Pepakura Kraft cardstock build (Custom, MK7 inspired)


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Following the success of my helmet build, I wanted to continue working with the same materials to create additional pieces. Mark VII armor looks fantastic, and the cosplay guide really won me over, however the only community files available were tailored for foam builds. Having worked with foam plenty of times, I just didn't want that for this build. Further, my helmet took a long time to build, and I don't have that kind of time for the rest of the suit.

One of my favorite parts of the helmet was the detail I achieved by modifying pattern pieces, laser cutting them, and applying to the exterior. I wanted to try doubling down on that technique, and thought the arms would be a good place to start. I decided to design my own armor, heavily inspired by Mark VII. The goal would be simpler geometry to save time over normal pepakura files, and would allow for layered details.

At present I've pretty much completed the bicep and forearm pieces for each arm, though I'll be waiting to paint them until additional components are complete.

Materials and Method

As with my helmet, the base of these pieces was created with 250gsm kraft cardstock. Unlike the helmet, most of the detail pieces were made with laser cut pieces of 350gsm kraft cardstock. This stuff is notably thicker and more rigid.

Everything was glued together with thinned TiteBond II wood glue. I painted this on pieces that were put together, and as a surface sealer, adding many coats to everything. In the end the assemblies feel solid and strong, with only a bit of flex at some edges. This will go away with future additions, and will be helped as well by the paint I use.

Getting Started

I began with biceps, and modeled several versions in Sketchup. Once I was pretty happy with the basic shape I used Blender and an addon to export the model as a papercraft pdf. I used Illustrator to organize and clean up the output, and printed it onto 250gsm kraft cardstock. The image below hand cut and prepared for assembly. The main structure of each bicep is only 8 pieces. I chose to output extra pieces (pictured on the bottom and far right) thinking I'd add them all to help hold the shape. I used some for this purpose, but not all.



After assembling each chunk of 3 pieces, I designed a 'kit' of extra parts to go on both the inside and outside. This was laser cut, and separated into piles of like parts.



Pile o' bits ready, I began to assemble the details and layers. This stuff is 350gsm card, and is quite heavy. This is a blessing and a curse, as it adds a ton of strength and more depth per piece, but also requires a lot of effort to bend over edges or into recesses.



Getting the card into that recessed fold was such a pain that I cut every followup piece, with the hope that glue and sandpaper and paint will hide the evidence.


Up next: shoulder attachment and assembly.
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I knew I wanted removable shoulder armor, and after a bit of testing I decided to use magnets for this. My first step was to design attachment pieces for each bicep. These resemble the Mark VII look, though they're more shallow, and the 'hook' element is flat, as an angled piece wasn't necessary.



Once these bits were in place, I moved to assemble each chunk of the biceps.



Intentionally designed these to leave space for padding and possibly some additional card to round out the 'chunky' look of armor pieces. I took my time assembling these as to add plenty of reinforcement on the inside- and allowing for easier addition of pieces like the below triangles to fill out part of the side armor plate.




Once glued, not even final strength.


And this is their 'pretty complete' stage. I'm going to add some thin pieces across the gap at the edges on the front and back for a tiny bit of strength and the 'chunky' illusion. I'll also probably add a bit of putty later, and further smooth some of the edges.

Next up: The shoulder armor attachment and forearms.
Magnets in action. Shoulder attachments can be reasonably heavy.


Using the design I'd created for the bicep side of the attachment I worked up a reverse version to go inside shoulder elements.


The magnets are 1.5cm x 1mm, and I stacked 2 up on the bicep and the shoulder attachments, meaning that each side ends up with 8 magnets when assembled.



If needed, I can add extra bits to the top to further stabilize shoulder armor, but for now things seem pretty sturdy. I'll move on to shoulder armor soon, though I'm not sure how much I can do before I leave the country for Summer.

I could have sworn I had some earlier photos of the forearms, but this is the earliest I've got.


This is a continued learning process for what constitutes 'easy and fast' assembly, but I'm optimistic about the rest of the armor steadily taking less time to design and produce.



These pieces are now in the same rough place as the biceps, with some putty needed to fill a few weird edges, but overall looking cool. Based on how cool the inset elements look I think I'll add something like that to the cutouts on the biceps- it's a little detail but will go a long way toward reinforcing the 'this is metal and a real piece of armor' illusion once painted.
Wow this is a really interesting way to build armour! It seems it would be a lot less forgiving than foam because cardstock doesn't stretch at all. Looks great tho!
That armor looks amazing! I am also very jealous of the access to a fun laser cutter like that.
Wow this is a really interesting way to build armour! It seems it would be a lot less forgiving than foam because cardstock doesn't stretch at all. Looks great tho!
The final product is very rigid, and I'll be adding padding to the interior of most of the armor later in the process. I may end up making some pieces with foam, such as the butt plate, and will certainly use foam for any 'softer' connections, such as the parts of the chest that directly touch my body.

That armor looks amazing! I am also very jealous of the access to a fun laser cutter like that.
It's a really cool piece of equipment, and I can't really see not having one in the future, despite the cost.
A couple quick updates today. I've added some bits to the top of the shoulder mounts to add a bit of extra stability. If needed I can add more to 'cap off' the mounts, but at present I think they'll hold just fine.

I also created hand plates. I haven't trimmed down or sanded them yet, just painted a bunch of glue. This is the last bit of armor I'll be finishing before leaving the country for 6 weeks, but I expect to spend some time modeling pieces when I'm away.


Without foam these two can be tricky to brace in position!

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