New guy here, with a few questions...

IAmTheSenate19

New Member
Hi, I've been wanting to make my own spartan armor for some time now, and I'm planning on getting everything prepared to start soon. I hope to make the Mk. V gen 1 E.O.D. helmet from Reach and I'm still deciding on the armor. But before I begin, I had a few questions that I was hoping someone could answer for me.

1. I've seen lots of people use either paper or foam for their armor and helmets. Is one preferred over or better than the other?
2. If I use foam, do assemble the armor and helmet differently than I would with paper?
3. Once I've finished the helmet, what should I make the visor out of and how? I haven't seen anyone talk about how to make/ how they made their visors.
4. Should I be concerned about size? I'm a somewhat small guy at 5'7", so I was wondering if I had to scale anything to fit me.
5. How much money should I expect to pay for materials? I'm not on a tight budget, I just need to know what to expect.

Thank you in advance for all your help!
 

RandomRanger

Armory Assistant
Community Staff
Hi IAmTheSenate19, Welcome to the 405th!

In a broad sense, the best way I think we can answer your questions right now is to direct you to the tutorial index and new comers pages.
Tutorial Index
New Recruit FAQ
Now, I know these aren't a spoon-fed way of answering your questions, and I'm currently working on developing a more... well spoon-fed tutorial/education system on this stuff but that is a long ways away so this is still the best bet.
Now, I'll do the best I can to answer your questions with the assumption you'll read at least some of the tutorial index:

1) A lot of people do foam, paper isn't really used as a finished product but rather as a stepping stone towards making a suit out of fiberglass. My understanding is that foam is easier and (subjectively) more fun, while fibreglass is more work, more durable, and has more room for high detail. Idk which is more expensive, I've only done foam.
2) I think this is partly up to you, as I'm personally a fan of freehanding stuff instead of following a model, but I know there are foam versions of many armor files that allow you to assemble it in a simliar way to the paper verions (pepakura files).
3) This is best covered in the tutorial index
4) You will definitely have to do scaling regaurdless of which approach you take, and personally I think it's one of the most important steps.
5) Obviously this varies, but for my foam build I believe I spent under $400. I have a full list of my parts here: Soft Parts - Resource Thread - Gloves, Boots, Compression Shirts & Pants, and More, but to eyeball it it was about $100 foam, $100 tools, $100 paint, $40 for a store bought helm, and some other stuff.

All that said, I've so far only made one suit, and there are plenty of people here with more experience than I with valuable input, many of which have a tutorial on that index.
 

Sean Anwalt

RCO
405th Regiment Officer
Answer: it ALL depends. But you can make a suit for less than $400. Depends how much you want to pour into it and how hard you want to work on it. Foam floor mats at harbor freight are around $8 for 4 around where I'm at, and you'll want at least two of those. After that, the adhesive you use (never hot glue...) aaaand paint.
 
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TurboCharizard

Division PR, RMO and BCO
Division Staff
405th Regiment Officer
Community Staff
1. I've seen lots of people use either paper or foam for their armor and helmets. Is one preferred over or better than the other?
There's no real "better", just a balance of trade offs for your personal needs. Pepakura is more durable, more time intensive, more toxic/caustic. Foam is more flexible, higher skill curve for professional finishes, much shorter lifetime for the costume. Both are on the lower cost spectrum for a build (all materials, tools and safety equipment for each will get you a suit for less than $500) but have considerable differences in time commitment which is usually the deciding factor for builders. PerniciousDuke and I both have Halo Reach suits that are of similar complexity and accuracy, his Pepakura suit took about 200 more man hours to build and because of weather restrictions on the materials almost an extra year (curing is inhibited by cold and moisture of the PNW winter).

2. If I use foam, do assemble the armor and helmet differently than I would with paper?
Yes. You have to account for the thickness of the foam and add extra edge bevels and trenches/valley cuts to allow foam to bend in the same way that paper would. For some .pdo files in The Armory there are already foam unfolds that reduce the number of pieces by combining adjacent ones that can be curved. Some of the less popular files are the path untread by foamsmiths and an unfold hasn't been made yet so it'll be a lot of guesswork along with trial and error. This is where the high skill curve of foam comes in.

3. Once I've finished the helmet, what should I make the visor out of and how? I haven't seen anyone talk about how to make/ how they made their visors.
Luckily the visor for a Reach EOD is a simple curve that's perfect for a sheet of PETG and a mirror tint film. For complex forms (curves in multiple directions such as domes) you'll need to make a vacuum former. Luckily those are cheap to make with household materials and can up your costume game with very little work.

4. Should I be concerned about size? I'm a somewhat small guy at 5'7", so I was wondering if I had to scale anything to fit me.
Yes. A helmet not fitting or making you look like a bobblehead is a thing. Scaling to the width of your chest piece to get an accurate match to the character is the easiest way I've found. Pepakura Designer and Armorsmith Designer are the champions of making sure everything works.
5. How much money should I expect to pay for materials? I'm not on a tight budget, I just need to know what to expect.
A lot of builders on here list their materials used so you can start to get a good idea for a similar suit cost. Local availability of materials is also a concern along with features such as electronics and cooling that may change these estimates. For an average estimate starting from absolute zero $400-$500 is a good estimate for a suit and the equipment you need to build it if you're going with Pepakura or Foam.

Sorry for the wall of text and links, if you ever need help just keep on asking questions!
 

xXDashIVXx

Sr Member
Hi, I've been wanting to make my own spartan armor for some time now, and I'm planning on getting everything prepared to start soon. I hope to make the Mk. V gen 1 E.O.D. helmet from Reach and I'm still deciding on the armor. But before I begin, I had a few questions that I was hoping someone could answer for me.

1. I've seen lots of people use either paper or foam for their armor and helmets. Is one preferred over or better than the other?
2. If I use foam, do assemble the armor and helmet differently than I would with paper?
3. Once I've finished the helmet, what should I make the visor out of and how? I haven't seen anyone talk about how to make/ how they made their visors.
4. Should I be concerned about size? I'm a somewhat small guy at 5'7", so I was wondering if I had to scale anything to fit me.
5. How much money should I expect to pay for materials? I'm not on a tight budget, I just need to know what to expect.

Thank you in advance for all your help!
I may be repeating a few things other people have said but I am just throwing my tow bits in...
1) foam is usually more readily accessible, cheaper to use, flexible and forgiving, and lightweight. It is a great way to start out, and can be somewhat easier/faster to work with. If you mess up you can always quickly make a new peice. The only downside is after some time with folding and wear, the foam will crease and wrinkle. This can be prevented and solved with different methods, but can get somewhat pricey. Not by too much though. Pepakura(using paper) is easier to get the shape you want because it forms into the design automatically, where foam you have to cut at the right angle and glue perfectly. The pepakura part gets messy and can be expensive and VERY time consuming. People will say that it gives you better detail than foam, but it all depends on how picky you get. I have seen pepakura projects that are unworldly good, and I have seen foam projects that turn out better. It just depends on how determined and picky you are.

2) it is relatively the same, but you do have to cut the edges at an angle depending on how the peicesalign, and you also have to account for the thickness of the foam.

3)there are many different options. I have seen great visors using a variety of methods. I made mine out of plexiglas glass and window tint. This is a great and cheap way to do it if your visor isnt a complex shape with many bends and contours. You can also use motercycle helmet visors you find at the thrift store, plastic from a two liter soda bottle, vacuum form a buck and dye the plastic, colored sheet dividers for three ringed binders, buy custom ones online, and many more. This depends on how much you would like to spend, the resources you have, and how good you would like the visor to look. For EOD helmets, I reccomend finding a cheap pair of sun glasses with fancy metalic lenses in the color you want, pop them out, and use those.

4)you will ultimately have to scale the armor to you. You can do this a few ways like inside the pepakura program by using a measuring tape on yourself and inputting the size, or purchasing the armorsmith program to make a digital mannequin of yourself. Size doesnt matter at all! I am 6'4" but maybe two inches taller in my suit. I am a little bit taller than those in the suits around me so it is sometimes funny, but most people are in the same boat as you *cough cough* Canada *cough*. Theworldstallestspartan is 7'2" and is the same height as cheif in and out ofarmor, and there are plenty of Spartans that are shorter. Noone cares, because it is fun and we all, and you will too, look amazing anyways! :)

5)again, it depends on what you want to do and how detailed it gets. My foam suit cost $200 to make, and most of the cost was glues, paints, and other items that wasnt the materials itself. If pepakura, the fibreglass and resins, plus bondo may make it a little more expensive. If you want to add LED lights and fans, or even speakers and audio emitters, this also adds up the price. I would say your build would cost no more that $300 over time, but it also may be more if you dont have a heatgun, dremel, bandsaw, or any tools, but these are by no means necessary. Time wise, you could build it in less than a couple months if you were putting in many hours a day every day, or it could take you half a year if you are taking your time to make it perfect and are making an effort to get as much detail as possible. It took me three years to do mine, but that is because I procrastinated for about two years and seven months worth of time instead of just working on it :b

Wow this is a very long post... I wish you well on your journey, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Welcome to the 405th.

P.s. I cannot reccomend this more that you read and do as much research as you can. Look at other and similar builds to get ideas, and post your progress so we can all marvel at your hard work and give any advice if needed :)
 

IAmTheSenate19

New Member
Hi IAmTheSenate19, Welcome to the 405th!

In a broad sense, the best way I think we can answer your questions right now is to direct you to the tutorial index and new comers pages.
Tutorial Index
New Recruit FAQ
Now, I know these aren't a spoon-fed way of answering your questions, and I'm currently working on developing a more... well spoon-fed tutorial/education system on this stuff but that is a long ways away so this is still the best bet.
Now, I'll do the best I can to answer your questions with the assumption you'll read at least some of the tutorial index:

1) A lot of people do foam, paper isn't really used as a finished product but rather as a stepping stone towards making a suit out of fiberglass. My understanding is that foam is easier and (subjectively) more fun, while fibreglass is more work, more durable, and has more room for high detail. Idk which is more expensive, I've only done foam.
2) I think this is partly up to you, as I'm personally a fan of freehanding stuff instead of following a model, but I know there are foam versions of many armor files that allow you to assemble it in a simliar way to the paper verions (pepakura files).
3) This is best covered in the tutorial index
4) You will definitely have to do scaling regaurdless of which approach you take, and personally I think it's one of the most important steps.
5) Obviously this varies, but for my foam build I believe I spent under $400. I have a full list of my parts here: Soft Parts - Resource Thread - Gloves, Boots, Compression Shirts & Pants, and More, but to eyeball it it was about $100 foam, $100 tools, $100 paint, $40 for a store bought helm, and some other stuff.

All that said, I've so far only made one suit, and there are plenty of people here with more experience than I with valuable input, many of which have a tutorial on that index.
Thank you for all your help!
 

IAmTheSenate19

New Member
I may be repeating a few things other people have said but I am just throwing my tow bits in...
1) foam is usually more readily accessible, cheaper to use, flexible and forgiving, and lightweight. It is a great way to start out, and can be somewhat easier/faster to work with. If you mess up you can always quickly make a new peice. The only downside is after some time with folding and wear, the foam will crease and wrinkle. This can be prevented and solved with different methods, but can get somewhat pricey. Not by too much though. Pepakura(using paper) is easier to get the shape you want because it forms into the design automatically, where foam you have to cut at the right angle and glue perfectly. The pepakura part gets messy and can be expensive and VERY time consuming. People will say that it gives you better detail than foam, but it all depends on how picky you get. I have seen pepakura projects that are unworldly good, and I have seen foam projects that turn out better. It just depends on how determined and picky you are.

2) it is relatively the same, but you do have to cut the edges at an angle depending on how the peicesalign, and you also have to account for the thickness of the foam.

3)there are many different options. I have seen great visors using a variety of methods. I made mine out of plexiglas glass and window tint. This is a great and cheap way to do it if your visor isnt a complex shape with many bends and contours. You can also use motercycle helmet visors you find at the thrift store, plastic from a two liter soda bottle, vacuum form a buck and dye the plastic, colored sheet dividers for three ringed binders, buy custom ones online, and many more. This depends on how much you would like to spend, the resources you have, and how good you would like the visor to look. For EOD helmets, I reccomend finding a cheap pair of sun glasses with fancy metalic lenses in the color you want, pop them out, and use those.

4)you will ultimately have to scale the armor to you. You can do this a few ways like inside the pepakura program by using a measuring tape on yourself and inputting the size, or purchasing the armorsmith program to make a digital mannequin of yourself. Size doesnt matter at all! I am 6'4" but maybe two inches taller in my suit. I am a little bit taller than those in the suits around me so it is sometimes funny, but most people are in the same boat as you *cough cough* Canada *cough*. Theworldstallestspartan is 7'2" and is the same height as cheif in and out ofarmor, and there are plenty of Spartans that are shorter. Noone cares, because it is fun and we all, and you will too, look amazing anyways! :)

5)again, it depends on what you want to do and how detailed it gets. My foam suit cost $200 to make, and most of the cost was glues, paints, and other items that wasnt the materials itself. If pepakura, the fibreglass and resins, plus bondo may make it a little more expensive. If you want to add LED lights and fans, or even speakers and audio emitters, this also adds up the price. I would say your build would cost no more that $300 over time, but it also may be more if you dont have a heatgun, dremel, bandsaw, or any tools, but these are by no means necessary. Time wise, you could build it in less than a couple months if you were putting in many hours a day every day, or it could take you half a year if you are taking your time to make it perfect and are making an effort to get as much detail as possible. It took me three years to do mine, but that is because I procrastinated for about two years and seven months worth of time instead of just working on it :b

Wow this is a very long post... I wish you well on your journey, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Welcome to the 405th.

P.s. I cannot reccomend this more that you read and do as much research as you can. Look at other and similar builds to get ideas, and post your progress so we can all marvel at your hard work and give any advice if needed :)
Thank you for all the helpful info!
 

IAmTheSenate19

New Member
There's no real "better", just a balance of trade offs for your personal needs. Pepakura is more durable, more time intensive, more toxic/caustic. Foam is more flexible, higher skill curve for professional finishes, much shorter lifetime for the costume. Both are on the lower cost spectrum for a build (all materials, tools and safety equipment for each will get you a suit for less than $500) but have considerable differences in time commitment which is usually the deciding factor for builders. PerniciousDuke and I both have Halo Reach suits that are of similar complexity and accuracy, his Pepakura suit took about 200 more man hours to build and because of weather restrictions on the materials almost an extra year (curing is inhibited by cold and moisture of the PNW winter).


Yes. You have to account for the thickness of the foam and add extra edge bevels and trenches/valley cuts to allow foam to bend in the same way that paper would. For some .pdo files in The Armory there are already foam unfolds that reduce the number of pieces by combining adjacent ones that can be curved. Some of the less popular files are the path untread by foamsmiths and an unfold hasn't been made yet so it'll be a lot of guesswork along with trial and error. This is where the high skill curve of foam comes in.


Luckily the visor for a Reach EOD is a simple curve that's perfect for a sheet of PETG and a mirror tint film. For complex forms (curves in multiple directions such as domes) you'll need to make a vacuum former. Luckily those are cheap to make with household materials and can up your costume game with very little work.


Yes. A helmet not fitting or making you look like a bobblehead is a thing. Scaling to the width of your chest piece to get an accurate match to the character is the easiest way I've found. Pepakura Designer and Armorsmith Designer are the champions of making sure everything works.

A lot of builders on here list their materials used so you can start to get a good idea for a similar suit cost. Local availability of materials is also a concern along with features such as electronics and cooling that may change these estimates. For an average estimate starting from absolute zero $400-$500 is a good estimate for a suit and the equipment you need to build it if you're going with Pepakura or Foam.

Sorry for the wall of text and links, if you ever need help just keep on asking questions!
Thank you! These links are helpful! I've got some homework to do.
 

he4thbar

Sr Member
*slinks off and runs*
I just put contact cement in a condiments bottle. you dab a little on and spread it out(with small excess foam piece) and let it dry for a couple minutes and it works like a charm. Probably a lot easier than hot glue tbh and super cost effective. I used hot glue for my pep build though so the versatility of hot gue cannot be ignored.

Also I second armor smith designer, makes the scaling ridiculously easy
 
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Tyrgam3r

Member
I have been cosplaying for many years and I am just now learning about Armorsmith designer, Y'ALL.

To chime in a bit:

My visor was a motorcycle helmet visor cut to size via a dremel and inserted with prayers and hot glue and super glue.

Someone mentioned wrinkling in foam, that can be fixed if you had plastidipped and then very lightly apply a heat gun over those wrinkles FYI.

An "easy" way to make sure you go the scale of a piece of armor is to print it on plain printer paper, tape it together, and then hold it up to where it will go. For example, the forearms, I placed the piece that had been cut out from wrist to my elbowarmpit.

The adhesive I used for my costume was superglue and then reinforced with hot glue. Not the best solution (my preference is contact cement) but I live in a small apartment and have a dog so I wanted to ensure we were both safe because Barge (contact cement) is toxic. I used what amounts to probably three or four smaller bottles of superglue and countless hot glue sticks.

As for cost, I already had a large majority of the foam after years of asking for it for holidays. I spent most of my money on stuff that I could also use later on like a PVC pipe cutter, a wire cutter, a ton o' LEDs, fans, etc. But also some extra foam, super glue, and hot glue. Those were the resources that would get used up, so most of my cost went to tools and materials. That was about 450, including my under suit stuff. With only the stuff that can get used up?...probably around 100-200.

Also something that can't be overstated is don't rush to making the most complicated bit like the helmet. Start with an easy piece like the knees or the bicep.

Edit: also time! Give yourself plenty of time! I did the math and my armor took around 350 hours. This was done after work from around 6-10 and then for around 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Basically building everyday I had freetime. Literally. All. The. Free. Time. I started building May 1st-ish and just finished a few days ago on July7th-ish.
 
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IAmTheSenate19

New Member
So I've done a lot more research since I've last posted, and I've decided to make my armor out of foam. Many of you have suggested foam because it is easier and faster to make than pepakura, so thank you for your help.I plan to start out making something easy like the forearms or shins so I can get used to the process before I make the helmet and torso piece. I have gathered my construction materials and ordered my foam and it should be here in a few days. Until then I had a few more questions. First, when I print out the templates from pepakura designer I have been told to not print some out as they are not needed. How do I know what templates are needed and which ones aren't? Second, I have seen people talk about plastidip and how it protects the foam. If I were to use this, would it go on before or after the paint, and would paint stick to it or drip off? I do not know if this product has a color or not so I was double-checking before I get it. Third, how do you get the biceps, thighs, and waist pieces from falling down? I heard some people use buckles and straps but I'm not sure how to apply those.

Thank you for all your help once again! I will keep you updated with my progress and any more questions I have.
 

xXDashIVXx

Sr Member
So I've done a lot more research since I've last posted, and I've decided to make my armor out of foam. Many of you have suggested foam because it is easier and faster to make than pepakura, so thank you for your help.I plan to start out making something easy like the forearms or shins so I can get used to the process before I make the helmet and torso piece. I have gathered my construction materials and ordered my foam and it should be here in a few days. Until then I had a few more questions. First, when I print out the templates from pepakura designer I have been told to not print some out as they are not needed. How do I know what templates are needed and which ones aren't? Second, I have seen people talk about plastidip and how it protects the foam. If I were to use this, would it go on before or after the paint, and would paint stick to it or drip off? I do not know if this product has a color or not so I was double-checking before I get it. Third, how do you get the biceps, thighs, and waist pieces from falling down? I heard some people use buckles and straps but I'm not sure how to apply those.

Thank you for all your help once again! I will keep you updated with my progress and any more questions I have.
You dont really know what peices will be needed or not in the pepakura. Paper is two dimensional and has to be folded to get 3d shapes, while foam is kind of like a boxalready.The peices you remove from the pepakura file are the ones that the foam accommodates for with its thickness. I hope this was clear, but I can go further into depth if you dont understand.

Plasti dip goes on the completed armor peice before painting. It is a sealant that covers the foam so the spraypaint sticks better, and it also acts as a primer. It most commonly comes in black but also comes in white, and maybe a few other colors. Paint sticks to it just fine and should not drip. If it does drip or pool, you are spraying too close or too much in one spot.

Depending on your armor(like if there isnt much of a gap in between the cod/chest and thighs. Halo 4/5 suits wond do this as good because of how much of the armor is undersuit) you could attatch straps from the cod/chest to clips at the top of your thighs and it would hold them In place but still be fairly concealed. Same with the shin to thigh. For my suit the thighs are held by velcro(but not very well. They are mostly friction fitted), and my shins are padded so much they do not slide. They are hard to get on because of this, but it is worth it
 

xXDashIVXx

Sr Member
On the back of my undersuit I have these small loops sewed into the fabric that a strap on my butt plate will go through to hold it up. It then has a button that reconnects the end of the strap to the plate. It works great and holds it up, but still allows flexibility and easy removal incase I wanted to sit. The loops are impossible to see with the players on, and blend in/are still hard to see with out the plate covering it. This would work great with the thighs as it holds them in place but allows some movement around your leg.
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