I needed a blueprint to start with and drew one up in Illustrator according to my height. I think I made 3 versions before I was satisfied, I always found new detail to include, especially when I realized it is thinner at the bottom than on the top. I use Illustrator or InDesign when making vector graphics.
Printed out, as I don't have a plaotter I had to make it the puzzle way. I must say, having the blueprints printed out in the correct scale was amazing, saved me much time and frustration (exept that the print out itself is so huge). The vector file could also be used for laser cutting acryl sheets.
And there are so many layers of details on this sword. This is the reference the judges got and that I based my blueprint off.
The sword it self will be divided into three parts for transportation (this is a huge sword and I need to bring it to London)
- the handle
- the mid part
- the lower part
But for the sake of trying to keep this tutorial more straightforwardly and simple-ish I will divide the build into these parts with an assembly at the end:
- core (upper and lower).
- body of the sword
- cross guard
- yellow tips and wings
- electronics and assembly
The core will be the solid part going through the entire sword, both where the upper and lower parts will be connected and where the lights will be emitting from. I finally god my hands on the acrylic sheets. I got a course in how to operate the laser cutter at Bitraf and spent almost an entire day working on this part.
These layers are all different and need to be cut or carved in different thicknesses. They are not the same, every second one is overlapping to make the locking mechanism.
The lovely lasercutter
Some lasercutter entertainment for you... Or more to show how long it takes even though you have a machine to to the work. You gotta be alert all the time in case it bursts into flame :S
I'm building the core pattern of the sword in layers (because too difficult/expensive to get hold of a sheet that was thick enough (30 mm) and the laser cutter can't handle that thick material. And thirdly I needed a way to attach the mid and lower part of the sword together.
Locking mechanism (because I need to divide the sword into three pieces to be able to fit it into my suitcase)
Acrylic sheet gets quite heavy and I needed the core to be 30 mm thick. Therefore I used foam as filler material, as it is very lightweight. It won't be as sturdy, but I as the weight is reduced it might work :) Problem is that foam boards can poduce clorine gas when used with the laser cutter. As we do not have a filter for that I had to carve these by hand.
The foam also helps hide cables, here is a light test while layering the core pieces.
Painting the foam mint green and integrating a aluminum list to make it more sturdy. I wish I could have made it longer, but the dimensions of my suitcase says this is max.
Hiding cords and testing light.
These are now mostly done, just need to integrate them with the rest of the body of the sword.
The body of the sword
This is what I call the shell that surrounds the core piece. It will be made out of PVC (that is what I've got my hands on) and will encase the core pieces that I just laser cut.
The PVC was first dyed using iPoly dye, bit I had trouble getting the color bath warm enough, but Volpin Props also used this metod with great result. So to add a bit more color to my plastic pieces I airbrushed it on the inside. The lines were added using a silver marker, also on what would become the inside of the panels.
Here you can see the silver markings. I first tried to use grit paper, but the lines did not get clean enough.
This is how pale green my sheet got from the iPoly bath. In the next photo you can see the difference after airbrushing.
Test assembly. (and much better color).
The sword has a big red eye in the middle which also has a faint glow. It looks like the eye is a bit translucent and consists of several layers and I had just seen Volpin props build his sword using a layering technique, So I figured I could try out something similar.
So for my low tech version I used a salad bowl as my mold and shaped the thermoplastic over it little by little. (I wish I had a vaccuum former).
And here's the dome, which I will tint red using transparent paint (used for car lights).
For the inner layer of the eye I used a small dinner plate and an acrylic sphere as my molds, shaping it in two turns.
I also had to make the eyes in a way so I could take them off to get access to the fastening between the upper and lower parts of the sword. The lights can be separated by connectors and the eye itself is attached with a rubber band on top and strong magnets at bottom.
A thin foam strip surrounds the eye. Great part about making it like this is that is it gets damaged or I find a better way to make it I can easily change it :D
This I made out of a PVC pipe with several layers of PVC and foam board over to create dimensions.
It doesn't look like much now, but just wait
The top was covered in worbla for durability.
I promise you, there was A LOT of sanding required to get worbla this shiny.
The dome on top was actually made out of a yogurt and müsli cup. The lid was embedded into the worbla and the dome was painted with red glass paint inside. For the blue rim I made a resin cast and wrapped around so it cured around the dome.
I used the dome and lid of one of these :)
The finished dome
And the finished handle was shaded with airbrush and clear coated (matte spray).
The Cross guard
This is where the electronics will be hidden and where the handle will be attached to the body of the sword. So i have to be able to open it up.
The main body of it is build with foam board (Kapa).
To make it sturdier I covered it with worbla
And to be able to open up the panel in front I added magnets.
One of the panels are attached with magnets
The detail on top was blocked out of foam board
Then it was time for priming and sanding (repeat until smooth), silver grey paint and a little weathering.
The "wings" and tips
These were both carved out of foam board and covered in worbla.
I wanted my sword to glow both red and green, and react to sound. As I don't know programming I had to be creative. I friend of mine is helping with how to integrate an arduino and some cool code later, but for the competition I had to do everything myself. (I'm a sucker for sticking to the rules). I will write a more comprehensive post about electronics later, but let's start with the lights here.
Led strips was the way to go, they are very energy efficient and gives a lot of effect. Also they can be cut in any length you need (just look for the scissor mark), just solder on two wires at the given points.
I needed to be able to take the sword apart, which also meant take the lights apart. For this I could use power connectors.
Here you can see the connectors coming out of the lower part of the sword and will be attach to the upper parts during assembly. (If I get the time I might film this parg as it is a bit difficult to explain, hope you still got the idea :) )
It is also possible to take off the eyes if needed as I mentioned above.
OK, every thing glows, but how to get my sword to speak? For the first iteration I bought a cheap Bluetooth speaker and took that apart to make it fit inside my cross guard. Because it is bluetooth I could send quotes or music from my phone. It did make it very interactive and gave be tons of options :)
I stripped out some cables, left the microphone in and placed that next to the speaker in my cross guard. Then with a three way switch I added a red and green circuit to be activated when the mic picked up a sound :D
Again, I will write more about how I did this in another post, so check that out if you are interested :)
All the parts ready for assembly
I'll post a video of it talking later
Photo by N8e
Photo by Artflower Fotografie