Introduction: Mjolnir Mk. V (Pepakura Halo Armour)
This is my custom Spartan armour from Halo reach
Since there are so many pepakura tutorials out there, I'll try and keep the tutorial very basic, and instead add tips and shortcuts that I've found while creating the armour. To save space I won't detail the required materials (These can mostly be seen from the step descriptions and images), and a good understanding of the safety regarding fibreglassing is recommended.
The main ways to go about making hiqh quality armour are either pepakura or EVA foam. Pepakura is easier for beginners, but can end up taking longer and is typically less comfortable.
A much more comprehensive list of my photos is located HERE
Since I've spent so long on this project, it's hard for me to list everything that I did to accomplish it, so feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, and I'll answer it as best as I can!
File Download links for the entire suit (+ Hammer and other props):
Mega (New link!) Never tried this site before, but they seem more public-download-link friendly than DropBox
Also includes an interactive scaling spreadsheet I just made.
Armour is scaled for a 182cm person (6.0ft for all ye Imperial Stormtroopers), so just use Pepakura Designer to scale the filles according to your height / stature. There are 2 files for the forearm, I used "Forearm", but "Forearm 2" looks like a better designed model.
Step 1: Scaling
Getting the correct size for all your armour sections right first time will save you a lot of time. I developed a method that worked pretty much perfectly every time.
Determine your height in mm, then add about 20mm (For the helmet), then scale a reference picture of your spartan model so that the number of pixels = the height in mm
You can then use a measuring tool to draw lines against the individual pieces and see what length they should be, and you'll end up with a set of armour that is both proportionally accurate and fits like a glove. Just make sure that when taking measurements, the line of sight should be perpendicular to the section of armour you are viewing, for instance, the image I used below would be unsuitable for scaling the forearms (Better to use in-game screenshots).
If there's enough interest, I might make a chart (Or spreadsheet that you can enter your height in) to show the required scaling factor for each part.
UPDATE: Scaling spreadsheet made - Check download links on previous page
Step 2: Pepakura
160gsm card is a good compromise between ease of cutting, and strength. For beginners, the edge ID feature in pepakura viewer is very useful for telling which parts fit together.
There's always some tolerance to error when cutting the pieces, but the most important part is the fold lines. As long as the lines you score don't deviate from the printed line (About 0.3mm), you should be able to avoid warping. Superglue was the best method of gluing the pieces together, although only the more viscous brands seemed to work.
All tabs on pepakura models have fold lines at the edge, but there are some cases where it should actually be a smooth bend. Identifying these parts and not scoring them will save you from smoothing them out with isopon later on.
Aditionally, you'll get a feel for what makes a good model as you work. Something that looks game-accurate may not necessarily be the best one to use due to anthropometrice of the human body. The best models I've used have been by "ForgedReclaimer", "Rundown" and "L3X BLU3R1V3R". You can test the pieces' fit after completing them, but be careful not to damage them.
You won't be able to put the torso on when it's fibreglassed unless you cut some arm holes, or have it hinged at the top. I cut out the underarm sections prior to fibreglassing, which saved time, but led to them warping slightly.
Step 3: Fibreglassing
Apply a thin, even coat of resin to both the inside, and the outside of the armour pieces before adding any fibreglass. This prevents any soft spots forming where the card may not be backed up by fibreglass due to air bubbles. If they are large sections, try to avoid coating more than an A4 sized area at a time; If the resin adds too much weight while it is still damp, it may warp. Larger pieces may need bracing structures to keep them rigid as the resin cures (See helmet picture).
Use finer fibreglass for small pieces like hand plates or forearms (~50gsm), and coarser stuff for the large sections like the legs and torso (~100gsm). Small nooks and crannies are hard to get coarser fibreglass into, so either use finer fibreglass, or another few coats of resin, and fit the fibreglass as best as you can.
Fine fibreglass tends to fluff up, so use plenty of resin and dabble it down to stop it sticking to the brush. It helps to paint a quick coat of resin on the inside of the card to get the fibreglass to stick down.
If a piece might experience lots of movement while being worn (Shins, biceps, thighs, etc), It's a wise idea to add another layer of fibreglass to the edges. Once fibreglassing is complete, cut off any excess with a craft knife/dremel and file down the edges.
It is possible to alter the shape of warped or narrow pieces by heating them gently with a heat gun, or powerful hairdryer until slightly flexible, then holding it in the new position until cool (ie, between 2 heavy boxes).
Step 4: Isopon P38
Similar to the resin, isopon requires an oxidising catalyst, and has a working time of around 5-10 minutes before it starts to harden.
Use a smooth flat object like a credit card to apply it, and remember that the smoother it is when it goes on, the less work you need to do when sanding it down. If you constructed the armour accurately, you should have minimal need for smoothing, as it is mainly to mask the joins between layers of card.
I only had a wooden block and sandpaper to work with, so the whole process took about 10-15 hours.
To save time, if there were any "Pits" in the isopon where it may have been scratched or some isopon pulled away before it cured, rather than re-filling them, I painted them silver at the end to make them look like batle damage (See torso on painting step).
Step 5: Finer Details
If the pepakura files miss certain features, or you think they're too fiddly to make from card, it's a great idea to substitute them for balsa wood, aluminium, or other applicable materials.
Depending on the nature of the feature, it may be necessary to do it before the isopon (Helmet grills), or after the painting stage (Shotgun shells). The shell bracket was the most intricate part of the whole design, constructed from an old sheet of 0.5mm aluminium cut out using metal shears (Some pieces sprayed black, or dark silver then sanded at the edges), rivets, epoxy and two strips of cotton webbing. The original file had this all made from card, but since the model was from a different designer, it may not have fitted well with the torso.
The visor was completed after sanding down the helmet, but required masking off and additional isopon being added to fill the gaps. I used a transparent template as a guide for the final 3mm acrylic version, bent it with a paint stripper (Heat gun) and etched it with a flat head screwdriver, with semi-reflective foil adhered to the inside (eBay link here).
Step 6: Supplementary Gadgets / Fixtures
I used a motocross back protector to act as extra detail, and also to probide suppoty for the belt piece.
Although I have no images of them, I mounted a 40mm fan behind each of the helmet's air vents, to runn off dual 9v batteries.
Most sections of the armour are either held in place by the friction of the foam padding (Forearms, shins), with velcro (Biceps and shoulder pads), or with buckles and 40mm wide elastic/cotton webbing (Torso underarms, Belt, Thighs), most of which were done after painting.
Step 7: Painting
Mask off any key areas like the visor, and procees to spray the whole thing with at least 1 coat of primer.
Try and work from the lighter colours to the darker ones to avoid them showing up underneath, by masking off shapes then spraying over them (See images 1 & 2).
Some very fine details can be done faster by printing them onto paper, cutting them out and sticking them down (Foot warning symbols, shoulderpad emblems). If you need to apply a logo to a curved area, you can freehand it with acrylic paints (Thigh armour), or stencil it on (See blade on my gravity hammer instructable).
When the armour is fully painted, you may want to add "wear" to it. There are many tutorials, but I found that a 1:5 paint:water ratio worked well for a brown/black grime wash (Painting it in to recesses) wiping it down, allowing it to dry, and repeating ~5 times). As for metallic wear, don't apply it to all edges, just the most prominent corners. Apply multiple layers of silver acrylic in small amounts with a dry brush, gradually becoming fainter as you go further away from the corner.
If you're simulating chips/metal wear in the middle of flat armour sections (Like the light blue band on the right thigh), use a slightly larger patch of the primary colour first, rather than going straight to the silver (Looks as though it has worn from light blue, to the dark blue, then finally to the metal).
To finish it off, give it a light coat of matte lacquer (Or as much as you feel you can without it starting to turn shiny).
Step 8: Abdomen Details / Boot Sections
The shirt that I used for the armour tends to bunch up, and look rather un-armour-like, so I created a foam wrap-around roughly based on the model from Halo Reach. I cut slots in the upper edges to give it a slightly conical form, and glued it all together with a hot glue gun.
I also attached the toe and heel sections of the boot with a rectangular piece of foam, with a length of string to hook under the laces and keep the toe section stuck down against the shoe.