Introduction: Halo ODST Armor: Helmet - Part of ODST Armor

This is PART 1 of a 5 part series on a full ODST Armor you can wear.


So you really want to do this? This is a big project. Build time will be from several months to over a year depending on level of detail and how determined you are. Along the way, we will be printing out 3D models unfolded into Pepakura files; doing origami on steroids; working with hazardous materials; using power tools; you may end up glueing your fingers together, your shoes to the floor or the cat to the couch. And we will end up spending money, ball park estimates on the low end around $300 for the entire suit. More likely you will spend $400 - $500. Although this instructable is specifically for the ODST, the instructable can be applied to any armor build - e.g. Halo 1-3 Spartan permutations, ODST permutations, Halo Reach permutations, Iron Man permutations, samurai, etc.

The project is so large that I decided to break it down into five(5) Instructables:
1. Helmet
2. Torso
3. Arms
4. Legs
5. Weapons

To help unify all the instructables I also published a Table Of Contents (TOC) instructable for the Halo ODST Armor Build.

Part 1 of the Halo 3 ODST Armor Project is the Helmet. Most who embark on armor building never get past this stage. Hell, many never finish this stage. But we will not be one of those. We will perservere and one day walk with head held up high covered from head to toe in HALO Armor goodness.

Everything we learn in Part 1 will be applied to Parts 2-5. The rest of the armor creation process build upon the techniques used in PART 1. So it is best to pay close attention to how the helmet is built. While building the rest of the armor, make frequent visits to The Helmet build to refresh your memory on how to do things.

This project was inspired by the talented people in the 405th. Much of the source materials came from

On to the instructions...

** 3D model CREDIT used for the helmet base goes to ForgedReclaimer. Unfold credit goes to SoullessSin.**

Step 1: Software and 3D Files

First thing needed is to get the Pepakura software. Pepakura comes in two flavors - Designer and Viewer.  Designer is the editing tool for our 3D files. Viewer is just that, a read-only viewing tool.  Both have their uses.

The software is available here:

Designer is Free-to-Try but the save feature is disabled. Cost for a full version is $38.
Viewer is Free.

Once the software is installed on your computer it's time to start downloading 3D pepakura files for us to print out and build into a helmet. So where are the files?  Go here first.

Also go to 405th Halo costuming website -

Look through the 405th forum. There are tons of armor files in there. Make a note on who the modeler is and give them credit when showing off your work. Don't ask stupid questions and use the search function.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

The NUMBER 1 supply you NEED is patience. Lots and lots and lots of it.
Number 2 free time. Ok , now for the tangible materials and tools

1. A stack of Card Stock - Letter or A4 size. the paper weight should be 110lbs.
2. Glue. i use Elmer's white glue.  Wood Glue works also. Others use superglue, gorilla glue, or hot glue
3. Resin - Epoxy, Polyester, or casting resin. Type used depends on budget and working environment.
4. Fiberglass mat or cloth - only if you go with epoxy or polyester resin. Not need if casting resin is used.
5. Bondo or similar vehicle body repair putty.
6. Putty spreader
7. Foam or other padding material
8. Visor material - This will be the tricky one.
9. Masking tape
10. sand paper - course and fine.
11. Paints - Primer, silver, black, your prefered colors, and matte clear coat. This is supposed to be battle armor. It's not supposed to be shiny.
12. Ketchup or mustard or Swiss Miss Pudding. Pudding smells better, so i like to use that...

1. Computer
2. Printer
3. Exacto knife
4. scissors
5. Ruler
6. ball point pen.
7. paint brushes
8. plastic cups
9. popsicle sticks
10. cutting mat or cutting board
11. Disposable gloves
12. Respirator
13. Safety Glasses
14 Dremel or other rotary tools.
15. Detail sander or a sanding block

very small PC Fan, led, batteries, paper towels, shop towels, wires, screws.

Specialty items (nice to have but may be beyond us): Things I wish I had...
Vacuum forming rig.
Silicon rubber for mold making
Rotocasting rig.

Step 3: Pepakura File Editing - Size and Scale

Luanch Pepakura Designer. Open up your helmet file. STOP.

Go back to the 405th forum and read every "Sticky" on scaling and sizing your armor.
Done reading? Cool, let's poceed...

Scale your helmet model to fit you. to do that perform the following:
1. Click 2d menu > Change scale
2. Either adjust the height, width, or scale.

Which ever sizing method you use, be warned that you may end up building your paper helmet more than once since the first attempt may end up too large or too small.

Next, select the paper size you are using. The most common paper size is letter or A4. Adjust margins to match what you printer can do. Also set up the page layout and match it with the printer layout (portrait or landscape).

After making the above changes, you will most likely need to move the parts around the pages so that all the parts are inside the printable area of the page.

Looks good? OK, Print. NOTE: If you are promted to change the scale before printing, DON'T.
If you purchased Pepakura designer, save your work.

Look at that glorious stack of card stock paper...

Step 4: Cut, Glue, Cut, Glue, Cut, Glue, Cut.....

Now for the tedious part. Pick a place to start on the helmet. Personally, I like starting at the chin and working my way back and up. I.e. chin, jaw, back of neck, mouth area, lower cheeks, ears, back of head, nose, upper cheeks, temples, back of head, etc.

Plan out your next two or three pieces and cut them out using scissors and exacto knife. Use your ruler and pen to "dent" the paper along the fold lines. Typical models have solid lines as the cut lines, dotted lines as "mountain" folds, and dot-dash lines as "valley" folds. Sharp crisp folds makes for a good looking finished model. The best way to make sharp folds is to score the folds lines with a pen. Press Hard. After scoring the fold lines, fold the paper 90 degrees.

Find the matching numbers and glue the edges together, 1 goes with 1, 2 with 2, 3 with 3, ... 1249 with 1249, etc. The Tabs go on the inside of the model.

Some people like to cut out all the pieces first then start gluing. I like to keep the pieces on the sheet and only cut them out when I am ready for them. Easier to find that way.

while building a pep, I like to turn on the TV and put on a movie i have already seen. Music also works to keep the mind off the tedium. Remember to take breaks and stay hydrated.

When you have the first few sections done, the model may appear too small. At which point you may think to stop what your doing and resize/rescale your model bigger. DON'T. You are glueing small pieces of paper together and the section (example the chin) may look small. But 100 small object put together often makes an unexpectedly large object. You really will not know if you got the size right until the Pepakura build is 75%-80% assembled.

Cut, score, fold, glue, cut, score, fold, glue, cut, score, fold.................

Step 5: Make It STRONG - Outside

Wow! has it really been several days of cutting, folding, and glueing!?  All done? No left over parts?

Cool! So now you have a Halo ODST helmet made out of paper. If done right, your paper model should be strong enough for you to put it on for a test fitting. If your cuts were precise, your folds sharp and your glueing is clean then you should have a very good looking bucket.

But, it's still just paper. we need to make it stronger.

This is a two part process and there are several ways to do things. I will describe the different common methods I have tried.

The first step is to strengthen and seal/waterproof the outside. This is done by applying a thin coat of glue or resin on the outside. We want a THIN, even coat. Too much and you could loose the fine details of the pepakura or colapse the model.

The three most common ways to do this is:
1. Brush on polyester resin.
2. Brush on epoxy resin
3. Brush on wood glue.

Why three methods? Well, it really depends on two factors, your working environment and your budget. 

1. Polyester resin is cheap. a quart cost $12 at Wal***t. Problem is polyester resin puts out lots of deadly fumes. You have to wear a respirator mask and you will stink up the surrounding area. Not great if you live in an apartment. Also not good if the people around you (small children, pregnant spouse, elderly) have to stay away from dangerous chemicals.

2. Epoxy resin. General use fiberglassing EPOXY works great. It has very low odor (smells mildly like popcorn), not as toxic, and is strong. Biggest issue is that it is expensive. A quart will run about $25.

3. Wood Glue is also cheap and is available everywhere. It is non-toxic. Has no odor. Requires no mixing of chemicals. You just brush it on and let it dry. Only issue with it is that it is not as strong. Also, becuase it is water based, too much of it may warp your helmet. Once dry, it is waterproof. This is the method I used for the the helmet in this example.

** Note: I have used all three methods above.  There is a fourth method called AquaResin. Never tried it. ***

Step 6: Make It STRONGER - Method 1

Once the outside is completely dry we want to make the helmet really strong by re-enforcing the inside of the helmet.

Method 1 is by applying a layer of fiberglass with Polyester Resin (aka, fiberglass resin).

As mentioned before, polyester resin is really toxic. Remember to wear a mask or you could manage to kill a few brain cells and damage your lungs. wear gloves. Do this is a well ventilated area. Outdoors is best. The temperature needs to be above 60 degrees F.

The procedure is as follows:

1. Mix up some resin with catalyst in a plastic disposable container. mix very well.
2. Brush on a layer of resin inside the helmet.
3. cut up the fiberglass mat or cloth into 3 inch squares.
4. soak a section of fiberglass in the resin.
5. Stick it on the inside wall of the helmet and brush it down with a stiff paint brush.
6. use a tamping motion with a brush to remove air bubbles.
7. keep applying sections of cloth until the entire inside is completely covered

let the resin cure. Cure time is normally 1 hours.

Step 7: Make It STRONGER - Method 2

Method 2 is to use Epoxy Resin.

As mentioned, general use epoxy resin is a great alternative to polyester resin. Is is strong and is less toxic. You should still work in a well ventilated area but the respirator is not necessary. Epoxy resin typically has a shorter pot life than polyester resin.

Were gloves, safety glasses and protect yourself from fiberglass (itchy). Put a drop cloth on the floor.

The procedure is very similar to method 1.

The procedure is as follows:

1. cut up the fiberglass mat or cloth into 3 inch squares.
2. Accurately measure Part A and Part B of the epoxy. Mix just enough to do 10 minutes of work or about a quarter of the helmet.
3. Mix Part A and Part B together and mix completely is a seperate larger disposable container.
4. Brush on a layer of resin inside a section of the helmet.
5. soak a section of fiberglass in the resin.
6. Stick it on the inside wall of the helmet and brush it down with a stiff paint brush.
7. use a tamping motion with a brush to remove air bubbles.
8. keep applying sections of cloth until all the epoxy is used up.
9. Throw away the container that had the mixed epoxy.
10. Go back to step 1 and repeat entire procedure until the entire helmet interior is covered.

the picture with the tube is just to show that I have in fact worked with Epoxy Resin and Fiberglass Cloth. The tube is for my LAW instructable.

Let the epoxy set. Set time is usually 6 hours.

Step 8: Make It Strongish, Kinda Sorta Strong - Method 3

I just used this method once and never again. It is dangerous, it is messy, it smells funny, and the helmet became really heavy.  The helmet will melt onto your head if the weather reaches 100 degrees F. (and why in the world would you wear a helmet in 100 degree weather?).

Method 3 is the Hot Glue Method.

The procedure is to melt a lot of hot glue into a tin and then bush it into the helmet interior. Benefits are that the hot glue is very easy to find. there are no chemicals and there is no itchy fiberglass.

*** Note: this method is a BURN and FIRE HAZARD. Be careful. ***

The procedure is as follows:

1. Melt a ton of hot glue sticks in a tin can
2. Once all the glues is evenly melted dip a paint bush in it.
3. paint the hot glue inside the helmet walls.

Let the glue cool. Cool time is normally 30 minutes.
Good luck. I personally don't like this method.

Step 9: Make It STRONGER - Method 4

Method 4 is to use Polyurethane Casting Resin as the internal support material. Casting resin is a two part chemical that when mixed together turns into a hard plastic within minutes.

A short list of casting resins:
Smoth-on 320 - Smooth-On
Alumilite - Alumilite Corp.
Easyflo 120 - Polytek Development Corp.
Tap Quick-cast - Tap Plastics

Casting resin benefits include simple application, low odor, less toxic fumes, no fiberglass. It is also a very fast process. This method is also the least messy of the four I have done. 

The down side if this method is expense. Useful amount of casting resin cost around $40. Also, casting resin is not readily available and shipping cost is high since the product is heavy.  Casting resin is also very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Casting resin will bubble if there is water on the object or if it is humid. It will not set fully if it is too cold and will bubble if its too hot.

For the helmet in this instructable, I used this method. I performed the process in my patio on a rainy day. There are small bubbles and pin holes inside my helmet.

Use the same precaution as with epoxy resin - gloves, glasses, drop cloth and good ventilation.

The procedure is as follows:

1. Accurately measure out Part A and Part B of the resin
2. In a larger disposable container pour and mix A and B. Mix completely.
3. Pour content into the helmet.
4. Slosh the resin around so that every surface is covered. Some may spill out.
5. Keep the helmet moving to keep the material even.
6. In a couple of minutes the liquid will begin to gel. the gel will suddenly turn solid (to see great example of this go see step 5, picture 7 of my Arm armor instructable).
7. the helmet will be warm and the plastic soft. If you want to add a second layer, now would be the time.

Once the helmet cools the plastics sets and you are done. Plastic set time is normally 15 minutes.

Things to look out for on this method is that your helmet is water tight. If you were meticulous with your cutting, folding and glueing, this will be the case. If your pep was quickly thrown together then your helmet will leak casting resin like a sieve and you will have a plastic coated floor and shoes.

Step 10: Make It Smooth.

We have already put a lot of work into this. We are done right? Nope.

The thing about using Pepakura is that our end product is very angular. All polygons and blockish. This is fine if we want to look like a character from an early 90s video game, but we are talking about Halo 3. Things need to look rounder and smoother.

Get some coarse sand paper and lightly sand the outside of the helmet.

NOTE: Step 10-13 REQUIRES wearing a respirator.

Now get the Bondo or similar vehicle repair body filler. Body filler has a pot life (work time) of only 3 minutes. What you do is scoop out a gob on the stuff,  plop it on a piece of scrap cardboard, mix it with the catalyst and then quickly spread it on the helmet. We do not want it on everything. It is best used on large plain sections of the helmet. Places like the dome, the back of the neck and the temples. 

Only scoop out small globs, like the size of three tablespoons of peanut butter. We only have three minutes to work with the stuff so a large scoop will just end up hardening on the cardboard mixing surface before you can apply it to the helmet. That would be a waste.

Work quickly to spread the putty on thinly and evenly. Several thin layers work best. After the first layer is in place and has hardened (about 10-15 minutes) sand it with coarse sandpaper to remove lumps and bumps. spread on another layer. Let the second layer harden and sand like the first layer. Make a third batch of bondo and spread on the helmet. Sand the third layer smooth. A overall bondo thickness of 1/16 up to 1/4 inch thick will be added to the helmet as needed. Some parts of the helmet will have thicker bondo layers than others

Do the above to all the  sections that need bondo. Again, not all parts needs putty,

Once all the bondo has been sanded smooth, take one of the spray paint colors that contrast best with the bondo and lightly spray the helmet. Light - like barely a misting of paint. let the paint dry.

Step 11: Making It Even and Smooth With MUD (a.k.a. RONDO)

The front and back rim of the dome is not even. The paper itself has warped a little so that both front and back rim is angled wrong.  I can fix this by adding several layers of bondo and sanding it. After several layers with lots of sanding in between I am sure I can make the rim look very even and flat.

But that is a lot of work. I have a much faster method.

This method is called "RONDO" or "MUD".  It is basically thinned out Bondo that can be poured and is self levelling.  It works best on areas of the armor that is flat and wide.

The recipe is simple. Mix equal parts Bondo and fiberglass resin (polyester resin). Mix it in a plastic cup until it is the vescosity desired. Then add catalyst. The catalyst amount should stay the same. BUT before doing this, prep your part by building a dam.

To build a dam get some 1 inch wide masking tape and fold one edge onto itself so that 1/3 of the tape is not sticky. Stick the tape onto the part to build a dam that will hold back the rondo/mud.  Add extra layers of tape on areas of the dam that looks like it will need reenforcing. Secure the helmet so that the part that will hold the rondo/mud is flat, level and even. Mix the batch of rondo as described above.

Pour the mud. Move the mud around so that it is completely filling the dammed up area and is even.
Wait for the mud to cure. it will take about an hour.

Remove the tape and sand.

Step 12: Final Bondo Cleanup.

Take medium grit sandpaper (80 grit) and sand the bondo. Use a sanding block. You will notice that some of the paint is coming off and some of the paint is staying.  the areas where the paint is not sanding off are the low spots. More bondo is needed in those areas.

Mix up a small batch of bondo. Spread a thin layer of bondo on the places where the paint did not sand off.  Let the bondo harden and sand to blend.  Repeat for all the low spots.

Do another light spray of paint then sand with medium grit sand paper. locate the low spots and repeat the process above.

By the third coat of spray paint there should be no more low spots.

Move to a fine grit sandpaper (150 grit) and sand the entire helmet smooth.

For the example helmet I kept some of the pits and imperfections of the bondo in place. I have plans for them later on.

Step 13: Add the Details

Once you are happy with the overall shape and smoothness of the bondo, it's time to plan out the detail work.

The helmet has groves and cuts that may be hard to replicate with Pepakura. Draw out the grooves with a pencil.  Check out your work.  Take a step back and look at it from all angles.  Make corrections to the lines as needed.  Make sure everything looks perfect now.  It is much easier to correct pencil lines now than it is to fix it once the cuts are made.

Looks good? OK, time to get the Dremel, dust mask and SAFETY GLASSES out.  Attach a thick cutting disk to the Dremel.  Very carefully cut out the grooves into the bondo layer. Do not go too deep. Just go deep enough to reach the paper underneath the bondo or 1/16 inch, which ever is shallower. Try to keep your cut depth consistant.

Mistakes - In the event your cut went too far or in places where lines intersect, you may end up with cut lines that make a "t" or an "X". Don't worry, mix up a small amount of bondo and fill in the overcuts.  Sand to blend the new bondo into the old bondo.

Use a jeweler's file or an emery board to clean up the details.

Once all the details are completed, get out extra fine sandpaper (300 grit) and give the entire helmet one final sanding.

Step 14: Paint

Paint the entire helmet with primer. Let the primer dry.  Follow the instructions on the paint can. Several layers of primer may be needed specially if using "Filler Primer". Sand between coats. Use super fine sandpaper (600 grit).

Where you want wear/damage/dents/scratches paint over the primer with silver paint. The whole helmet does NOT need to be painted silver. Follow the instructions on the can. Buff the silver paint with a soft cloth.  If your final color coat is other than black or gray then I recommend misting the silver with a VERY LIGHT mist of black to dull out the shine. If your final color is black or gray then keep the silver shiny.

For this example I want to have a helmet that has seen action in several worlds. It will have minor damage. Some dings and dents here and there. This is why i kept some of the imperfections of the bondo in place.

I want the overall paint to look chipped in some places. To get this effect, I use the "condiment" technic. You get a condiment like ketchup, mustard or mayo and dab it at random spots with you finger or qtip. Good places would be on edges and high-wear areas.

I did not have ketchup or mustard but I did just finish a cup of chocolate pudding. I dabbed the leftovers over the imperfections I left in the bondo. See thePainting Section of Part 3 - Arms for pictures of my pudding technique.

Spray paint the helmet with your choice of colors. My choice is black. Paint several thin layers 5-10 minutes apart until you have a uniform coat. 3-5 layers should be good. Let the paint become dry to the touch and wipe the entire helmet down with a damp rag. Rinse the rag frequently.  Where the condiment (or in my case, dessert) is under the paint it will wipe off easily leaving randomly shaped chipped sections. 

Using the wet rag, rub out some edges to buff off some of the paint to reveal some of the silver underneath. This will give a worn edge look which is different from the chipped paint look.

If the helmet is damp, wipe the helmet dry. If black or grey is the final color give the helmet an uneven light mist of black or gray to dull out the silver showing through. Buf with a dry cloth when the paint dries. If you are happy with the results give the helmet a final coat of matte clear. Don't use glossy clear. Realistic-looking battle armor should not be glossy.

Cut out the visor section of the helmet. The paper and resin here is just a place holder. Trim to the proper opening shape and size and prepare to install the visor. Pictured, I used a side cutting high speed cutter bit.

Step 15: The Visor

It is possible to use a motorcycle visor as a lense for our helmet. But that will not give the right shape for the visor.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with or have ever tried vacuum forming. That would be the best way to get the proper shaped lense. Lucky for us that there are plenty of instructables on vacuum forming.

What you can do is order a pre-formed visor from one of the members on the 405th. This is the route I went with.

I purchased a visor from

Cut and shape double-sided foam tape around the edge of the visor opening and stick the visor on. You may want to leave several small gaps in the foam tape framing the lense opening. This will serve as vent holes to prevent fogging. I then drilled several points on the helmet where the lense and the helmet meet.

Remove the protective backing on the foam tape and stick to the inside of the helmet. Be sure to align the visor properly so it is straight and centered. Use wood screws and screw the visor from the inside-out. That way the rounded head of the screw is inside the helmet and the pointy bit that could hurt you is on the outside. Use a dremel cut-off wheel and dremel sanding drum to make the screw end flush with the surface of the helmet. Touch up the area with Bondo and paint.

You could also just glue the visor in place. But I found that my visor was too stiff and would not retain the contour of my helmet (it kept unbending and left a big gap between helmet and visor). If the visor material you are using is less thick or the curve your your helmet is not as narrow as mine, glue should work.

Step 16: Create Decals / Stickers

Some simple emblems, labels and insignias would help create the final finish to the exterior of the helmet. For this we will need the following materials:
1. Printer
2. Transperency film
3. White spray paint, flat finish (actually any color except black will work)
4. Peel-n-Stick double-sided sticky sheet

First, create some simple black and white images using your prefered drawing tool (picture 1). If you have letters in your graphics, MAKE SURE TO REVERSE THE IMAGE. I used Windows Paint. The images do not need to be fancy. The UNSC logo i got from the internet.

Next print out the picture onto the transperency film (picture 2).

Once the ink dries,  spray paint the film on the same side the print is on (pictures 3-5).

Once the paint is dry, apply the double-sided sticky sheet. Cut out the stickers and apply to helmet (pictures 6-9).

The stickers looks bright and new on the helmet. I gave it a light dusting of flat black to take the shine off.

Step 17: Final Touches

Get soft foam or some sort of padding and glue them inside the helmet so that hard parts of the bucket is not pressing down on you skull.  You do not need to cover every inch of the inside with foam. A ring or a square for the top of the head, a couple of small pieces for the back of the head and a couple of small pieces for the temple is all that us needed to make the helmet comfy.  The more foam you put the hotter it gets.

The helmet gets hot. Install a fan inside. A laptop blower fan would be best. The next option would be a 30mmx30mmx10mm fan. You want to route the airflow to go across the lense. Otherwise the lense will fog up. You will want to find strategic hidden spots near the top of the helmet to vent hot air out. Around 3-4 discreet vent holes should be enough.

If you want, install lights.

A chin strap may be a good idea.

Rub dust, dirt and mud on the helmet for added realism.

Total cost for the Helmet - $101.
Keep in mind a lot of items purchased will be used on other parts of the armor. I don't have to buy more resin ($12), card stock($15), sand paper($12), and casting resin($40) to complete the rest of the armor.

Cost would have been significantly higher if I had to buy a Dremel, drill, exacto knife, scissors, and power sander. Fortunately, i had all those things already.

On to PART 2 - Torso Armor.