Wednesday, 12 March 2014

[Fairy Tale] Erza Scarlet's Heaven's Wheel Swords

So recently a long time friend of mine made it known to me that one of her upcoming major cosplays was going to be Erza Scarlet in her Heaven’s Wheel Armour form. 

So unaware to her I took this opportunity to crank her out a set of the swords to give to her at her surprise 21'st so she could use them for the outfit and eventual performance at some point in the future.

So like always with all my swords I like to start out with a wooden base blade as the main support structure and use that to expand and build the rest of the sword from.

For this instance I decided to go with an 18mm thick pine plank for starters and then went about cutting out the two blade profiles using a jigsaw and shaped the edges using the belt sander.

 Once a nice shape was achieved, I sanded the whole thing down with 120 grit sandpaper and then started fashioning makshift tangs to support the eventual PVC pipe handle.

 To do that I had to cut out MDF circles using a holesaw that matched the inner diameter of the PVC pipe handle and then using an appropriately lengthy screw affixed the circlular nub onto the butt of the blades.

With the tangs firmly attatched, I could then attatch the PVC pipe to the nub with the aid of a polyurethane glue which was allowed to cure and harden.

Moving on to the cross-guards of the swords themselves, using a 12mm thick EVA foam from a gym mat I cut out and mirrored two faces in order to sandwhich the blade inbetween using superglue to hold everything together.

I then attatched in the same manner a raised detail layer on top of that, not before using a rotary tool and drum sanding bit to bevel the edges slightly.

To deal with all the exposed gaps, seam lines and open faces this method of doing the cross-guard presented, I decided to use some masking tape and random off-cuts of card to trace out some makeshift templates that I transfered and cut out onto sheets of acetate and wonderflex.


And using those cut to size acetate and wonderflex pieces superglued them into place to cover up the faces.

Now with all the gaps covered up nicely it was then simply a matter of sealing the foam pieces with five coats of a 1:1  wood glue and water mixture to prep the surface for the eventual paint job and further work.

Now by this point the wood grain on the blade surface was still fairly prominent, so to get rid of it I decided to try out a new material in the form of an acrylic spray putty I bought from the automotive shop.

As the name implys it is an acrylic sprayable putty that once sprayed onto a surface, hardens to a rigid slightly rubbery state and is meant to fill in all the small defects and gaps. Which when used in conjunction correctly with proper sanding techniques can achive a glass smooth finish.

For this project I did about three passes of first spraying the putty, allowing it to dry, sanding with 120 then 240 grit sandpaper and then a final sanding pass using grade 1 steel wool.

Doing this produced an incredibly smooth finish and got rid of the wood grain perfectly; I can not stress enough the wonders of using steel wool as the final stage of sanding for these kind of applications, since there is definitely a noticeble difference in texture and surface finish because of it.

Since the results from the acrylic putty were so promising, I also ended up spraying it onto the cross-guard to fill in any tiny holes the PVA-Water glue sealing may have missed, and as the putty hardened it gave the entire thing a kind of rubberised coating.

Then to top all this prep work off was two coats of grey primer, which if there were any still remaining made for certain all the defects and gaps were filled in making the swords now ready for painting.

But before that I still needed to also make the various decorations and gems that are inlaid on the surface of the blade and cross-guard as well as the pommel.

So starting off I decided to make some makeshift gems by hot gluing cuts of cardboard together to make the half diamond shapes that I needed. 

But in order to hide the grainy surface of the cardboard, I super glued ontop a layer of acetate sheet to give the surface a smooth gem like finish.

The seam edges of the gem pieces were still showing a bit of the cardboard grain underneath so they were filled with plumber's epoxy and sanded to make them appear seamless.

For the red gems that are inlaid in the cross-guard and the blue diamond and winged parts on the surface of the blade those were simply flat shapes cut from some PVC sheeting I had lying about.

For the pommel’s, using the same half diamond pieces I had made earlier, I made enough so that I could hot glue the two halves together to make a complete 3D shape.

Then wedged it down the end of the PVC pipe handle and held it in place as the hot glue cooled, followed by plugging up the gaps with more plumber epoxy.

 With all that done I could then start on the paintjob proper. First off I gave the cross-guards a coat of acrylic white spray-paint and then using my airbrush filled with silk black went around highlighting the edges and features.

For the blade it recieved a once over with automotive quality chrome spray-paint, and for each of the decorations and gems they recieved an appropriate red or blue enamel. which when dry were glued into place onto the surface of the swords using epoxy glue.


With the glued pieces set in place finishing the last aspect of the build off was the handle wrap, which I did using a strip I cut off a roll of blue upholstery vinyl and then simply coiling it about the handle and hot gluing the ends down.

Not before capping off the entire build with a good coating of clear coat to make everything shine and protect the paintjob from coming off.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 4 November 2013

[RWBY] Wilt and Blush

Wilt and Blush is the ornate gun sword weapon of the enigmatic character Adam from the new series RWBY currently being put out by the folks over at Roosterteeth, I’ve been meaning to get around to this one for a while so let’s begin.

To start off the katana side of the weapon, I first had to cut out the blade base out of a 12mm thick plank of pine using a standard jigsaw.


For the bevel of the blade that was made most with the use of a hand operated belt sander to shape out most of the "V" shape and sandpaper to clean it up. 

Now to make the handle of the sword itself, firstly I traced out the outline of where the tang would eventually sit and the rectangular shape of the handle onto another piece of pine. 

It is vitally important that the grain of the wood is going in the same longitudinal direction as the overall blade as this mainly helps in the forthcoming chiselling process but also adds to structural integrity when handling.

With the outlines marked, I could then begin the process of chiselling, using a standard hammer and a basic woodworkers chisel set.

Starting from the edge I gradually tapped first downwards into the plank surface and moved along the outline establishing the initial depth to chisel out later. Try not to hammer too deep or hard or you will split the wood, all I can say is take your time and go about it gradually, until you have a consistent depth all around.

With the initial depth cut for the entire outline, I then started to chisel away at the surface, gradually peeling away layer by layer.


I underwent multiple runs of this entire process until the tang sat snugly in the wooden gap, whilst at the same time making sure that it was also enveloped to half its thickness. 

With one half done I repeated this entire process again for the opposite corresponding half making sure to mirror all the parts accordingly.

With both cavities carved out into the pre-cut planks, using the jigsaw I then cut out along the outer rectangular shape of the handle itself. The reason I left cutting out to last is because it is much easier to chisel, in the plank form as opposed to how thin it is now.

So the two halves were attached together with copious amounts of wood glue with the aid of clamps, encasing the blade in between.

Starting on detailing on the handle I first did a quick once over with sandpaper to clean off the sharp edges and burs.

And then resorted to cutting out and attaching of PVC sheeting, some pieces where glued on directly whilst others were first bent with a heat gun then attached, namely the muzzle end and the hand guard.


The small gun barrel was cut from a thin PVC pipe and glued to the wooden base structure, after which I then started sealing up all the gaps with apoxie sculpt.


The sealing of the gaps leads into the next major section where I started with the application of the body filler, to start cleaning up all the ugly unwanted seams.

A lot of sanding took place as well as a lot of filling. I used the automotive filler to make up the mass around the muzzle and the hand guard and then sanded it down to match the contours of the PVC sheeting.

Before a quick intermittent coat of primer to highlight and fill-in any major defects that I might have missed.

For the scabbard aspect of the prop, that involved first cutting out two similar side pieces out of pine and then having to make a sort of box to encase the pre-existing blade.

To make the depth of the “box”, I cut from plywood some thin strips that matched the contours of the blade and then glued them atop one another to achieve the thickness required.

These strips were glued to the side face of the scabbard, creating a similar cavity effect much like the one created by the chiselling earlier. 


Some light sanding took place along the inner rims of the scabbard to make sure the sword fit snug without rattling, but was still able to slide in an out. 

Now to protect the future paintjob I decided to glue in some black cloth to the inner chamber of the scabbard.


This like I said acts as a major barrier against paint stripping off as you sheath and unsheath, but also to a degree prevent the sword from sliding out unnecessarily.


With the cloth glue dry, the two halves were then attached to one another using powerful clamps and again copious amount of wood glue.

Now that I have this base scabbard, I had to again start cleaning up all the exposed seams and start shaping the contours of its body using sandpaper and body filler.

The arduous process of detailing and sanding was done until a desired ergonomic shape and contour was achieved.


With that process done, more detailing was added in the form of PVC sheeting to make the receiver and ejection port.


The front face plate was attached to the end face with epoxy which also doubled as the guide to the sculpting of the shoulder which consited of apoxie sculpt. 


Firstly the rough shape was sculpted  but was then cleaned up with sanding whe it had cured.

The ammo cartridge made with some EVA foam sheets that were superglued together and then skinned in wonderflex.

The trigger guard and trigger started out as two dimensional cut-outs but then had apoxie sculpt moulded around them to get the shape right.


Everything was then attached to the rest of the prop receiver and then quickly primed to get it all ready for painting.


Paint job involved two coats of grey primer, acrylic paints for most of the features and a quick once over of dry brushing in to add some duress and wear. I should also note the insignia was printed out and transferred with the aid of carbon tracing paper and inked out with enamel hobby paint.


Thanks for reading.