How a cosplay n00b made the Master Sword (a photo tutorial)

Want to know how to make a Hylian Shield? Check out the tutorial here!

Before we begin, let’s start with some disclaimers.

It is indeed. Never before have I attempted to create, well, anything. 

Due to my lack of skills, I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of guesswork during the whole process. The results are passable in photos (though not inch-for-inch accurate) but looks kind of ghetto up close. Good enough for me!

So let’s get started!

No project is good without proper planning, which is why mine turned out so horrendously. I decided to sketch the Master Sword on a piece of poster board, using this tutorial and this picture of the Master Sword for reference. This guy, in addition to carving the Master Sword out of wood, also provides a nice sketch of the sword with the proper dimensions.

I cut out the design and traced it onto a piece of plywood.

Now to cut out the shape. I went to my dad for help…

So, using the jigsaw, we cut the plywood into this sword-like shape.

I then proceeded to smooth the edges with a file and some sandpaper…

Now, what to do? We have a nice piece of wood, but it’s a little flat. The handle, at least, had to be round!

And here’s where we get into failed idea #1:

I thought maybe carving some of that packaging Styrofoam might work. As it turns out, Styrofoam is darn tricky to carve precisely. Plus, carving it makes the little Styrofoam bits rain like snow. Would not recommend. 

It’s time for attempt two. You’re going to have to excuse these poor iTouch photos, but here goes…

I cut off some rubber hosing and duct-taped it to the handle part of the sword, like so:

I did this for the other side of the wooden sword as well, so we ended up with the handle looking like this:

So the handle is now 3-D. Congrats! But what about those wings on the side? Those are still, regretfully, spectacularly flat.

I somehow came across my 9th grade science fair project. Something about housing, and insulation, and the like. More importantly, my 9th grade science fair project was mounted on foam board:

I have no idea why I chose that title…

Using that same lime-green poster board template I had created earlier, I cut the shape of the wings out of the foam board and duct-taped it to the wooden frame. Like so:

I did this for both sides of the wood. I proceeded to cut out more of the wing shapes, and tape it to the wood again, and again, and again, layering the foam board to make it less flat. It looked kind of like this:

I also cut out this little shape for right above the wings…

…and also this diamond-type thing.

I thought this might be a swell time to add some details to the wings. Using total guesstimation (sorry– I don’t have a proper pattern for this one) I cut out one more layer of foam board. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The bottom of the hilt is still woefully unadorned, though. What to do?

First, I cut out some short segments of that same rubber hose, like this:

I wrapped 4 or 5 of these around the end of the hilt, so it looked like this:

…and then I wrapped it in duct tape.

That wasn’t enough, though– the Master Sword has a fun little nub at the end. I turned to this decaying stool I had dragged off the street. (Dumpster diving, hooray!)

I sawed off the end of one of the legs…

…and attached it to the end of the hilt. With more duct tape.

Using the same cut-some-rubber-hose-layer-it-onto-the-sword-smother-it-in-duct-tape technique, I added another decorative lump to the handle close to the wings.

This Master Sword is looking a little patchworky, though. Solution: Add more duct tape!

There’s just one little problem, though: duct tape is tough. It’s waterproof. NASA astronauts have even repaired their spacecraft with it. As you’d expect, then, paint just rolls right off this stuff. Any water-based paint isn’t going to work on this duct-tape store.

My solution? Well, as a starter, I sprayed the entire thing down with plastic primer, resulting in a white, sticky hilt that smelled terribly of paint thinner.

Technically, now, paint will stick to the duct tape due to the primer. However, the plastic primer also caused the duct tape to start to peel and fall apart. Uh-oh.

So– very carefully, and very slowly– with the help of my skilled mother– I wrapped the hilt in a thin white cloth. The details I had cut on the wings were covered, but at least the hilt is now paintable!

Finally! It’s painting time! Using some acrylics, I painted the hilt blue:

Since the details on the hilt were lost when we wrapped the sword in cloth, I re-cut them out of foam board and pasted it on again:

Some yellow details, also painted with acrylics:

The bottom of the hilt was still looking a unshapely, though. I glued some string around the hilt, and painted over that as well.

And finally, the green wrap around the handle! I played tennis in high school, so I still had some tennis grip lying around. And this same tutorial said it works pretty well.

I cut the tape down the middle to get the right width…

…and cut out two strips. I painted the strips green, and wrapped one around the handle:

The other strip I wrapped around in the opposite direction, resulting in this:

And, finally finally finally, after an embarrassingly large amount of work that spanned several days, it is done! A Master Sword by a amateur cosplayer! 

And that’s how I made my first prop, ever. It’s not that sturdy and doesn’t look so great up close. I definitely took much more time than what was probably needed, and went through much more trouble than I probably had to. But you know what? I’m happy with the result.

If you do happen to be a Link cosplayer trying to make the Master Sword, however, I hope this helped even a bit! I know I get most of my cosplay help online, which is why I decided to write this post. The cosplay.com forums, in particular, has tons and tons of advice from experienced cosplayers.

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33 thoughts on “How a cosplay n00b made the Master Sword (a photo tutorial)

      • It should look like metal, so a can of dark blue Rustoleum spraypaint probably would’ve been a bit better. A lot of people don’t like to use spraypaint because it might initially seem easier to just use a brush, but this is the purpose for which blue painter’s tape was made. All you need to do is do a silver base coat, then when it fully cures, cover up the parts of the sword that you don’t want any blue paint to get on with painter’s masking tape and spray away. 🙂

        • Oh! I almost forgot… Be careful if you decide to try to paint directly over anything made of foam, though. Polyurethane would be fine, but polystyrene foams MUST be sealed before you try to coat or paint it with anything containing solvents, or else the solvents WILL dissolve the foam and you’ll be left with a lumpy and misshapen mess!

          • This is amazing! For all the research I did online, I didn’t hear of half of this need-to-know info. Thank you so much! I know I’ll be trying to make props again in the future, so all this advice is really really really helpful. Do you often build/craft things?

            • I haven’t actually gained a lot of first-hand experience until recently, but I managed to find a lot of info and good methods that work well just by regularly reading about other people’s methods on cosplay sites like 405th.com, therpf.com, and forum.cosplay.com. Tons of people post progress pics and ask for feedback on those sites, and those threads are very handy for learning about new techniques. Just this link alone has a ton of tutorial threads stickied to the top of the page demonstrating how to work with pepakura, fiberglass, bondo, and I think there’s even one explaining how to get a professional-looking paint job on your props/armor. EVA foam is really popular for foamcrafting right now, mostly due to a number of people having a lot of success using it to craft flexible Iron Man costume parts using pepakura. Most of it is really time-consuming, but it’s amazing what a little bit of elbow grease can accomplish!

            • Whoa, these sites are awesome! I will definitely use them next time I attempt to make a prop– as you saw, my Master Sword is not exactly the greatest (at all) so these will help a ton. Thank you so much for all your advice! As a newbie cosplayer who relies on the internet, I really really really appreciate it. I’ll do better next time! 😀

  1. That looks impressive. However you say it looks up close, at least you made it. I wouldn’t tend to bother trying something like that, even if I were to try to (cheaply) cosplay.

  2. Just for future reference on your next probject from a (slightly) more experienced crafter/builder, I thought I’d offer a few tips:

    1) Styrofoam: your problem was pretty much just with the type of foam you were using. White packaging styrofoam is beaded polystyrene, and although it’s not entirely useless, you need a hot wire cutter in order to get really good, clean edges when you cut it to shape. If you can’t find one of those or can’t use it very well (because they’re generally only good for very flat, boxy shapes), I recommend high-density polyurethane (uncommon and more expensive, but doesn’t melt from heat, so it doesn’t need to be sealed if you plan to coat it with fiberglass) or high-density polystyrene, which is used for insulation, isn’t too expensive, and should be available in either spray cans or in large pink or blue sheets of varying thicknesses at any local hardware store. A serrated drywall cutting knife will cut through this stuff like butter, and gorilla glue works great for gluing pieces of it together.

    2) Duct tape: It’s obviously really handy for all sorts of purposes, which is why MacGyver always carried a roll with him wherever he went, but be warned that a lot of stuff like glue and paint just will not reliably stick to it. Some people even like to use duct tape as a mold release because of that property! So wherever possible, I recommend that you use a spray adhesive or a glue that will cure to a high-strength and durable finish instead (pro-tip: Elmer’s generally won’t cut it, either). Gorilla glue works great, though, and all it requires is water!

      • 🙂 i’m happy u liked it!!! and tks! my zelda cosplay wasn’t the best of the best, cuz i made it out of time, i wanna to remake it this year. about the shield i made all with a kind of paper thats like a pasteboard, used to do little gift boxes, this paper is thick and resistant (sorry, i don’t know the name of it in english.. :C)… the inside of the shield was made of wood. i covered it all with modeling paste and a liquid called “gomma lacca”, them painted it. 🙂 the sheath it’s paper too, and a lot of durex between the paper layers to make it resistent. check out my blog http://nerakloira.blogspot.com.br there are tutorials …. in portuguese….. :C but is not hard to understand. (sorry for my bad english, i’m brazilian… ) xoxo!!!! :*

  3. I’m going to try making my prop like this~ It’s my first time trying though.. hope it will work.. I’ve only got one question, I’ve been trying to get a foamboard but I can’t seem to find one.. At what kind of shops can you buy them?

    • The foam board I used is just some ordinary stuff you can pick up at an arts and crafts store. (I mean, it used to be my science fair project!) I got mine from A.C. Moore. I think Michael’s and Staples probably carry some as well.
      Oh! And one more thing! Keep in mind that in this method, my resulting sword was kind of flimsy! I’d say to try using a thicker, stronger wood, or cut out multiple swords and layer them on each other to make it stronger!
      Hope this helps, and good luck! 🙂

  4. Pingback: My not-so-secret project | I think in comics.

  5. Pingback: How a cosplay n00b made a Hylian shield (a photo tutorial) | I think in comics.

  6. this prop looks AMAZING. i love the way it looks and how you used the stool piece. GENIUS!!!!! i recently got into cosplaying and wanted some advice for it. please help? if you wanna get into contact with me i have a facebook. just message me if you can my face book name is ben skywalker and the profile picture has a manga looking image.

  7. Still alot better than all my attempts at the master sword. 1st atrempt cardboard and ducktape and tin foil… to big. 2nd foam board… flopping over. Was going to do wood next…. good to see how this turned out.

    • Hi Fironna, thanks for reading! Yeah, cosplay props are really hard to make when you don’t have any experience crafting (like me). I decided to go with sturdy wood because of previous experiences where my cosplay would fall apart after a few hours… 😛

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