I was commissioned to make Sera’s bow from Dragon Age:Inquisition. This was prefect timing too, because I had been avidly playing the game, and was hoping for a request come along!
The references were SUPER scarce online, and in game shots were hard to capture, since I don’t have the game on PC. In the end, I went with a hybrid of the concept art and ingame design, with some personal tweaking.
as a note, the limb on the handle is an optional “upgrade”in game. It also defies physics.
With this one, I went and just did the side view of the bow. The in game design was pretty flat to begin with, and I was going to add some original shaping into it anyway. I was pretty much going to make it up as I went along, and my client let me have free reign!
To give the bow a little more dimension, I added some blocks on the sides to later shape into a tapered design. This is sandwiched layers of 1/2″ MDF, glued together with 2 part epoxy resin.
The tip was added on as well. It had a tendency to break off, so i reinforced it. Good thing this was getting molded!
I also decided to add a taper to the tips of the limbs as well!
I used a combination of the belt sander (for super rough shaping), an orbital sander, files and dremel for the finer details, and files to fine tune the work! Here’s a bit of the process. I splinted the end of the bow because it liked to pop off, even with wood reinforcing rods.
I don’t have any nice shots, but here’s a still from my Twitch stream.
Mdf is pretty frizzy, even when you sand it smooth. I squeezed some super glue onto the surface, then slicked it with a scrap of tagboard. This can get really hot, and gives off fumes, so I’ll do it with ventilation or use a shop vac to suck up the fumes.
I gave it a little bit to harden, then I sanded it smooth. Its good to use a respirator, because its a lovely combo of mdf and super glue dust!
If a spot needed a little more glue, I went and slicked more, then sanded again.
once the shaping was done, I went in and engraved the scrollwork using a dremel. The flex shaft attachment made precise cuts a lot easier! I used a razor blade to smooth some of the curves out.
Here’s another Twitch still!
Once the grooves were smoothed out, I squeezed some super glue in them as well, and sanded them. I also added the raised bit on the front with styrene.
This was primed with krylon grey, then some solid coating of red Krylon gloss paint was laid down.
After a few days to REALLY let it set, I sanded it smooth, wet sanded it to 2000 grit, then waxed it.
Now time for claying er’ up!
I’m using non sulfur based clay, which won’t inhibit the curing stage of the silicone. The keys were pressed in using the back end of a sharpie.
The first coat is the print coat. It was mixed with silicone thinner and given a couple hours before the second coat was added. Here’s a photo of the second coat.
There was a third coat (again, unthinned silicone), then I added thickener to the fourth coat. It has a consistency of cake frosting. a 5th coat with no hardener or thinner was poured on to smooth over the thickened coat and tack in the keys.
Applying plastipaste to the mold! Its like thick applesauce! I coated around the sides, making sure to smooth it over.
Once all of the plastipaste is applied, I laid down some facial tissue and patted it down. This helps even out the surface so you don’t get fiberous spike bits that can cut up your hands
Once the plastipaste set, its time to work on the other side! Here’s the first half just after pulling the clay off the mold…
Here’s the cleaned up half. I went in with an exacto to get the little bits that seeped by the clay
Clay was used again used to wall up the sides. I’m going to do one big flat pour
Some of it tried to escape during the pour, so i just walled it up higher!
The clay wall was removed, this needs trimming!
Cleaning out the mold but slushing some old throwaway resin in there. That gets rid of any bits of clay and residue stuck in there.
This isn’t nessessary since its most likely going to be sanded off when refining it, but I like to dust the molds with silver powder. It makes demolding a bit more epic, and much like mold release, extends the life of the mold!
This was all bolted together, and a couple pulls were made. I had gone back in with a dremel to cut more vents into the mold to avoid air pockets. Cutoff wheels tended to work best!
These pulls turned out …. okay… but they definitely were going to need some puttying and cleanup.
Once the sanding was done, I carefully drilled holes into the ends for the screw inserts. Starting with a 1/4 inch bit and gradually increasing the size of the bit until I got to 3/8″. The screw insert was worked in carefully as not to crack the resin.
I didn’t trust the thickness of the tips of the limbs, so i did a little mod to thicken them. i roughened the surface that I was going to add resin to, made a wall of tape along the sides….
and poured some resin in. Here it is “kicking”.
It looks like a mess when it set, but that’s okay. Better to have too much than too little.
Here’s a before and after of the mod. I trust the top one a whole lot more now.
As an additional measure, I cut a groove along the edge, and embedded a galvanized wire and sealed it with a little resin.
For the grip, A wood block was cut in half, then grooved on both sides to embed a threaded rod.
I used post it notes to shield the limb side from epoxy glue, then aligned the limbs to be even before epoxying the halfves together. This resulted in nice and tight joints when done!
After the Epoxy set, I carved out the grip, and added the raised details. The pink was Bondo, and the white was Apoxie Sculpt
Prime time! Krylon gray primer.
Black gloss spray paint, with silver powder rubbed on just after it sets, to achieve a beaten worn silvery effect. Some imperfections resulted, but I find it to seem more natural and believable vs. doing a perfect finish then randomly scuffing it 🙂
I laid a coat of Testors metalizer sealer, the only stuff I found at hobby shops that doesn’t turn chrome/shiny finishes into mud. Look for the number 1459!
after spraying that down, I did another pass of silver focusing on highlights along the edges and such, then another coat of the sealer.
Yay! The initial assembly is done!
Bout I completely forgot about the little blue gems! These were cast in an old paint palette, then glued down to a stick so I can shape them more easily. I chose the most bubble free areas
After sanding them down, the gems were sanded with sponges and buffed on my jeans (this works surprisingly well! ) . Gloss cost was sprayed down for the finish. to make them shine even more, I glued them down to mirror backed mylar.
On to final assembly! Some elastic cord was acquired from a local Michaels hobby store, but since it was a pack of random colors, I took some Fiebings alcohol based dye I had on hand and dunked the cording. You can also do it with a sharpie.
Since conventions have varying policies regarding strung bows, I made this detachable with some jewelry findings.
The grip was painted, and the decorative bolts were added.
I used magnets for them, so should a convention allow strung bows only for photos, this would make for an effctively obvious disabling, but keep the string from just dangling about.
This thing is NOT small, so everything breaks down for transport.
And here’s a couple finished photos!
If you’re interested in more work in progress images & larger resolution imaegs, check out my Flickr page.