Urvan is the axe seen in the first cinematic of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, wielded by Ike's father, Greil. It later reappears in the direct sequel, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, to be wielded by Ike's close friend, Boyd. This axe is massive (which is half the fun, of course), which means that the prop would have to be as light as possible to avoid being a burden. You could scale the weapon down, but the whole point of this hobby is to make fantasy a reality, right? So 100% to scale it is!
Square one, as always, is the gathering of references. The first shot on the left is Boyd's actual model from Radiant Dawn with Urvan in hand. The second shot is the artwork of Ike's father, Greil, swinging Urvan. I could have used the cinematic of Greil fighting the Black Knight as well, but it's too low res to be of much use, so these were my best reference points.
Patterns for the blade and the main housing were drafted in Illustrator, printed out, and quick tacked directly to expanded PVC (Sintra), which was the main material for most of this build. Once the pieces were cut out, Mineral Spirits were used to cleanly peel away the patterns. Make sure to use gloves when working with chemicals. You might be able to handle it now with no problems, but these things have a tendency to create sensitivities in people that weren't present until after repeated exposure. Besides, now you can just chant "Hands of blue, two by two" to yourself while you work. That's normal, right?
Thin, slightly angled spokes were cut out, heated to bend, and glued to both sides of the center layers of the axe blades. The center layer and these spokes were used as the internal skeleton of the blades, and the outer layers were glued down to the spokes so they sit at a slight angle. This made the blades mostly hollow, reducing the weight considerably while still being stable and sturdy.
The main housing assembly at the top of the axe started out as a 2" piece of PVC piping. This was chopped down to length with my compound miter saw, and then taken to my belt sander to flatten out two of the sides. This gave a flush surface that Sintra plates would be able to be glued to (below).
Plates for all four sides of the housing were cut out. Two of the sides were heated and bent to match the curvature that was necessary. The dots and circles are marked for drilling, so that the head housing could be screwed into the PVC shaft that would be run through it later on.
The center layer of the two blades extends out from the back end of each. These were inserted into the slots of these blocks and glued into place for a nice snug fit once everything else was fully assembled.
Everything was loosely fit together to determine how it was working out. Looking good so far.
The outer edges of the blades needed to be more steeply tapered. For this, the outer portion of the center layers were chopped off. Small tabs of Sintra were cut and glue to provide surface areas. Four 1/8" pieces of Sintra were cut out, 2 for each side of both blades. These were glued down onto the tabs, and the outer edges were glued together as well. Then they were taken to the belt sander to provide the final "cutting edge"
These three screws on each side secure the PVC shaft through the center of the housing.
The blocks that the blades plug into were then screwed into the housing as well. Realistically, Sintra glues amazing well with cyanoacrylate (superglue) and the screws are probably overkill, but the extra weight is negligible and every prop makers nightmare is to have something fall apart on the con floor or competition stage, so extra security is never a bad thing (and my son, God love him, is notoriously hard on his props). You can see that the screw holes went through a process of being filled with Bondo to hide the holes.
More Bondo to start cleaning up seams. You can see the blade slots have been attached to both sides here.
The screw holes on the outer faces of the housing were covered with a decorative plate of 1/8" Sintra. Furniture tacks were used to simulate rivets.
The later of white resin in the center looks goofy, but it doesn't matter 'cause it all gets painted anyway!
The coulpler at the center of the haft, and the pommel on the bottom, were both lathed out of resin blanks. Every time I pour a casting, I dump excess resin into cups, and save the blanks until I have a project they'll fit for. Recycling comes in handy. The coupler was thrown onto a jig on my drill press that allows you to drill into the center of the cylindrical object. The jig simply has a 45 degree groove cut into it. You put your jig into place, lower your drill bit into the groove and ensure it touches the lowest point in the center, then place your cylinder on it and you'll know you're drilling the center. Three holes were drilled equidistant from each other on each end of the coupler. Screws went into the PVC haft on one end, and the wooden handle on the other, and the screw holes were then filled with Bondo. Some epoxy on the inside of the sockets helped to make the joints extra solid.
The spike for the top of the axe was made in similar fashion, but instead of blanks laying around the house, resin was just poured into a cardboard paper towel core and thrown on my lathe.
The wooden handle of the axe was stained with watered down acrylic paint and gloss coated. Simple, cheap, and effectively beautiful, but make sure to test on a scrap piece of the same wood before committing. You never know how it'll look until it's applied, and at that point, it's too late to go back.
Urvan is a legendary axe and has no doubt seen many battlefields. Weathering was added to tell this tale. Scratches were carved and filed into the face of the blade with needle files and rotary bits. Notches were taken out of the "cutting edge". A large number were added to the inner curves at the top of the axe, as this seemed a logical place to block enemy weapons with a weapon this large, without ruining it's cutting edge.
The wooden handle was masked off with tape and newspaper, and the whole thing got a couple coats of filler primer and then wet sanding.
It was at this time that disaster struck. Trena and I were out for our evening walk and were a short ways from home when a freak hail storm broke out. We hussled back to the house while being pummeled by chucks of ice. Urvan was resting against my drying rack, and Trena slipped on a piece of hail, sliding feet first into the drying rack. Urvan fell smack dab on her head. Both suffered injuries. Trena's wounds were nursed first. Later, a couple hours of Bondo and sanding work brought Urvan back to health as well.
It's always good to a take step back to take a look at your work now and then, to gain perspective. Shelly was all too happy to post with Urvan before I began the final painting.
Paint was a process of masking off areas. The blades, spike, and shaft got Model Master's Titanium with my airbrush. Then the outer edges were masked and sprayed with Model Master's Aluminum Buffable Metallizer to give them a nice, ground/sharpened appearance. The gold came next, and finally more Titanium on the plate in the center of the housing. Sorry I don't have photos of the weathering phase as I was in a rush to finish before Salt Lake Comic Con 2014, but suffice to say it consisted of black, brown, and red washes to give a used (and slightly blood stained) appearance. To finish it off, everything got a couple layers of Crystal Clear Acrylic!
Build write ups of props, accessories, and other costume/cosplay related projects of the Goombah Squad
From Patterns to Paint
Hi, my name's Johny, and I'm the propmaker for the Goombah Squad Cosplay group. Here you'll find build write ups for my various personal projects, as well as commission works.