Though I have never made a shield before I think with the correct planning that it could be made simply but still look realistic.
As a Spartan what would you use to create your shield? To defend your life? To keep you and your army safe? Cardboard and paper towel of course!
I'm using a garbage can lid as the base of my shield. Idealy I would use one of those "saucers" for sledding but they are out of season at the moment. You could even just use cardboard but I feel that making the slightly domed shape would be frustrating and time consuming.
The first thing I am going to do is cut off the handle on my lid, at this point cut off anything that doesn't belong. Right now we just want a a plain surface. The base of your shield is going to set the stage for everything else you do, so take your time and make it sturdy and look good. Once we get a few steps in there isn't much turning back and it would be a shame to ruin your shield by rushing.
Now that the handle is off I just put some duct tape over the hole, once we start building up the surface it will be covered and made sturdy.
I took some cardboard and traced the outside of my lid and then added a few inches on so we have a flat boarder to add to the outside. I didn't have a piece of cardboard big enough to make it the whole way around so I did it in two pieces and it will just match up into the ring shape once attached. I'm being very liberal with the duct tape here, I would rather use too much than too little at this point. Once attached, cut up the edges a little bit. This shield is used in battle and the edges will be worn and chipped. I also added some strips of cardboard at this point to make the triangle decoration on the shield.
Now we are ready to paper mache. Instead of using tradional paper mache I am using white elmers glue and paper towel strips. I have had flour paper mache go mouldy in the past, it is more than okay to use it, I just don't want to take the chance. I figure if I go through the process of making a spartan shield I will propbably want to keep it.
I put some white glue in the bowl and added a splash of water, I made one thin layer of paper mache over the front of my shield. Like paint, many thin layers is much better than one thick one, it takes more time but in the end it is worth it. Make sure to overlap your paper towel and have a little hangover onto the back of your shield. Once dry, do one more coat of paper mache but this time don't add any water to your glue. On the second layer of paper mache I dug out little holes and scratches to mimic damage done in battle. When we paint our dark colours on the shield your dents will look more deep and life like. On a warm sunny day the drying time willl be much quicker.
Now that everything is dry we can spray paint the front and back gold. You could paper mache the back as well if you wanted but I opted not to. If your paint isn't covering well, do a few thin coats, the last thing we want is drips! When your shield is all shiney and gold we are ready to age it.
Take some brown or black acrylic paint diluted with water and brush it on into every crack and crevase. Immediately after brushing it on, wipe it off with paper towel. The paint will stay dark in the cracks and no where else, you can keep a bit of dark on your smoother surfaces just to add a bit more roughness. Spray everything with a matte varnish, remember this isn't shiney, we want a dull well used shield.
Finally, I made two straps out of folded layers of duct tape and secured them onto the back with more tape. I might change this, if I do I will update with my changes.
I am really disappointed with the pictures my camera is taking of the final product, the shading doesn't look quite right but you get the idea!
I made a Spartan Helmet to go with the shield.