SO… Let’s talk about Scaling…
Ever since I started printing Do3d’s suits starting with the MK46 through to the MK85 the question I’ve got the most is probably “How do you scale your suit proportions?”. To be fair I don’t have any secret tricks up my sleeves for achieving the right proportions but I was just lucky in some cases. Most of the time when luck didn’t help me out it was a process of trial and error with different techniques. Anyway, I do appreciate every single praise/comment regarding the outcome of my MK85 but I do feel like there are others who managed to scale the suit just as good if not better than I did. You know who you are, you guys should be proud of your finished suit! (Jealous).
Before I dive into my whole development journey and bullet points that you can take away, I wanted to state that when it comes to proportions for the suit there are no right or wrong answers. Everyone’s body is different and this fact should be embraced when scaling the suit. By this, I mean that just like a way tailored suit the suit will look best when they are tailored to your body proportions, not someone else's.
Another point I have to make is that the suits we see in the movies do not have realistic body proportions not even for RDJ (Exception for Iron man (2008), at least not practically and definitely not the latter nanotech base suit. I remember people mentioning roughly when the mk42 was revealed that it had a waist size of 28-30’ (It was exaggerated) and was completely unrealistic. Furthermore, if you look at the different stand-in on set from Iron man 2/3 or Civil War, you’ll see that they have a leaner build and to an extent filmed without the lower half of the suit. I also have to accept the fact that it’s near impossible but we can get pretty close. There is a level of compromise which you will have to decide on.
Realistic proportions -------X-(Compromising comfortability here)-------------------------------------Movie Proportion
Now to the secret tricks up my sleeves (If they existed):
Below are the different approaches I've used for 3 different suits and the methods I attempted for each of them. If you just want to see the method that was most successful you can skip the first 2 stories.
*Keep in mind that for each process you have to account for the internal rigging system. This could range from a 3mm EVA foam with Velcro connection, harnesses or a mechanical system.
* Buffer Zone – empty space between you and inside of the suit.
* Clothes Buffer – Thickness of clothes you wear under the suit.
* Comfortability Buffer - More space more comfortable but less proportional
1. MK46 (2016) – Using a 3D human mannikin;
Rig System – Elastic Mechanical spine system (Printed as well) - (Buffer zone - 4mm)
The first method I used was a skill I directly translated from foam building. Just a year before I started to 3d print my suit there was a program called Armourer if I recalled correctly where you can fit the Peperkura .pdo pieces on to a 3D mannikin before printing the template. I took the same approach by downloading a humanoid mannequin from a free source and applying my real-world measurement to it. However, most of my 3D modeling skills were limited to solid objects and were only able to append the height, chest, hips, bicep/thigh circumferences.
After replicating my body shape roughly in Meshmixer I started to scale and fit the suit based on the proportion from a concept artwork for the MK46. It wasn't very accurate but it did get me pretty close with the exception of the boots which I never quite got right.
Printed suit and Scaling process:
2. Mk 50 – Kinect 3D scan (Elastic and EVA foam) - (Buffer zone - 4mm)
Before I explain the method, I need to apologize because the only illustration I was able to provide was a brief Instagram story from 2018 but it will get the job done. The idea was to use the Microsoft Kinect with their 3D scanning software to scan my body shape roughy to produce a model that was used to scale each part of the armour. The problem that presented itself was the fact that I didn’t have a turntable and had to manually rotate my body with feet miss aligning the scan on multiple attempts and when I FInally manage to capture the model I was reminded of the harsh reality that I might be too out of shape for the proportions.
It was also proven to be quite tedious as well since the scanning distance that the resolution was sufficiently acceptable did not provide enough coverage for a single scan of the entire body. I had to do five scans (Multiple times each) in total - head & shoulders, Torso + Hips, Legs, and both feet, both arms separately – Should have just mirrored the model. The final result wasn’t too bad but I did gain enough weight to create a slight opening in the mid-torso joints. But if you try this make sure the buffer zone is added to your measurements before printing.
3. Mk 85 Similar just measuring choke points:
Rigging system: EVA foam and Velcro - (Buffer zone - 3mm)
MEASURING THE CHOKE POINTS! – By choke points I didn’t mean just your throat but “Every point on your body that could potentially get choked by the armour” - This is essentially the area assumed to be the smallest measurements but does expand over joint articulation. This includes areas such as your elbows hips and knees.
Starting to Scale
Of course, when structuring the suit in Meshmixer we’d want to keep the suit to the original proportions as possible so first, you should start with the height. Usually, I would first scale the suit to my height (170cm):
Suit height = My Height + 5 cm
= 170(cm) + 5cm (anywhere between 5-10cm
Suit height = 175(cm) / 1750mm (Sorry “Engineer”)
(To account for heels under the boot and distance from your head to the top of the helmet)
When you first download the files from Do3d it’s usually scaled to proportions but that doesn’t always fit everyone.
1. Like I mentioned adjust the height first then we should adjust the rest of the suit accordingly.
2. Measure the height of the torso part and do the same for the respective part of your body. The height should be 1:1 if not should be within 5%+ for the suit height.
3. Repeat step 2 with arms, leg, and head.
4. Total should not exceed the suit height we calculate above but should not be less than your height + 5mm.
5. Adjust the proportion (Width & Thickness) of each part to adjusted height (See Example in practice)
Example in practice: In reality, I have shorter legs than Iron man does and in turn, I reduce the height to fit my own but in doing so I keep the constraints or Uniform scaling enable to maintain the proportions. There is a very high chance that the width or thickness will most likely be off (usually too narrow). This is where the choke point measurements come in. We can use theses choke point measurements as a reference to scale either width or thickness. This will allow you to tailor your part to your measurements while trying to keep proportional changes to a minimum.
How to measure the choke points:
The principle is pretty much the same for each choke points but the buffer zone might be different depending on how much your joint expands. When measuring you can just grab a ruler and measure it across your joint when straight/relaxed and do the same when bent. The fact is, we only need the latter measurement as a buffer zone for our underclothes (Thicker clothes you plan to wear the larger the Clothing buffer zone but say a bodysuit would typically only need less between 5-10mm).
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: If you have an elbow or knee joint then use width instead of the clothing buffer and use the clothing buffer to scale the joints.
Relaxed: 95mm Bent: 100mm
Clothing buffer: 5mm
Total clearance = Bent + Clothing Buffer + Comfortability Buffer (5-10mm)
= 100mm + 5mm + 5mm
Total clearance: 110mm = internal width of part (Joint cavity).
Elbow OR Knee joint scaling:
Total Clearance <Elbow/Knee Joint < Armour clearance area
To measure the 3D model use the analysis section in Meshmixer to measure the cavity/inside and make sure that the measurement is larger than the total clearance value. Find the tools after selecting the specific part you want – i.e Select the forearm by clicking on the model and navigate to Analysis on the left toolbar followed by Measure in the sub-menu. Change the Type to 2 points measurement (See image below) – you can use this tool by selecting the narrowest part of the forearm which is the edge of the elbow joint cavity.
Click on one side then again on the opposite side for the measurement. If you want to place the points again just hold down Ctrl before clicking on the new point.
Two-Point Measurement Tool
Measuring the Joint Cavity
The beauty of having a scaled suit is that you can replicate with another suit by importing both of them into the same workspace where you can then rescale the new suit to the previous suit’s proportion. But you should always verify the choking points to make sure that you can fit in the suit since some suit could be a slimmer design than others.
I did try to use the Hololens to adjust the suit but It was more of a hit and miss. Also, the effort needs to remotely play the suit files from Unity to the Hololens is exhausting has the Hololens itself doesn’t have enough capacity to render the files on its own. At least not as smooth or fluid as streaming remotely.
However, at the end of the day you can get so close to the movie but if your body proportions do not allow it then please don't sweat it. It’s not meant to be realistic, try and get as close you can without restricting or choking yourself too much and scale it to yourself. I’m very sure you will look amazing in the suit as we can see with brilliant examples from the Mk85 builders out there. Sorry that this is quite long - tried to keep it as compact a possible, hope it answers some questions and Happy building! Tony The Techie Out! @tonytheTechie