Custom Toys and Action Figures by Blayne

Thursday, June 4, 2015

HOW TO: Find Cosplay Pepakura resources

With some know-how of 3D design, Shapeways, and Google, you can locate game resources, and other genre items people have made (armor, helmets, weapons) you can create a resized item suitable for any scale of action figure custom project.

Case in point: I decided I wanted to locate a Pepakura (Japanese paper-art file format) for "Dark Helmet", from the Mel Brook's 80's film "Space Balls".

Such a thing exists:
Along the way, I also came across a few repositories of Pep files, such as
Mostly though, searching through threads at The Replica Prop Forum is the best way.

If you have a registered version of Pepakura Designer, some files (if the author hasn't locked them) can be exported as a .obj. From there, you can use Google Sketchup, or your 3D application of choice to take that model -- mostly free floating vertices, unsuitable for anything but use in a video game or printing out on paper -- and re-model it into a scaled, "water tight" model that can be printed. 

Meshlab and Netfabb are useful intermediaries in this - Meshlab for opening whatever your finished model is and exporting as a .stl, Netfabb for some simple patching, editing of flipped normals (inside triangles being accidentally flagged as outside), automatic patching, and scaling + export for Shapeways as a .stl).

Often times, taking a model from an exported Pepakura file will mean remodeling it completely - most detail from in-game assets comes from bump maps, texture maps, and other dynamic overlays - not the model it's self. However, it can give you something to work from: like an artists doll that provides the correct proportions.
Shapeways has some great on-line tools for patching up models, as well as scaling them now too. Once that's 3D printed to scale for your action figure project: use that as a base for further resculpting in the real world using Aves apoxie sculpt. 

As it turned out, I did work rebuilding this Pepakura file into a printable, scaled piece - only to find out there's a different, more screen-accurate version out there. Always do your research. :)