Mike Branski

3 minute read

Ages back I shared progress on my first attempt at costuming, a stormtrooper pepakura helmet. My interest and effort ebbed and flowed, and I eventually scrapped it. Years later, I’ve undergone some pretty big life changes (marriage, divorce, new job) that I used to kick start other positive changes, and part of that is actually finishing projects start. So, I set out to make a suit of N7 armor from Mass Effect 23 using EVA foam, using Julian Beek’s N7 Prop Codex as a guide. My goal: to have a no-frills wearable suit in time for Gen Con 2015 (July 30th).

I also picked up a copy of The Foamsmith Trilogy by Bill Doran of Punished Props. It’s been my jumping off point into the world of foam costuming and various prop making, and I know I’ve just scratched the surface. His YouTube channel also has a wealth of information; plus, he’s just fun to listen to talk about prop stuff.

My first goal is to get each of the pieces cut, shaped, and glued, then circle back for finer detailing and painting. Starting with the gauntlets as my first piece, I learned a lot in the process, such as shape the pieces, then glue additional layers on top, and always have a clear direction of what it’s going to look like. I may redo these if there’s time – it’s a lot harder than it looks getting those edges straight and even with a rotary tool!


Finding myself with a renewed interest in costume and prop making, I quickly realized my makeshift work space wasn’t going to keep cutting it. I’m renting without access to a basement space, so I started on creating a workshop in my garage.


Making this bench allowed me to get more comfortable with some of the tools, and affords me much more space to work over my previous one. Over the summer I’ll get everything tidied up and rearranged. (Don’t worry, I trimmed off the excess overhang.)

After a bit of a hiatus focusing on the workbench, I came back and knocked out one of the thighs.

Maybe it’s not, but it seems so tall to me. Tomorrow I’m going to try it on again and check out some others’ builds to see where theirs fall. I’ll scale it down if I need to before making the other leg’s.

On deck after the thighs will be the front torso. Being an iconic piece of the suit, getting this done will be a big win for me.

Fits perfectly on one sheet, unlike the thighs!

Anyone else see the evil samurai?

Lessons Learned

These are a few things I’ve learned so far that could have saved me a lot of time and hassle, so I hope they can help you, too.

  • Always have reference images on hand, especially when you’re aiming for a specific look. I know you’re excited, but jumping in without a clear direction makes for easy mistakes!
  • Shape your pieces, then glue them.
  • Don’t try gluing the punched out border of the foam to the main piece – it’s super hard to get right with contact cement and is not worth the small savings.
  • You’re going to mess up, and that’s okay. Aim to get it complete, then go back and improve it. Stop striving for perfection so much so that you don’t actually ever make any progress! The quality will go up as you hone your skills.

That’s all for tonight. I’ll be moving right along over the next couple of days and will post an update when I do. Thanks for reading!

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