If you want to make an Ironman suit, replicate costumes from Halo, Star Wars, or any sci-fi armor or if you want to create cosplay weaponry then you will want to know a little about Pepakura.
What is Pepakura?
Pepakura is a software that takes 3D models and allows you to print them out so that you can cut out the parts and assemble them like a 3D puzzle.
TamaSoft is highly recommended as a reputable pepakura software source. You can download a Free version that will allow you to see pepakura files and print them. However, if you want to edit or modify other people’s designs and save them then you will have to purchase a license, which is only $38 and never expires.
Where can I find Pepakura files?
Answer: All over the web! Pepakura is popular and you can find pre-made designs all over the web and costume forums. Some are free and some designers ask a small fee to use their files. Just try a google search for the name of the costume you want to make and “pepakura files” and you’ll find a bunch (ex. Google “Iron Man pepakura files” and you’ll get a bunch of great designs that are ready to print and build!)
There are a couple databases of Pepakura Files for Halo Armor. One is called the Pepakura File Database and the other is called the 405th Pepakura Download Database. You can find anything from the armor to the weapons to the vehicles already designed for you.
What Materials are best to use to make armor using Pepakura?
Answer: The most common materials that people use to build Pepakura armor are EVA Foam and Resin (also called Fiberglass).
EVA Foam (also called Anti-Fatigue Foam) is soft, easy to use, and cheap. It is not as durable as resin/fiberglass armor but it is has more mobility. If you want something cheap and easy that will impress most people, then foam is your friend. You can purchase EVA foam rolls at Walmart, Home Depot, and a few auto stores.
Resin & Fiberglass are another common material used to create armor. Using cardstock to piece together the pepakura armor and then covering it with resin and reinforcing it with fiberglass makes it very strong and durable. In addition, you will be doing a lot of filling, sanding, and detailing to make your armor look realistic. Fiberglass armor almost always looks better than the foam suits but it can be uncomfortable to wear all day unless you cast it out of some kind of lighter material. If you want movie replica quality then go with Resin/fiberglass. You can get it at most hardware or Automobile stores.
There are detailed tutorials for using each of these materials so before deciding which method to use, think about your budget, how much time you have to dedicate to the costume, how long the armor needs to last, and the kind of mobility you will need before you choose a method.
Are there any special Secrets to using Pepakura that I might not know about?
Secret Tip #1: If you choose to use the EVA foam you will most likely need to modify your pepakura files a little bit. Stealth with The Hero Tutorials has a Foam Modification Tutorial on youTube. His tutorial is specifically for an Iron Man gauntlet but he teaches you general principles that you can apply to any foam armor build.
Secret Tip #2: The pepakura files you pull online may be too big or too small for your body and You will need to practice making your armor from cardstock before you cut your foam or start your resin so that you can tweek your pattern to fit your body.
Secret Tip #3: Print your pepakura pices on 110 weight cardstock.
Secret Tip #4: Label the pepakura pieces of your armor as you cut them out so that you remember where they are supposed to fit together. Also label the right side and the left side.
Your Best Pepakura Resources
1. How to Use Pepakura for Costume Building by Stealth. There are 7 parts. Part 1 is here.
2. 405th has a very large collection of pepakura files in their forum. Anything from Iron Man to Halo to Star Wars. Get started browsing their resources here. They also have many resources for beginners. Check that out here.
3. Evakura has great info on making armor from EVA foam. Find out how to add texture to your EVA foam and how to build an Internal seam smoothing tool.
4. For a step by step readable version of How to use pepakura software, Instructables has an easy to read and understand method. See it here.
5. Propzone has some freebie files for download, among them are War machine (Iron man), Deadric helmet (Skyrim), Clone Trooper (Clone Wars), and Lego Man helmet. Access these free files here.
6. Complete War Machine (Iron Man) build is here.
7. Most of the Halo Armor files are available here.
8. PaperCraft is a great resources for props or small scale pepakura designs. They have everything from the Star Trek Tricorder to Batman Batarang. You can find their props here.
9. Take a look at Noob’s Field Guide to Pepakura costuming here. It’s an easy guide to what is available on TheRPF so that you don’t have to go sifting through hundreds of forum posts.