This tutorial is all about making a budget friendly Hylian Shield from the Legend of Zelda!
Some basic past work with foam would be very helpful, but not necessary
The shield from this tutorial (without alterations) makes a prop that is 21" at its widest point and 25.5" in length. I chose this size since it is the same approximate ratio to the human body as it is to our hero Link.
This prop is very light weight and easily scaled up or down
Here's a list of materials and tools you'll need:
- Access to a basic printer or printing service
- 2x 12"x12" piece of EVA Foam (aka those foam mats that connect together)
- 5x craft foam sheets
- Contact Cement Adhesive or other heavy duty adhesives. Hot glue can work but isn't recommended
- Exacto Knife/Box Cutter/other work knives (I like to use OLFA brand ones)
- Heat Gun (a hairdryer could work but I have not tested it out myself)
- FloraCraft Smooth Finish/Spackle/Hot Glue/Something to fill/smooth out seam
- Painting Supplies (I used acrylic) and Sealant
Optional tools you might want to make your life a bit easier
- Sewing Pins
- Something to use as arm straps
- Self-healing Cutting Mat
- Epic Adventure Music
Step 1: Print Out Your Pattern and Tape It Together
The pattern I attached is meant to be printed out on a normal home printer on regular old printer paper.
If you don't have access to a printer, but have a few bucks to spare, Staples and other office supply stores have printing services you can use.
Pretty self explanatory. Line up the proper pieces and tape that baby together!
Cut out the image to use as a template
This is the design from Twilight Princess, but it can easily be modified to fit any game.
Step 2: Cut Out the EVA Foam Base
Connect your EVA foam together and glue into place with a heavy duty adhesive, I personally prefer contact cement. Don't worry about the seam, we'll take care of that later.
I decided to place my seam a little lower than the middle of the shield so that there is still stability between the pieces.
Use the cut out pattern as a template. This pattern will be destroyed by the time you're done with the project.
Step 3: Cut Out Basic Details
Thankfully the design is a mirrored image so you only really need to cut up one side of the pattern.
Make sure you take the time to do this step carefully! These are your stencils.
Use the stencils to cut your craft foam. Color doesn't matter, but I always like to use light colors since they are easier to cover in general.
It's easy to cut through multiple layers of craft foam with a good knife. Make sure to use a sharp blade. Keep those cuts clean! Do not rush!
**** Don't throw the paper pieces out if you want to add dimension to the shield. You'll use those to cut the next layer of details like the raised triangles and the bolt type circles around the frame.
**The frame/outline pieces are going to be made from multiple sheets of foam, unless you can get your hands on a large enough sheet/roll of craft foam. Be aware of where the seams are! They need to fit together really well so try to use the factory cut edge as much as possible.
Step 4: Meet Your New Best Friends: Pins and Contact Cement
I like to use sewing pins to keep everything together while I make my cuts. Quick to place, move, and remove. No risk of ripping anything when you remove it, unlike tape. In all of my years of making random nerd stuff, this is one of the best tips I've figured out while working with foam, paper, card stock, whatever.
When it comes to foam, this will always be one of your best options to use, adhesive wise. It's pretty cheap, easy to use, dries quickly, permanent, and will hold if you are using heat (which we are). Make sure you are in a well ventilated area.
Other adhesives you could use are e6000 (takes a while to cure), superglue, gorilla glue, other fancy glues I can't afford.
**Hot glue could work well if that is all you have, but it might not hold well enough when we add heat since it's easily remelted and shaped. If you do use it, don't be stingy and make sure everything is smoothed out so you don't get weird bumps and lines.
Step 5: Start Putting This Thing Together!
1) Put everything down first before you do anything! Arrange the craft foam accordingly and pin down/tape/whatever temporary method you want to use. You could always graph it out to make everything exact, but I just went with my gut and what I thought looked good.
2) Mark it up! Trace around corners, weird curves, etc. You just spent forever getting it to look the way you want. These guides will help you keep it that way!
3) Brush on that sweet sweet adhesive. Make sure you get the edges or else things can start to curl up on you and we don't want that.
*I always keep as much as I possibly can pinned while gluing this stuff down. I kind of work the pieces in sections to keep it smooth and make sure I cover everything.
Step 6: Optional: Adding More Detail
This is when you can choose whether or not you'd like to add those other detail layers.
Follow the same steps using the paper patterns you have. (Happy you didn't throw them out?)
For the orange detail, I lightly scored the lines on the pattern to allow the foam to get that nice sharp shape and keep it from looking wonky.
Step 7: Add a Little Heat to Curve the Shield
Add a curve to the shield by slowly using your heat gun on the back. This keeps as much heat away from the detailing and adhesive as possible. You don't want stuff moving around.
The amount of curvature you want is all up to you. If you don't want any, skip it.
Step 8: Covering Seams, Practical Hardware, and Sealing It All In
I like to use FloraCraft Smooth Finish to cover all of my visible seams when it comes to foam props. It also doesn't require sanding which is awesome. There are a ton other ways of smoothing over the seams, I recommend this for things that aren't moving joints.
Other alternatives that I've used are spackle and hot glue. Filler putty works too. Just make sure it is smooth and blends in. This can be achieved by sanding.
It's important to do it AFTER you are done with all of your heating elements! We don't want this stuff cracking or else its totally pointless and looks terrible.
I then added some keyrings and hooks (with contact cement) to the back that are going to become arm straps and a way to hang the shield on my back. After everything is painted, just use some fabric or elastic to make up the straps.
Once you are happy with the look and curve of the shield, grab that Plasti-Dip and and hit the front with few even layers, let dry between each coat. I also did the back twice and the sides as well. This gives it a nice protective shell. If you do get a few lumps and bumps between layers, it can be sanded down once dry.
*Plasti-dip isn't vital, but I highly suggest it
Step 9: Prime and Paint!
After the last layer of Plasti-Dip dried, I covered my shield in 4 coats of primer on the front and on the sides. I know the back isn't going to be seen much, so I just gave it 2 coats.
Paint away and add a coat of clear sealant (I use Kyrlon) to ensure there's no paint crackage!
I like to hand paint my projects with acrylic paint, which can sometimes take forever to get full coverage, but it's usually worth it. Spray Paint is an option, just make sure you tape off really well. If using spray paint, you might want to spray everything before you glue it down, but foam to foam contact is really the best hold for the adhesives. If your paint cracks and peels, things will start to fall apart in your hands pretty quickly (I learned this the hard way).