Mass Effect: Mass Effect, Grunt - foam build with latex - pic heavy

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fallimar

Sr Member
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So, I've been planning a Grunt suit for a while now. I'm about to begin, so to kick my butt into gear I've started this thread. Always more motivation when you've got people spurring you on, or at least looking at what you're doing! heh.

Right, so I'm planning resin-coated foam for the armour, with fabric/latex undersuit, stilts for height, latex head/biceps, mouth vision, probably with jaw articulation via simple mechanical means using my own jaw movement.

I've gotten a friend to take some pictures of me for scale and proportion reference, and I've done a couple of overlays and a quick mockup sketch of how it might sit around my... less than ideal body shape. It should work with a lot of tweaking.

So, here we go.
SophOverlay1.jpg SophOverlaySketchFront.jpg

Ideally I'd like to use creature stilts, though for purely practical purposes they'll be hard to (a) get a hold of for less than an arm, a leg and some toenail clippings and (b)use for any period of time. I've got plasterer's stilts as another idea, though something with a nice low profile would be much better. Plan A involves creature stilts and makes building up the leg musculature very simple. Plan B involves straight stilts and makes the leg shaping a lot more annoying, but still doable. I've done false digitigrade legs a few times successfully using foam padding.

SophOverlaySketchSideStilts.jpg

My main proportion issue is the arms. I have very short arms and... am short. I'll have to basically pin Grunt's upper arms close to his sides and just move the forearm. I can tweak proportions a bit but the arms will always be an issue. Bulk isn't a problem, keeping my own arms at the inner edge solves that issue and hands can be padded up a bit and still be usable. Oh well, Robot Arms Grunt will probably be amusing if nothing else!

For proportioning the armour, I've got the little pepakura grunt model. I plan to make up the model in parts, then use the shape of each piece to mock up a full size paper pattern and transfer that to foam for the final build. Small parts and details I'll cast in resin if I can manage to learn it, and I'm currently figuring out the rough size of the head so I can set up a foil armature and get my fingers into the clay. I'm new to sculpting and casting, but I'm eager to learn.

Lights and such... I don't know. I'm a complete electronics newbie, but I'm sure I can get some help. EL wire looks like a good bet for the grunt electronics, and the fan/turbine on his back would be a very cool feature if it rotated and had lighting behind it. Good for air flow too if I can pull it off! Cooling good.

Major learning experience here, can't wait to get started. Constructive input or motivation would be very much appreciated :)
 
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Freya Willia

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

I don't think having the upper arms less mobile would be a huge deal. That's one of those things that may even work out better than you think once a good frame is built.

As big as this suit is, I think there is a lot of potential to keep it decently lightweight. That would be my main concern as a short person, because if I were to attempt this at 5'3 - even foam can get pretty heavy. If I were to try it, I'd look at what parts of the suit might be easy enough to substitute thin heat-formed styrene or vinyl fabric stabilized with craft interfacing. After building my N7 armor for a year I noticed that there are so many kinds of vinyl material out there that don't look like fabric at all when glued to a rigid interfacing.

Good luck, I'll be checking in on this. Not too many Krogan builds out there.
 

agirlcalledbob

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

GRUNT! Not much advice in the way of construction, sorry, but I'm excited to see it come together :)
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

I don't think having the upper arms less mobile would be a huge deal. That's one of those things that may even work out better than you think once a good frame is built.

As big as this suit is, I think there is a lot of potential to keep it decently lightweight. That would be my main concern as a short person, because if I were to attempt this at 5'3 - even foam can get pretty heavy. If I were to try it, I'd look at what parts of the suit might be easy enough to substitute thin heat-formed styrene or vinyl fabric stabilized with craft interfacing. After building my N7 armor for a year I noticed that there are so many kinds of vinyl material out there that don't look like fabric at all when glued to a rigid interfacing.

Good luck, I'll be checking in on this. Not too many Krogan builds out there.
True, and you're quite right about the weight. Thankfully there are a lot of unarmoured areas that seem to have that sort of black "tubing" fabric that so many space armours have. I'm thinking that I could quilt black rubberised fabric with some lightweight batting and some plain cotton fabric to get that effect. Stretched over a wire and foam frame it should hold up nicely in between armour pieces.
That said, I'm pretty used to wearing between 20 and 40 kilograms of steel plate armour with a heavy padded gambeson, so unless I go mad with the build I think I'll be fine :D
Also, shortness solidarity. *fistbump*

GRUNT! Not much advice in the way of construction, sorry, but I'm excited to see it come together :)
Woo Grunt! Me too actually. Too much thinking and too little building so far, but I'll get there. :)
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Right. I've sort of started! I'm making the little torso from the pepakura model for an armour reference, so in the meantime I've started smooshing together an armature for the head sculpt. After much head scratching and a trip to the hardware store, I found a wire hanging planter basket that I thought I could use, the dome is 40cm in diameter and the finished sculpt should bulk that out a bit. By my calculations it's just about right. I've started squashing aluminium foil into the vague shapes of the face and holding it together with duct tape. It's very rough, but for a rough block out that'll prevent me from having to buy 20kg of clay I'm happy. It's nowhere near finished, but it's already looking Grunty, so that's nice.

GruntArmature1.jpg GruntArmature2.jpg
The top needs a lot of bulk, the cheeks are slightly the wrong shape and the chin might need cutting down, but since the clay will go over it anyway I have to keep stopping myself from trying to add detail!
I'm debating whether or not to tilt the armature forward using something to prop it up, so the head spikes can be longer. I've got the feeling he might be a bit stumpy the way he is, and sit stiffly on top of the armour. I've just got to figure out how to make that work. Maybe some cardboard reinforced with stiff foam, the covered in the foil and tape. Might be able to glue it down too. hmm.

Ideas and input appreciated as always :)
 

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fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

More armature progress:
I've tilted it forward using scrap corrugated cardboard as filler, bulked out the back and improved the armature shape a bit. The head ridges are coming together. When I've got them all in their vague positions, I'll start smashing on the clay. Pics tomorrow after I've blocked in the major forms :)
GruntArmature3.jpg
 

booksandcorsets

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

I found having functional arms a GODsend, trust me, you want to be able to move around something! I suggest having your actual arms hidden within the real arms, IE, faking it. This is how a lot of the Warhammer builds do it, you could take a look there for some ideas :)
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

I found having functional arms a GODsend, trust me, you want to be able to move around something! I suggest having your actual arms hidden within the real arms, IE, faking it. This is how a lot of the Warhammer builds do it, you could take a look there for some ideas :)
Oh, I hope to at least have the lower arms be mine, with padding on the outer edge to bulk them up to proper proportions. The upper arms will probably only be able to move a little unless I can rig up a harness that lets them sort of dangle and be puppeteered, but that's getting a little too complex for my inexperience :p
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Okie. I've been busy lately with life things, but managed to get some clay on the armature. Certainly looking Grunty, if very rough. I stuck on his eyes for laffs - he looks so bugeyed and derpy! I love it :D
Oh, and this thing is HUGE. Going to be an interesting thing to mould, I'll make a couple of practice moulds first, I think.

GruntFaceRoughclayFront.jpg GruntFaceRoughclay34.jpg GruntFaceRoughclayEyes.jpg GruntFaceDerpeyes.jpg
 

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fallimar

Sr Member
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Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Right! No visual progress right now, so things have been a bit light on - but things are in motion.

I've ordered the creature stilts, which is very exciting! They're expensive, but having them early means I can get in all the walking practice I need and have a great base for my future creature suits. yay!
Secondly, I've found some local help for LED and EL wiring. Always great to have help on hand. I won't need to worry about it until much later on, but it's good to know.

Thirdly, JTM is an awesome person and has furnished me with Grunt's armour models from in-game, including his space helmet, which I was rather convinced I'd not get my hands on. Very excited. I'm learning the unfolding process now through tutorials. I'm a little stuck on one thing though - tabs. I want to remove them from the whole unfold as I'm using foam, and I found the edit tab button, but it seems to only apply to selected faces. How do I select all of them?

Anyway, small progress.
 
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fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Unfolding away... I just laid out the torso pattern. In what I believe to be the correct scale, it takes up a good 94 pieces of paper. That's... daunting.
I'm currently cutting the shoulder and wrist armour patterns to test on some foam for size. Hopefully I'll have some foam pieces up in a couple days time.
 

fallimar

Sr Member
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Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Huzzah! Apparently I'm not as rubbish at unfolding as I expected to be. The forearm works just fine. Fitting the 5mm foam together is a little tricky when it comes to angled corners, but the dremel and some fine sandpaper helps immensely, as does a little loose interpretation of accuracy.

In other news, my stilts are completed and on their way. I am very excited! Can't wait to try them on and become utterly useless at walking for a while.

This is the first foam part I've completed - Grunt's left forearm amour.
GruntFoamForearm.jpg GruntFoamForearm2.jpg
 

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Harvester85

Member
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Wow, a lot of progress since I saw you last... I'm going to have some serious catching up to do!! Looks great so far :D
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Wow, a lot of progress since I saw you last... I'm going to have some serious catching up to do!! Looks great so far :D

Yeah, I've learned heaps! It's good really, laying down the groundwork so we can both figure it all out. Can't wait to try hardening the foam up, though I'll want to try on a small piece first.
Cutting the pattern pieces is really tedious, but the ease of putting the pieces together is worth it in the end. Very cool :)
 

Beer_Money_Props

Well-Known Member
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Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Can't wait to try hardening the foam up, though I'll want to try on a small piece first.

If I may...Make an extra armor piece (something with complex curves and flat areas like a shoulder pauldron or bracer) that you'd use for the suit as your test piece. Worst case, you find out exactly what works and what doesn't for what you're trying to accomplish.

IMHO, working on a flat or slightly bent scrap isn't nearly the same animal as working on something like a breast plate with multiple layers and angles. They both require a bit of a different approach so you don't end up with runs or globs where you don't want them, and so you can get uniform coverage.

I used my prototype pieces (I'm using the pepping method for foam, but only to get the basic shape) to test out my finishing processes. watered down PVA glue (the white school stuff) works pretty well, but I'm going to do a Modge Podge and a Smooth-on product test next weekend, just to say I've covered my bases. Everything else is trial and error...and error...and error...and HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY FRAKKING MADE THIS OMGOMGOMGOMGFTW!!!

Looking forward to more updates! Keep up the good work!
 

fallimar

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

Bayouwolf - agreed! I'm planning on making a small section of the shin armour to practice hardening and smoothing on. It's a nice cup shape and I can add little foam details just to see how it all shapes up. I was a little worried about globs, but I'm going to simply try lots of thin layers to start, then if I see some unworkable delamination happening I'll try thicker layers kept moving. I hope I don't have to do that though, Having a one year old kid around kinda doesn't give you much time to stand around turning large pieces of foam whilst resin dries. Haha!

For the record, I'll be sealing with PVA then hardening using easycast resin. If it's no good I'll try another kind, though the tutorials I've seen used a product with similar properties, so I hope it'll work out. If all else fails I'll just go nuts with the dremel and hand sanding to take off any nasty mistakes. :)

Oh yeah, I'm loving this so far. Every little bit makes me proud, I didn't think I could even get this far to start. I just keep investing more in the build so I'll have motivation to continue! Helps a lot having this thread too - posting stuff every time I take a step in the right direction keeps me wanting to do more. Kinda makes my thread a bit spammy, but unless people start complaining I'm going to keep on. heh.
 

fallimar

Sr Member
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Re: Mass Effect: Grunt, foam build with latex

So, I got my stilts in the mail! Very exciting indeed. They're 2/3 of my entire height so HUGE, and so far I can't stand up in them because I've got nothing to lean on. I can put them on easily enough whilst sitting on a table, but since I've got nothing stable to lean against, I had a rather hilarious fall on my arse as I slid unceremoniously down a window laughing my head off.

Fun, if unhelpful! I'll need a friend to help me, I think, and something like a crutch or walking pole to lean on whilst I learn to walk. It's a different set of muscle groups from normal walking, so your thigh and calf muscles get a decent workout from just standing up. Taking a step is a very odd sensation. They weigh close to 12 kilograms too, so they're not light. Thankfully my leg muscles are pretty strong, but I'll need a heck of a lot of practice to get them to be comfortable and balanced.

Digilegs.jpg
 

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