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How to build a Master Chief from scratch and make it not look like cardboard.  Best of all less then 100 bucks!
 
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Step 1: Research

Always the most important step.  After all there are multiple variants and generations of Master chief with varying degrees of detail.  You want to choose a version that you can have access to lots of photos so you can have good references because you will need them.

You can find them all over Google or my personal favorite was the 405th.com  they have pix of just about every conceivable angle.

Step 2: Skeleton

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I am going to call the first layer of the armor the skeleton since it will be the structure you will build off of.

Download the Pep files for the model of chief you want (available on 405th).  Once you have them all set up and ready to print make sure sure you print on a good weight card stock.  Personally I feel the heavier the better but if you have small hands and low grip strength just make sure it is thicker then pain paper.

Dear lord there are a a lot of shapes to cut out!  I recommend doing one limb at a time so you don't get your parts mixed up.

Step 3: Skeleton Part 2

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Now the fun really starts!  Take your paper skeleton and start goign over it with paper-mache.  I justed a simple solution of laundry starch to stick it all together.  It is cleaner and easier to work with at this stage. 

Remember, use the starch sparingly because it is wet and you are building on paper.  I recommend thin layers. 

These strips of paper mache will slowly start to cover the seams of the folder and taped card-stock. 

If you working in the daytime (unlike me) you can set a part such as a forearm out in the sun to dry while you start on the other arm.  By the time you finish with the second arm your first will be ready for a second coat!

I learned from experience that you should add paper mache to the inside of the parts as well.  This serves two purposes, first it strengthens the part and secondly it locks the joints of the card stock in place completely.

Step 4: Muscle

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Now this is where may builders would stop.  after all you can wear it, paint it, heck depending on your paper mache job it might look pretty good!  However this is the delux armor so we are not stopping here!

IT'S BONDO TIME!

Now some people out here will be saying "Hey Mr 6, why not use resin and fiberglass?  I say to them this, B
Bondo is not heavy when used correctly, hardens faster, and you can use it to add a more bulky, thick look to the armor.

So find yourself a well ventilated space or a gas mask and remember, SMALL BATCHES nothing is more frustrating then mixing a big batch and not getting to use it all because it hardened on your pallet!

A few tips on BONDO work.
Small Batches
The more hardener you add in (the pinker) the mix the faster it will harden.
Try not you get it on you.
Keep you tools clean.
Small Batches (really pressing the point.)
Wait till the first layer is completely hard before adding more in the same spot.




Step 5: Fatty Tissues

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OK not that we have nice hard muscle over our paper bones we need to add some fatty tissue that will give us the final shapes we want. 

For fatty tissues I used Join Compound.  I prefer a low dust relatively dry mix, it was easier for me to work with.

Really cake it on but no more than a  1/4 inch in any layer or it will crack when it dries.

VERY IMPORTANT be patient and let it dry slowly, I tried using space heaters to cook the compound but it just cracked and made me have to add more layers (same problem with an oven). 

You can however put your wet pieces in your car during the night.  They will start drying overnight and when the sun comes up and start heating up your car, it will slowly raise the temperature and prevent cracking.

Step 6: Sanding and shaping

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Once your Fatty tissue is all the way dry you can sand down the fat to make nice smooth parts.  Since joint compound is pretty soft it will sand easily and quickly.

Now is the time to take a pencil or pen and directly on the joint compound draw your details.  If you use hi lighter, it bleeds though to the next layer you put over it so you will still be able to see your lines.

Once you are happy with the lines you have drawn on take yourself a rotary tool and trace out your lines.  This gives the illusion of depth and layers of armor (fiberglass makes this much harder to achieve) .

Step 7: Dermis

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Remember how soft the joint compound was?  Are you wondering how you are goign to keep it from falling apart while you wear it?  Well this first layer of dermis (skin) is going to help big time!

Get yourself a nice thick lacquer.  Sprays are easy but you need more layers.  I liked the paint on stuff.  It allowed me to get a nick thick layer onto the plaster so it could really soak in.

The Joint compound is porous and will absorb a lot of the lacquer making your fatty tissue much tougher.

After you apply as many coats as you see fit, blast the armor with primer. 

If you suddenly see a spot where you missed a detail no worries, you can still carve into it, but remember to reseal the new details

Step 8: Epidermis

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Time for paint!

Start with a coat of paint that you think is a few shades too light, like this tan.  I did two think coats of this.

Next get a very dark primer, such as dark gray or brown and spray it on the details and then wipe it off with a rag.  This will leave the primer in the crevices and details giving the armor a weathered look.

Finally take some hammered silver (or brass if you want it to look like it was made of brass)  and spray it on a bristled paint brush and use the brush to dab it on around the edges to look like the paint has come off and exposed metal.

For an excellent tutorial on the subject of weathering youtube HALO ARMOR PAINTING

Step 9: Straps

Now that the armor is painted and dried put it on.  feel where it is loose and add craft store foam to make it fit snugly.  For the cod piece and but plate I found it easiest to install belt lops inside and run a belt thought it.  I attaches straps from that belt to the thighs to keep them up as well.  Be sure to use very strong glue when attaching all the straps.  This is not the time to flake.

Step 10: The Helm

I went a bit nuts on my helm. 

For the cool two tone lenses use two of the sam model motorcycle visor in the tints you think are coolest.

Trace you pattern directly on the protective film the lenses come in.

Take a deep breath and CAREFULLY cut out your pattern.

For me this was the most nerve racking part!

When they are freshly cut they will have rough edges so use a detail file to take the burrs off.

Once the lenses bits are smooth glue them in place and have a ball! 

Step 11: More Pix

Well that's about it hope you enjoyed my first Instructable!
What printer and paper did you use for this project?
animruler22 years ago
did you get 1st prize? congrats!
ghostrider23 years ago
Does anybody know how to tint the visor without using a motorcycle visor? I was planning on using vacuum formed clear plastic and need to tint the visor and keep visibility
MR 6 (author)  ghostrider23 years ago
You could use a gold spray paint on the inside of the visor(so that the color looks more smooth and iridescent), but that means you cant really see out, I don't know what you would do for the silver bit.
MotaBoi4 years ago
I cant believe you did it that well with low detail parts! How did you do it? Lots of bondo?
MR 6 (author) 5 years ago
Right on, if you have any questions hit me up.  Glad to help
One question:

Do you think that I could make a suit if I worked my @$$ off in time for Halloween.
MR 6 (author)  Cr4zy_Dud3_0n_F1r34 years ago
Yes, but it will be a lot of work.
Okay, thanks, already got the boots cut out yesterday (my first day).
 I have a question, where can I get the pattern for the visor? thanks in advance 
MR 6 (author)  mistdemon1235 years ago
http://405th.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2021&st=0&p=24018&hl=visor%20template&fromsearch=1&#entry24018

This is where I got my template.  If it wont let you view the page make an account (its free) and search.

"Dual Layer Visor Mini-Tutorial"

then just print and enlarge till it fits.  Good Luck!
leoishungry4 years ago
Where did you get the faceplate template in the third picture?
Good idea on the fan for the helmet. 
deafman2145 years ago
wow this is great!,im grabbin all the stuff i can and im gonna make it now and make it perfect for next halloween

or  any gamers conventions that come up