How do you start making the keyblades? I would love to try and start but don't know really where.
Well, to start, you’ll need some reference images. I’ll walk you through making an oathkeeper.
1) Reference images:
I have reference images for lot of keyblades in my deviantart gallery here.
Now, you’ll want to sketch the design onto the surface of the material you’re using to make the keyblade or a template for the keyblade. You can free-hand, or you can use ratio math to draw it to scale using plot points.
First measure the length of the keyblade in the picture, then divide the life-size length by that number to get the ratio. Multiply any measured length from the picture by the ratio to get the life-size measurement. This will help keep it proportional.
For those of you using wood, I recommend poplar wood. I started using plywood at first because it was cheap and recommended for me at the time, but I found solid wood is much stronger and less likely to crack. I moved onto pine which is light for props, but the knots and grain density can be tricky to carve with. Red oak is good for parts that need to be strong, but it’s also heavy and the grain shows no matter how much you sand unless you put bondo or wood putty over it. Poplar is light like pine, but doesn’t have the troublesome grain problem.
3) Cutting it out
Use a scroll saw, band saw, jigsaw, utility knife, or even a laser to cut out your keyblade. There are different kinds of blades for these tools. A higher tpi (teeth per inch) will make a smoother cut, but take longer. A lower tpi will cut faster, but not as smooth. For an Oathkeeper keyblade, you would want to cut enough layers to make it around 1"-1-¼" thick.
A drill or drill press can be helpful with the keeping the holes round, and making room for the saw to cut those closed off areas.
This is where practice and confidence really come into play. For wooden keys, you’ll use anything from a dremel hand grinder, to a chisel or router. For foam, hot knives work well I hear, and for cardboard you could probably still use a dremel but it might be messy. I recommend drawing details and taking measurements as you carve to make sure everything is symmetrical. Plywood helps with this for beginners because you’ll go through layers of wood to show how deep you’ve carved.
Finish shaping by using sandpaper, sand blocks, or a file to make the surface smooth. Smoothing a prop will make it look 1000 times better after paint. I didn’t hand sand my props very much if at all when I first started, so I’d like to eventually remake the first 6 I made.
Use bondo, spot putty, or wood putty to fill in imperfections and smooth it out, increasing the grit as you go.
Next, you’ll want to prime the keyblade. I usually use a layer of sandable or filler/sandable primer because there’s going to be a spot you missed. The gray color helps show little bumps and things better than white, so get something other than white for the first coat. After everything is smoothed for sure, you may want to use a sealer primer, or a plain white primer to prevent fish-eyes in the paint.
Finally, paint away! Use multiple, thin coats when spraypainting for the best results and make sure to read the directions on the can/tube for how to time the next coat. You usually don’t have to wait too long for acrylic paints applied by brush. And trust me, it’s going to be hard not to paint thicker coats because you didnt cover it completely, but don’t rush it. I did it quite a lot, and ended up with drips and had to sand it and repaint.
Finish it off with some protective enamel. Automotive enamel protects from heat, water, and scratches which is good for cons. Lacquer is also good to use, but sometimes paints don’t mix well with lacquer, so make sure to read the directions and allow enough time for the paint to dry.