Making-of: Vorpal Blade

Making-of: Vorpal Blade

I reaaaally love Alice: Madness Returns, the story and the atmosphere of this game makes it one of my favorites. Vorpal Blade is Alice Liddell’s main weapon, we find it on Jabberwock’s skeleton at the beginning of the game. I like its «butcher knife» look, engraved with tiny flowers, subtle but sharp-edged 😉

We had 2 constraints for this prop :
1) Crafting the blade with Worbla (classic resin cast would not fit a convention security rules).
2) Finishing the prop in less than a week (it finally took us less than 5 days, tss too easy ^^).

MDF Structure

First step: creating a solid structure.
We choosed MDF (particleboard made from composite wood), quite easy to work with. As we already had a 3mm-board, we cut the shape twice, and glued the two parts with contact adhesive to get the right thickness.
Now, let’s sand!

Tests:

test gif portal
Test. Test test test. TEEEEEEEEEEEST!!!!!!

Before I can work on the proper blade, I prefered making some tests to know which method I should use to craft floral patterns.
1st méthod: digging Worbla with a pyrographer… result was a bit, hmm, let’s say it was not so great.
2nd method: «embossing» – I flattened the surface by hand thanks to sculpture metallic tools (this method was already used on my Warsong Commander’s axe for instance), result was nice, but it gives a too «rustic» look.
3rd method: cutting pattern in a Worbla sheet and gluing it on a second one, this is the most relevant result to my eyes.

Blade details

After having re-drawned the blade and its pattern on two Worbla sheets, I began to hollow out the pattern with a precision knife… as it was a bit too long when only heating up the Worbla sheet (and as the sheet got a little distorted), I tried a different way: heating up the knife blade instead of Worbla. First, it became really much easier, the knife blade cut like if the Worbla was butter, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the result was rather clean.

Downside: as you need to heat up the blade really often, the heat gun turns continuously next to you, so fun during summer when it’s already 30°C outside 😉

Once the pattern is done, I returned it (beware, it needs to be fully «cold»). Every piece of the pattern needed to be as its right place, nothing distorted, so I could heat it up. Beside, I heated a second Worbla sheet, and applied it on my pattern.

We normally use to stick details ON back surfaces. But, there, by doing the contrary, we avoid distorting the pattern by lifting it while it’s warm 😉

We sticked Worbla on the MDF basis. The blade was reworked by applying several layers of bondo, and sanding it each time. To soften Worbla texture on the pattern part, we applied primer and water sanded it.

Handle

The handle was sculpted in EVA foam, then covered with Black Worbla.

For those who are not familiar with this material, this is to mention that Black Worbla is composed of thiner particles than classic Worbla. It’s texture is therefore softer, and you can craft smaller and more accurate details.

I first made some little Black Worbla sausages, and used them to create handle patterns. It’s the first time I’m working on so tiny Worbla details, and I’m really proud with how it turned out!

«Bloody Mary»

And here comes my favourite part!

BLOOOOOOOOOOD!!! 😀
Beware : if you’re doing this at home, be sure to cover the walls, furnitures, ground… and wear cloths you don’t fear to stain.
Take some red paint (I mixed Cadmium Red Deep Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue and a bit of Burnt Umber), add some water to liquefy, take a brush and have fun!

Tip n°1: better test your «throw» before doing it on your final piece 😉
Top n°2: to create tiny droplets, pass the hair of your brush under your finger next to the piece you want to paint.

Finished Vorpal Blade

There you go, mission accomplished! A beautiful blade and a sculpted handle, all in Worbla, finished in less than 5 days. And as a bonus: this prop is super-light!

So, here are some pics of the finished Vorpal Blade.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this 😉

Marie Katzenmayer
Marie Katzenmayer

Marie Katzenmayer, 25 ans, est illustratrice freelance. Passionnée de game design, de musique métal et fan de Tim Burton, ses spécialités sont le Pepakura, la sculpture et la peinture.

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