I’ve managed to complete my Link from Legend of Zelda Cosplay a few weeks ago. Right on time for the Vancouver Fan Expo 2017. Turns out that I couldn’t make it to Fan Expo … You see, I had to spend the entire weekend in the hospital! And let me tell you … It was AWESOME! I am now the proud father of a Baby girl. Please do read my wife’s blog if you are interested in the details.
I have broken up this cosplay update into 3 parts below. First I will start with Link’s Tunic, Then the Hylian Shield & accessories (3 subparts), then I’ll finish with the electronics.
[toggle title=”Link’s Tunic”]
The first thing you need for the tunic is the perfect shade of green. After some Pinterest surfing, a local visit to the fabric store is all you really need.
I picked up about 3m of this perfectly green shade of cloth. Since I’m not a fabric connoisseur, I have no idea what type of fabric this is. It’s just like a standard cloth, pretty thin, with very little stretch.
After laying it down on our large dining table, I used my favorite t-shirt to start tracing the pattern. To make a tunic, you just have to extend the T-shirt pattern to go up to right above the knee.
Here’s where I made my first mistake. Since I have a bubble butt, I needed to allow for a whole lot more material below my waist. After I already cut up most of my material, I decided to just add a sliver of material on each of my sides. This didn’t look too bad, so I continued.
Also, since I am no tailor … I ended up stapling the whole thing together to make sure it even worked. Pretty sure I ended up using about 200 Staples. This was a bitch to remove when I was ready for actual sewing.
Since we were well on our way to having a baby, I finally decided to spring for a real sewing machine. Yes, I fully expect to use this to make and repair baby clothes.
I ended up getting the Singer Simple Sewing machine from Canadian tire model 3221. I’m really impressed with this machine. It has some really cool stitch patterns that I experimented with. I would definitely recommend this to anyone in the market.
To complete the outfit, I got myself a “boy band” wig from a local Halloween store as well as some elf ears.
The white tights were purchased by my wife from Ardene. I don’t normally shop for women’s tights, but when I do, I just ask my wife. Thanks Jenn! I actually really like the fit. If my leg hairs didn’t stick right through the fabric, I would probably add these to my standard rotation!
For the boots I just used my UGG sheepskin boots that I got many years ago. The Rockwell original model in brown. I looked into getting the updated version of these boots, but the new model doesn’t have the badass motorcycle flair to them.
The last thing on the list is the leather belts. Link needs one across the chest attached to his sword, and one for the waist (I really should have added a Shieka sensor holder for my phone …) I actually made my own belts from leather strap, but any old belt can work here.
[toggle title=”Hylian Shield & accessories”]
This next section focuses on the shield design and build. Since the shield was such a huge part of this cosplay, I’ve further broken this part down into 3 subsections: Base shield, Wood & steel detail and accessories, the Jewels, and finally the Painting & finishing details.
[tab title=”Base shield”]
This part starts with a few lengths of pallet wood. Nicely sanded, but make sure to keep some of the imperfections. This gives it the authentic look.
After sketching the perfect shape right onto the boards, saw-cut the excess pieces right off! You’ll be left with a nice shield shape. The next part is all about getting the perfect curve to the shield.
The best way to do this is to use some steel bar stock. We’ll be using this steel bar to surround the perimeter of the front of the shield. The back part will only need enough to hold it all together. So place the pieces where you want them, draw the bend line with sharpie and then use a vice and a hammer to bend them. Simple!
After the shield is held together in one piece with a slight arch, you can start to trace the perimeter pieces in the front. Best way to do this is by using a sharpie to draw in some triangular cuts. This will allow you to bend the steel bar to approximate the curvature of the shield’s profile.
[tab title=”Wood & steel detail and accessories”]
With the base of the shield complete, you can now add the details that will complete Link’s Hylian shield. Adding some wood accents and covering them with angles of steel will closely approximate the steel detail seen on the original shield. This also add a certain bad-ass-ness.
The arm brace should be made of soft fabric but it should not have any stretch since you’ll be wearing this for long periods of time. The handle should be made out wood with the approximate diameter of a bicycle handle. I used square stock, screwed together the pieces and then used a belt sander to smooth the shape.
The part that I did not want to spend much time on was the sword. It’s a pretty simple sword, and by this time, I was kinda tired. I bought a standard Halloween prop. Added the iconic hilt with wood and carved it by hand with a Dremel.
Then I built the scabbard using some scrap mdf sheets and wood. Glued it into the correct shape, added the leather shoulder strap and then made the designs on it using Eva foam. Then I painted the whole thing gold and blue.
The sword hooks onto the shield with a couple well placed angle brackets (this worked surprisingly better than I expected). With this, I can wear the Hylian shield and sword on my back just like link does.
This part is actually my favourite. I toyed with the idea of getting these 3d printed, but I decided against it. 3d printing these on my usual 3dhubs.com with just 3 small pieces would had been almost $50. I also couldn’t find the exact color I wanted.
After some heavy thinking (read drinking) I came up with a great idea. I can just epoxy mold these. I have clay, I have epoxy, and I have dye. I quickly made a wooden version of the jewels using my new band saw and belt sander. Pressed this wooden plug into the clay. And umm. Ok now it’s stuck to the clay. Ok, restart. I pressed the wooden plug onto the plastic wrap on top of the clay. Now that worked amazing. The plastic stayed stuck to the clay, but the plug came clean off without disturbing the clay. Now I could carefully peel off the plastic.
Next step was to mix the epoxy. I added a few drops of yellow t-shirt dye (the stuff you can draw on t-shirts with and it doesn’t wash off). The first test came out a little too dark, I wanted something more see-through. So for the second and final batch I mixed less drops, and made 3 at the same time so that I get the same shade for all 3 jewels.
It came out perfect. I scraped off the excess clay, washed it thoroughly with soapy water, and then wet sanded it down to 200grit.
It came out smoother than SLA 3d printing (epoxy printing) and with more color control (and opacity control). So overall, this was the best learning experience from this whole project.
[tab title=”Painting & finishing”]
For the painting, I kept it as simple as possible. Primary blue paint for the base. Primary red paint for the bird (is it a phoenix?) The paint is just standard acrylic (I may want to look into preserving it with some chemicals)
The detail around the jewels was made using the metal wire that is usually the handle of a paint can. It turns out that these wires are the perfect thickness and malleability.
The snake designs on the shield were made with mdf (same as the sword scabbard). I cut the general shape of them using my band saw. Then I used an exacto-knife to further carve the shapes. The exacto cuts into mdf like butter. Paint with metallic grey and glue on with wood glue (best thing for MDF and wood).
And finally the electronics:
This was probably the part that took the longest, but I also kinda went overboard on this (as I usually do).
I’m using my favorite IoT device the Sparkfun ESP32. It’s a fairly new WiFi connected device with a whole lot of potential. (It’s actually not fully developed yet)
After figuring out how to properly solder wires to a 3 colour led, I fitted them into tiny holes right behind the jewels. I also added aluminum tape right behind the jewels to reflect back all the light possible (not sure how effective that was, but it made me feel better).
The next step was the programming. I programmed the following features:
- Led programs: rotate & pulse
- Led program: random (this one was hard)
- Connect to WiFi and sync to Blynk
- Control LED completely using Blynk app
- When not connected to WiFi broadcast a web page that you can use for basic LED control
- Web page also takes MailChimp signups (getting this API to work was really hard)
Message me if you’re interested in the program, I’ll probably put the code in my GitHub once I’m happy with it.
The last thing I wanted to program was the ability to OTA (update the software when connected to the internet by checking a webserver address) … I never got around to finishing this part. To be fair, this part is really just for me to be able to update the software on my future projects.
[toggle title=”Action shots”]
Thanks for reading this far! I put my DropBOB Designs logo on the back of the shield. Notice the “SN:02”, this is the second official serial number hand painted on! I think I’m getting better at this. The Hylian shield will be posted on my ETSY page soon. I do want to use this for at least one convention, so I may post this up after the summer (maybe I can make it to the San Diego Comic Con … Maybe)
So long and thanks for all the fish!