Ah, do you hear that? It’s an excuse to make an iconic piece of video game history without actually wanting to cosplay the character myself. Don’t mind if I do!
The commission for Cloud’s armor and the Buster Sword came through and I absolutely could not wait to get started. He wanted them to be durable so that he didn’t have worry about about them getting damaged during wear, so I decided to go with a foam core and thermoplastic shell. Since the Buster Sword was going to be the biggest user of materials and had relatively few fussy, rounded pieces, we decided to go with Wonderflex. It’s about half as expensive as Worbla but works best with flat pieces.
Here’s a step-by-step follow-along on how to proportion this oversized toothpick properly!
First things first, we have to determine the dimensions of the Buster Sword. Since it needs the most unbroken pieces of foam and plastic possible, we have to make sure we can fit everything while still maintaining proper scale. Lucky for us, there is a great reference that was used back in the day to let you know what the low-poly, oddly proportioned SOLDIER was supposed to look like. A quick google of ‘Cloud Strife’ and we have our base!
The next step in the process is to drop that reference image into the image editor of our choice, in this case Adobe Photoshop CC. Once Cloud is in his new home, we have to crop out the excess height and adjust his scale to fit our commissioner at 5’5″.
We use the Rectangle Marquee Tool (shortcut M) to cut him off as close to the top of his head as we can without slicing off the pommel of the Buster Sword. Once happy with our selection, it’s just a quick Image > Crop to remove all the excess space.
In the Image menu, we also find the Image Size tool. We can change the measurement to use Inches and enter in the height that we are scaling for.
Since we have a little extra space over his head, scaling the image to 56″ instead of 55″ will give us the most accurate size.
Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (tool shortcut L), we can cut out the Buster Sword from the image, isolating it to easily take more measurements.
Once you have it selected, Copy the selection and Paste it into a new layer. Using the Move Tool (tool shortcut V), hover over the lower right corner of the selection until the cursor changes to the Rotation arrow. Use this to turn the Buster Sword until it stands upright.
The Buster Sword is actually longer than Cloud is tall! We don’t need to worry too much about this, since we can measure what we need by dragging this layer with the Move Tool to reveal the portions that are outside of the image bounds. From here, everything is as simple as dragging a new Rectangle Marquee over the part that you need to measure and noting the dimensions of your selection while you drag.
If you prefer not to work from measurements alone and would rather work from a pattern, you can always sketch out the buster sword on paper or in a vectoring program.
Mocking up in Illustrator is what I find to be the easiest. Just create a new document large enough for the copied Buster Sword, then paste it in at scale. I used a combination of the Pen Tool, Rectangle Tool and Ellipse Tool to trace over the important outlines. You can also print out your Buster Sword pattern at scale at this point to help mark your foam. Some prefer to do this in lieu of taking measurements, but I say better safe than sorry!
Once you’ve taken all the necessary measurements and/or made your pattern, you can transfer them to your foam and start cutting out the basic shape of the blade. For this Buster Sword, we used a combination of foams, sandwiching two layers of 4lb floor mat foam between two layers of 2lb floor mat foam. We cut channels into the two 4lb pieces for a length of PVC pipe to help keep it more stable before gluing them together with contact cement. We also cut a channel to glue in the handle, then assembled all of the rough-cut pieces to form the base of the Buster!