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September 15, 2011
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Someone asked me how I made my FF7 SOLDIER swords---constructed from a papercraft template---strong enough for use as cosplay weapons. So, I divulged my favorite techniques. This can work for all kinds of swords and armor, of course, not just Final Fantasy. Even original designs! Though always beginning with a shell contrived from polygons (papercraft templates) is recommended.




To make my SOLDIER swords, I flattened out several breakfast cereal boxes and traced each of the template pieces onto the brown side. (Because the waxed side is just too hard to write on, or see amongst the cartoons.) After I cut the cardboard out, first I assembled the sword in two major parts: the blade above where it will connect to the hand guard; and then the hand guard, handle, & pommel. Then I took a lightweight hollow steel rod (could use wood or any other strong light material) just slightly less in diameter than the handle, and about 2.5ft long, and inserted it into the handle through two round holes I cut in the hand guard, all the way to the pommel. I would recommend greasing the rod with white glue beforehand so that it doesn't slip towards the tip of the sword after everything's finished. Finally, slip the blade half of the sword over the remaining end of the rod and glue it to the top of the hand guard, as well as along the rod on the inside if you can manage it.

After that, I paper-mached mine for even more strength. I've found that, for cosplay weapons in general, a mixture of half water and half white glue works far better than the traditional flour & water mixture. Also, better than newspaper, use paper from an old phonebook. (It's finer than newspaper, but stronger than tissuepaper.) As you are applying the paper mache, be extremely careful that the strips wrap neatly around the sword's geometric form. If wrinkles or bubbles occur under the paper, then when everything is dry, instead of making the sword stronger, they'll peal off easily, or even feel 'spongy' if it's REALLY bad. But, if it works out and the sword dries hard, (should be able to knock on it like a hollow piece of wood), then you should be able to sand it slightly afterward so that the paint will apply smoothly.


For my helmet and shoulder armor, I used heavier cardboard taken from pizza boxes. Wherever there needed to be a fold, I deeply scored the cardboard with a snap knife (personally I think they're way better than x-acto knives) on what was to become the "mountain" side of the fold. Same for the glue tabs, but on the tabs I had to peal away several layers of the cardboard so that, once glued in place, the two faces aligned evenly. Kinna hard to explain without a visual, but definitely a technique that works beautifully, as you can see from my unpainted cardboard SOLDIER helmet.





Whenever it is that I finally get around to making that second helmet for my brother, I'll do a video tutorial for each of these techniques. ...Hopefully... :|
Photos of my unpainted cardboard SOLDIER helmet

For your pleasure:
PDO Template for FF7 SOLDIER Sword
PDF Template for FF7 SOLDIER Armor Set
Template for ShinRa ID Card

Now here is where I drop a customary textbomb. :squee::typerhappy::squee:

It was only AFTER nearly completing my two SOLDIER swords with the techniques outlined above that I realized ACE's papercraft model----linked above----is not quite to scale. Although for a real sword it would still be pretty huge, when I measured a Crisis Core screenshot and created a rough ratio of 'character-height:sword-length', ACE's template turns out to fall at least 10 inches too short. Making the sword as a whole technically much to small.

Hopefully this doesn't matter to [you] all that much. But if you're like me, it's a REALLY REALLY GOOD THING TO KNOW BEFORE YOU INVEST A LOT OF TIME IN IT.

:iconotlplz:


YOU CAN SEE A VIDEO PREVIEW OF MY WORKS IN PROGRESS HERE!! My papercraft swords are at the end. Those others were sculpted by hand. :P
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:iconmaryanime:
MaryAnime Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2014  Hobbyist
Hello, i have a question, you think that this method serves to something smaller? 

I would like to make this papercraft (link: maryanime.deviantart.com/art/M… )
and use it, but it scares me make a paper model, and I have no paint to cover it after 
the paper mache process, so that only I have the pattern you see.

You could give me some help?
Reply
:iconrainbowpandas1:
RainbowPandas1 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Okay I just made this Keyblade out of cardstock. If there anything I could cover it with that won't cover up the color of the paper?
Reply
:iconeutytoalba:
EuTytoAlba Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013
Best I can suggest would be clear sketchbook sprays which you can find in craft stores. They won't make the cardstock more durable, but good quality ones should protect the ink from water exposure. I've never tried that, myself, so you'd have to experiment. Some types might cause printer ink to run. :shrug:

Another idea, if you want the keyblade to be stronger, is to inject it with expanding polyurethane foam from a spray can. (You can get it at hardware stores for about $8.) I'm going to try this myself just as soon as I finish a few more keyblades.

Hope that helps. :)
Reply
:iconrainbowpandas1:
RainbowPandas1 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks alot :DD
The only thing im scared about with useing the expanding foam is that if I put to much in and it expands so much it rips the paper D: And I have all of it but the blade down so I have no clue how I would do it T_T
Reply
:iconeutytoalba:
EuTytoAlba Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013
I'm worried about that, too. There are a couple of different grades of foam, though----some that expand only a little, some that expand a lot. I'll post a pic of my results, good or bad, when I'm done. :P

I've left the handle and the blade of Ends of the Earth separate from each other so that I can squirt the foam in, and also some of the edges towards the tip open. Dunno if that suggestion helps you. :shrug:

Which keyblade did you make?
Reply
:iconrainbowpandas1:
RainbowPandas1 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Student General Artist
I just made the original kingdom key :) I have the handle done right now and am probably gonna start on the blade soon but I don't quit know what to do to make it sturdier Dx Im afraid of getting it done and attaching the blade and it not be sturdy enough x:
Reply
:iconaelita377:
Aelita377 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Can I use Paper mache over the paper?
Reply
:iconeutytoalba:
EuTytoAlba Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012
Of course! But you'll have to be careful not to work too wet, or else you might accidentally warp or even cave-in your papercraft.
Reply
:iconaelita377:
Aelita377 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
okay :D thank you so much! would you mind a request?
Reply
:iconeutytoalba:
EuTytoAlba Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012
You're welcome!

Not at all. :) But I'm limited to what 3D models I can get, and my still-quite-noobish 3D abilities.
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