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RobotChicken's Halo 3 Mk VI Master Chief, Ultra Detail, First Build WIP (many pics)

Discussion in 'Halo Pepakura Costumes' started by RobotChicken, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. RobotChicken


    Greetings 405th

    In case there weren't enough Mark VI build threads on the 405th, I thought I'd add one of my own for the possibility of contributing something back to this community. First off, I should say that I'm not associated at all with the television show "Robot Chicken". I simply think the show is hilarious (like "The Big Bang Theory") and decided on the screen name to express cybernetic cowardice, or being a fan of the show, or whatever. :D I've been a member for a month now quietly (mostly) reading relevant "stickies", watched the orientation video, and bookmarked several WIP threads which inspire me. (It's astounding how many "can I use copy paper and tape for my costume?" posts there are.) Now for a short backstory...

    This build is for my 8 yr old son (9 next month) who is currently 51" (130cm) tall and for some unexplainable reason loves Halo. Why unexplainable? He's never played the game! (Neither have I - we own a Wii and PS3, but no Xbox). Yet through Mega Bloks toys, action figures, and YouTube videos he's decided to build a Master Chief costume out of scrap cardboard and markers. Then we happened across the Halo armor edition of Backyard FX and learned of Pepakura. That lead to discovering the 405th Infantry Division and the incredible work many people here are doing. Appearing to be a simple project (isn't naivety great?), and having built a number of high-detail costumes in the past, I decided to apply my perfectionist traits towards seeing how well I can do at Halo armor. We're (okay, I'm) building Master Chief from Halo 3, and I can honestly say I know very little about Halo. Just last month I could not have told you what Mjolnir armor was. However, I have done lot's of papercraft projects, worked with resin and Bondo, know about electronics (I'm a CAD engineer for a memory chip company) so let's get this journey started....

    I thought I'd start this first post out by presenting the work area and reference material (aside from Google Images, of course). The first photo is one of 3 workstations in our craft room. To the left of it is a sewing desk which includes a Serger, and to the right is a large multi-level computer desk. (That's a lightbox installed into the countertop in the corner, and the Cricut Expression has been replaced by a Silhouette Cameo.)


    For excellent photo references, I highly recommend the Halo Encyclopedia - The Definitive Guide To The Halo Universe for its many photos and details:






    I've also been referring to my son's 13" (33cm) Spartan action figure, as in many areas it's more detailed than the High Detail pep files:


    I have no official deadline for completing this project, aside from the fact that kids grow and armor doesn't. I don't want to rush the build and have it turn out less than it could have been, while at the same time needing to remember it will need to fit my son when it's completed (all the pieces are being sized slightly large for growing room). Sadly, this build is destined for eBay at some point since it's inevitable to be outgrown. Updates will be posted when enough progress is made to warrant them.

    Spartan height as of January 17, 2015 has increased to 54" and in case anybody's interested, sizing for this build using UD models from the File Archive is:

    Upper-Arm: H=308, W=166, D=152, S=0.919697
    Forearm: H=280, W=155, D=124, S=0.920898
    Hand Plate: H=30, W=94, D=110, S=0.887287
  2. U513


    Welcome to the madhouse! I kid... Mate, your work area looks spectacular! I wish I had one like that! I am looking forward to this! With a workstation like yours, my expectations of this build are already at a very high level :D

    ...and halo is awesome! There is sooo much depth to the story and BUY A XBOX!
  3. RobotChicken


    Thanks (however, I am a bit prejudiced against Micros**t...). After 25 years of Windoze "evolution" (I am old enough to have programmed on MS-DOS systems), their OS still continues to have bugs, security holes, weekly patch updates, etc. We haven't needed anti-virus slowing down our systems ever since making the leap to Mac (which in my opinion is the biggest "upgrade" a pc user can make). There is talk in the house, though, of maybe getting an Xbox at Christmas time... (By then Xbox One will be out and we should be able to get a 360 at a lower price.)

    The work area pictured is mostly my wife's for scrapbooking (curse the Cricut for not cutting out pep, but then again I probably wouldn't trust its accuracy anyway). I didn't take photos of the sewing station or CAD station because they're currently cluttered and I prefer to present myself well-groomed. :cool
  4. Carpathia


    Very nice way to start a thread. I'm assuming you have some way to run a windows-based OS, since pepakura does not work on a Mac.
  5. RobotChicken


    Not knowing then what I was getting into with pep files, I heeded the recommendation of starting out small and simple: handplates. At the time, I was limited to the normal detail parts in PDF format from 4shared due to Tamasoft not releasing a Mac version of Pepakura Designer (it's a conspiracy, I tell ya!). These parts leave a lot to be desired (not to mention a lot to be detailed), so I unpacked my old HP Media Center pc for accessing the HD files (only to realize later that although the HD files are far superior to the normal detail parts, they contain inaccuracies and have less than optimal unfolds). I started out using the unregistered free version of Designer but as I got more involved with re-unfolding the models and improving parts layout, I decided to purchase a registration key so I could save my work.

    I quickly discovered that at the scale I'm building at, the Edge IDs are more a nuisance than a convenience. They overlap with other IDs, and worse - with the fold and cut lines! Since pepping the first piece, I now turn off Edge IDs and use the computer model for locating and aligning the non-obvious pieces. I never used the Edge IDs for alignment anyway, since geometrically it's more important that vertices align. Also because of the small scale, I do all my pep under a magnifier lamp with tweezers. It makes the parts several times larger and so much easier to get the tiny details perfect (so they can be filed and sanded away later anyway!). I cut and fold the pieces as they're needed instead of all upfront. This gives a glue joint time to set while the next part is being scored, cut, and folded. I started out scoring after cutting, but learned it's much easier (and less damaging) to score first then cut. I tried the hot glue approach and hated it. Wait for the gun to heat up when I could be working, have the glue cool before the edge is aligned (not enough positioning time), uneven cooling causing bumps, uncomfortable fingertips (you know what I mean), and glue stringers everywhere. So I use regular Elmer's white glue applied with a toothpick. It costs less, is easy to apply, the water-thin application sets quickly (especially when held near the magnifier lamp), remains wet long enough to position the edges perfectly, and won't cause issues later when filing and sanding the hardened parts.

    Now for photos...

    This first one shows the finished hand plates and the tools used to assemble them. I used the HD files by ROBOGENESIS with dimensions of H=18, W=71, and D=83. Of course it's 110lb cardstock.


    This next photo is a close-up to show their scale.

    aguiar likes this.
  6. RobotChicken


    Thanks. I hope my build turns out half as good as yours did. I personally want a high level of detail in the finished pieces, but at the same time need to keep remembering it's for a 9 yr old kid. My solution to Mac was being typed at the same time you posted...
  7. Carpathia


    Great start (I started with the handplates myself; and I'm really glad to see that you're not using hot glue or super glue). One suggestion I have for the preparation side, change the fold lines from dots/dashes and dashes to solid colored lines. It's pretty difficult to discern a dotted/dashed line from a dashed line on some of the smaller tabs; but you can always tell the difference between red and blue.
    Starrmont likes this.
  8. shedg


    I think that this will be the most small and HD build on all this forum...aniway for the Pepakura-on-mac thing i simply used boot camp, it's an utility of the new mac OS that help you to make an HD partition for windows or linux, you prepare the HD and then you just install the new OS in the partition.
  9. RobotChicken


    Since the handplates were made I've changed the fold line styles. They were easy enough to discern before, but the default settings caused problems with tabs less than 4mm long. (Mountain, valley, and cut lines all appeared as a solid line for such short distances.) I now set mountain folds to L=0.6 S=0.3, and valley folds to L=0.6 S=0.3 L=0.2 S=0.3 which is better. The pc model is pulled up next to me while I pep (always better to pep with a companion...) and the zoom feature aids in identifying folds. Also, coming from a CAD background, I can tell which way the fold is supposed to go from the 3D model and by how the parts fit together. I print Pepakura pages in "draft" quality with black ink only to save on ink. One ink cartridge costs as much as a can of resin!
  10. RobotChicken


    (How do you quote multiple posts in the same reply?) Thanks for the suggestion, but I've chose not to partition my drive with a second OS, and especially not with an inferior one. I investigated MS shells as an option when putting MS Office on my Mac (a very bad decision and will be uninstalling it after all my documents are converted to iWork), and in my opinion putting Windows on a Mac rather defeats the purpose of buying a Mac in the first place. Kind of like spending 8 months prepping armor only to finish it with kindergarten fingerpaints.
  11. Carpathia


    Next to the "Reply with Quote" button, there is a symbol that is similar to the symbol directly left of the reply with quote wording, except it has a plus by it. Click on that symbol under each post you wish to quote, and click on the "Reply with Quote" button on the last post you wish to quote. If you wish to quote two posts that are on different pages, simply click on one, go to the next page and click on the other; all posts you multi-quote will be remembered, regardless of the page they're on.
  12. RobotChicken


    After handplates, the next logical pieces to make were the forearms. These took 3 tries to get the sizing right, but did I pep three whole HD forearms to determine the size? Noooo. (That would take a lot of time, ya think?) I prototype using scrap copy paper and Scotch tape. I personally don't know of anybody who never ever has a bad print from their printer (dirty print heads, printed the wrong page, decided to change something after printing, etc), so I keep my bad prints because the backsides are blank and can be re-used for test prints on other projects, or....for prototyping armor pieces to check sizing! Since these sizing prototypes aren't being resined anyway, they don't need to be cardstock or glued. And I don't fully assemble them - usually there are just a handful of parts that contribute to a piece's primary axis dimension, so I arrange and print only those parts on a separate page to assemble just what's needed for a size test. Once the size is verified, then I load cardstock into the printer.

    Due to the complexity of the forearms, I built them in sub-assemblies. (Note, "complexity", like "tedious", is not synonymous with "difficult". Yes, the forearms were complicated, but they weren't at all difficult to make.) Each sub-assembly was pepped as if itself was a whole piece, so attention to detail can be focused on just the parts being assembled. Doing them in sections also enabled full access to the backsides to get all the joints bonded properly instead of trying to work inside a water bottle. Then the sub-assemblies were combined to build the whole piece. The last seam is the tricky one, so I made sure it was the straight-line seam traversing the entire piece's height (on the inside of the arm - the part in the upper-right corner of the page shown in the first photo). I used the HD files by nugget with dimensions of H=234, W=125, and D=106.


    This photo shows them with the handplates for scale verification.


    I realized after completing these that there is a missing "ramp" (as my son calls them) on the inside of the forearm. I've also decided to add the separation lines. I looked at carpathiavh99's approach and although it's convincing I'd rather not have the lines staircased. I also considered his other suggestion of masking the lines with mat board and raising the surrounding area with Bondo, but that will increase weight and brittleness, not to mention extra sanding and finishing time. The pieces won't have the necessary thickness to scribe the lines at a realistic depth after hardening, so I've come up with another way to retro-fit them in after I finish the shoulder pieces. This technique will be proved out on the shoulders first during the build instead of as a refit. (And now you have a reason to come back and check on my build later, to see how this was done.)

    I'm currently building the shoulder pieces, so it may be a while until the next update. (You know, job, family, housework, all those pesky things that interfere with hobbies...)
  13. thatdecade

    thatdecade Well-Known Member

    Starting small, that is good advice. Make each leap in small steps.

    The hardening stage is usually the first setback people experience. Watch out for that one. Practice on some of those bad prints to get the hang of hardening without deforming the shapes. ;)
  14. Jason 078

    Jason 078

    I have to ask what kind of technical field you work in.

    Otherwise, I must say that I am jealous of your work station and that you are doing an amazingly detailed job so far.
  15. RobotChicken


    Thanks - that was my plan. The first piece I made was a normal detail handplate (on cardstock) and it's already volunteered to be front of the line at the resin table. Not having applied resin to cardstock before, I knew I'd need a small piece for hands-on experience with saturation rate, cure time, etc. I used epoxy resin and clear casting resin in molding previously, but RTV molds are a lot different than paper. No way would I go blind onto a (hopefully) final piece that took several days to pep (few hours at a time on evenings). And a handplate doesn't take long to re-pep if one gets botched up while learning how to apply the resin properly. I'm planning two thin coats in small sections at a time, and perhaps fill the interior with crumpled newspaper to help maintain the shape in the event "thin coat" simply doesn't exist with resin + paper. Watching the YouTube videos (Ben and David, you guys rock) and reading many of the threads here, I have a pretty solid idea what to do. I love the work that you do, by the way, thatdecade.
  16. RobotChicken


    I'm a layout design automation and verification programmer for the device characterization department of research and development at a leading memory chip manufacturer.

    I built the workstation custom. Thanks for the compliment! But honestly (at least until I get into the Bondo phase and see the pieces start showing life) "amazing" in my opinion is how I describe the work of many others here. Really, anybody can cut, fold, and glue paper. Off topic, I know, but here are two pics of one of my more intense builds to provide some perspective of how Master Chief will be turning out. Most of the "armor" is neoprene, but everything seen is built by me, either sewn ("waffle"-textured mesh undersuit), heat-formed plastic, molded parts, etc. The heat-formed plastic for my face was performed on a lifecast I had done (boy was that fun...) so it fit perfectly against my skin. The costume features amplified speakers in the chest (with voice modulation circuit), motorized arm/hand, lighted infinity-mirror behind a servo-powered camera iris in one of the eye-pieces, and sequenced blinking lights all over. A keypad inside the arm attachment is how I controlled everything.


  17. RobotChicken


    Infantryman already?! Wow, thanks guys! I thought I'd have finished my build before achieving that. The shoulder's are going well and looking awesome. A lot of mat board detailing, as I'm finding it to be much easier adding details with cardstock and mat board than I expect will be later with bondo. I am shooting photos as I go and will upload them in my next "real" update post. Just wanted to drop a thanks here for the promotion. (Now the expectations are even higher? Nah, my own expectations are pretty damned high already...)
  18. RobotChicken


    I know it's been about a week since an update but the shoulders are needing a bit of extra work to bring them up to the level of detail that I want on the pieces. That, plus birthdays and (allegedly) upgrading my Mac from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion (and now having to fix everything Apple screwed up on my system) has me getting only about an hour each evening to work on this. Hopefully after I repair Apple's "Microsoft Approach" to an OS update I'll have more time. Until then, here's a preview of how the shoulder/bicep is looking...

  19. shedg


    nice work on that shoulder, i see you cut the main square to do a better detail on that piece, i know how it will turn out: awesome. If you keep doing armor pieces as detailed as you want to, this will be not the best mini-armor on the forum, but even the most detailed MK VI that has been made on this forum!
    and,personally i don't like mountain lion, i tried it but i decided to keep snow leopard on my mac.
  20. RobotChicken


    Thanks! Yes, I re-did the unfold to modify several of the parts and deleted the interior rectangle which is rebuilt from mat board so it matches my reference photos. (The same was done to the outer arm inset below the shoulder to correct its shape and have crisper/deeper separation lines.) Next update is slated for when the shoulders are completed and will include the steps taken to customize the parts.
  21. dishabille

    dishabille Jr Member

    WOW your attention to detail is astounding. The fact youre doing this for your kid impresses me, its never too early to get people into science fiction and thinking up new things. Since you dont like microsoft products, Ill suggest the books to help you get an idea of how the chief and his spartans operate. The first three books by Eric Nyland set the ground work for how it all came to be, theyre really easy to read and you could probably knock one out in a day and a half. Your son would really enjoy them as well.

    Ill be watching this build constantly to see how awesome youre doing.
  22. RobotChicken


    Thank you much. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, we're only interested in the photos - no Halo story. It's all visual (and that's the reason for the super-detailing - I'm not one to settle for adequate when I'm capable of better). The only sad part is he'll outgrow it. (Too bad it's not MY sized!) Got the shoulder-plate wells boxed in today and they're looking sharp. Can't wait to get to the next update post with photos, or even better - when the "roughed in" mat board detailing starts getting smoothed out with bondo.
  23. blackout11c


    A good place to look would be the "The Perfect Spartan" making-of for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. It shows just how they made a life-size, HD suit of Mjolnir Mk.IV armour for it.
  24. RobotChicken


    Thanks. We own the special edition DVD of "Forward Unto Dawn" (which contributed to the initial motivations for him wanting a costume), and the DVD has much bonus content including a featurette on the making of Master Chief's armor for the show. It's very cool and for awhile my son wanted me to modify the armor to look like "Forward Unto Dawn", but then changed his mind back to pure Halo 3 style. This movie did however trigger the notion of lights in the armor pieces (which I had not known about previously - I hadn't seen photos or 405th buildups with lights yet to know otherwise), and so of course this armor is going to have full lighting effects. (Already have 20 lights purchased from Dollar Tree, and have thatdecade's ammo counter and "stuff" for other things coming...) (No spoiler, please, thatdecade - lol)

    Anyway, getting back on topic, do the photos in "The Perfect Spartan" show the Halo 3 version of the armor or the modified armor for "Forward Unto Dawn"/Halo 4? They are noticeably different on nearly all the armor pieces.
  25. dishabille

    dishabille Jr Member

    thats the best part! you can figure out how to get it down 100% during your sons build and when thats done you can crank one out for yourself and youll know all the tips and trick.

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