Intro to Weapon Building

On October 21, 2014, in Other Props, by Toast

So I wrote this post on September 13th, then promptly forgot about it until October 21st… I sometimes wonder how I manage to build cosplays.  Anyhow.

As it seems most of you just can’t get enough of my lame sense of humour… another panel write up!

Weapon making Intro

Written by Toast Cosplay & TinyChampion Cosplay

Original Panel hosted by Toast Cosplay, TinyChampion Cosplay and Featherstone Cosplay

Planning:

Templating/Sizing:

So this one had a fun animation too, just like my armour one. However because this is my blog, you just get images. Cry, it’s okay baby.

This is Cloud:

1Now although this is a nice picture of Cloud, it is bad for measuring his weapon size and figuring out your prop’s size.

Why?

Cloud isn’t standing up straight, nor is the blade displayed flat to the viewer, it’s at an angle.  This picture isn’t usable as a sizing reference, but it may be fine for colours/other details.

Although not as pretty, this picture will let us better size out the buster sword:

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The lines are drawn in to show what I normally do when I’m trying to take these measurements since often your two “max” areas on items do not directly line up.  I do this in photoshop, but most programs will work.

So anyone remember my height?

I’m 168 cm, on screen cloud is 8.4 cm

So we calculate our real life to on screen conversion factor like so;

168/8.4 = 20

Then we measure the blade, is it 8.7cm

So we multiple this by the factor;

8.7 x 20 = 174 cm.

So our rough size for the buster sword built for me is 174cm.  From here you can use this conversion factor to size each part of the sword (example the blade, pomel and handle size).

I build a sheet in excel using the conversion factor to figure out many areas.  They look like so;

Sizing-excel

I forget what my transition to this area was… who knows!  Though I think someone was filming me blather and half fall asleep since I hadn’t eaten a lot that day and it was 7pm, so perhaps they know.

I believe this was about the point that people began to laugh at how I had to drink water in my Tera armour.  Due to how the arms were done I only could bend my arm to half, so guiding a water glass to my mouth took sliding my fingers to the very very bottom of the glass and carefully tipping it into my mouth.  TinyChampion, whom sat next to me, had the same issue so we would sit there while Featherstone spoke and try to drink our water…. pathetically.

Wasn’t that a great transition?

Once you have these rough numbers for your prop/weapon you will want to make a full size sketch before creating the weapon.  I find these are best because it lets me understand the size of the prop (if it needs to break down for transportation) and to adjust bits to make it suit me.

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This is the pomel of Kirito’s main sword, which I often forget the name of.  I believe during the panel I began calling it the realistator.

Elucidator just so you don’t all think poorly of me.

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This is the real life sketch of Victoria, my Axe for my Tera cosplay.

Two 30cm rulers and a surface pro 2 (you can see my excel and ref picture on there) for sizing.  Also my kitchen table.

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Once your base build is done on an item it is also wise to “template” out your details. (Ft. Victoria again)

If you are doing a two sided item this will assure it is identical, or roughly identical, on both sides.

Tracking:

Toast:

If you read my armour tutorial, skip this as I copy and pasted it from there.  With the word “armour” replaced with “weapon”

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If you build large weapons you will want to track and plan your tasks so you aren’t up until 3am the night before your con. I build a sheet like this to plan each task for each weapon, and often sub-parts of the weapon if it is large, then track how done I am. It helps me to understand how much of my project I have left and also helps keep me motivated to get to write just how much I finished in a day/work period.

TinyChampion:

As for me, what I like doing for tracking my progress is making a comprehensive checklist on a sheet of paper and sticking it to my fridge, along with milestones I wanna be at overall (i.e. have all the base pieces of a weapon made by X date.) When I finish a task, I get to cross it off the list with a sharpie. Sometimes the list is very long, and sometimes it’s not, depending on how big of a project it is, if I’ve encountered anything new I didn’t notice before, or if any problems have arisen. Trust me, problems are more than likely going to occur, no matter how long you’ve been at it. Just give yourself plenty of buffer before a convention to get your stuff done, just in case.

Materials:

Wow!  The meat of the matter!

But seriously plan your shit well or no matter your material it may look like poop.

In other news I just discovered how to add “title” setting to wordpress – woo!

Wood:

For wood I’ll just direct you over to these blog posts of mine:

Wooden Sword Tutorial

Homura’s Bow Tutorial also contains a bit of speaking to wood.

Aside from that, dowels are your friends, buy some dowels, they help other things.

I don’t have much more to say to wood than that.

Foamboard:

Foamboard is cheap, widely available, comes smooth… I enjoy it.

For those of us who work in an office, your office likely has foam board they throw out – grab it.  My old office ended up providing all the foamboard that went inside Victoria.

Both: Foamboard Sword Tutorial and Homura’s Bow Tutorial contain a bit of foamboard weaponry.

My sheath technique post also features the use of foamboard to build a sword sheath.

Those three posts cover most of my ramblings about raw foamboard as a material.  It will also be talked about as a filler or base material in the Worbla section.

Foam:

Foam can be used as a filler for Worbla based weapons, or firmer foam can be shaped into weapons on its own.  I have no expertise in using it raw, however may other cosplayers have tutorials about this around.  So please go check them out.

As a filler it is used in a similar manner to foamboard, and how it is used in armour.  Shape the base of your weapon out of foam and cover it in Worbla (or wonderflex) for strength/protections.  I’m a fan of this method as I’ve had many people at conventions walk into me over the years and break parts of my armour and/or props due to them being made out of softer materials.  Instead now they just get hurt, which I must admit I take mild enjoyment in and hope to teaches them to look where they are walking.

Worbla:

As above in the foam section, Worbla is used to cover other materials to create a hard surface.   It is also great for detailing.

If you read the armouring tutorial, the majority of this will be pasted in from over there.

This is my giant collection of scraps:

Worbladrawer

Why do I have a giant drawer of scraps?

No not to cry over it.

Worbla scraps are very useful for detailing your weapons. They can be used to add depth or do small pieces. Even the smallest Worbla piece can be re-heated and used to add details.

These details on Victoria were all done using Worbla scraps:

This is one of the main reasons I like Worbla, it makes detailing easier.  You can combine this external detailing with internal detailing through what you use for build you base, which you can see with different depth in the photo above.  The worbla will press perfectly into these details, I use a little plastic tool made for modeling clay to do this.  However anything with a reasonable flat edge will work.

Wonderflex & other thermoplastics:

Wonderflex is another thermoplastic, similar to Worbla. It was on the market before worbla and was the first thermoplastic I worked with. I have worked with other thermoplastics (friendly plastic), but I don’t recommend even thinking about them with Worbla now on the market.

Wonderflex can be more useful than Worbla at times and I recommend all Worbla crafters have a small amount of it around. If you are ordering Worbla off of cosplaysupplies.com order a small or medium sheet of wonderflex as well. Where wonderflex is more useful is for its strength. Wonderflex has a fabric integrated into it so it will not stretch like Worbla will. As a result this means that it’s small scraps are not as useful, but it can strengthen your projects in weak or thin areas (or when you mess up and have to shrink/re-attach some parts like I do) and for holding fixing pieces like snaps, clips and d-rings into Worbla armour pieces. As Wonderflex is also a thermoplastic is stays very well inside Worbla and integrates with it.

It can also be useful on its own for building long and thin pieces or weapons that need a lot of support.

Other materials worth mentioning:

–          Styrene; this is a thin modeling plastic which has slight thermoplastic properties but tends to just give right out under heat and isn’t ideal for complex curves. Can be useful for detailing and straight pieces. Thin pieces can be found at local model shops and I’ve found thicker pieces at plastic shops in my city

–          Sintra; This is a plastic commonly used in sign making. It also has some thermoplastic properties but is more ideal for simply being glued together. Good for making very straight pieces.

–          Cardboard; Yes, cardboard.  Cardboard is a cheap and easy to find material, however it can get heavy.  If you are unable to get other materials to work with, it will do, as long as you put love and care into both smoothing and painting it.  Here’s an old tutorial on a prop I built using cardboard, which mentions the changes I would make looking back nowadays http://toast.picobin.com/?p=81

That’s all for this tutorial, I will cover painting, resin casting and electronics in a different tutorial.  Let’s all hope I don’t complete forget about that one too.

Tiny Champion cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tinychampion

Featherstone cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FeatherstoneCos

Myself on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ToastCosplay

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With the 2013 con season over it is time to post some tutorials/builds of my 2013 work.  This will work through both of Kirito’s swords and sword cases; each was built in a different manner with different materials because I wanted to play around with materials this year.  It’ll also discuss how the swords were mounted and a bit to do with the few pieces of armour Kirito has.

First off, The Dark Repulser (The green sword for those that aren’t into Sword Art Online)

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This is foam board and a square 1” wooden dowel for a handle, the same dowel I used for Homura’s bow.

Base:

Cut the basic shape from foam board, you’ll want two of each piece, I use a straight edge  and foam board cutter  from Logan (foamwerks).  These simply made the cuts easier and faster, this process is perfectly possible with a ruler and an exacto knife.

Once the base is cut the edges need to be cut to a 45 degree angle.  I suggest doing this afterwards so that you can watch the angle closely and make any needed adjustments as you create it.  With the foam board cutter this can be simply done by setting the cutter to 45 degrees and running it along the sides.  Take time on this, you want as clean of a cut as possible so you have less retouching and clean up to do later.

In my case my foam board was smaller than my sword, so the top bit is a different piece.

Please excuse the cat, he seems to believe that he can help with cosplay props.

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At this point you are going to cut channels for doweling.   You’ll want ¼” doweling.  Place it upon the foam board piece on the backside and trace it, then check that you have right around a ¼” apart set of lines.  You are going to very carefully cut into the foam board, but not far enough to pierce the entire piece.  Peel out the foam and you’ll be left with the above featured picture.  I used a screw driver with a flat head to dig out the foam surface, be careful not to damage the front covering or it will show on your final sword.  Do this to both pieces such that the channel lines up exactly on the two sword pieces.

For the top a ¼” aluminum rod was used in place of doweling, as this will connect into the handle.  The detail pieces also contain small bits of doweling.

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Glue the doweling into the first piece, and then glue the second on so that it perfectly lines up with the first.  You may have some small touch ups to do with cutting at this point, any errors you made in cutting the angles will be fixed shortly.

Once everything is placed correctly you can either do angle fixing or detailing.  I did my detailing first, then my patching/fixing.

My detailing was done out of craft foam, worbla and extra craft foam.  There is foam with an adhesive backing on it that is perfect for work like this.  The handle was connected by drilling a hole into the square doweling, after sanding it to soften the edges, then attached to the sword with glue in both the hole and on the base of the sword.

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The edges now all need to be seal and fixed.  I used paper clay to do this however it would also be possible to do this with bondo (I believe) or spackling.  Use whichever material you would like to use for patching, the application is all very much the same.

Smooth the patching material over the edges and fill in any spots that were cut funny and any places on the face of the sword that require touch up.  Sand the patching to create a smooth edge; I suggest getting to the range of at least 220 on sanding if not 400.

Once you are satisfied with your patching apply gesso to the entire sword, including the foam board face.  Apply 3-6 layers then sand the entire sword to 400.  I’m a fan of wet sanding, but it isn’t mandatory.

The paints I used were Folkart Plaid metallic aquamarine for the main part of the sword, emerald green for the details and a custom mixed teal for the handle.

Just the aquamarine paint & the Elucidator’s case in paint prep stage.

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The gems are resin cast out of a custom made mold.  To do this a base gem was first created with fimo, baked, used to create a mold out of Easy Mold (handy silicone mold maker) then cast out of polyester resin.  The backing of the gems is painted with the aquamarine colour.

The final detailing on the handle is some strips of styrene and a very thin strip of the adhesive foam, coloured in aquamarine paint.

The entire sword is seal and finished with Future by Pledge, a great high gloss hard coat for cosplay props (and floors, apparently).

I was happy with this sword, it was light, it looked good and was fast and easy to make.  If you don’t want to put the love and attention into a wooden sword and I would absolutely recommend this technique.

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And as required, a photo of my finished cosplay taken by BD MacDonald

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My other 2013 con photos are posted on my facebook.  Some nice photos of my Haseo cosplay with a new prop, his scythe Shadowy Death.

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