So, one of the costumes I’m doing for myself is Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. She has a gunblade (oh you quirky Japanese designers!) that she uses in main combat, but she also has this dagger that comes into play in the story of the game, it actually gets a lot of screen time, so I thought I’d make it.
So, I decided to go with cheap and easy to obtain materials with this one. The majority of it is made using the following:
- 3/8ths inch Foamcore
- Eva Foam (craft foam sheets)
- Strathmore foil cardstock in silver
- Printer paper
- Hot glue
- Permenant fabric glue
- Liquid leaf silver
- Testors Gold Enamel
I started out by creating a template image from screens and videos of the game, then printed this out and cut out all the pieces. This is boring..thus no pictures.
Next I cut out the blade from foamcore and used a very sharp hobby blade to cut the beveled edges of the knife edges. The trick to doing this is loads of practice, a steady hand and an extremely sharp blade.
Now comes the shiny edges. On this piece, instead of fighting with days of gessoing and sanding foamcore edges, I decided to add flashing of a sort to all “sharpened” and high-polish edges. I traced all of the beveled edges first onto printer paper and cut them out, carefully laying them over the foamcore to ensure a good fit, then used these patterns to cut out flashing strips from the foiled cardstock. These were then glued down carefully using hot glue and trimmed with the hobby blade where necessary.
Now comes the swirl detail on the back of the blade. This is a raised design, so I simply drew the swirls onto the cardstock using thick layers of gesso.
Now to start the paint on the blade. I wanted a duller finish for the rest of the blade, so I used standard liquid leaf. I also placed a placeholder for the little colorful bit to check size. The other side of the blade will go through these same steps when it’s time, but I am holding off on that until the folding mechanism has be set up. It will also need to receive more flashing on the unfinished edges around the finger hole.
Now on to the handle. This blade folds up, so it needs to have a slot inside the handle to rest in. Therefore, this will be made of three layers of cardstock with the blade anchored between the outer two. Here’s the cutout for the outer pieces, the inner bit will cut after the folding mechanism is set up. You can see more of the template file there next to the pieces.
Now comes beveling. I don’t want this bit to be as shiny as the blade’s sharp edges, therefore I will not be using the flashing method here. nstead what I have done is score the edge of the bevels around the circle with a hobby blade, then very carefully press the scored edges down, they fold at the score line, and still lay fairly smoothly. I’ve also cut out some pieces from eva foam that will form the contours of the handle.
Now, gesso, sand, repeat. These edges and planes need to be as smooth as possible since they will be painted. Metallic paint picks up ridges and imperfections like nothing else, which makes this part vital. But! You can also use that to your advantage here, On a piece I was having a bit of trouble getting smooth, I used the gold paint to highlight areas still needing work, since gesso makes these things hard to see. I also went ahead and started embossing the screws in the handle. I just pressed the outlines using the metal cap from a set of eyeglass screwdrivers and then used the flat-head screwdriver to press in the line of the screw. You’ll also see here the test holes for the dowel that the blade will be anchored on.
Now we’re getting somewhere!The pieces were as smooth as I could get them, so on to paint. This was done with some testors gold enamel, quite good stuff actually, I also used it on my lightning necklace. About two coats is all it took (needed a bit of touch up in a few places). Then since some of the pressed details for the ridges and screws were lost, I re-pressed them with the cap and screwdriver and made sure to actually cut into the paint to make a sharp edge. I also carved in (what I assume must be) the knife’s product code. This was then highlighted with a dark grey, dark brown and black ink to bring out the lines.
I’ve also started assembling the handle pieces together. Here you can see how the layers of eva foam will help give the handle a nice contour and make it more comfy to hold. I’ve also temporarily set the blade in to mark the pivot points and get the shape I need to cut for the interior bit of foamcore to go between these two.
Well, that does it for me tonight. Hope it’s been helpful to someone out there. My next post will detail how to put the whole thing together, wrap the handle and add the handle caps.