How to Make a Shield (Costume/Theater/Cosplay)

This is the basic process of how to make a shield from foam board and craft foam.
The methods can be used on cardboard as well.
Lady Sif 's shield from Thor 2 will be our reference point.

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Step 1: Supplies

• Foam Board
• Craft Foam
• Xact-o knife
• Pencil
• Ruler
• Hot glue gun
• Hot glue sticks
• Leather/pleather
• Silver Paint
• Burgundy Paint
• Paint brush Large
• Paint brush Small
• Sand paper
• Banner Paper
• Mod Podge

Step 2: Sketch Out Shield Outlines on Banner Paper

Using a ruler or meter/yard stick, the widest part of the shield should be just a bit longer than your forearm.
The Base Shield will be the larger of the two, and will eventually be the wine/burgundy layer of her shield.
The Interior Shield will be smaller than the Base by about ½ inch or more and has a different cut than the Base.
Use reference pictures to plan out your templates.

Step 3: Trace Templates to Foam Board

Cut out the 2 shield templates from the banner paper,
these are the Base (larger) & Interior (smaller), shield templates.

Trace the 2 templates onto a sheet of Foam board and cut them out with an exact-o knife.
While foam board from a place like Dollar Tree can be used to accomplish this task,
the sanding process will tear up the edges of your shield, to have nice, smooth edges,
I highly suggest printing out a 50% off craft store coupon and buying some nicer foam board.

Now you will have two foam shields.
Sand down the edges until smooth (if you got the nice stuff).

Step 4: Use Interior Shield to Make Detail Design Shield

Trace the cut out and smoothed foam board Interior shield onto banner paper.

Step 5: Draw Detail Designs Onto Banner Paper

Within the drawn Interior shield, draw the details for the shield.
These are all the swirly, Celtic designs on Lady Sif’s shield.

For those of you who are new or not hardcore accuracy cosplayers (like myself) do not fret over being exactly spot on with details. I suffer from carpal tunnel, so drawing and cutting all these intricate designs is hell on my hand. Do what you can. The goal of a good cosplay is to have your audience recognize who you are at a glance.

Step 6: Detail Designs Onto Craft Foam

Lay the design detail sketched banner paper, over a section of craft foam.
Use an exact-o knife to puncture dots on the craft foam, much like carving a pumpkin, following the design lines.
This allows the overall design is captured.
Remove now-dotted banner paper from the foam layer.
Go over the dots again with the exact-o knife, using regular slicing techniques and cut out the detailing.

Step 7: Hot Glue the Base and Interior Layers Together

I made a big, hot glue blob on the center of the front of the Base shield,
then lined up the interior shield and laid the Interior shield on the blob. 
This will hold the two pieces together while you glue down the edges of the Interior shield to the Base.

A spiraling layer or gluing down the Interior shield edge by edge can also be done.

Step 8: Hot Glue on the Detail Layer Onto the Interior Layer

For this step, line up the design details to their location on the shield first.
Then begin gluing them down bit by bit, onto the interior shield.
I used both black and white foam for the designs.

Step 9: Add Sword Cradle (Optional)

This step it optional. By adding the sword cradles, your Lady Sif sword (or spear) can be stashed behind your shield, like in the movie.  This frees up your non-shield bearing hand to hold your merch, greet your Asgardian brethren and dig through your bag for face powder.
The two cradles look like wide U’s and only need create an opening wide enough slide the sword in and out of easily.  The two U’s  will be placed on the back of the shield, along the center, with one at the top, and one at the bottom.  The bottom U should be wide enough for about 3-4 inches of the tip of the sword to pass through.  The top U needs to be wide enough for the widest part of the blade, but not wider than the hilt.

Step 10: Mod Podge It

Paint 2 layers of Mod Podge onto the front and back of the shield. 
This will help solidify it, ward off water damage, and prevent scuff and fraying.
Also, a layer of Mod seals the foam detailing on the top of your shield,
this means less layers of paint will be absorbed, ergo, less paint to be used to paint the shield.

Feel free to be messy during this step. 
Regular Mod Podge dries clear, though I do suggest somewhere ventilated, it will get stinky.

Step 11: Paint the Shield

Using the silver paint, cover the front and back of the shield, it may take 2-4 layers of paint. 
The multi layered silver will help make the shield look fresh and newly forged. 
For the Sif 2.0 Shield pictured), I painted the center and non-raised areas of the shield with dark patina. 
It has kind of a green tint, but does not reflect flash as harshly as the sterling silver detailing. 
I noticed in my Katsucon pics that my shield created a JJ Abrams-worth flare in almost all the photos. 
To hopefully avoid this next time, but still show off the detailing, I used the dark patina at the center.
See color comparison in second photo.

To give it some battle damage or age, take a darker silver/patina/black and use a dry brush effect on various points of the shield.  Either short strokes to make it look like weapon damage, or in between the detail work to show age and wear.

For the Base layer of the shield, use burgundy, wine or raspberry (if you are going for the comic book colors) to paint along the edge.  The image makes the Base layer look brown, so you will have to trust me that it is in fact, wine color.

Step 12: Add Straps

On the back of the shield, You will want to attach two parallel straps so that it may be worn on your arm, this will free up your hand as you walk around a convention center.

The size of the straps will depend on how big your hand and forearm are.  For me, the straps have to be wide enough for my hand, arm and gauntlets to fit through.  Measure the length of your straps, mark their placement and where to glue them down on the back of the shield.  Hot glue the straps to the back of the shield and let cool completely before testing it out.

Step 13: Try It On

Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, for Asgard!

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    5 Discussions


    Really like this shield project! Your decorative work on the front of the shield with the craft foam looks brilliant and the sword holder on the back is a great touch! Nice job all round and thanks for sharing the project :)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The sword was a similar construction, beginning with a yard/meter stick for length and then drawing the outline onto foam board, with an extra length for the hilt. Cut out sword blade with hilt length. I used a hard wrapping paper roll or paper towel roll for the hilt and slid and glued it to the extra length at the base of the blade. After that I used thick craft foam for the hilt handle designs and used hotglue for the details. Sand rough edges with fine sandpaper or nail files. Paint blade according to reference pictures and wrap & glue faux/real strips of leather around the paper roll hilt for a good grip. Final step, charge your enemies in battle!