For this tutorial you will need the following:
Foam (Eva matts, yoga matts, foam sheet)
Thermoplastic + flour or Worbla (though you can achieve similar results with just foam)
Craft Knives (exacto, box cutter)
Hot glue gun + glue sticks
PVA / Wood glue
Sealer (I used satin sealer as I didn't want it to look crazy shiny as the paint has enough shine)
*Note: There are no patterns for this build as it was all made by creating basic patterns specifically for myself, but I do cover how this is achieved so you can easily recreate the process. A lot of the design is just done by eye based on what I thought would be the best way to achieve the result, sometimes this saved me time and other times it cost me a week of work just to bin the end result as unsatisfactory, but that's the point to learn from your experience and problem solve around issues you encounter along the way.
Step 1: Find Reference Images
As with any project you need to find a reference image or better yet a set of reference images, in this case thanks to the character being in a video game it was easy enough to locate a almost 360 view of the character providing a lot of angles to base the project off.
Step 2: Make Yourself Some Patterns
For this step you will need to find yourself a friend to assist you as doing this solo is near on impossible.
Now hopefully you have a friend to help get some tin foil and wrap you head or selected body part with foil and try your best to get as much detail as possible into the form of the foil, next comes the painstaking part of making this form into a more solid and usable pattern to do this you will need some tape I personally recommend duck tape of the silver variety (I originally used plain black duck tape and discovered quickly the main issue is that you have no way to draw on this as no colour marker will show up as shown in picture I had to use masking tape to be able to show eye placement), so you will want to slowly take strips of the tape and apply them to the tin foil using small strips to get detail where needed.
*Try to not let the tape build up on itself, you want this to be as smooth as possible using only one layer of tape on all sections if possible
Now you will need to remove your pattern from the subject (be careful not to damage yourself or your friend)
You will need to flatten this pattern to make it usable to do this you will want to slice the pattern down a centre line (pic 1) then look for the peaks in any curves and create additional slices until you end up with flat pattern for each part (pic 2), you can dart pieces as shown to help flatten smaller curves without creating additional slices.
For the head piece I covered 3/4 of my head and managed to flatten the pattern by cutting it in half and then making one additional cut to leave me with a middle and side section.
Step 3: Transfer Your Pattern to Paper
Myself I use that age old brown packing paper and felt tip pen as both of these are cheap and last reasonably well.
Layout or paper and then layout your pattern on top if you wish use pins to hold the pattern in place and then draw around your pattern, you will repeat this for every pattern you make as this will enable you to easily flip the pattern for left and right side without having to create a pattern per piece (see that's why we split our patterns down a central line, it also means if we screw up our original pattern we have a second one we can use to create a new set of patterns)
Once transferred you will need to cut out your pattern, I suggest using a cutting board and an exacto knife but scissors will do in a pinch.
Step 4: Transfer the Pattern to Foam
For the helmet I decided to use yoga matt foam (heat sealed dual layer, this was because the core is more solid and thus stops the foam from stretching and also is thinner than the standard foam puzzle piece matts so makes in thinner around your head)
I would advise using pins to secure your pattern to the foam with pins around all curve points and will prevent it from shifting as you trace around it with your marker.
Step 5: Cut Out Your Foam Pieces
Now you have your foam with the patterns traced on you can cut them out.
If like me you decided to use the thinner foam then you can use your exacto knife to perform this task if you decided to use the puzzle piece foam matt then you will want to use the box cutter, either way ensure you blade is sharpened every few cuts to keep it easy to pull through your foam and creating clean cuts.
You will need to cut inside the lines you have drawn to get exact sizes but in this case you can cut on the outside of your line to allow a bit extra space within your helmet or you may find it to small to fit your head (foam will stretch so this shouldn't be an issue in most cases).
Step 6: Stick Your Foam Piece Together
So now you have all your segments ready to stick together, do a quick check of your edges, if you did a good job when cutting you should have now issues but if you did have any messy edges you can use your sandpaper (320 for minor issues with thin foam) to quickly brush over these edges and clean them up.
Now you can add your glue, myself I heavily recommend using impact cement or contact cement for you Americans out there but you can get away with hot glue but you will need to be careful in application to not apply to much and to ensure you apply in to the inner edge otherwise you will find it a real pain to get rid of those seams later.
Go ahead and apply your chosen glue to the surface, (if impact/contact then wait for it to go tacky first) then line up your pieces and slowly push them together ensuring to keep them lined up at all times as your joining them.
You should now have your basic shape.
Step 7: Add Detail (get Creative)
Now for the fun part and sometimes fiddly part, adding detail to your design, first we will look to add larger details and work down to smaller detail.
So get your marker and draw onto the piece your concept design, be creative you don't have to make exact copies of your source (unless that's what you want) this is your version of the piece and its good to make it unique to you otherwise you might as well just buy a pre-made piece online.
Once you have your detail drawn out and your happy decide which areas are large detail and which are small, which areas extrude and which are inset, this will allow you to decide what method to use to get your result.
With mine I decided to inset from the front moving back then add minor details using my dremel then add some additional detail later using paint.
To achieve this I follow a simple rule no cut should be longer than 1/4 of the faces surface area, this rule will save you many tears, as I have found (at my own cost) cuts long than this will not extrude or inset and instead will just make your piece weak and more prone to issues and fixing it will be a long and frustrating process.
No following your lines make cuts for sections you wish to extrude or inset (note that no cute should leave the surface, you want to keep at least half a cm gap between your cut and the edge of your surface) once cut push the surface in or out as required and from the inside apply hot glue along this new seam and then hold it in place as the glue cools, this method allows you to make a layered design without actually needing to use additional materials.
You can also use you heat gun to warp the surface if you wish, on my mask I warped the area around the eye to give it a bit more character and to somewhat emulate the appearance of the original design.
Step 8: Finishing (prepping for Paint)
Now your piece should be looking pretty awesome but you will have a lot of ugly seams and if you did any heating to warp it then you will most likely have some finger prints where you pushed and pulled on the foam to create your shapes, but don't worry we will now cover our sins.
To do this you will need some acrylic caulk which you can buy from any good hardware store and a bowl with some water.
First apply the caulk sparingly along a seam, then using your finger wipe the caulk into the seam following it along and if it runs out just add a spot more caulk and continue to push and wipe it into the seam.
Once that's done use the water to wash excess off your finger(s) then dry our hand and dip a finger in the water shake off any drips and then use that damp finger to wipe over the caulk smoothing it out along the seam and around the edges getting it as smooth as possible.
Now leave it to dry, this will normally take a good few hours.
When you return to it you will see the caulk has shrunk pulling the seams together but also making the seam slightly inset, so now repeat this process again over the top of the dried caulk, a second coat should be all you need if done correctly to get a nice level and smooth surface, but only time will tell so once again leave it to dry and once dry make the call if you are going to repeat or if you feel its smooth and level enough to hide those ugly seams.
If your happy then you can now do the final prep which is to coat the foam with a sealer, you can use pva and water, modgepodge or wood glue depending on your preferred medium, myself I generally use pva in a 3 to 1 mix with water and apply normally around 3 coats leaving it to dry between coats, this will help to add additional smoothness to the surface and seal the foam making it a lot more durable.
Once that's done you can then apply a base coat of Plastidip (to be performed outside with a full respirator as its very toxic) or if you don't want to payout for Plastidip then an additional 3 coats of pva and water mixture will achieve a similar result.
Step 9: Base Coat Painting
Time to start painting!
If you used Plastidip like I did then you will have a rubber base coat which will take paint but requires a base layer to help the paint stick, if you used pva you will most likely find it sticks without issue but because pva is water based it might shift slightly when applying your paint so either way you will want to apply a base coat thinly across the surface and allow it to dry.
I suggest making your base coat in a similar colour to that which you plan to finish with but use a slightly thicker paint, cheap acrylics work really well for this purpose as they are normally quite thick and dry quickly.
Step 10: Painting
Now your piece is truly ready for a real paint job, so get your final colour paints together.
If your going to spray any part of it then first mask off the areas which will not be getting sprayed and take it to our spraying spot and apply the spray in neat thin layers leaving to dry between coats for the amount of time shown on the can for me this was 15mins and I did 2 layers and once that was dry I used a rubber grip matt and some dark silver spray to create the graphene style appearance I wanted.
Once that had fully dried (24 hours) I went ahead and removed my masking and used a copper acrylic paint to paint the other side doing my best to not stray over my central line and applied around 2 coats to build it up to a nice even shine then used a black acrylic paint to quickly paint in some of the details I was going to complete later.
Step 11: Painting Adding Detail and Finishing
To finish up the piece I used my base acrylic and mixed in some black to give me a darker colour and then used this to add shading to the surface, though no visible from a distance closer up it makes it look like there is a lot more shape to the piece than there actually is.
I cleaned up the basic detail I added during the normal painting phase and added some dark metal acrylic to some of my panels to make the piece look more complex and made of more than just two materials.
Then as a final touch up I dry brushed some silver / silver and black around all extrusions to make it look like the paint had worn down giving the piece a sense of age and helping to highlight the separation of the panels.
Of course all this is down to you to decide what you want it to look like, but in my case I find small details like this which can only be seen closer up really make the piece feel complete and bring out its character.
Once your happy with your paint job you will want to add a layer of sealer, I used a spray satin sealer as I think the piece was already pretty shiny and I didn't want it to go too shiny (gloss sealer) but also didn't want to remove the shine (matt sealer), a couple coats of this will do to make the paint job durable.
With that your first piece is done.
Step 12: Applying the Concepts to the Rest of the Armour
Now you have a good handle on the process I use to take a piece from concept to completion lets start applying these same basics to other pieces of the armour to make up the outfit.
First lets look at the largest piece the body armour, this is made up for a few separate pieces a front, a back, two neck guards and two shoulders so as such we will treat each as its own mini project this way you will find it easier to complete the elements and then combine them as you progress to help in making the other parts.
Like before you will want to create a pattern, but this time for your chest.
Once you have your pattern sorted, transfer it to paper and then to foam, for this piece I suggest using the puzzle piece foam matts as its larger, more solid and will support weight without distorting.
This time you will want to use the box cutter as an exacto will normally be to short to cut all the way through the foam.
Now unlike the head piece you can use your heat gun on the back of the foam to heat it and then warp the sheet like before but on a large scale to create the curves around your chest shape.
You can then reuse your pattern to create the layered sections of your chest piece by drawing then cutting out the shapes to produce correctly sized elements to stick your main chest piece.
With mine you can see I used several different materials to achieve my desired end result, worbla and sheet foam to create the abs, yoga matt foam to create the layer over the abs and behind the pectoral pieces and of course puzzle matt foam for those being the thickest part of the chest.
The pec pieces were sanded to create the curve around the edges and a dremel was used to create the lines in the foam.
After these were all stuck down, some basic sheet foam was used to create the side armour straps, then like before the seams were treated with caulk, it was all coated in pva then plastidip.
Step 13: For Those That Want to See More Before I Finish the Tutorial
For those that want to see more of this before I actually finish writing it up and making it all, here are a few pics of the current status of the armour set (even now I have more of this done than is shown but I haven't taken pics)
Just added 3 pictures of the back piece of the armour, two show the armour as in its stand alone state and the last shows it with the lower back plating insert, the reason this is an insert rather than part of the armour as a stand alone is because it is serving double duty as one it is the plating of the lower back but it will also cover the joins between the front side pieces that fold round and attach to the back then this insert is slid over those joins and up behind the upper armour plate, this plate is held in place by 4 magnets in the core back plate and there are also two in the upper armour sections in the curve that pull the armour plates down onto the insert.
Step 14: Finished Product
Well unfortunately I had to rush the build and thus didnt manage to take many more in progress pictures so here is is some pics of the completed suit including accessories