Hello! This is a tutorial on how to do the armor pieces for a cosplay of Desert Voe Link! This first series of tutorials cover the following pieces
- the bracers
- the leg pads
- the hip pieces and the belt holding them
- the left arm pauldron
- the shoes
To summarize with a picture, the circled parts are what the series will cover:
This page covers the bracers. Since all the highlighted pieces are done using mostly the same techniques, tools and materials, you can reuse almost the same techniques on all the pieces!
First, you will need to know the shape of your forearm and the surface you need to cover with each bracer. To do this, you will need some plastic wrap and tape.
Then, ask someone to wrap one of your forearms with the plastic wrap. You can go close to the elbow, but do not cover it, as you need to be able to fold your arm comfortably with the plastic wrap. Then, ask the person to cut strips of tape and stick them all around your plastic wrap-covered forearm.
>Warning: you can tape your forearm yourself, but it will be longer and less comfortable, though.
Once it’s done, you have your forearm pattern!! The only thing left to do is to remove it. You can use scissors to do it. Ask the person that has covered your forearm to start the cut from your hand up to the elbow, gently, on the inside of your arm (you want to keep the top part intact as this is where the bracer will be the most visible).
Warning: be gentle when cutting the pattern, you don’t want to injure yourself! Go slowly and use the tip of the blade to cut.
Once your forearm is free from the pattern, this is how it should look like:
Tip: always identify your patterns and pieces. In this case, I have labeled the pattern accordingly with the side (left or right)
Tip: your left and right arms are probably different. It is a good idea to repeat the sizing work on the other arm!
Tip: provided that your body dimensions do not change, you can reuse this pattern for multiple cosplay projects! It can be valid for your entire life!!
You can then transfer the pattern onto some drawing paper or cardboard. This is the paper I use for this task:
The next step will be to determine how much of your forearm the bracers need to cover. Since this pattern covers your entire forearm, the final pattern will be much less large and the sides will have to cut. Here is what it looked like for me (with bonus markings that I did):
Tip: do not hesitate to test the paper or cardboard patterns on your own body. It is you who will wear this cosplay after all, and you need to be comfortable with it!
Tip: X-acto pencil knives are great for cutting through paper and foam! They are excellent for making curves while cutting!
Now to the fun part: drawing the details! If you look closely at Link’s bracers, he has a half-circle surrounded by flower petals at the tip. He also has a larger rectangular portion at the top, with angled lines. The bracers also have some battle damage on them (the dark lines on the golden border):
You can then use a pencil and draw these on the paper pattern you have cut before. It should give you something like this:
With this, you should have an excellent idea on how the bracers should look like, personalized for your body. Now, let’s create them for real!
Link’s bracers are not thick, when compared to the other armor pieces. Because of this, we will use craft foam (thinner foam) for the bracers and EVA foam (kindergarten foam floor pieces) for the rest. The next step is then to transfer the whole pattern to craft foam and cut it:
You might have noticed that the golden border of Link’s bracers and the half-circle part are slightly elevated when compared to the green center. Let’s implement this elevated part by first cutting the golden border from the pattern:
We can then transfer the golden border onto craft foam and then, glue it to the forearm foam pieces we have cut before. I have used the Gorilla glue (transparent gel) to glue the craft foam together: it almost instantly glues the foam and the bond is very strong. You can also use hot glue or any other adhesive, as long as it holds:
Then, voilà! You have done the base of your bracers!
For the next part, I have decided to cover the visible part of the bracers with worbla, which increases the durability and the lifespan of the prop. It is not mandatory to do this, as worbla can be expensive, but the rest of the tutorial assumes that worbla will be used.
First, let’s create a pattern onto the worbla using the foam bracer we have just built. Make sure you leave extra worbla padding (maybe 2-3 cm) around the bracer to allow the worbla to go on the underside of the bracer without stretching it (and potentially damage it). This is how the shape of the worbla pattern should look like (don’t mind the wrapping of the real bracer for now):
Tip: you can use heavy-duty or strong scissors to cut worbla when it is cold.
Tip: on corner portions of the prop, you can remove excess worbla by doing a 90 degrees cut. Otherwise, you will have to deal with lots of worbla stacked on top of each other on the underside of the prop. The image above does not show this technique.
Then, it is time to heat the worbla and wrap it around the bracer. You can use a heat gun to do this. Make sure the worbla is hot enough to allow it to be folded and reach all sections, fill all holes and make the shapes and elevations stand out, but not too hot to not burn your fingers! Don’t hesitate to focus on specific sections and make multiple heat gun passes.
Tip: When heating and applying worbla, start from the center of your prop and gradually go to the outside. Use a tool to make sure the worbla sticks to the demarcations lines (ex: the one caused by the golden border, the battle damage and the angled lines), this will make the worbla stick to your prop and create cool details!
The excess worbla on each side must go under the bracer. Do the same technique to achieve this. The worbla may not be flush on the bracer sides, use sculpting tools or anything else to make sure it is flat on all sides.
Once the worbla is applied, you can heat it again (with the foam under it) to give it the shape of your forearm. I recommend putting a long-sleeved shirt that you don’t care that much and then, once the bracer is hot, stick it to your forearm in sections until the worbla has cooled off. This will give the bracer its final shape, without burning your arm:
Then, congratulations! You have solid bracers made of craft foam and worbla!!
You will need to sand the bracer sides and the underside to make sure the worbla is flat everywhere and that you are comfortable wearing it on your bare skin (this is important!). Also, make sure there are no air bubbles on the worbla by either using the needle-push technique or by sanding them. You can use a dremel with a sanding head to do this:
Once it’s over, it is time to prime the bracer so that we will be able to paint it and give it all the nice colors and details. To do this on worbla, it is recommended to use gesso, as it is for priming immobile surfaces (as your bracers should not bend!):
Use a medium-sized brush to apply the gesso on the bracer surface. Do not hesitate to put lots of gesso and make sure the gesso is even on the surface. To reduce the number of gesso layers required, use super heavy gesso.
Tip: using a cup of water, dip a brush into it and caress the gesso-covered bracers with it. This will even out the worbla and should give a nice finish when the gesso is dry.
Then, once is gesso is dry, take some sandpaper and let’s get ready to sand the gesso. I recommend using a grain at around 80-100 for the first pass, then increase the grain number. I highly recommend this tool, which you should find in any hardware shop:
Then, push and sand very hard: make it the surface is as smooth as possible. It is ok if a lot of gesso goes away. Then, apply gesso again and repeat the whole process, this time with a smoother grain for the sandpaper (I’m using 220 for the final pass). Repeat this until you are satisfied with the smoothness of the bracers. It should give you this result at the end:
Once the bracers are primed with gesso, it is time to transfer the flower petals on the bracers using the paper patterns of before! All you need to do is to cut them from the pattern and, layer by layer, cut and apply them on the bracers (don’t mind the golden border I already did!):
Once this is done, it is time for painting! Here are all the colors you will need (I have taken a photo of what I used for reference):
At this stage, I believe that pictures speak better than words, so here is the painting progression that you could have! Please note that I have applied up to 2-3 layers of paint everywhere: this makes the paint constant and uniform everywhere.
You might have noticed that I have used a mix of black and ocre yellow (50% each) in the battle damage cracks and in the angled lines to accentuate them. Also, the middle pale blue is a mix of turquoise and white, as I could not find the exact blue at my crafting store.
The golden border is in fact a metallic gold on top of yellow ocre. The yellow ocre is important because metallic paint is a bit transparent: it is good to already prime the surface with a color that is close as possible to the metallic one.
Tip: make sure the visible part of the bracers underside is also primed and painted, as it will be good when looking from any direction, especially in a photoshoot!
Finally, you need to coat the painted surface to protect it. This is what I use:
The glossy Mod Podge will give a nice finish to the surface of the bracers!
Now that is is done, one might wonder how the bracers will stay on his/her forearms! The solution is: elastic bands covered by brown faux leather. Here is how to do it.
Here is an example (you can use faux leather for this):
You will have to cut some leather strips. I have used a 3 cm length for mine, but it could be different for you, adjust it as you wish.
Before going further, let’s talk about the mechanism used to hold the elastic bands. It is truly the elastic band that will hold the bracers to your arm, but in Desert Voe Link’s design, it is a brown band with yellow dots that holds it. We then need to hide to elastic band under the leather strip, like the following picture (it is from the back of my leg pads, but it is the same principle):
We can see here the back of the leather strip and the elastic band. They are held together with worbla on the underside of the prop. That is why it was important earlier to cover part of the underside with it, so that the worbla pieces can stick.
Allow a bit extra length for the bands and straps under the bracer. Then, you can fold them on the worbla piece that you just stuck to the bracer (see photo above) and then, stick another worbla strip on top of everything and stretch it in all directions to make it solid. This strengthens everything!
Tip: make sure the elastic band is not loose and is a bit tight, so that the bracer will be fixed to your forearm and not move. Don’t make it too tight, as you still need to be comfortable (blood flow is important)!
Also, too might means way harder to stick it to the other side of the bracer interior as you will need to pull the elastic for a long time!
Since the leather strips are not elastic and you want to be able to put on the bracers without damaging the strips, I recommend using 2 strips (1 on each side of the interior):
This way, and with velcro bands not visible when you wear the bracer, you can easily put on the bracer and have something identical to Desert Voe Link!
Tip: once the elastic band and leather strips are bound to the bracer, you can apply some hot glue where on the elastic band extremities, so that it will be harder to pull out by accident!
Now, you may wonder how the yellow buttons are made. You will find the answer amusing: with googly eyes!!
Once primed, painted and coated (using the gesso, paint and Mod Podge shown before), these creepy things start to look awesome!
Once ready, you can stick them to the outside leather strip using the glue of your choice (I used Gorilla Glue gel for this).
And once it’s done, that’s pretty much it!
The same techniques will be reused for the leg pads, the pauldron and the hip armor pieces!
You can start making some experiments for the leg pads pattern. This is an evolution of the patterns, with the one on the right being the final one:
Before going further, let’s first take a look at their thickness when compared to the bracers:
Link’s leg pads seem to be a bit thicker than the bracers. Because of that, I have decided to use EVA foam instead of craft foam because of the thickness.
Then, you can transfer the pattern onto EVA foam:
Once the pieces are cut, you have the base of your leg pads! Make sure they fit well on your legs before going further:
Then, it’s time to do all the details on the leg pads (the middle crystal, all the darkened cracks, the battle damage):
First, let’s trace the details on the pattern:
You might wonder where the blue crystal from the last set of images come from. It is one bought at a beads / crafting store in Montreal called Chaton Beads. The color is darker and the shape might be slightly different, but it was ok for me. If you wish, you can create your own crystal / diamond with the technique of your choice (magic clay, worbla, 3D printing), that is up to you.
Once the details are drawn on your pattern, you can create small openings with an X-Acto knife to allow you to trace the lines with a pencil:
You can then transfer the whole pattern on a craft foam sheet, then cut the foam where the lines are. Then, you can glue the craft foam on top on the EVA foam and voilà, you have the cracks and details.
On top of the first layer of craft foam, you can glue the surroundings of the middle crystal with small slices of craft foam and then, the crystal will be placed in the created cavity.
Sadly, I don’t have a good photo for the final result, but here is a very zoomed-in one:
Then, it is time to cover the visible side of the leg pads with worbla:
Make sure you fill all the craft foam cracks and holes with a tool that allows you to push the worbla in it. In the second image above, you can see the yellow tool I used to push the worbla into these tight cracks.
Once you heat again the foam and worbla from all sides to fit it around your legs, it should give you this:
Warning: it is possible that the worbla inside the cracks breaks when you shape the piece to your legs after heating it. It’s ok, if you prime the inside of the cracks and/or re-add worbla in them before the final priming and painting.
You can then add the missing elements, such as the elevated band close to the knee (strips of worbla put on top of each other) and the pyramidal-like shapes on the side of the leg pads.
To perform the pyramidal shapes, I used Model Magic from Crayola and I did the shape using my hands and a ruler to have surfaces as clean as possible:
Then, once the shapes are dry, you can cover then with worbla and attach them to the leg pads through worbla.
Finally, once you are satisfied with the leg pads (through sanding, heating and making sure everything is smooth, you can proceed to priming and painting:
Then, it is time to do the straps on the back of the leg pads that will hold the piece to your legs! The principle is the same as the bracers, including the yellow dots on the leather straps, so I won’t explain it in full detail. Here are the photos for reference:
And then, you have it: Desert Voe Link’s leg pads!
Now let’s work on Desert Voe Link’s hip armor:
These armor pieces may be bigger than the others, but they are in my opinion the easiest to make! There are only 2 main colors and most of their surface will be hidden by a piece of cloth hanging from Link’s belt.
As always, let’s start making patterns adapted to your body:
It is important that the inner half of your legs width stays exposed on the front on your body, just like how Link looks with it:
Link’s hip armor has a thickness equal to the leg pads. For the leg pads, I have used EVA foam, so let’s reuse the same foam type for the base of the hip armor!
Let’s then draw the patterns on EVA foam:
Tip: make sure you limit the amount of foam lost when cutting the pieces. I was super lucky to have all the hip armor pieces fit tightly into one EVA foam carpet sheet and then, limit the amount of foam lost!
I strongly recommend that you then test the pieces by heating them to fit on your body, then making a temporary belt out of craft foam, attaching the hip armor to the belt and testing it against your own body.
Then, you can make any adjustment you need and finally, move forward.
Tip: to not have gaps between the armor pieces (Link does not have any), it might be needed for the side pieces to be slightly on top of the back piece.
For the golden border of the armor pieces, it is slightly elevated on the surface, so using the pattern, you can cut a layer of craft foam and glue it on the EVA foam base:
Then, you can start covering the armor pieces with worbla. When cutting the worbla pieces, make sure you leave enough padding around the pieces to cover a length of golden border for the underside equivalent to what is on the surface. This way, if photos of the cosplays expose the underside of the armor pieces, they will look great!
Again, make sure you use a tool to push the worbla against the borders delimiting the golden borders and into the battle damage cracks:
And then, you have all your pieces covered with worbla!
Then, it is time for priming and painting these beauties! What is really cool with these 3 pieces is that you can work in parallel! You can prime and paint non-stop as the paint or gesso will dry as you work on the other pieces!
Tip: unlike what is shown in the next photos, DON’T prime and paint the top golden border as it is invisible part that will hold the piece to Link’s belt. The velcro bands that will be used do not glue well on paint, as I learned when trying the hip armor for the first time!
Don’t forget to prime and paint the golden underside of the armor pieces:
Tip: It’s ok if it’s not as polished as the front side, as almost no one will see it (it’s just to be safe for some angles in photos).
Then, you have most of the hip armor finished!
Now, let’s see how we can attach these hip pieces to the belt!
Let’s look at how it is for Desert Voe Link:
The white cloth will be covered in another tutorial. However, it must be considered during the design of the belt, as it must hold this cloth.
First thing to do is to decide what will be the base of the belt. It must be solid enough to hold all hip armor pieces, but also the white cloth, the Sheikah Slate and the back purse holding your cash and cards during a convention. I have decided to use a very long genuine leather belt that I bought from a medieval store for $20. I have cut both ends (buckle and arrowed end) since it will be tough and long velcro bands that will hold the belt.
On top of the leather belt, on the visible side, we will glue craft foam on which we will work on. I have used contact glue from Lepage to glue the craft foam on the belt leather.
Here is what you should have at this step:
With the velcro method to hold the belt on your body, here is how you can open the belt:
Next is the star-like shape at the very front of the belt. First, let’s draw a pattern using a protractor for angles and a compass for circles.
Then, let’s build the base using worbla (for solidity). For every star spike, I have decided to use Model Magic to do the perfect shape and I coated each spike with multiple Mod
Podge layers to reinforce each spike:
Once the star spikes are primed and painted, let’s do the middle section. It is the same as each spike: Model Magic with lines starting from the middle, done with an X-Acto knife. The blue color is the same as one used in the flower petals for the bracers:
Now that the visible part of the belt is made, let’s look at how the hip pieces and the white cloth will hold on the back side of the belt.
The solution: invisible velcro bands on the hip armor, the white cloth and the back side of the belt.
The following images illustrate how it works:
Note: when gluing the velcro bands on the hip armor, you might need to remove the paint using a dremel and glue on the worbla directly, as most glues do not work well on paint.
Now to the pauldron. Here are some images of what we want to build:
For the pauldron, let’s start by first analyzing what is required:
· there are 2 pieces using the same green and gold colors from the other armor pieces;
· the pieces seem to be attached together;
· there are colored flower petals on each piece;
· there is a small golden circled elevation (button) on each side (front and back) of Link’s upper pauldron.
· the pauldrons hold on to Link’s arm thanks to a brown band under the arm;
· the pauldrons seem to have to same thickness as the leg pads.
This being said, let’s first do the pattern of the pauldrons:
You might have noticed that the corners of the almost-rectangular pauldrons have been slightly trimmed and curved. That is to give a very slight curve in the final design of the pauldron.
Then, let’s build the base of the pauldrons using the same techniques described previously. I have decided to use EVA foam (same as the leg pads):
Once it’s done, let’s design the flower details, the battle damage marks and the golden border of each pauldron on the patterns:
Then, it is time to cut the golden border from the pattern, trace it into craft foam and glue it to the base:
Then, as the last image suggests, it is time to apply worbla on each pauldron. You should prepare a worbla piece that exceeds up to 1-2 inches the size of the pauldron you want to cover, so that you have enough worbla to cover the sides and a bit under each pauldron, as the underside will be visible.
Here is how it should look like:
Tip: do not forget to reproduce the battle damage cracks on the worbla-covered pauldron! You can use sculpting tools (or a good old flat butter knife) to do it.
Finally, there are the dots at the front and back of the upper pauldrons to make. For this, you can use googly eyes:
Then, it is time to do the priming and painting work using gesso, brushes, sanding paper and the required paint:
For the flower petals on each pauldron, first make sure you have traced them on the pattern:
Then, you can use the same technique that we used for the bracers and incrementally cut the pattern and draw each cut section on the piece:
Then, you can paint all sections, coat the paint with Mod Podge and voilà, you’re done!
Now that the surface work is finished, you might wonder how the 2 pauldrons pieces are linked together. Using the pauldrons from my Black Gate Aragorn cosplay as inspiration, I have decided to use elastic bands uniting both pieces from their underside. Have a look: