 009 said:
Yeah, that's pretty badass, I looking forward to your build!
Thankyou :lol: I hope I don't disappoint with the finished build!

Hey again been a little while, I'm still here working away on the build.
Feels like only a small update today, even though I've had quite the struggle with symmetry.

Before I worked on the 1st foot more, I wanted to get Arby's 2nd foot up to the same stage.
To do this I needed to cut away the excess foam and fill in any gaps left behind.

The whole symmetry process was quite painful.
Every time I thought I was done, I would look at it from another angle to see I was not.
Over the past few weeks I've been chipping away at it, while going through 3 Hot Glue Guns (they kept popping) in the process.

Arbiters Feet - The Struggle of Symmetry
(8a) Leg Stilt Symetrical Shaping.jpg

Once I was finally satisfied with the shaping, I could finally rest and watch the sun rise over a... wait wrong universe.

Arbiter's Feet - Shaped to Match the Best I could
(8b) Leg Stilt Symetrical Shaping.jpg

Using a Heat Gun, I applied the 'skin' to the base of the second foot.
This will act as a smooth base to attach the hexagon fabric onto later.

Arbiter's Feet - Appling the Craft Foam 'Skin' Base
(8c) Leg Stilt Symetrical Shaping.jpg

Now that I had both feet's base shape the same, the next step is to finish shaping them up to the knee.
To get a better look at the overall form, I first bent the metal supports into shape to better match my leg.

Once I had shaped the bars, I retraced out the 'fabric pockets' the bars will sit in, onto the leg brace.
After a little sewing and a test fit, I now have a better idea how to tackle the next step, however I still need to join the elastic strap to the back.
I am happy with the functionality of the design so far though.

Arby's Left Foot - Shaped Metal Bars attached to the Leg Brace Test Fit
(9a) Knee Pad Join Test.jpg

I still have a ways to go with the stilts, but I feel the most painful part is behind me.
Any minor imperfections left behind will be 'fixed' once I apply the hex fabric and armour on top.

Until next time, Arby out!
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