Cardboard sword film prop

Ok, you need a sword, and have no tools, only office supplies or stuff normally found in a small apartment. We can do this.

For my sword, I inserted a metal ruler in the middle to keep the cardboard from bending too easily.

add a ruler for stiffness

add a ruler for stiffness

cover the ruler with a layer of cardboard on each side.

cover ruler with cardboard

cover ruler with cardboard

I used Aleene’s original tacky glue, but you could use white glue, wood glue, or glue stick. Cut the cardboard to a sword shape.

shape the sword

shape the sword

cut the handle guard shape

cut the handle guard shape

I added another layer on the handle shape to give it some depth.

ruler extends through the handle

ruler extends through the handle

add lines down the blade to make the groove

add lines down the blade to make the groove

keep adding layers of cardboard to build up any shape you desire.

glue paper over the cardboard to hide seams

glue paper over the cardboard to hide seams

glue paper on in small pieces like paper mache

glue paper on in small pieces like paper mache

Do what you can to hide the seams of the cardboard with a paper wrap. Once you have a cardboard shape that is covered in paper wrap, paint it red or black. I used spray paint. Normally I would go with black, but only had red available.

paint red or black

paint red or black

pour some rust colors on to a palette

pour some rust colors on to a palete

Pick some rust looking colors and pour a blob of each onto a palate. I use orange, reds, browns, and green. Let them touch and mix a little together.

dab and blend the rust colors

dab and blend the rust colors

Dab blobs of paint over the metal areas, especially down in the cracks  where rust would accumulate. Even if you are making this a newer sword, the rust colors add a lot of realism to it.

secret ingredient

secret ingredient

Now for one of my greatest secrets. Take a handful of sawdust, dust, dirt from the floor and dab it all over the metal areas. This adds wonderful rust like texture, trust me. Just watch.

sprinkle on sawdust

sprinkle on sawdust

The sawdust is sprinkled over the wet paint so it sticks. That is why we used big blobs of wet paint. Now while it is still wet, dab it with your brush to knock off some sawdust and expose some of the paint. Keep your brush kinda wet with rust paint, dab, dab.

dab paint over the sawdust

dab paint over the sawdust

You will have to decide now how old and rusty the metal is. A newer sword you can brush off most of the sawdust/rust texture. A really old sword needs more sawdust/rust texture. Keep dabbing with the brush and paint. You can always go back and touch up areas that you mess up.

blend in the colors

blend in the colors

This is what it starts to look like. The above picture has lots of rust texture and you can see how the rust colors blend together. The dabbing motion blends the colors some but doesn’t make a muddy mess.

Now add some black to slowly bring it up to a metal look.

dab in some black

dab in some black

So, to get more of a steel look, we need to add black, then dark gray, then light gray, then shiny metallic in thin layers until we get the level of metal sheen that we want. Start with the rust, then work upwards to shiny silver, stopping anytime you wish.

see the texture

see the texture

So, for me, this sword is going to be found laying in the mud in a cave. So, this is getting close to where I want to end it. I would not expect to see very much shiny metal on an old rusty sword in the mud.

2 feet away

2 feet away

So, as you can see above, from 2 feet away, you would never guess it is not rusty metal. But what about a closeup shot? How does it hold up on a really close up shot? Before you look at the next two photos, remember, this is a piece of cardboard, and some paper. You know what it is made of, you saw it being made, you know the secret but I bet even you will be fooled.

old rusty king's sword from a foot away

old rusty king’s sword from a foot away

Other side.

other side

other side

Now for the extreme close up shot. Producer asked for a rusty king’s sword, and you spent no money at all on. The camera zooms in super close to see the rust and the mud.

extreme close up

extreme close up

The audience is amazed, goblin grabs his sword, and runs out of the cave. You are the prop fabricator hero, and you saved the budget.

My total cost was actually zero. It took about 3 hours to complete while sitting on my bed. So, on the downside, it is not very durable, it doesn’t weigh as much as a real sword, and it will bend where the cardboard extends past the ruler.

If you would like to have this sword, let me know. If you pay for the shipping, it can be yours. I have no use for it. I made it just for the blog post.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

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