Day 22: Taking some time to iron out some of the mechanical details on the suits before I move on to the lower legs. Installed elastic joints into the elbows to allow them to stay connected and bend.
Short video showing the elbow assembly on the Male.
Day 21:Got all the strapping for the upper legs finished and installed on Male and Female.
Day 20: Now working on both Male and Female costumes together. Total build time so far for both suits combined is 20 days.
Upper leg armors almost finished. Still have to add the buckles, strapping and a little more detailing.
Day 1: Chest assembled, cod almost finished, upper back base finished, rib strapping installed. The Black areas I simply sanded the pattern off.
Male Day 2: Got most of the collar cut and assembled, and the parts for the back roughed out.
Clips from first test fit on Jane. (Jane is the Female characters default name in game, which also happens to be her real name) Her costume blog can be found here.
First off a tip for the hardware and strapping. If you go to the fabric stores you can find all the elastic, Velcro, Nylon strapping and hardware you need for costumes,… it’s also going to cost you a good bit of money. Simple plastic eyelets and clips can cost $2 or $3 EACH, strapping $3 or $4 a yard, ect. What I do is go to the thrift stores and look for tote type bags which have the strapping and plastic hardware I need. For about $1 to $3 I can get several clips, eyes and a yard of strapping from each bag, which ends up being much cheaper.
Male Day 3: Making up some lost time, I got the lighting installed into the back pieces, attached the collar to the back base and added the shoulder strapping and collar clips.
Another few days and I should have the Male caught up with the Female progress. I decided it would be much easier to work on both suits at the same time rather than separately.
Male Day 4: Back fully assembled, only need to install the light covers on the shoulder blades. Also added a layer to the bottom of the abdomen which still needs to be evened out, sanded and beveled. Tomorrow I should be able to at least knock out the shoulders and biceps.
Male Day 5: Shoulders and biceps finished. Cut and prepped LED light covers but still need to glue them in place. On the Male LED covers, rather than using a semi opaque white tubing and then staining it the correct color, I found some transparent aqua colored tubing which looks much better. I’ll probably go back and replace the ones on the Female Armor to match.
Tomorrow, forearm and hand armor. At this pace I should have no problem finishing them in time for Dragon*Con.
Male Day 6: Forearms and hand armor finished. I had hoped to get more completed tonight, but alas not everything turns out right on the first attempt. I made my forearm patterns about 1/2 inch to narrow and only realized it after cutting them out and having them almost put together. I ended up starting over completely which cost me a few hours, but the second set turned out looking much better.
Both suits are now approximately 40% complete. From here on I will be working on both suits at the same time.
Not happy with the first pieces I cut for the male chest, I re-cut new ones with sharper detail lines. About to assemble them now and then I’ll start on the back.
Day 9: I got the rest of the torso harness finished and installed. Shoulder straps, collar attachments and crotch. Shoulder armor almost completed now. Only need to cut in the details.
Next up is the bicep, elbow and forearms.
Day 10: First test fitting. I detailed the shoulders, added another piece of strapping to the bottom of the shoulder plates to secure them on the arms, and finished the biceps. Still need to do some work on the elbows.
Next will be the forearms.
Day 11: Got most of the forearms done. Still some detailing and strapping to finish.
Just listed one of my special Guyver Helmets on Ebay. This one is unlike any others, based on an insect / reptilian theme and the only one I shall ever make like it.
What does this have to do with my N7 Armor build? Costumes take money to make and sometimes you have to sacrifice one project to fund another. So go bid on it already and help fund the N7 Armor!
I wasn’t able to get as much finished in the last 24 hours as I would have liked. While I may have Macgyver like skills with hot glue and floor mats, one of the purest and oldest costume making skills still eludes me to this day. Sewing.
I suck at sewing, did I mention that? (My idea of sewing is that tape you iron) Anyhow, just hand sewing the elastic harness to the clips and hardware took me the better part of the evening. I’m using heavy duty elastic, nylon strapping and Velcro to harness the armor together, so a little thick for machine sewing. (plus the sewing machine scares me) So after stabbing myself for several hours I have all the harness for the torso sewn but still have to install some of it, which I’m doing right now. Shoulder armor delayed until tomorrow.
Using double sided Velcro as the strapping here, which can be adjusted to size. Since the bands themselves are Velcro I can later create a panel that simply sticks on to encase and cover up the strapping, making the breast plate seem as one continuous piece from front to back.
Also spent a while today doing an email interview of sorts for a video game blog site.
Featured news story now on http://www.ripten.com/
Video showing the completed back of the female N7 Armor. Nothing fancy yet, just raw video showing the lighting and progress thus far.
Tonight I will be making the strapping/harness and starting on the Shoulder armor.
Day 7: Other than painting and attaching some strapping, the back torso is finished.
For the lighting on the shoulder blades I am using some simple sets of battery operated Christmas lights, 30 LED’s total. (powered by 4 AA’s) To install them I simply used an ice pick to puncture holes into the foam where the lights should go. Then I just push the LED’s through the rear of the piece. I then took some semi opaque tubing and cut it to form a cover that fit down over the lights. Using a transparent stain I painted the tubing the correct color. (may still put on another coat to even the color out a little) For the center ring and lower light strip on the tail bone I used about 3 foot of EL wire. (powered by a 9 volt)
The battery packs are stored inside the center piece on the back. Power stitches are easily accessible at the top opening where it joins with the collar.
I attached the abdomen to the chest plate making it one piece. The collar and lower spine were attached to the back plate making it one piece. The torso will basically be 2 shell pieces that snap together at the shoulders, ribs and crotch.
Didn’t quite get to the lighting yet, sculpting the plating for the back took a little longer than I thought, but they came out great. Most of the back is built now, still some detailing and polishing work to do on the center piece. Parts are not yet attached, just placed in position for the photos. LED’s and EL wire needs to be installed before attaching.
Back/shoulder blade pattern, raw cut piece, and almost finished being sculpted/sanded.
Parts laid into place.
1. You said you dremel the edges of the foam? Are you coating the foam in something or just leaving it as is? Its hard to picture sanding down plain foam…
2. Related to #1, do you seal the foam before you paint?
3. What kind of heat gun do you use?
1 & 2. Yes, I use a dremil with different tips depending on what I am doing, but these are my most used tips in general:
For sanding, beveling and smoothing the edges
Cutting the detail lines
If its a large flat surface area that needs sanding I will even use sandpaper and/or a sanding block on it.
Since I am actually using the rubber coated underside or back of the foam as the front this time I wont have to do much sealing. I can paint the rubber side with no problems. The only time that the foam side of the foam needs to be sealed is if you are going to paint it. On past builds I have tried different things to seal it, Krylon clear coat, Modge Podge, Craft sealants, glues, etc. All seem to work ok but still haven’t found anything that works really well. One of the guys I know who makes foam suits used rubber shoe glue to seal the foam, (diluted to about 50% and sprayed or brushed on) but I have yet to try this method.
3. I use a Heavy duty Black & Decker w/2 heat settings. (using mostly high heat)
Collar pattern and cutouts.
Progress end of day 5. Collar is mostly complete. Still have to trim and fit it to the back panel. Next will be the back details and lighting placement.
Pattern and cut back panels.
With a heat gun I rounded out the pieces a little more, Dremil sanded the edges and with hot glue, mounted strips of Velcro inside the chest panels where they will attach.
Day 4 Progress shot on the female version.
I will update this blog every few days with my build progress on the N7 Armor from Mass Effect 2. I am making a matching set, one male version and one female version.
Step one: Reference
I ended up installing the PC version of the game, even though I already have the 360 version because trying to get screen-shots off the Xbox is a complete pain in the ass. Posting the images I am going to use in case anyone else wants to use them.
- Male Version:
- Proposed Final Color Scheme:
Yes I used the “Obama” character code.
- Female Version:
- Proposed Final Color Scheme:
(Note: Female color scheme may change numerous times prior to completion due to changes in mood, time of day, wind direction, etc. )
Paper pattern for Male Chest plate and Cod piece completed. Now I’ll cut it up and start tracing it onto the foam pieces.
How I make my patterns:
First I take measurements to make sure that I have the proper scale for the pieces. To keep it as symmetrical as possible I only draw/sketch out one half of the pattern. I then fold the paper in half down the middle. Using a light table, I then trace the 2nd half of the pattern onto the other side. For areas where the foam will curve or wrap around the body I have to allow for that on the patterns and elongate or extend the pattern. For this I will sometimes draw the patterns distorted, but more often I cut the foam larger than the pattern trace lines to allow for the distance and size that will be lost on the curve. (this will be more easy to understand as I post more steps)
Chest pieces cut out:
Note how the cod piece is cut larger than the pattern. This is to compensate for the size that will be lost when it is heated and rounded into shape. Also the mid section and abdomen have extra areas and length added where they will be overlapped and glued together.
End of progress for day one,.. 5 hours. Basic parts of chest cut and basic pattern outlines burned in. Still a lot of polishing and refining to do. Parts are not yet glued into place, simply laid on top of one another for the photo.
(note the padding in the photo has the “diamond plate” pattern on the back,.. I am using a different brand that has the rubber coated crosshatched pattern on the back)
I am using the back side as the surface to get the patterning on the armor. Some areas will be made smooth as per the design and some will be left with that pattern.
Don’t ask me what those objects are because I have absolutely no idea what the hell they were originally. I was doing my weekly thrift store pillaging and found a bunch of these half round plastic objects for $1 each with funny faces painted on them. They were the perfect size and shape that I needed so it was just pure chance.
I then cut a piece of Plexiglas to use as a press on the lower half where the breast-plate needed the hard line definitions. I drilled guide holes along the bottom and mounted pegs into the wood base to slide the Plexiglas down over. Then I heated a sheet of foam in the oven using the broiler and when it was hot enough I slapped it onto the form and pressed the plexi down onto it.
This was just a test press to see how it would work. I’m pretty happy with how well it came out, but I’m going to try making a few more when I have someone else here to assist me with pressing and stretching. I think with another set of hands I can get a more well defined piece.
Female chest and abdomen pattern, parts rough cut. Rough outline of details drawn on in sharpie, still some alterations to do before cutting/burning in the patterns.