I’m waiting for most of the supplies to ship in so I can start the actual armor building, but the wait means I have plenty of time to work on the Halo 4 Undersuit. I know a lot of people freak out when they think about possibly creating their own undersuit from scratch since sewing isn’t a skill most people learn growing up (not for anyone I really knew), but it’s really not that bad. My girlfriend taught me and if I could learn anyone can. Like the outer armor, it just takes time and dedication to learn the basics. I’m hoping this can help people get on the right track.
Note: The rest of this post takes place over the course of several days, so don’t freak out if you try this yourself and don’t get it done in a day. If you do, you’re a sewing monster.
Searching for Reference Pics
First off I wanted to get some good reference shots of what the new undersuit looks like… or, in this case, any reference shots. There’s not much out there since the game isn’t even a month old yet and it’s usually covered by the outer armor anyways, but luckily we have Spartan Ops to help out. I snagged a few screen caps of the what the undersuit looks like in the mini films before Episode 1.
There are a few differences between this undersuit and prior ones, say from Reach and mainly is that there’s color on the undersuit. It’s no longer all black. This is cool and problematic as it makes it a little more complicated which is cool for looks but annoying for creating. But the new undersuit looks so good I kinda just want to walk around in that but I don’t think many people at Cons would understand what’s going on. Also the previous suits looked almost leather/rubberish underneath while this new one has more texture to it — almost scaley, honeycomb texture.
Sketching a Pattern
Anyways, from here I started sketching what I want my undersuit to look like. I went through a few versions that I won’t show here, but I wanted to get a few ideas on paper. My end design is not as complicated with hundred segmented parts seen in the screen cap since a lot of this is going to be covered by the outer armor, but I still wanted some of the segmentation because I like to be screen accurate when possible. I also found this image via Google that was useful in figuring things out as well. (Thanks, Uratz-Studios.). I used that for my initial coloring:
And from there I redrew my design using a template I found on the 405th that I whitened out. (Alas, I don’t remember who did the original drawing. Sorry! But thanks!) On it I wanted to mark what was going to be made out of what material. The result is this:
Not bad. From there I had to decide what fabrics I wanted to make this out of. I was toying with some ideas when I stumbled across LilTyrant’s build on the 405th. She had a lot of similar ideas that I was tossing around with my girlfriend, so it was good to see someone go there with a lot of success. She also had some really cool ideas that I plan to heavily homage, such as using a flap to cover the exposed zipper on the back and attaching the spinal armor to it. Absolutely brilliant.
The idea is to mix stretchy fabric with mesh and leather to make something with a little more texture than your regular black zentai suits. I was getting stuck on what mesh to use since athletic mesh doesn’t have the rough & tumble look/feel that we need and spacer mesh (though awesome looking) is thicker than I wanted. I asked LilTyrant what mesh she used and she wasn’t sure, but I think I might’ve figured it out. Tool mesh. It’s a little on the stiffer side so it looks rougher but thing enough to breath. It just needs to be lined so skin doesn’t show through. I’m not going to find fabric that has the scale/honeycomb look to it and if I did It probably wouldn’t breathe well, so mesh is close enough to work.
I’m currently waiting for fabric swatches to come in. The girlfriend and I have had good luck with SpandexWorld. The prices are pretty good and their cotton and rayon spandex are super soft. It’s like wearing an old, comfy t-shirt. I ordered samples of their rayon blends and stretchy tool mesh in a few different colors. I know I need black, but I also need either gray or blue.
Rant/ Why gray or blue when my sketch shows blue? Well, as much as I love the color on the undersuit I hate that in the game it matches the primary color of the armor. It blends too much, so you can’t always really see when the outer armor ends and the undersuit begins. Things like the ab plate get lost in the all the color. I know my outer armor is going to be primarily blue, so I might make the undersuit color gray… or maybe I’ll just make the ab plate gray. We’ll see. /Rant
Anyways, once I get the sample swatches I can decide on which shades I want and put in my final order.
Going from Sketch to Working Pattern
While I wait to do fabric finalizing, I started turning my sketch into an actual pattern. For this I turned to my trusty friend the dress form in my shape/dimension in every way. I’m not going to tell you how to do this as there are plenty of good tutorials on how to make a dress form on the Web, but I will say it’s not hard. You need a form fitting t-shirt, pillow stuffing, couple rolls of ductape and a friend to tape you in and then cut you out. Anyways, I bought a roll of painter’s tape (idea stolen from LilTyrant) and started outlining the chest and back.
For those wondering, the vertical yellow line is my center line and the horizontal line that wraps all the way around is my natural waistline. The whole dress form goes to around my hips.
After this, I grabbed a ream of paper and started taping it on the dress form until I created a pattern. And from there I retraced the pattern onto paper shopping bags so the piece would be on one paper and on something a little more durable. Not sure why WordPress uploaded these upside down but you get the idea:
The sleeve is a bit weird because it ends higher up than your regular ol’ long sleeve shirt.
Mock Up 1.0
After that I grabbed some test fabric. Luckily, the girlfriend had some green stretchy fabric laying around from her Rogue Legacy cosplay. We zipped it together and got this mock up:
It fits pretty good, though the neck doesn’t go high enough. Also because it’s just light fabric it doesn’t stand up well. I’m hoping the combination of the zipper and tool mesh will help with that. Might have to add in “panels” to help with that, but we’ll see. I kinda figured the neck area would be a few rounds of trial and error, so stay tuned for final neck design. It needs to be more like this:
But you can kinda see how the mock up torso compares to the sketch. It’ll make more sense once I have the right colors and can add on the mesh and leather for texturing.
Moving forward (unto dawn)
Next up is to work on the pants and the different sleeve segments. I also need to draft the spine flap but that might not come until I know how long it’ll need to actually be, and to create a flap at the bottom of the torso that’ll be tucked in and snapped to the undersuit pants so it looks like a one-piece jumpsuit.
That’s all for now.