HELM and NECK
To begin, I would like to put credit (and blame) on the individuals to which I have gotten the pep files from to use as a base in this particular endevour, EyeofSauron (for his iron man files, of which I have picked and chosen particular parts from) as well as BSD for the helmet file. I have always shied away from pep as a base, and relied on my own skills using sintra to bring my armor to life. That being said, this is my first time using pep files, and the tutorials in and around the RPF and the web have been of great help.
The neck armor took two nights to put together. The file was clean and simple to understand. I used a simple white glue to put the initial model together. I did the resin in sections, visually splitting the model into quarters and doing each section in turn. Two layers later, the inside walls were done as a whole, as the outsides were very solid and not distorted as was my original concern in doing a full outside coat at one time. I followed up with a series of light layers of bondo in the same fashion, doing one section at a time, using a combination of fingertip and rubber card.
After stage one of sanding (once coated in a thin layer of bondo) I did a black matte spray to see what needed to be fixed. I was not surprised at the amount of filling needed. I was using a Mastercraft detail sander with pointer detailer tip to make sure the definition was showing and well represented.
Once you get to this point, things feel really solid and the confidence grows. I encourage anyone who is a first time "pepper" to be patient. Thing do work out in the end.
Third stage sanding and fixes continued. I noticed the back side and the protrusion from the back of the neck was horrible uneven, and I hated looking at it. I traced out the shape of the "grebblie" on paper and cut out a slap of sintra to match it, and used crazy glue as an adhesive (which worked incredibly well for hold), and smoothed out the sides. As you can see from the images, there was lots of pits to fill and smooth out.
Stage four sanding and spot putty-ing. If you have gotten to this stage in any pep file you are working on, GOOD! It takes time and patience in this, and there are many who simply give up at this point. Never give up, learn and understand WHY you are doing this and your end result will look fantastic. Finally, the bondo was smoothed, and a coat of primer applied. There is still some minor imperfections in the lines to even out, and detail to add like added ribbing to give it a more bio mechanical feel, and to break up the "smoothness" of it all.
I went back to the neck armor to size it, once I had everything needed to prepare for the worst. I took my dremel and a cutting wheel and did two slices along the side from top to bottom to split the piece apart. Once the fitting was done, the excess was cut away and discarded. I taped the sides back together and proceeded to reseal the seams with fibreglass backing and bondo. Once cured, I split the sides open again, this time, knowing it was fitted properly. The problem now was the seam line showing. Taking a cue from my Marco Enterprises Stormtrooper armor (a restoration project I am still doing) I devised a simple cover tab out of sintra to not only add more detail to the part, but to adequately cover the seam line where the armor joins.
It should be noted that each bend in the seam cover had to be individually cut and glued, then open areas and seams filled and sanded. Its an extra step, but in the end, it proved to be the right thing to do. A quick sand to smooth down, and out came the paint. I am using Duplicolor Chrome with Duplicolor Metalcast to get a real shine. I will be doing more detail painting with Rub N Buff to accentuate the recesses and minor dings.
ARMS and HANDS
Now we move into a realm of building I am very familiar with. Sintra
I knew I wanted to have a "thicker" more solid look and feel to the body armor, and while thin would work well for the head and neck, the exposed areas where the edges could be seen needed to be bulked up. So I turned to sintra and a few external armor patterns (modified of course) to fit my needs from the armorarchive.org. the original plan was to do pepakura armor, but darn if PVC sheet didn’t win out in the end.
Pictured here, the gauntlet cuff and forearm with detail. Never underestimate the use of crush rivets and the dollar store knick-knacks.That pretty disc used to dress up the elbow cop is a compact mirror case. Sometimes, thinking outside the box helps, and one should never dismiss re-purposing.
Because the gauntlets with this build are two piece (separating at the wrist to allow for easy gearing), the "hand" portion is not connected to the main body or the cuff, of the gauntlet. This has made me re-think how I can make it look like the assemble is all one piece, and thus, out comes the cardstock paper to play around with (and modify) patterns BEFORE going to the sintra table.
I chose to employ the overly complicated method of "the screw" to do the mock up of the articulation at the wrist...
And of course, fingers. Anyone who tells you that doing hands and fingers for armor is cakewalk? Don't listen. Remember the patters I did? (see above) those patterns changed slightly and now I am completely re-thinking the finger armors because of it.
First, here are the basic parts, cut out of 1/8 inch sintra and shaped. Looks simple enough right, a back of the hand plate and a wrist cover. and look..finger plates as well just waiting to be shaped and riveted, and the patterns developed for both. After making sure the rivets would join correctly and give me articulation, we started with the detail work. It was at this point, I took another look at what was done, and found that the surface area was...a little barren. I started with a little surface detail, taking cues from various artists, noting where certain lines were drawn etc. It still needed...something. The hand plates are no less important than anything else, but what? Then the thought hit me. Knuckles. So I took a look through my junk drawer to see what I could use, and found nothing. Until I took the rounded end of a screwdriver handle and pressed it into Plasticine to make a quick mold for a Rondo Milkshake filler. I cast 4 knuckles and placed them where they needed to go, glued in place then screwed in from the underside of the hand plate for extra security.
A little bondo work to fill in the small open areas, a little more detail work, and more pics and updates to come. I have decided to revamp the finger armor at this point, simply because the finger plates might not "match" the rest of the look as it pertains to the hand armor (which looks great with the rest of the armor currently .
I got a brainstorm at work, and came up with a modest design for the finger armor. Getting into the Workshop after the fact, I pulled out a scrap piece of styrene and set to work tracing and cutting. The heat shaping for these parts was a little time consuming, but it worked out rather well overall. There is nothing re-used on these finger parts, even the strappings are cut from styrene and set into place for proper fit. I did want to see the effect of the paint overall, so a quick spray after doing some minor detail work really gave me a good idea how its all going to look. My initial thought was to cover up the open knuckle, but after doing some test fittings and making sure the joint was working properly, I decided against it.
BODY, THIGHS and SHINS
When it had to come down to a decision wether or not to ACTUALLY make the body armor. For one thing, it wouldnt be seen under the tunic, so what would be the point. the argument for making the body armor won out in the end, based on the simple fact that just because it cannot be seen, DOES NOT mean it shouldnt be done.
So I set to getting a hand in making a body double out of saran wrap and duct tape. You can check out the TUTORIAL page for the instructions. It does not take long and is a great tool to have on hand. Once the double was completed, I went to the armor archive to seek out a pattern, which was modified for my needs. The armor itself did not need to be full length, and actually cuts off just above the navel to accommodate the huge belt that needed to be made (see Armor, tunic, Hood, Cape and Accessories).
The pattern was traced out onto the sintra sheet, cut out and shaped using a variety of useful tools. the back end of a screwdriver, my own knuckles (wearing gloves of course) and my knee. Once the desired shape and musculature was in place, I added a little edge detail similar to what was done with the arms to bulk it up and get that heavy armor look that I was after.
Moving ahead, I also decided that the thighs needed to be done properly and in similar fashion, the argument for beat out the against, based on the same reasons as the chest. To keep things under budget, the thighs were created from plastic waste paper baskets cut in half, sized, then re-attached with sintra strips and fibreglass for strength. (see TUTORIAL page for PDF instructions).
The lower legs (greaves) were the most intersting to do. The first prototype was attempted out of sintra but as a solid piece. I could not quite get the shape I was after, and so it moved on to trying to see if I could not pull the shin backs using a vacuform machine. It did work, but it still fell short of the mark. Again, I turned to the internet to see if there was a metal or a leatherworking pattern I could use and modify, and it hit the spot. I re-drew the pattern in Illustrator, tested it with paper and it worked great, and so, with new pattern in hand, set to work shaping what I could with sintra and a heat gun, filling in the split gaps with fibreglass and bondo, then sanding everything down to a smooth finish. Originally the two halves (front and back) were going to be held together via magnets similar to the neck peice, but the pressure from walking caused the halves to separate just enough to make me want to make them more secure. I used elastic strapping that was secured to the insides of each half to keep them from splitting, which made the lower leg one peice, but it would separate just enough to slide on. The boot tops for foot armor were also patterned out with articulation in mind and easily slip over top of the boot with elastic straps fastened under the sintra plates.
ROBE, HOOD and CAPE
All of the soft part, cape, tunic, hood were patterned out and sewn together by Rachel, and she did a fantastic job. Her input into how the fabric should look and feel was invaluable in completing this project. Fabric selection is just as important as anything else on this build, and we both wanted it to look AND feel right.
All other accessories, such as the clasps and belt buckle, had to be made from scratch. The clasps were comprised of three different “found” items, a bar b que wheel cover, a decorate part from a ladies' belt and a 70’s drink coaster, all put together then moulded to make casts from. The chain is simple plastic garden chain spraypainted and then sealed, and the buckle was created using 1/4 inch sintra and mold/cast “pyramid” shapes for the corners. The belt itself was cut out of a deep brown leatherette vinyl with a Wonderflex backing, and bronze eyelets for that decorative touch.
The entire suit was done and ready for debut at Saskatoon Expo 2014. Since then I have done a few changes as there was too much “open” areas in parts of the armor, that will be filled in with plastic chain-mail (currently underway). also, the hands and fingers are getting a revamp, allowing me more flexibility and movement, and Rachel is adamant that the cape needs to be “more”. I do not mind at all, as there is always room for upgrades.