Polymer Clay Skyward Sword Hylian Shield

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This is an old one, but still what I consider to be my clay masterpiece. I had made this shield a long, long time ago for an old friend and mentor who was going to study abroad in Germany. It was a sort of farewell and thank you present for everything he had done for me.

I’ve made quite a few shields in my time working with clay, and many, many sculptures. But among them all, I still consider this to be my best work. It’s by no means my latest, and not the one that I put the most effort into, but it turned out relatively the correct way I imagined it, which is the biggest winning aspect for me. (Also a very rare thing to happen with any of my works – they never turn out the way I want them to).

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I based this shield off the Skyward Sword incarnation of the equipment, if only because Skyward Sword is my favorite Zelda game to date, and I absolutely adore what they did with the shield design. Not as complicated or messy as the Twilight Princess version, and simpler and rounder than the Ocarina of Time version. Just perfect, which is why I set out to make mine resemble it as close as possible.

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I used exclusively Super Sculpey Polymer Clay for this sculpt; no softer color clays. All color was painted on afterwards.

I had a huge epiphany on the mechanics and cosmetics of a shield whilst working on this one. I know it sounds basic, and call me an idiot for not noticing this and applying it sooner, but…

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…I never realized the front of the shield was supposed to be raised, and the entire thing somewhat curved. I had made my shields up until now almost as flat as boards. I had attempted to work this technique in before, but it didn’t work out nearly as well as it did here.

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This was my first attempt at making a Hylian Shield, years ago. I remember when I made it I was immensely proud and considered it a masterpiece. Nowadays I’m ashamed to acknowledge its existence. It combines elements from both the Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time shield.

Note how even from a top view it’s a pancake; doesn’t really look like a shield does it?

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I was pretty proud of the detail I laid on this one. Honestly, I look at the Triforce and the “snake” designs around it and I still wonder, “how did I ever manage to make those?”

Most of the times I look back at my previous works and consider some of them to be better than anything I could crank out today. I look back and seriously wonder if I made them myself.

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Baked and hardened. Note the two tiny imperfections in the lower right corner of the shield. Air bubbles. I don’t know why I didn’t cut those away, but thankfully they were the only miniscule problems with this sculpt.

I should note right now that the largest reason the entire thing turned out as proportional and correct-looking as it did was because I actually used the source image of the Skyward Shield image above as a template.

I printed that out, cut it out into separate pieces (Triforce, “snake” pieces, outer rim, etc.) and molded the clay according to the size, so I didn’t mess up the proportions. Being that it was the first time I did this, the results were clearly quite promising. It was a revolutionary technique I discovered with this sculpt that would prove useful in the future.

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No, I didn’t bother detailing the back of the shield. Why? I asked my buddy whom this was meant for how he wanted the shield to be made – wall-mountable, 1/144 Gundam size, etc., and he chose the former.

Therefore I digged around the old toolbox and found that handy little claw-hook thing to stick in the back. It works surprisingly well, despite my initial misgivings that it wouldn’t be sturdy enough and lead to the shield falling off the wall.

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Adding some color. Like I said before, everything is painted on this sculpt. In the past, all other Hylian shields I’ve made sported gunmetal for the borders and whatnot. (See above)

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I’ve made quite a few of these mini-Hylian shield charms and sold them to people, and they’ve all sported gunmetal. Only now do I realize the actual shield uses silver.

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Mounted on a wall. Since I gave it away long ago, I can’t provide exact measurements for size, but it was roughly the size of my open hand, maybe bigger.

The Royal Family Crest was painted on by hand, though I did use a cut-out of the source image as a vector trace guide for it at first. I think that’s gotta be my favorite part of it. I’m extremely pleased with how the overall product turned out, despite being a little soft around the edges with a few minor blemishes here and there. It’s up there as my most revolutionary work.

Hylian Shields

I’m most fond of it for the fact that it demonstrates so well how far I’ve come in the span of a little under two years of progress (from the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2012).

I’m not a perfect craftsman in any of my hobbies, be it clay sculpting or model kit building and painting. New techniques are always discovered and applied, so it’s nice to know I can still keep getting better.

While I admit it is a bit frustrating looking back to the past and noting how terri-bad I used to be, I take solace in the fact that I at least improve over time…but then in some instances I may lapse and regress in skill…

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