Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cosplaying Hawkingbird: Making Arrows

It's a couple day before Convolution 2016, and this is probably the 2nd to last project entries for this cosplay. I'll get photos of myself and my partner together.

Bow Props

As Hawkingbird is an archer -- something that I am proud to also call myself -- I figured it was going to be relatively easy to put together her archery weaponry.  I was proved wrong. I should really learn that things that appear easy, tend to not be THAT easy.

I didn't need to make any bow, because I already have a bow -- a simple Samick Sage.

The bow is pretty light, but I wanted to make a bow sling --- in purple -- for me to hold it with little effort, so I learned how to make one from paracord, using various tutorials on the web (like this Indestructible tut and others).

My prototype of the sling was made out of black & red. I made a 4-strand braid first, then added a cobra braid.

4-strand braid & cobra braid

I added some "bling" to my cobra braid by stringing the green cord and adding some large beads I found at the store.

I made a purple & black version, which I forgot to take photos of, but you get the gist. Then, it was a matter of making the leather piece for the braid. I made a quick template, based on some photos I saw online, then cut out the piece from some scrap leather that I had.

It came out a little bigger than I anticipated. However, luckily, I found a seller on ebay that sold them for about $3.00 a piece, which is a lot less than I can make it, so I ordered one.

But I still needed arrows for the costume. The arrows were easier to make than the mask or belt, but some work had to be put into it.  First, I couldn't use my REAL arrows, because they are weapons with sharp point tips and can be potentially dangerous, so I didn't want to use them. Plus, I wanted to be larger than life. (Real arrows are tiny things that you don't realize are arrows because they're small in order for them to fly very far at very fast speeds.)

Building Arrowheads

I started making arrow heads using my 3D printer at work. The "real Hawkeye" (aka Clint Barton) had his own set of special arrows.

Luckily, I found a 3D print file that let me print out some of them.

You might recall me discussing printing out cosplay props in a previous post. I printed several different types, which came out looking great.

Building Arrow Shafts

What's an arrow head without shafts?  I know that some cosplayers use wooden dowels to build their arrows. However, I had a easier source of arrows. My archery club has old unused arrows that are discarded by other archers. They told me I could use them for any purpose, as long as it wasn't for shooting.  So, I picked up a few very fat arrow shafts.

I primed and spray painted a deep dark purple, as all of Hawkingbird's outfit is a deep dark purple. Then I finished them off with a gloss coating

Fletching Arrows

All arrows need fletches, which act as stabilizers when they fly through the air. I was going to get some large feather fletchings from the archery store, but then found out that they were super expensive for what is simply a costume prop. (If I was putting them on REAL arrows, sure...but, they were $5.00 a piece and I needed about 9 of them, so no.) 

I thought, "Okay, how hard can it be to actually make my own fletchings?" The answer is....not as easy as I thought. An entire profession was once based on being able to fletch arrows. However, I did manage to make passable fletchings. They aren't suitable for real arrows, but look good enough for cosplay.

I got some turkey feathers from my local craft store for about $3.00.

I split the feather in half, cutting down the spine using an exacto knife. This is harder than it sounds. 
TIP: Start at the top of the feather instead of the bottom quill. Make a very short cut towards the top of the feather, then continue making small cuts until you reach the "quill" part of the feather.

Then I shaved down the uneven bits of the feather so that it would attach easier to the arrows.

Afterwards, I cut them into appropriate sizes for my arrows. In my case, as the arrows are really fat, I made four inch vanes.

Luckily, as an archer myself, I have a fletching jig, which helps me correctly place the feathers into place. If you don't have one, put a very thin line of super glue onto your feather and place the first one onto your arrow. Then equally space 3-4 feathers around the shaft.

I opted for three fletches because it's my preference for my real arrows. And I didn't have that many feather vanes. However, the finished arrow looks pretty darn good! 

Here's an entire quiver of arrows.

And here are my prop arrows versus my real arrows for comparison.
(left-to-right: Fake, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber)

Insofar as props, these were easier than the others, although the battle staves only required minimal effort on my part, but I really liked how they came out.

A little effort went a long way.

For those following at home:

The Making of....