Making EVA Foam weapons is incredibly fun and simple but it does take practice. I plan to do many of these tutorials for all the Halo Weapons .If you have more questions or need further tips hit me up on instagram @ebonywarriorstudios
LETS DIVE IN!
Step 1: Tools of the Trade!
Making EVA Foam weapons is incredibly fun and simple but it does take practice. Here I'll teach you how I made a Plasma Rifle from the Halo Universe. Here are most of the materials you would need to replicate what I made.
-hot glue gun
- masking tape
-black liquid shoes polish (KIWI)
-modge podge (or any PVA glue)
-Dremel (Round grinding bit, perfect for smoothly sanding eva foam) *Pictured
-10mm & 5mm EVA foam
-xacto knife with diamond blades
-sharpies or pens for drawing
-printer (for your templates)
-Utility Netting with hexagon pattern (Joanns)
-Krylon Spray paints (Purple, blue and silver)
- Acylic Paints ( I use Citadel Model Paints)
- 220 &1000 grit sandpaper
-steel bar (Home Depot)
Step 2: Life Sized PDF
IF YOURE A MEMBER OF MY PATREON YOU WILL HAVE ACCESS TO MY TEMPLATES AND LIFESIZED PDFs. All the weapons I make are life sized because who doesn't like other worldly weapons?! So for all of these tutorials I have perfectly scaled PDFs for each weapon so you can print out 1:1 scale templates. They're sized for letter sized paper. You'll need to print it out then use regular invisible tape to piece it together. Make sure you cut it out as shown with no excess white space still attached.
Step 3: Inner Layers and Support
So to begin I started with the largest pieces inside and worked my way out. I used my template to trace the pattern onto eva foam. Using my reference I could see that the grip of the Plasma rifle was roughly 2 inches in thickness (give or take) so I used 3 layers of 10mm EVA to create the inner most layers, making sure to keep the smooth side of the eva foam on the outside on the left and right. Inner layer can have the textured side facing in any direction because you won't see it under the 2nd and 3rd. Now because EVA foam is flexible you will need support inside. I used a lightweight steel rebar that I found at Home Depot. It retains it's shape well and is thin enough that you just have to cut a very shallow indent into your foam to sandwich it between layers. So you should be tracing the 3 layers out first, then using your xacto blade to cut them out as cleanly as possible, then cutting a small trench into any side of the middle layer you can insert the metal (skeleton) and anchor it down with some hot glue. Next using your contact cement you will sandwich the 2 outer layers onto the middle one.To add the extra girth and detail to the grip I add 5mm EVA onto each side.
Step 4: Adding More Layers and Sanding to Shape
Now to get the profle and silhouette I wanted on that iconic plasma rifle I had to add 4 more layers of detail onto the top and bottom halves (2 on each side of the rifle, top and bottom). Next up was sanding to get rid of the blockiness and get a more rounded and uniform shaping. Using my reference and dremel I began to shape the top and bottom, sculpting it do look just like the in game shape. During this process you can also shape the grip , shaving off the sharp angles and also touch up any miss aligned ares on the eva foam seams.
Step 5: Outer Shell Templating
Now we create the smooth out carapace of the rifle using a templating technique called foil masking.Because the shape of the plasma rifle has complex curves we need to use a material that will mold to the curves in one large sheet. Tin foil is the perfect material. Some use plastic wrap but I feel foil is sturdier in the long run.Cover your surface in tin foil making sure to smooth it down to capture all your angles and curves. Then take your masking tape or painters tape and cover the whole surface. Along the top and bottom of the rifle denote where the center line is and mark it with a sharpie. This way you can template on one side of the rifle, then flip it to use on the other half, creating a symmetrical shell. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the templates but you want to take the foil masking off of the piece, cut off all the excess, then lay it out flat to create the pattern onto 5mm eva foam. If a piece wont lay flat cut a curved relief into it so it will lay flat. When you recreate the piece on the foam all you need to do is glue the relief cut together and it will create the curve on your foam.Be very careful when gluing your seams together, making sure they are flush with one another. Makes less finishing work for you to do in the end.
Step 6: More 5mm Detailing, Heat Treating, Kwik Seal and Wet Sanding
Continue to use your reference to add more small details to your piece. You can get inlayed detailed by cutting lines in with an xacto blade then hitting it with your heat gun. Once you're satisfied with all the tails and layers you can lightly go over the surface with your heat gun to pre seal the foam, open up detail cuts and reveal any seam spaces you may need to fill. Use your dremel to sand any remaining high points, jagged cuts, etc. Anywhere you can't reach with your dremel use your 220 grit sandpaper. Next take a bowl of water and dip your 1000 grit sandpaper into it, then buff the surface of the foam on any seams. If these steps are done correctly your seams will disappear creating the illusion of a seamless surface. If there are and pin holes or minor seams left you can use kwik seal to fill them. Put a small bit down then use an old xacto blade to smooth the surface so that kwik seal is only in the seam. Any excess kwik seal can be smoothed and cleaned up with a dab of water. After your kwik seal is dry go over any seam surface with 2 coats of modge podge. I'll explain why in the next step.
Step 7: Sealing!
By this point your rifle should be hella smooth doing the next step very simple. In sections you want to coat the surface in plastidip (2 to 3 coats will help further hide any seams), allowing at least 45 min between coats for it to spray. PLEASE WEAR A RESPIRATOR, THIS STUFF IS SUPER TOXIC. If you didn't coat your seams with pva or modge podge you run the risk of the plastidip opening up and contact cement connection points. Once your surface is completely plastied you will want to apply a base layer of silver.to your project, letting it dry over night.
Step 8: Hex Pattern
The Plasma Rifle has a really cool hex pattern in it's paint job and the cheapest way to replicate that is to get some utility fabric (usually used for laundry bags) from a fabric store ( I used Joann's). I then used spray adhesive on one side of the fabric to make it tacky. It was just sticky enough to adhere to the surface without damaging my silver layer. You then go over the surface lightly misting and building up your purple, so you don't have any bleeding underneath the fabric stencil. Once your purple is built up you can lightly add tones of metallic blue onto the surface as well. Remove the fabric carefully without dragging it on your fresh paint and lightly mist more purple and blue to tone down the silver under layer that's now exposed. Let it cure over night.
Step 9: Grip and Detail Paint Work
Next you want to tape off the upper and lower layers to protect your purple. Use your reference to make sure the correct areas that are supposed to be purple are protected. Depending on the reference you use the grip ranges from grey to black. I settled on a charcoal grey steel color. Paint the grip surface and let it cure, If you want to add black detailing then do so with acrylic paint. I suggest waiting until it's cured then removing the masking tape and painting all black details at once on each side, so you don't have to go back and forth between paints. Once that is dry you will want to weather ONLY the steel surfaces with black liquid shoe polish. apply to the surface the buff it off with a rag or paper towel. It will leave behind and nice grime and weathered surface as well as a protective sheen. Get into the cracks and crevices to really create more depth in your piece. When that is done continue to use your acyrlics to add any logos, lights or details that you see on the reference images. You can add electronics to a piece like this if you so choose i just chose not to for the simplicity of this tutorial. When you're satisfied with your paint scheme you need to cover the entire surface with a gloss sealant (preferably the same brand as the spray paints you used). Let that cure for a few hours then...
Step 10: FINITO
Viola! You now have a 1:1 Scale Elite Plasma Rifle!!!!