Final Fantasy VII - Yuffie's Star
An FFVII Yuffie Kisaragi Ninja Star Shuriken (ie: the weapon the girl in this picture is holding.)
We start this prop by making the core of the weapon. The core can be made out of wood if you have the tools to do so, (although in this case I chose to make it out of foamcore , a type of thick styrofoam sheet glued between two layers of heavy paper. It can be found at most craft stores and goes for about 3-4 dollars a sheet.)
I cut the foamcore into strips about 2 feet long and 2 inches wide. (Using a craft knife rather than a scissors, as scissors has a tendency to crush the foam and distort the thickness of the board.) I used the strips to create the crossbar in the center of the Ninja Star.
Below is the first part of the crossbar. I cut a hole in the center of it and pared the ends down, marking off the spot where the crossbar would meet with the 4 blades of the star. I then hotglued another similar strip of foamcore underneath it, creating a strip that was thus, two-ply. (This created the necessary thickness for the prop and helped to make it more sturdy).
I finished making the hole in the middle (the exact shape of the hole isn't important at this time) and then hotglued shorter strips of two-ply foamcore to the first strip in such a way as to create a cross shape like this:
You can get a feel for how it is going to look at this point. How did I know how big to make the star? By looking at the reference picture and seeing how much area Yuffie's hand covers. (I figure the distance from one of the blades to the center hole of the crossbar is roughly the same distance as a human palm.)
You'll notice the crossbars tend to flare out a bit just before they reach the blades. I had to add on to the center bar strips to create this effect. I cut out triangular shapes from 6mm craft foam and hotglued them to the bars at the joint where the blades and crossbars meet:
(I, of course, had to stack 2 triangular pieces together and then glue them to the crossbars to match the thickness of the foamcore strips.) Anyway, this picture should better illustrate what I was trying to create: (Say hello to Alphonse in the background!)
The next step was to glue styrene sheeting to the front and back of the crossbar:
...And then bend a thin strip of styrene in half and hotglue it to one of the inner corners of the crossbar like so:
And then carve away the excess plastic carefully:
Don't worry about covering the outer edges of the crossbar, as that's where the blades will go. Just make sure you glue styrene over every surface which will be showing on the front, sides and back of the star.
Now then, the next step in creating this prop is to add a second layer to the crossbar. This layer will be made from thin craft foam covered with styrene and will recede from the edges of the crossbar about 1/4 of an inch. In the picture below, you can see that I've marked out the area of the second layer with a pen.
Then I cut out a piece of styrene and fit it over the marked of area. Because the styrene I use is transparent, I was able to trace out the shape I wanted - (btw, you'll notice it's shaped to extend into the area of the cross where the outer blade on that bar will be.) If the styrene you buy isn't transparent, you'll just have to eyeball the shape somehow and draw it freehand. After the shape has been cut out, I hotglued it to a sheet of 2mm craft foam. Once the glue was cool, I cut the shape free of the foam sheet.
You can see here what the shape looks like in relation to the crossbar and how it should be placed...
You can't see it too well in this next picture, but all the recessed craft foam and styrene layers have been hotglued down. (It would have been more obvious had I used non-white foam sheeting to make the shapes.) In any case, the next step in the process was to mark out where the studs, and the center ring would go:
I made the center ring out of 2mm craft foam covered with--you guessed it-- styrene.
I glued one ring to the front of the crossbar and another to the back, then I made a small roll of styrene and hotglued it to the inside of the ring (thus covering up the remainder of the exposed foamcore and creating a neat appearance..well... neat once I carved away the excess styrene sticking out from the front and back of the hole.)
I hope this is making sense so far.
Now that the crossbar structure is largely finished, it's time to make and add the 4 outer blades. The first step in this process is to bend a thin sheet of .020 styrene in half and place it at the end of one of the crossbars. (If you're lucky and can find transparent styrene, this step and the following are going to be a lot easier than they would be otherwise.) Trace out a large triangle shape (with the ridge running down the middle of it.)
Once you've worked out the shape of the blade, cut out a piece of craft foam that's slightly smaller...
...squeeze out some hotglue onto it, covering as much area as possible...
...and then press the craft foam triangle to the inside of the styrene piece. Repeat the process, creating another similar triangle. Then, hotglue both triangles together, edge to edge, with the craft foam on the inside...(this of course, will be a lot easier said than done. It's best to glue the edges of the triangles together slowly, a little at a time, being careful to wipe/scrape away any excess glue as you go. What you should have at this point, is something like this:
You'll probably have to experiment a bit before you come up with an idea size and shape for your blades, so that they fit snugly over the ends of the crossbars. (For that reason, you should determine the shape of the blades using tagboard (a heavy cardstock paper) and tape. I skipped that step since I had made this prop before and thus, had a pretty good idea of the shape and size that the blades should be.)
When gluing the blades on, take care to press them firmly to the ends of the crossbar (but not so firmly that it distorts the shape of the blade or dents it.)
With the main construction of the star finished, the next step is the decoration. You can use actual metal studs or plastic buttons to create the studs in the crossbar (or as a cheaper-and -just-as-good-looking alternative, you can lay down beads of hotglue onto the plastic. If you're careful enough, you can create rounded button-y looking shapes. In the event you goof up though, you can always scrape the glue off with a craft knife, sand the area with hobby sandpaper, and start over.)
Here's what you should have when all is said and done:
Note the two larger marked circles next to the center ring. I left those places blank as that's where I plan on putting the green materia after the painting is finished...
Now's the time to paint it. I used automotive chrome spraypaint to make the first coat:
(The spray paint covers a lot of area and is faster to apply than brush-on paint. Unfortunately, spray paint is more prone to being scratched than brush-on enamel is, so the second coat of paint has to be brushed on. (This also allows you to create special surface effects that otherwise wouldn't be possible with spray paint.)
You can see here, the two kinds of surface effects I used for this prop -- For the blades, I applied the paint using long brushstrokes to create the illusion of sharpened metal. For the crossbars, I mixed silver and black paint together and applied it using a stippling effect, to make it seem more like ground, worn metal.
The final step in the process once the painting was finished, was to apply the materia "gems". For the materia, I simply used small green plastic mini-Christmas tree ornaments. I poked holes into the crossbar using the pointed end of my scissors, put some hotglue into the hole and then pressed the ornament in. (I embedded "gems" on both sides of the crossbar so that no matter what angle the prop was viewed from, it would always look as if it had the materia embedded into it.)
Questions? Comments? Leave 'em below or e-mail me at dietzt@REMOVEMEcloudnet.com
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