For all fans of Nintendo and The Legend of Zelda, here's my technique for making lightweight and durable Deku shields!
pink insulation foam
adhesive spray or wood glue
a jigsaw or knife
a small piece of wood
a dremmel and sanding drum bit (or heavy-grit sandpaper)
faux or real leather/suede
1. Use a sharpee to mark the deku shield shape into the pink foam, then cut it out with the jigsaw or knife. You'll want the sheilf to be 4-5 inches thick, so you'll need to cut several shapes out of the pink foam.
2. I want to throw a few screws into my handle to make sure it won't go anywhere, but screws don't work very well against foam, so we're going to glue a piece of wood in between the layers of foam. Cut out a piece of wood then mark the shape onto the back of the pink foam, then use the dremmel to carve out a ditch for the wood to fit in. It doesn't have to be the exact shape of the wood, then use the wood glue to adhere the wood in the ditch.
3. Glue the layers of pink foam together with a light layer of spray adhesive, leaving the layer with the wood second to last on the backside. Leave the adhesive for about 30 seconds so it can get nice and tacky before you put the layers of foam together to get the adhesive as strong as possible. The negative about using the spray is that if you apply it too thick it can actually eat at the foam. You'll also need to either stand on the completed layers for a few minutes to make sure all edges get glued down, or layer weight over it evenly with whatever is laying around. Give it at least a half hour to be really secure that the layers are stuck together. If you don't want to use the spray, use wood glue. The negatives are that it'll take a few days to dry entirely and it can cause the dremmel to hitch periodically, so you'll have to be careful while carving.
4. Sharpee down the details of the pink foam so you know where to start carving. I basically kinda go to town on the shield, using the sanding drum bit of the dremmel to carve down and shape the general curves. Once I get the shape down, I will drag the dremmel down the shield, giving it many different striations and getting the "bark" look. Periodically I'll go down even deeper, leaving a nice groove and giving more variety to the bark.
5. There are also two places on the shield where the bark is torn away and the inner flesh is revealed (three if you're doing the 3DS version). For this I'll take a slightly different technique, first carving down the shield again so it's visibly lower than the bark layer and is sharper in angle. I'll then take the sanding bit and basically "hit" the area, dragging the bit down in quick, short jabs, trying to get this part of the shield to look slightly torn or as tho the Kokiri took a small tool to it.
6. The back of the shield I make curved in the middle, making a easy groove for the body to tuck into. I make the texture in long, uneven strikes, going with the idea that this piece of wood was basically ripped off a tree and then minimally chiseled and hammered so it can function as a shield.
7. For the Kokiri/Deku swirl, mark the design in Sharpee, then lightly carve it out with a smaller dremmel bit if you have it, otherwise work with the same sanding bit you've used so far. I leave this for last because I want the bark grooves to go through the swirl and appear more natural.
8. Now we're ready for painting! I use a variety of browns, tans, reds, and black to get the right look. I don't mix them together, rather I'll just lay the paint down on my pallet and swirl the paintbrush through to get various colors on the brush, then apply to the shield. The bark is going to the the darkest color, with the grooves being darkest throughout. The places where the bark is torn away and on the back are going to be a lighter, warmer shades of brown, with a bit of black tones along the seams. It may take a few passes to get the shield entirely covered in paint--make sure to get in all the grooves!
9. Leave it to dry for several hours, then you can go back and take a lighter shade of brown/beige and lightly drybrush the shield, bringing back some highlights and giving variety and texture to the piece. Once everything dries you can go back in with a nice cadmium red and fill in the swirl. It may take two layers to make it a solid red, but I also like leaving it slightly translucent in places, allowing the brown to seep through.
10. Now for the back handle. Cut out a piece of leather or suede, or a convinceable faux, and cut out a rectangle, leaving the vertical sides longer (since that's what your arm has to slip through). Line it up where the wood should be inside the foam, and hot glue the leather into place. Once it's dry, secure it down with several screws, then apply the brass rivets. According to the 3DS version there should be three on each side...but I ran out and for the life of me I can't find them.
11. Well, that's it! Do a victory lap, you're done! Go find a small child to send off on a adventure! I hope this tutorial helps and please let me know if you have any questions!