Welcome to Librarium Online!
So I have decided that I am going to go to Dragon Con next year. If you dont know what that is, it is one of the largest sci-fi,fantasy,comic book, geek culture Cons in the US. Almost as big as comic con, just with less press. Anyway I was/am thinking, and if I am able to do it. Go as a Space Marine. Chaos or Loyalist, Im not sure yet. But I was wondering if anyone might have ideas on how to make the freaking thing? My Biggest concern is the torso. Breast and Back plate, and Pauldrons. SO if anyone has any ideas let me know.
Having seen a lot of the attempts at Power Armor, as well as working along with some members of the 501st and Mandalors on their suits of armor, plus assembling my own suit of Karas armor for a future Otakon, I think I can give you some pointers that might help you not look like a Power Ranger...
Space Marines are heroes in a heroic scale, meaning quite simply that a mere mortal like us could never even hope to fill out their armor. The back and chest that you said you're worried about, are way too wide to accommodate human shoulders. This is why when you see space marines at conventions and the likes, they always seem a little... skinny. Basically, Marines are squares - they're really wide for their height, they're stocky dudes, built like bricks. This is your biggest enemy, the fact that you are but a mere scrawny mortal.
Add some height
There are really cheaty ways to "stock yourself up" without making yourself seem taller. A lot of people seem to think that Marines are very tall, but can't work out exactly how to get that look without making themselves look skinnier. Honestly, add height in the feet. It already makes sense, Marine boots are very blocky, so you're either going to have lots of excess bulk above or below your feet (mortal feet are small, double-heroic feet are headstompers). Put all the bulk below your feet. It'll keep your feet flexible, and make you taller, allowing you to drop the armor over your body to get that "stocky" look.
Head in the Middle
Next problem - folks are making their backpacks and shoulder pads too small/low. The backpack is massive - the vents go all the way across your back, extending out all the way to the edge of the shoulder pads, and the whole assembly sits nice and snug behind your head. Literally, look at a SM model - the helmet and the top of the pack are almost perfectly level with each other. Next up are the shoulders. Again - huge - it adds to that wide, stocky look you're going for. On the minis, this is where the shoulders get a bit... lost. The armor isn't quite proportional - tiny head, narrow waist, how the hell are his shoulders way out there?! Admit it, you're not barrel chested enough to pull that off (neither are the SM models, but they're plastic). So what you do is mount your shoulderpads nice and high, make them nice and wide, and bring them all the way in to the chest of your armor. Overlap them with the chest a bit if you must. Marines tend to move around by rolling the shoulderpads over their torsos anyways - which is why it's such a bear to model them in dynamic poses, the shoulders are always in the way! A Marine in powerarmor cannot possibly touch his face while wearing his shoulderpads, I don't care what the fluff says, it's impossible. Also, the shoulder pads are level with the top of your head, and you're going to be walking with your arms slightly outwards at all times.
The entire "cage" you're building around your head, with the backpack and shoulders, is what's going to make you look nice and beefy. Everything else is just excess gear.
So most of your upper arm is buried in a shoulder pad. But marines still have plenty of bicep to spare (again, nowhere near anatomically correct). The fix? Those lovely little joints in the armor. Your elbow doesn't go in the middle - it goes in the very bottom of the joint. Use fabric, bunched up, for the space-age-connector-junk between the armor joints. Take cues from Master Chief and the 'Space Marine' game - don't go with "egg shell" style shoulder guards, go for the wrap around plates. It'll hide exactly where your arm is bending, and also be more comfortable and easy to make. There's nothing the 501st guys hate more than having to wear the correct elbow guards, it's where all the corners get cut.
Do the same with your legs, although it might not be as necessary given you already have taller feet adding to the appearance of your lower legs being nice and long.
Bulk It Up!
The part where most people fail - the sheer bulk of this armor. You're dealing with probably 1.5-2" of extra material on your arms. So measure around your arm, with your undergear on, then add about 2" to that. That's the outside of your armor. On your arms. The legs are 2-3" inches too big, and everything below your knees is just downright enormous. Yeah, it's going to suck, because you're going to be walking with your legs slightly apart all the time, to avoid smacking your armor together. Imagine those lame "swishy" windbreaker jogging pants, but worse. This is a good thing though, because in your crotch, you're going to be dealing with a pretty uncomfortable pair of sculpted undies. My suggestion is to forget about the undies, and wear a nice wide tabard/loincloth type deal. Honestly, it's why Snow Troopers are so popular among the 501st (don't look under the dress).
The helmet is the same way, although I suggest going bare-headed for simplicity of design.
You'll need help. Just shut up and accept it, someone at the event is going to have to get you dressed. And you're not taking the train into the thing, because this armor doesn't pack well. I'm dealing with that with the Karas gear. Test runs of the armor have it taking two people about 90 minutes to suit me up, because there are so many individual tiny bits of armor. Inside your chest, you'll want padding at the shoulders, and as much torso-breathing room as you can get. Probably do it in two halves, I suggest some nice bar magnets to hold you together for a good seemless join, since you'll have plenty of spare room to stash them in. The arms could probably use the same magnets, with a single strip of velcro holding them to your shirt, so they don't spin. Your elbow guard is probably going to be a string or snap deal, going directly to the cloth in your arms. I'd do everything possible to keep the actual arms as two split pieces, maybe even using the wrist-guard as a joiner ring. You don't want to try to slip your hand through them- that's extra space in the armor, making it loose and fragile. Better to fit everything directly to your frame. I'd run straps on your shoulder pads, crossing over your chest, under your breastplate if possible. Otherwise, you're going to be running straps from the top of the pad, under your armpit, and from the middle of the pad, under your armpit, and cinching them down. Your backpack's probably hardmounted directly to the back half of your plate.
Gloves will be a pain- you're probably going to be stuck with a glue-job over a basic glove. Each of the joints should be tied/pinned though, so that if the glue begins flagging mid day, you will start falling apart completely until the whole glove goes.
Check out sites on contstructing Storm Trooper armor for the 501st. Otherwise, you're going to be on your own for this. If you can find a place that vacuum-forms molds and can make this stuff out of injection foam, that'd be my first choice. Otherwise, if you want to go entirely out of your skull and drop several hundred dollars on your kit, you can make the whole thing out of fiberglass, which is what I'm doing for my Karas suit.
I was thinking as a base for the breast plate and shoulder guards is football player pads. Adds a good amount of bulk and then either fiberglass or something over it, then somehow do the shoulder guards. If you think that would work, but the few other cosplay friends Im talking to think it's a good idea.
I found a few tutorials using think play foam mats to do armor. So I was thinking of using the technique for the other pieces.
Build Some Sci Fi Armor for CHEAP : DIY - YouTube .
I was already going to have some one help me suit up. Im not even sure where to start for the power pack.
Luckily I am a stocky ALMOST foot ball player build. So I wont have to add TOO much bulk but I am aware of that.
Unfortunately I really want to avoid the black Templar tabard look. Thinking more Ultramarine, but this is still day one of everything.
Good thing I have just shy of a year to do this.
OK, the both of you - we want pics!!!
Great info you provided, Cap'n...
I'm not sure if I've got any pics on my computer or not. Maybe I'll have to take some. It's not Space Marine armor, mind you. Right now it's sitting in the workshop, draped over body-mold of me. It's been almost 2 years of steady work, plenty of incentive not to put on weight, seeing as fiberglass doesn't have much (read: no) give at all, so I need to make sure that I'll still fit when it's finished!