Cosplay Tutorial – How to Make A Shield


  • EVA foam floor mat
  • Foam core
  • Friendly plastic
  • Worbla
  • Hot glue gun/glue
  • Heat gun/hair dryer
  • Craft foam
  • Decorative studs
  • Leather Straps
  • Rub ‘n Buff
  • Worbla/foam prepping medium i.e. Epsilon, wood glue or Gesso
  • Cutting implements:
  • Paint
    • Primer
    • Base color
    • Accent color
    • Weathering colors
    • Airbrush (optional)

I needed to make a shield to go with my Dee costume from Rat Queens, and this is what I did:

  1. I measured and traced a circle in a foam mat with a diameter approximately equivalent to the length of my forearm.
  2. Using my Dremel Moto-Saw I cut put the circle. If you do not have such a saw a box cutter and a lot of really sharp blades will do the trick.
  3. Cut out a ring from the foam core that will give the shield a raised edge.Ignore the floor. I'm a messy crafter.
  4. Using friendly plastic I made an ornament for the center of your shield. I made a rat face to like the one in the comic.
  5. Hot glue the ring and ornament to the foam.
  6. Using the heat gun to make the Worbla pliable I covered the entire project with the Worbla to make it look one solid piece.
    1. NOTE: using Worbla for this project is completely optional. I liked that it would give the piece that it was made out of one piece of something but I admit that Worbla is an expensive material and may not be feasible for everyone to use in this way.
  7. Glue studs on at regular intervals. (I found these studs in the scrap booking isle at Michale’s.)
  8. I then covered the ugly bits on the back with sheets of craft foam.
  9. Using Epislon by Smooth-On I covered the entire shield to give it a paintable surface. Gesso can also be used for this step but I never have the patience to do all of the layers required. Wood glue is another alternative where you would use fewer layers than gesso.
  10. Once dried I lightly sanded the high spots then primed the entire shield. I used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover primer. It’s my go to primer, it covers very evenly and thoroughly.
  11. I hate painting my props so I always forget to take pictures of these steps but after masking off the necessary areas I applied the purple and gold paint.
  12. After all base colors were applied I moved ahead to weathering. Using black, brown and yellow I dry brushed around the studs, and in the nooks between the raised section and base of the shield, and between the base of the shield and the rat face; wiping most of the paint off as I went.
  13. I went over a lot of this preliminary weathering with my airbrush to feather out the edges.All shield pieces save the studs are covered in a large piece of Worbla.
  14. To create the wood texture show in Upchurch’s drawings I used my airbrush to draw in the grain with dark purple and then black. This technique can be achieved with a brush brush but I used this opportunity to test out something new.
  15. Using a fine tipped brush and white paint, highlight some of the grain textures to make them stand out.
  16. Again with the white paint and fine tipped brush add BATTLE DAMAGE, my favorite part of weathering. Using Rub ‘n Buff to highlight areas that I would think would have had the color rubbed off while the shield was in “use”.
    1. NOTE: battle damage is a great way to hide your mistakes or parts of a piece you just don’t like.
  17. Finally a crap ton of clear coat! After all of the hard work you’ve put into your project you don’t want to have anything happen to it. Again I used Rustoluem, this time their Crystal Clear Enamel. I used a matte finish because the shield is supposed to be well worn but in other designs a satin of gloss finish may be more appropriate. Just make sure to double check the finish of your clear coat before you purchase it because it will inform the overall final look of your prop.
  18. ***Not actually done yet. After the topcoat is dry add your leather straps. I used some $5 scraps I got from a bin and hot glued them on. I used leather for comfort and because I had it lying around. You can use anything you want just make sure it is going to be comfortable as you will most likely be carrying the shield around for many hours.

Now its done for real!


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Keep calm and cosplay on!

About the author

Janel McClain

New York City native that enjoys so many geeky things and tries to make a costume to reflect them all. She enjoys discovering new comics and sic-fi franchises and endeavors to enjoy them all.

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