Okay So never made a prop costume of any kind, deciding to just roll with it. I'm in Texas so I have been without power for like a week now (the power block rolling is a lie, for me at least :c ) so I decided to do something to keep me busy and moving since everything is shut down. I don't know if I should 3D print the armor, use EVA foam, cast a mold, and make it plastic there are so many options.. but I'm going to take my time and make a quality piece even if it takes me longer than normal people (especially because it's my first time) so I started scaling the pieces to my size. I am 6'2'' so the suit is a little taller but I started making a center chest piece first out of wood but I only had a freezing cold hand saw and I actually broke the board when I started cutting in the small edges...then out of cardboard (I have ordered some EVA foam offline but it's gonna take a while to get here lol), I also found an old military belt and some attachments I could acrylic paint and use for part of the ODST. I'm planning on ordering a helmet from Etsy once my suit is done so I can match colors and stuff. Please let me know what the best step is for the most quality piece (I don't care if it's harder, I will take the time to learn!) I was thinking of maybe cutting some metal pieces and sliding them into the EVA foam armor to add some realistic weight... Idk anyways enjoy these pictures I took of the armor and please let me know what you think so far!
Honestly there is no way to tell you what the "best" or "most accurate" way to build a suit is. The answer is: whatever way you want to go. A lot of people here on the forum do some amazing things with Eva foam. The 3d print builds always look super nice. Fiberglass and bondo can be really fun and rewarding. It just depends on your resources, skills, and desire.
If you are on any kind of deadline, fiberglass and bondo may not be the way to go because it tends to take a very long time. But the supplies are generally available at like Home Depot (no waiting for shipping).
If you have a good 3D printer, that may be the way to go. I have an ender 3 and I don't even want to think about how long it would take just to print the pieces for a full suit. Also, cleanup of pieces and failed prints can be a pain as well as ordering filament and editing 3D models.
Foam smithing tends to be a popular choice because its relatively quick and the armor is more comfortable than a hard plastic suit. On the other hand, I feel like it's less forgiving of craftsmanship errors and it wouldn't feel right (to me) to wear a suit of armor that weighs like 5 pounds total... Frankly, I don't have any experience with foam so I don't really know much about it, that's just my opinion.
There is also thermoforming plastic or PVC for making armor, but it's not super common on this forum. I know the 501st tends to do more of that bc they don't allow EVA foam armor. I also don't know much about that process but was thinking about looking into it for some star wars cosplays.
My advice is, read some threads about the different processes. Check out the tutorials we have here and just see what feels right for you. The situation in Texas seems pretty rough and I hope things start getting better for y'all down there. A project like this can be really great for distraction but really difficult if you don't have power...
Good luck! Looking forward to seeing what you choose!
Seconding FalseShepherd that there's no best method but only best for your situation at the time.
Since you've mentioned that this is for a school project I'm guessing that there's going to be a considerable time constraint on the project making certain options very difficult if not impossible. Pepakura is likely completely out of the question and depending on the level of finish that you're looking to achieve a 3D printed suit might also be pushing it unless you have multiple printers working around the clock and you're sanding and prepping pieces multiple hours a day (source being I had two printers working for about three weeks straight to make a full ODST).
Ordering a finished piece off of Etsy or similar is an option but it'll be spendy and there might also be other time related issues with product lead times and shipping.
The way you're progressing with cardboard is actually a great way to build something quick and inexpensively. Back when I was in highschool and university and I needed a prop for whatever the cardboard recycling bin was the first stop. If you want something a little more long lasting EVA foam is a good choice and overall not too much more expensive with similar build times.
UPDATE: Cardboard has been working well! I have a bunch of old oversized white T-shirts I had my dad send me Might try to use some for this no Idea, again this is the first prop suit I have ever made lol. I added a bit of detailing to the Chest piece and made the three main bottom torso armor pieces! as well as the center chest piece wings I think Attacking them Via something like Airsoft armor would work best I still need to start on an undersuit. I will say I am not following in design of an ODST as I've been looking up pictures and besides the H2A and H3ODST versions there are actually a lot of different types of ODST armors and variants (even when talking about the most common and "clone" pieces of any suit such as the chest plate) so I'm kind taking the rough shape of armor from concepts and making it my own going with the flow! Let me know what you think so far! I made the center chest piece first then the armor piece below it. I created the upper wings on the top and finally the bottom wings.) hopefully you can see I've been improving quality as I'm creating each piece! It looks a bit messy now but I'm hoping once all the super glue and wood glue dries and I remove all the tape holding things together as well as painting the suit black everything will look great!
Just a word of warning for you Cam4kstudios that tape is going to accept paint a little bit differently than cardboard so you're going to have to take a bit of care when getting everything ready for final paint. Using a thin PVA glue or similar coating over everything will make a hard shell that will give you a consistent surface texture to paint on as well as adding a little bit more strength to your finished parts.
Alright! Day 3 of making this bad boy! Planning on doing a daily-ish post on here on suit progress I’ve heard some feedback am planning on getting a hardening glue/plaster to paint over suit so it can harden better and have a good surface to paint onto! Today I built the belt that can open and close via a tight fitting clip the “dick guard” thing idk what to call it lol and the back/over the shoulder straps. I need as much time as possible to be able to recover from mistakes before I need it done for the production so I’m taking a lot of time to make this but also rushing, because the leg pieces have me the most worried to make tmrw ima probably make the hip armor that attaches to the belt and the straps that go underneath the chest plate that connect the back from the front let me know if you have ideas for what to make the straps out of (around the house stuff) I’m thinking like somehow using shirt material and adding cardboard to it so it’s flexible yet armored... no idea how I’m going to tackle that but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it! Please enjoy these pictures!!!