Skyrim Dragonbone Sword Prop – How To
Bethesda have a lot to answer for. Between The Eldar Scrolls and Fallout titles they have taken thousands of hours of my life and a reasonable chunk of change to boot. That being said, in exchange for all of those hours I could have spent doing something waaaay more productive, I got some great inspiration for prop-making. I’ve always wanted a collection of Eldar Scrolls weapons, and now we live in a bigger house, I have no excuses any more. The first of the medieval stabby things to make its way through my workshop is a Skyrim Dragonbone sword prop.
How to make a Skyrim Dragonbone Sword
As with all my props, I started out by drawing up a template in Adobe Illustrator. If you want to build your own Skyrim Dragonbone Sword, you can download the template I made here.
I wanted to build the sword from Foamed PVC (Sintra for those in the US), which is a wonderful lightweight and easy to cut plastic. I have a lot of this in stock, but none of my sheets were long enough. This forced my hand to use MDF again, which is also a very suitable material for this kind of build.
The main body and handle of the sword is cut from one piece of 12mm (1/2 inch in freedom units) MDF. I used my buddy the bandsaw, but a Jigsaw or handsaw will work just as well. As an aside, if anyone knows the secret to cutting accurately with a Jigsaw, I’d love to hear from them.
The next step requires some careful marking out. To be able to accurately carve out the profile of the Skyrim Dragonbone sword, we need to mark the centreline. I used a combination square and a pencil to place a mark along the centre of the sword. Then I cut out the centre raised portion of the template and marked out the area on top of the blade (both sides) that needs to remain flat.
This stage is crucial and its successful completion will make or break the Skyrim Dragonbone sword prop. I used my belt sander to carve away a lot of the material, but dropped the power tools pretty quickly and did a lot of the final shaping by hand. It’s very easy to take away too much material and ruin all the work you’ve done so far, so take your time. This is definitely a task you don’t want to undertake if you’re under pressure!
After giving the sword body a quick once over with some 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface a little I turned my attention to the metalwork. I used 2mm Foamed PVC (Sintra) for this and made a bit of a silly error. For some reason I decided to cut out the spine that runs along the sword and the handle section in 2 pieces. This was completely unnecessary. Once I attached the pieces and realised my mistake I had to spend time filling in the gap with putty. Don’t do that.
Now for some creativity. Rather than creating a Game of Throne style sword, that is an absolute work of art, completely untouched by the realities of warfare, I wanted a working man’s sword. This meant creating rough, battleworn damage along all the metal edges. To achieve this I simply used a craft knife to cut away areas of the raised sides.
Sharp eyed readers will notice the evidence of my aforementioned goof (the green putty). After I had dinged up the metalwork, I glued it in place on the sword body using CA glue (super glue). The dome head rivets are furniture makers tacks. You can but these in a variety of sizes and they are a great thing to have in stock as so many video game weapons have dome rivets! I attach these by snipping the pin short with a pair of side cutters and inserting them into a small hole in the prop. With a little bit of CA glue to secure them, they are very sturdy.
While I was still making a mess, I thought it would be a good idea to knock up a pair of stands for the sword. These are a nice simple build using 3mm MDF for the upper part and 12mm MDF for the base. If you want to make your own stands, feel free to download my templates here.
I decided to 3D print the pommel of the Skyrim Dragonbone sword. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer you could either manufacture this from shaped 12mm MDF, or find an appropriately sized ring. If you have access to a 3D printer, feel free to download and use my 3D model files.
I went with the 3D printer, rather than traditional methods for the pommel as it’s a tool that I own that doesn’t get as much use as it should. Besides, I like to mix up the techniques in my builds, as I feel that’s the best way to learn new skills and progress as a prop maker.
I also 3D printed the emblem on the sword handle. If I did not have access to a 3d printer, I would likely have very carefully cut this out from 0.5mm styrene sheet.
The downside of 3D printing is that they need a lot of preparation work to remove all the layer lines that are inherent with FDM printers. The technique, which is described in detail here basically involves lots of sanding and filling until everything is nice and smooth.
Once I was happy with the overall finish of the Skyrim Dragonbone sword it was time to move onto paint. With MDF it is important to seal the surface before painting. I used an MDF sealer on this build, which is like a thin polyurethane varnish. It seems to work pretty well. The primer coat was applied with an airbrush (Vallejo airbrush primer), but any matt black spray can would work just as well.
I applied a chocolate brown coat as a basis for the bone colour. The in game model has a yellowish tint that looks a little cartoon like for my eyes, so I went for a more classic bone look. Again, I used the airbrush to apply this coat, but brush painting with thinned paints will produce a finish that is just as good.
I applied the bone colour to the Skyrim Dragonbone sword with the airbrush, leaving a small amount of brown showing in the recessed areas. This gives the colour some dimension.
After repainting all the metalwork black I set about creating a lightly worn metallic look to the metalwork of the sword. I like to use black, drybrushed with gunmetal paint to create a strong, contrasting metal colour. The rivets were also drybrushed with a bronze colour, to give them some distinction from the metal platework. The final step was to seal the whole sword with a couple of coats of gloss clearcoat, followed by a top coat of matt varnish to dull the surface.
And there you have it folks, a nice and simple build of one of Skyrim’s more unique looking weapons. I hope this blog inspires you to have a go and build your own Skyrim Dragonbone sword prop. Next time on the Dogless blog network for the bewildered and bemused – Mudcrabs: preventing you from fast travelling since 2006.
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Was an adventurer like you, then he took an arrow in the knee.
I’ve been making things since I was old enough to pronounce Lego. Consequently my maker life has been spent constructing, kit-bashing and scratch-building anything and everything that has taken my fancy. After dedicating my time to Wargaming, Model Armour & Railways, I stumbled across what has now become an obsession – Prop building.