Gears of War - Marcus Armor Notes

I took on this project not really knowing what I was getting into. I wanted to develop my skills at making futuristic Space Marine armor--all grim and gritty realism as opposed to the fanciful anime stuff I'd been working on up to that point. I thought I could make this armor using pepakura files that I had downloaded from various costume construction sites. (Pepakura, for those not in the know, is a program that allows you to take any computer generated 3-D object and turn it into a pattern that can be cut out of stiff paper and assembled.) Coating paper armor with resin makes it hard and durable. I've seen other people that have had fabulous success making paper armor and I thought I could master the skill given enough time. Unfortunately, after downloading and printing out the first ten pages of the Marcus breastplate pattern, I found it about as easy to comprehend as the manual for the Chinese Space Shuttle--just a bunch of triangles and numbers that I could barely understand. So I ditched the idea and decided for a more traditional approach.

I started armor construction with the torso area, making a breastplate out of tagboard and building the armor on top of that. It was then that I ran into this project's evil creamy center:

This....thing. This bulbous collection of shapes that makes it look as though the character's back has done a fusion dance with an old-timey refrigerator. The character's torso armor is so uncomfomfortably designed, so non-intuitive, that I actually had to buy a 3 D figure of the character just to grasp its exact shape. Seriously, who would want to wear this into battle?

Anyway, I managed to put together Marcus Armor Version 1.0 during the course of a month or so. I tore off styrofoam blocks and hotglued them to the back of the tagboard shell and tried building the Backpack of Hell on top of it. It turned out sort of right, but it didn't look "refrigeratory" enough. (Hey, refrigeratory is a perfectly cromulent word.) So I tore the armor prorotype apart and started again from the very beginning. The front part of the armor was a piece of cake.

The armor consisted of a series of plates. (I devised the shape of the plates by sketching them out onto the front of the tagboard shell that I had made as the first step in the process. I had placed the shell onto my dressform to make sure it conformed to the measurements that I had wanted it to conform to.) I carefully shaped, scanned and numbered each final plate as I went since I wanted to be able to duplicate the armor pattern in the future. Each plate was made from 3mm craft foam with a layer of .020" styrene plastic hotglued over it. (You can read more about my armor construction methods and materials in this online tutorial.)

I cut and hotglued little strips of styrene underneath the plates in order to connect them together. When you turn the armor over and look at the back, it seems a bit messy:

That can be covered over and reinforced with a lining made of styrene or some other material. Here's what the armor piece looks like from the front:

Additional layers of foam and styrene can be applied to the surface of the armor to build it up and create other design elements.

The final step in the construction process was to add studs, rivets and screws to the surface of the armor using tiny dollops of hotglue. (The armor had to remain level while the hotglue was being applied, lest gravity cause it to run and distort the round shape of the studs and rivets that I was trying to create.)

The front half of the armor turned out pretty well. (There was still some fine-tuning to be done, and it's really hard to get a grasp of the true shape of the armor plates since they're white on white with marker scribbled all over them.)

The sides of the armor had to be at exact right angles to the front, hence the reason the torso looks like a refrigerator. I had to reinforce the plates here with several layers of tagboard hotglued together underneath the styrene and foam plates.

The "backpack" area was built up with layers of thick 6mm craft foam coated with styrene.)

I took fewer pictures during this part of the process since I just wanted to get it done. The bulbous top part of the backpack I made by curving and darting tagboard into a lozenge shape, which I then coated with thin 2mm craft foam and styrene plates. (I had largely developed the shape of that section during the making of Marcus Armor Version 1.0, so I was able to recycle it for this version of the armor.)

Well, so how did everything turn out?

Okay... I still need to do some more reinforcement and fine-tuning of the plates, but the bulk of the work is done. You can at least see the final shape of the armor starting to emerge:

The interior of the armor looks pretty rough--I'll have to install a lining in there and do some more reinforcement.

I used epoxy putty to make some of the design elements on the back of the armor (the small pipes and such. I'll probably revise those at some point as well.)

I've invested about 100 hours into the project by this point in time. I anticipate this to be the hardest part of the armor to construct because of that damnable cyber-packpack thing, and that the rest of it won't give me nearly this much trouble. This project has reminded me a bit of that Alphonse Armor I made a long while back, in that it mostly consists of me trying to fit huge bulky monster armor around a normal human form. (At least the rest of this project won't require articulated arm extensions or 4" platform heels...I hope...)

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Thank you.