Hero's Shield from LOZ The Wind Waker Construction Notes
I put a lot of effort into the different parts of my Wind Waker/Toon Link cosplay, so I wanted to break up my construction notes into bite size pieces and really include good info on the processes I used. The shield was the second part of this costume to be started and took about 7 weeks to complete. You can find my write up on the windwaker here, notes on the Hero’s Sword, wig and costume coming soon.
The first challenge with this prop was deciding how I wanted to interpret the different art and in game versions of this prop. Some versions had very deep relief on the designs, while other models were very flat. The decision I cam to was a compromise of those, i decided to create layers of eva foam to get height but keep the details themselves flat.
After having worked out how I wanted to handle all of the details I needed to create the pattern that would be the base for all those parts and get the overall size right. As with everything on this outfit, the scaling was a big issue with the extreme cartoon proportions of the game . I made a few different sized outlines until I felt happy with the overall size, and then did the rest of the blueprint by had. I sketched and finalized one side and then folded it down the middle and traced everything onto the opposite side and inked it with a sharpie to keep all the lines permanent while I worked.
The base of the shield was cut from a 3mm thick sheet of expanded PVC (basically off-brand sintra) and bent with some help from a heat gun. I played with the idea of having the shield hold to my back with magnets, but after a few early experiments I decided that it wasn’t really feasible with the size and placement of the handle, and sheath for the sword.
To create the wood boards that form the back of the shield I cut long sections of floor mat eva foam and rounded the edges slightly with a sanding drum on my rotary tool.The wood texture was created using wood burning tool.
The handle was made of PVC pipe, to make the curves without the pipe collapsing I filled it with sand and caped the ends, then used a heat gun and bent the shape I wanted in several passes. Wear some thick gloves if you try this, it gets hot. To connect the handle to the base PVC sheet I needed a wider flat surface. To achieve this I cut slits in the ends of the PVC, then heated the ends and pressed them apart over the edge of a table, and then heated again and pressed flat onto the table surface. As you can see in the photo, before gluing the handle into place, I cut out the bands that are on the back of the shield out of 3mm eva foam and threaded them onto the handle to sit out of the way for now. To attach the handle I used a two-part epoxy.
The foam boards I had created earlier were then glued down to the back of the shield, the center two boards had space cut to allow them to sit flush around the handle and hide the point it attaches to the shield base. Once all the boards were glued into place using Barge cement they were trimmed to match the existing shield outline created by the plastic sheet.
With the board piece on the back in place, the long bands that were earlier placed on the handle were brought down and glued into place. I cut out the little circles for rivets with a simple punch. You can see the centering line and tick marks in the picture that I used to keep the rivets even. Googly eyes work well for faking rivets.
I was very excited to get the front details on, so I took few pictures of the progress on those. To help line up these details I added a center line to the shield and measured out several key points on my pattern and marked them. The triforce is 6mm craft foam, as I wanted it to be the most prominent, and I used pre-cut craft foam circles of various sizes for the round details. Never work harder than you have to on circle shapes. The fact that they had sports printing on them was irrelevant, but amusing. The flourishing detail pieces were very difficult to cut with a nice edge on the tight curves. The best solution I found was to switch blades on my exacto knife after every cut, and then hold the piece between two scrap pieces of foam while i sanded the edges more even with my rotary tool with a sanding drum. Do not use your fingers to try and stabilize the thin foam…it is not fun. For the winged figure I used several layers to try and give him the most depth. I traced the pattern of the entire figure onto three different layers of foam, the top layer had his face and beard, I cut to my line around his beard and horns, but left extra space on the sides of his face so that I could cut the final outline of the layers all together to keep them even. The second layer had his body and the horn details, and again the inner details were finalized but the outer outline was left with extra room. Once all three layers were glued together I cut the final outline of the figure, used the rotary tool to clean up any issues with the edge, and used a heat gun to widen the cut line details on his horns etc. More Barge, and all those pieces are in place.
The edging for the shield was honestly a bigger fight with the materials than I had anticipated. I cut long strips of craft foam (longer than each side by several inches) wide enough to give me the 1 inch of border on each side and also cover the thickness of the floor mat foam boards and plastic base. I started from the front of each section, making sure to not place any glue past whatever point I was to place the angles between the edging sections. The curve along the bottom edge proved difficult I had to place the edge of the foam against my marking on the front as the bottom point, then rolled it over and pulled it to my marking on the other side, and then stretched the whole thing along the curve, matching the front marking first then the back as I went along. I cut the excess off at the edges where I was going to add the next section. For the next sections I would overlap the strip of foam with the nicely cut edge of the last one, and then after it was in place cut it to match the first edge nicely. I did not plan my corners as well as I cold have likes on the top. I honestly should have cut each piece to match the corner of the item, instead I cut too much from the top edging and had to use scraps to fill in the mistake. The flat side and top sections of edging were much easier to place, the entire edging strip was aligned to the front all at once and then rolled over the edge. You can see in my above image that by this point I had finalized the Wind Waker and was still pulling my hair out about the Hero Sword .
Plasti dip is very boring, so again no pictures, sorry. I sealed the foam with lots of thin layers of plasti dip. I cannot stress this enough, THIN LAYERS. I always get annoyed with the speed and try and do a thick layer and it always will do something weird like bubble or pull. Don’t be me, go slow. After that point was the base coat of brown spray paint. Again lots of thin layers. I had a partcularly hard time with the paint on this project as it was January, and about the coldest winter I have seen in AZ in years. (Normally I have to fight the heat being in a desert, so this was a new struggle). The temperature ratings on the back of the spray paint can are no joke, all my tests left out when it was below 50 degrees never properly dried. If you are concerned about paint interactions, or temperature, get a scrap and TEST FIRST! Most of the time you are fine, but that one time you have something go wrong it will be worth the test phase.
Silver coat came second. To mask off the brown layers underneath I used masking tape along my edges, and plastic grocery bags for the larger areas. If you do this be sure to check for holes in your grocery bags and make sure to get the edges sealed well with the tape. The front used a similar technique, but the raised and curved details proved to be very very diffucult to mask off. I ended up sitting with an exacto knife and cutting small pieces of masking tape along all the edges. With all the overlapping tape i got insane about making sure each one was stuck down with my fingernail. I was terrified of paint leaking through. Somehow the insane masking worked, because nothing seaped through and it pulled off easily. BAM!
The triforce was the only gold piece, so the rest of the shield got wrapped in a trash bag with a hole cut in the middle. I taped around the edges of the hole to keep them in place and then matched it up with the triforce and sprayed several thin layers of gold on. I was really unsure how I wanted to handle weathering and detail painting with this costume. The cartoony feel of the game made me want to leave everything relativity flat color wise, but the flat colors were boring in person. I threw around the idea of doing actual block cell shading, but a few test pieces didn’t really look nice. I decided to do something similar to what I have seen used for borderlands outfits, with very dark and abrupt shadows, with thin painted highlights in bright white. I used acrylics for all the detail painting, and then finalized everything with a matte clear coat.