Cosplay on a Budget: Crafting Link’s Hylian Shield

Link Hylian Shield Tutorial

I’m going to start this off by saying, I made this without power tools. Most of the tutorials I’ve seen for Hylian shields are made from wood or require saws and belt sanders and all kinds of tools that frankly most of us don’t actually own or have access to. This tutorial is for people like me who are on a budget or don’t have access to a workshop but still want a super awesome shield.

First things first, here’s what we’ll need:


  • Cardboard
  • Craft foam
  • Hot glue
  • Gesso or Mod Podge
  • Paint
  • Sealant
  • Duct Tape


  • Hot glue gun
  • Sandpaper
  • Hobby knife and/or scissors
  • Ruler
  • Writing utensil
  • Paintbrushes

Okay! Now that you’ve acquired all the necessary materials, let’s get started.

This first part is probably a little tricky. I used reference images from google and tried to estimate size-wise how the shield would translate into real-world proportions. It’s probably best for you to do this step on your own, but here is what I came up with. The widest part of my shield is 46cm/18.11in and the tallest part of my shield is 63cm/24.8in.

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Using your measurements, sketch half of the shield on to your cardboard. I included the detailing in my initial trace to make sure the pieces wouldn’t look wonky with my shield’s sizing.


The great thing about Link’s shield is that it’s perfectly symmetrical, which means we only need to make one half of the shield, and then just flip the pieces and trace out the second half. So that’s exactly what the next step is! Cut out the outline of your shield, flip it, trace it, and cut out the second piece.


Next, take your glue gun and glue the two pieces together down the center on an approximate 150-degree angle. This makes the final product actually look like a shield, and not just a flat piece of cardboard.

Now we sketch out the 3D bits for the shield’s designs on paper and then transfer to craft foam. Most of this was guesswork and a mix of freehand and ruler for straight lines. Lots of trial and error to get the proportions to my liking. Again, lucky us we only need to sketch out one half of the shield, flip, trace, and cut for the second half.

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Optionally, I covered my shield with a base of craft foam on top of the cardboard for a smoother look. This does create very obvious seams, however, so if you’re not using gesso, it might be worth it to skip that step.

Now you can start gluing the pieces you cut out on to the shield! At this point, I recommend adding a small handle so you can hold your shield. I made mine out of cardboard by cutting out a long piece and bending it into a handle shape. I then covered the grip in craft foam for more comfort. I hot glued the handle down and secured it with duct tape.


Once you’ve glued all the pieces on, you need to seal everything. I used gesso because it not only seals, it also acts as a primer and strengthens the whole piece. You can also seal with mod podge, but your shield will be a little more flimsy and you will need to prime your shield before painting.

hylian-shield-diy-4 (2)

If you’re using gesso, don’t be afraid to just slather the whole thing in as many layers as you want. In fact, the more the better! If you’re impatient like me, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process so you can keep adding layers. Pro tip: Be sure to use a large, soft brush to apply the gesso, it will save you a headache on the next step. On places where I had very obvious seams in the craft foam (eg, along the center) I put the gesso on in globs, to be sanded down later.

Which brings us to the next step: sanding! I used a medium grit first to take down the globs and smooth them out and any other places that had uneven build up. Then I took a fine grit and went over the whole thing multiple times to make it nice and smooth. I won’t lie to you, this step sucks. Sanding by hand is incredibly slow, boring, and it can be difficult at times. If you have a mouse sander or something like that, use it. I didn’t, and this was definitely the most time-consuming step. BUT – it is so, so worth it to sand. It makes such a difference. This is also why using a soft large brush is important for gesso application if you’re sanding by hand because the gesso will go on a lot smoother and save you some time.

Now for the fun part! Use a metallic silver spray paint and go over the entire front of the shield with it.

hylian-shield-diy-5 (2)

Then take a simple, matte black spray and cover the back of the shield for a simple, clean look.


Once the silver is completely dry mask off all of it and then use a blue spray paint to fill in the rest of the shield (alternatively, you can use a brush and paint in the blue). Once that’s dry, remove the mask, brush in any necessary touch-ups with silver paint and paint the Triforce gold.


Next, we’re going to do our handy-dandy sketch-and-flip trick again! Sketch out the center design on paper and cut out the pieces, creating a stencil. Flip, trace, cut, tape them together and we have a full stencil of the design.


Take some red paint and a brush (or spray paint if you’re so inclined – I preferred the brushed on look of the acrylic, it felt more like war paint) and fill in the stencil. Once the paint is dry, remove the stencil and do any touch-ups necessary. Let dry completely.


Done? Nope! Not yet. No shield looks that pristine, so we’re going to grunge it up a little bit. Using a combination of black and brown acrylic paint, dry brush the ridges, crevices, and edges. Then use a damp paper towel and wipe off the excess as you go. The end result should leave only the creases dirty and an overall grimy look to it.


And finally, take a spray sealant (or more mod podge) and seal the entire shield to prevent any paint from chipping off. I used a satin spray because I didn’t want my shield to be too shiny, but I also didn’t want it to be completely flat either.

Now go save that princess!

Written by Guest Contributor: Jade of Porcupine Design

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