Hello gorgeous people!
So this was my first cosplay attempt EVER, Erza Scarlet’s Heart Kreuz Armor from the anime Fairy Tail. And since I got frustrated searching the internet for tutorials and found nothing useful, I promised myself to share my knowledge with everyone if the armor turned out to be a success!
Before we start I just want to point out that this was all a trial and error process, so there may be a few blunders I fixed along the way. I worked using proportions and not by accurate numbers, so you might have to measure things on yourselves using your own scale as a reference. And speaking of scales, I am 1.53m tall, pretty short! So consider that this armor was made according to my tiny size, and you might have to work out the proportions and make a few adjustments to create your own perfect fit.
I hope this step-by-step tutorial will be useful and help you all make a much better armor than mine.
And of course if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and I’ll be more than happy to help you with anything!
((DISCLAIMER: All rights to "Fairy Tail" the anime and the manga go to its creator Hiro Mashima and TV Tokio))
In this part we will go through the making of the: Sword.
Materials you will need:
- Butter paper sheets.
- White (A1/A0) 2mm thick cardboard.
- UHU or any other all-purpose adhesive.
- Chrome metallic Silver, Textured metallic silver & Black spray-paint.
- Thick black markers.
- Thick silver marker.
- Steel ruler.
Step 1: Making the Blade Pt.1
Your sword should be proportional to your height. You don't want it to be bigger than you are, and you also don't want it to be the size of a toothpick. To measure it approximately with you as the scale, the blade should go from the ground up to the bottom of your hip, and the handle should end above your hip, almost at your bellybutton. It should also be almost half the width of your leg, I made mine a bit wide for a more dramatic effect, since it's the Titania and she should have a gigantic sword. But you can alter those to your liking but keep your own proportions in mind.
We are making the sword out of cardboard, that material is very very hard and the sword will be a bit heavy, but remember that this is only a prop, so don't hit anyone on the head with it because that is sure to leave a mark.
Starting with the blade, you want to draw an approximate shape on a separate piece of butter paper with the desired length and width, also the curves at the top where the blade meets the handle and the pointed tip of the sword. You don't want to make that too pointy, but we'll fix that as we go.
After you have your butter paper draft, trace that on your A1 white cardboard piece. You will need 2 identical pieces. Cut that cardboard blade out using your cutter and your steel ruler and make sure all your lines are straight and parallel to each other.
Also, and this is very important, make sure that both sides of your blade are identical mirrors of each other, you don't want to be drawing those haphazardly! Measure them by drawing straight lines where each curve begins and ends, that should help you with the size of the curve. As for the arc itself, draw it by eye first, then when you cut one side out, keep the cut-out you got, flip it on its reverse side and transfer that shape onto the other side of the blade. As you can see in the pictures I only cut one curved part at a time, that is to help me get perfectly identical mirror images on both sides.
Step 2: Making the Blade Pt.2
You should have 2 identical cardboard blades cut out, we will stick them together in the end, but before that let's give our blade a little dimension shall we?
Alright! Take your pencil and we want to draw a straight line on the inside of the piece, since it's too long for a small ruler to be accurate you can use a longer ruler or a T-square for this, OR you can go ahead and draw a line against the straight edge of your A1 cardboard sheet. You want a long straight line right down the center of the blade. Make sure to do that on the inside of the piece because you will stick them together with that line facing inwards. So if the sides of your pieces are identically mirrored this part shouldn't be a problem. So be as accurate as you possibly can because it will make everything easier for you.
Now that we have a straight line drawn down the middle of both pieces, you are going to take your steel ruler and cutter, and you are going to cut the surface of the cardboard along that line from top to bottom. You DO NOT want to split it in half!! Just gently cut through about 1mm deep in the cardboard, that's because we want to bend it inside which will give us a nice crease on the outside and that will give the blade more definition and it would start looking like the real thing.
Be careful when you fold both halves over inwards NOT to break the cardboard or rip the front side of it, because that might happen. Just be very VERY gentle when you are bending it and apply small amounts of pressure gradually until it bends into shape. That might take some time and your palms may be a little sore when its done but this is well worth it because you will end up with this beautiful crease on the front side of the blade which will make it look more realistic.
The next step is sticking them together back to back. Take your UHU or any other all-purpose adhesive and put it (on the inside, avoid the edges) along the sides and the curved tip of the sword, just don't glue the top shut!! I suggest you glue one side at a time, since UHU needs a few minutes to dry, and you have to hold the pieces together since they are bent upwards especially at the tip, so it would be easier if you glue one side together, hold it with some pressure until it dries, then when it's dry do the same on the other side. Make sure to apply pressure with your hands ONLY on the side and not on the crease we made, you don't want to flatten it.
The great thing about this material choice is that cardboard is very VERY hard and it holds its structure perfectly, that's what makes it very difficult to cut and handle. But my point is, that crease we made in the middle, it will hold up on its own and you won't need to put a stick or a PVC pipe or anything of that matter inside the blade to keep that crease up and keep that blade bent into shape. No. This will stay in place and keep this shape without any support from the inside, because the own thickness of the cardboard is already keeping it up, if you bent it perfectly into shape that is, it will stay strong and stay up!
Okay! Now your blade is ready, we will paint the blade first!! You want to paint this part straight away for 2 reasons:
1. The paint will help keep the pieces in place when it dries, since the whole piece is covered in paint, so when it dries and hardens over the cardboard it will also be holding it together. The paint will also cover the crease we made and that will also help in keeping its shape.
2. YOU ARE TOO EXCITED TO SEE HOW IT LOOKS WHEN IT'S DONE!!
Step 3: Painting the Blade
So a few important tips for spray painting, keep the object at a distance when you spray it, you don't want it too close otherwise you'll end up with lumpy tear-drop paint that will look terrible. Also, get lots and lots of newspapers to cover the area you'll be painting in, preferably outdoors, since you don't want to inhale all that spray. Don't wear your favorite shirt because there is a big chance you will get dirty, gloves and goggles if it's windy because you will get paint in your eyes if the wind is mean enough!
Also, make sure to test the spray paint out on a small piece of cardboard just to check if it's safe to use, it's also a good idea to test the colors before you actually start to paint the real thing.
The colors I used for the blade are a silver chrome spray paint and a glossy black spray paint, those are the ones on the left and right. the one in the middle is a textured metallic paint which I used for the sword handle.
So after laying newspapers everywhere, you place the blade on them and spray it from a distance with the silver paint first on one side, wait a bit till it dries and turn it over to the other side and repeat that until you've painted it completely, I also painted the edges of the cardboard to fully cover the piece in paint, this will be also helpful because it will keep the pieces in place. After you do a coat or two of silver, walk even farther away and spray some black strokes, do NOT color it black.. this will just give the silver paint some darker points and this will give it more definition, try to hit the points where you think should show more shadow like along the crease, both ends of the blade... etc.
The pictures show how it looks like after being left to dry.
Notice how the silver spray paint reflects light a bit on the cardboard, it doesn't have that cheap aluminum-foil reflection, but it looks like a thick hard metal material. And at this point, even if you mess up the paint a bit (I am NOT telling you to do that on purpose.. Don't you dare!) it will look like an aged blade, imperfections are truly beautiful. And notice how the crease after it's painted is still up and it separates the blade into two different shadow zones, giving the blade more definition and variation in color, making it look more realistic.
If you missed the edges that's fine, we are going to outline the edges with silver marker when the paint is dry just to give it an outline.
Isn't she a beauty?
Step 4: Making the Handle Pt.1
So, the first thing you need to do to start making the handle is of course SKETCHING!! Sketch an approximate shape of the handle on a piece of butter paper, or I just went ahead and started sketching on the cardboard itself.
The most important thing here, aside from making all the lines STRAIGHT and PARALLEL to each other (your ruler exists for a reason), is PROPORTIONS!!! Keep your blade in front of you, keep measuring the handle according to the size of your hand, your grip, and the blade itself. You don't want the handle to be smaller than the blade or bigger than your grip. The best way to do that is to put the piece of butter paper or cardboard or whatever you're sketching on right next to the blade, and then draw as if you're completing the piece, this should give you a clear vision of what the handle should look like and how big it should be, it's also fun to do it this way!
Look at the first picture so you can understand that better.
With the handle, like everything else, I started by drawing one side first and then to make both sides identical mirrors I traced the first half on a piece of butter paper, flipped that on its reverse side and traced that back onto the cardboard. As you can see in the second picture, both sides are identical, so that's a very useful trick you can use!
After you're done with sketching, use your ruler to thicken the lines and make them clear and straight, because now you are going to cut that piece out of cardboard and that will make the base of the sword handle.
Because you want the handle to actually CONNECT to the blade, you will make an extension to the handle at the bottom like a tail. Have that part drawn in your sketch. This extra length we added will be inserted into the opening that we left in the blade and it will connect both pieces together. This part should be EXACTLY as wide as the opening, we're talking millimeters here, you want it to be exact. Not too big that it won't even fit in, and not too small that it slips out of there. Even the smallest difference could make the sword wobbly and your sword will fall apart, as in your handle won't be securely attached to the blade and it will break. Other than being the exact width, it has to have a good length. When I first made my handle the extension part was too short, so I had to cut out another rectangular piece of cardboard to add to its length. You want a good length, somewhere between 8-12 cm, that depends on the size of your blade of course. You just need enough length to support the top part of your blade, which is a few centimeters below those curves we made a the top where the blade meets the handle. Once that part is supported your sword is secure and it won't fall apart if you move it or lift it. You can see that in the third picture. Again, proportions are important so keep that in mind.
With the extension we made, the handle should slip easily into the opening in the blade, and it will look something like in the pictures.
And the base of your handle is ready! Now to give it some thickness.
Step 5: Making the Handle Pt.2
Now that our base is ready, we need to add thickness to the handle since you don't want it to be a flat two-dimensional sword. Also, the layers will work as a counterweight for the blade since cardboard is pretty heavy and that will make the sword more balanced. We are going to give it thickness using layers, keeping our base in the middle and layering on each side. The thickness of the handle depends on how many layers you make, and how thick you want the handle to be. Keep in mind that you don't want it to be too thick that you won't be able to grab it, or too thin that the cardboard will hurt your hands when you grab it. Take your hand size and your grip size into consideration.
Since my hands are small, 3 layers worked fine for me! But you can add as many layers as you like, as long as they fit your grip and work with the blade.
You see in the third picture, the size of my hand according to the size of the handle. This will give you an idea about how this should look proportionally.
The layers! The base we made will be the middle layer, and the rest of the layers will be attached to the front and back of that layer. We already made both sides of the base identical mirrors so that shouldn't give us problems regarding which side goes where, which face goes on top and so on.
You will make a layer that looks like the base, only without the curvature of the wings, just like what you see in the first picture. Make 2 of these (or more, depending on how thick you want it to be) one will go on each side of the base, leaving the base layer in the middle. Lovely! We will also make 2 squares that will go on top of the handle, and 2 more squares with chamfered corners that will go where the handle meets the blade. This will give it a 3-D effect, rather than a plain 2-D handle.
You will also make 2 small thin pointed rectangles that will go on the blade itself. This is all part of Erza's sword design. Okay, with those 2 pointed rectangles we will do the same thing we did with the blade, we are going to draw a straight line down the middle of both pieces, and using your cutter and steel ruler you will cut the surface just enough so we can bend them inwards just like we did with the blade pieces. You should already be familiar with the way we bend cardboard, apply gradual gentle pressure until it takes the desired shape and you will end up with a beautiful crease down the middle of the front side, you can see that in the last picture.
Step 6: Making the Handle Pt.3
Now after you have all your layers ready, simply glue them all on top of each other using UHU or any other all-purpose adhesive.
This doesn't need much explaining, except that the base layer should be in the middle as I said earlier.
The difference in color that my handle shows is simply because the reverse side of the cardboard is slightly darker than the other side, don't worry that's not important!
After all the pieces are glued together, grab your steel ruler, pencil and cutter, and on the vertical part of the handle you will draw horizontal lines dividing it on both sides with your pencil, then with your cutter slightly cut the surface, do NOT cut through the pieces, we are simply scratching the surface, because this will give it more definition and it will look nice once we outline it with black markers!
And on to the painting!
Step 7: Painting the Handle
For the handle, I used the texturized metallic silver spray paint (which is a darker shade of gray than silver), chrome silver and some black spray paint. If you notice in the anime, Erza's sword looks different in each episode, which is a bit confusing because you see a different design and different colors in every part. The bright side of this is that it gives you a small variety of choices you can go with in your own creation. So even if you are cosplaying and mimicking the original design of the character, there is still a portion where you can customize the piece and make it your own! Which makes it even more special than it already is.
So in my case, I decided to go with a (silver/gray/metal) theme instead of the other (blue/white) theme because I thought it matched the whole armor better and looked better in the big picture!
So when you paint the handle do the same routine you did when you painted the blade, dress appropriately and lay newspapers all around the area you will be painting in which should be outdoors. paint one side then when it dries turn it over and paint the other side with a base of the darker silver. Don't worry if you miss the edges, we will outline the whole thing with black markers.
The handle and the wings should be darker than the bottom of the piece. So use your black spray paint to darken the wings and the top of the handle, and with your lighter chrome silver spray paint make the bottom of the piece lighter. This might be a little tricky to get the right places, but that's not a problem, keep repeating and adding as many coats as necessary until you get the right color.
After the paint is dry, yes, you guessed it. Black markers! The magical outline that makes everything look incredible!
So take out the black markers and color the outlines, the edges, everything, and when you're done it will look something like what's in the pictures.
Step 8: Assembling the Sword
This step is really simple, take your finished handle, put some UHU or any other adhesive on the extension part sticking out of it and simply slip that into the opening in the blade. Apply gentle pressure on that part until you make sure that the glue is dry and the handle is secured in there and isn't wobbly. UHU is perfect for the job, I swear by that substance, it can glue mountains together!! Just try not to inhale it because that is smells nasty.
After the handle is in place, take the smaller blades or the pointy rectangles we made, bent and painted and simply glue them on the blade right in the center.
Give it a little while to rest and for the glue to dry, 15-20 minutes should be more than enough time.
Step 9: Admire Your Creation
AND YOUR SWORD IS FINISHED!!!
Don't you feel proud of yourself now? Look at this beautiful creation.
All that's left now is treating yourself to a nice cup of hot chocolate and a nap!
Step 10: Conclusion
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, it was fun for me to make this armor and I hope it would be the same for all the brave souls who attempt it.
But one last piece of advice, hard work pays off. This will be exhausting and time consuming and at times even frustrating. But if you want it to look perfect you have to give it all the effort and time you can possibly afford, and when you see your final result, you will be blown away!
Again, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( email@example.com )
This was the last part of the armor, and is finally done!
A million thanks to all of you who took the time to read my instructables and give me feedback, I hope this helped you all even in the smallest ways, I am truly grateful.
And hopefully we will be seeing each other again in future projects! Until then,
Lots of love,