If you’ve already seen the finished result and wondered how I got from nothing to a wearable foam Deku Shield, it’s finally time! In this series I’m going to detail the steps I’ve used, the tricks I’ve abused, and the materials I’ve misused.
Let’s start at the very start. When I started thinking about doing this project I’d just finished my foam dumbbell, and I’d run into quite a few problems making that. I wanted something a little bit simpler for my next foam project. I settled on the Deku Shield because I figured a shield is essentially a slightly bended flat surface with some detail added or removed. And if you can accomplish that by just using a couple of pieces of flat foam, then that should be easy enough to do, right?
Eheheh… I think we all know the answer to that.
There were problems.
But hey, that’s okay. It may have taken much longer than I thought it would to complete the project, and longer still to begin writing about it, but at least there are plenty of interesting things to write about with regards to this project.
So let’s get to it!
The first step was to find some resources. I’d specifically wanted to recreate the Deku Shield as it appeared in the original Nintendo 64 version of Ocarina of Time. That game still holds a special place in my heart, and probably always will. The 3DS remake arguably looks better, but it actually has a changed Deku Shield design, and I simply liked the original better. So I went online and found this image. This was my starting point.
I decided that the base of the shield should be about 2 centimeters thick, not taking its curve into or hand-helds on the back account. That gives you an obvious path: use two pieces of foam 1 centimeter thick. Ignoring manufacturing tolerances and glue, that should result in something that’s about two centimeters thick.
It also gives you a less obvious option: to use four pieces of foam, half a centimeter thick. That’s should end up about the same thickness, with more work.
I’ll let you guess which option I picked.
Yeah, I decided to go with the less obvious option.
I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but this was definitely in error, and not even necessarily for the reasons you may think. The error was largely financial: you’re using more glue. That doesn’t sound like it should be a huge deal, but it’s worse than you may think. At first, you may think this is the situation:
But ACTUALLY… remember that foam is best glued with a contact adhesive, which needs to be applied TWICE. It needs to be applied to both sides of what should be glued together and left to dry for a few minutes. When the two pieces are then attached, the contact adhesive bonds with itself, creating an incredibly strong flexible bond. So in reality, the situation is more like this:
And if those numbers don’t mean much to you, consider the following: let’s suppose you initially calculate that the amount of contact adhesive you’d use for two layers of foam is €5. Then when you realize that you need to apply it to both sides, that jumps up to €10. Then when you change over to 4 layers of foam, you’re actually using €30 worth of glue. Yikes!
So remember, when you’re gluing together large surfaces, think it through beforehand so you use the minimal amount of glue. It may be possible to end up with the same result at a relative fraction of the cost. It literally pays to think ahead.
But I had foolishly decided to cut out four pieces instead. And to know what I’d have to cut exactly, I decided to draw an outline of the shield. I already had a reference image to start with. All I had to do next was try to work out what size the shield would be and upscale it in a graphics software package, then draw any edge-lines I would need.
I picked Inkscape, which is great for this kind of thing. I imported my source image, upscaled it to the real-world dimensions I guessed would be about right, and then drew the basic lines I’d probably need: outside lines for the general shape of the shield, as well as another set of lines for the shape of the deku sign.
If you’re not familiar with Inkscape, I highly recommend you learn it. It’s free open-source software, and it’s fantastic for projects like this. The software is fairly intuitive and easy enough to get into, and there are literally thousands of free video tutorials available online. This took me only minutes to do. And I did these on individual layers, so when I was done I only had to disable my bottom reference image layer to get this result:
As you can see, if you’re planning to create something relatively flat, and have reasonable-quality source materials to work off of, it’s pretty easy to get started with a project. If you’d like to do this and don’t want to draw the vector file yourself, I’m offering my file as a free download in the public domain, which means you can do with it whatever you want.
The next step was to get this printed out on paper. I printed it out over six pieces of A4-sized paper, then combined all of these using simple the simplest and cheapest masking tape. I don’t recommend using regular tape or duct tape for this because, as you’ll see in a moment, it helps to be able to draw on top of it, and the cheap tan masking tape can take a variety of pencils, pens, and inks with no problems.
Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the alignment of the lines didn’t work out exactly. It’s actually surprisingly hard to get this 100% dead-on, but here’s where it pays to be using masking tape. You can just pick up a pen or a marker and fill in or repair the problem-areas:
Then all that’s left is cutting it out, and you’re left with a paper version of your foam prop. Not very impressive by itself, perhaps, but once you’ve got this, it makes things much easier down the road.
As for what is down the road — well, you’ll have to wait. This post has already turned out quite a bit wordier than I’d intended. But this paper Deku Shield was the start of this project. And indeed, this entire post serves as a template for what steps you can take to make your own projects a reality — assuming they’re also based on a relatively flat base surface. 🙂
Thanks for reading, and check back in again soon to learn more about this project and others!
And remember, if you’re feeling particularly generous, [ please consider supporting me ]. I’m doing all of this on pretty tight budgets, and even a little bit of extra money helps pay for essentials like tape, pencils, and paints. Thanks!