"Story pauldron" foam build

Armor Foam fabrication Tutorial Walkthrough

Welcome back everyone! This month has been surprisingly busy, so for this post, I'll be sharing what's been taking up the majority of my time although it's not yet finished.

A client/friend came to me several weeks ago with an interesting idea for a pauldron (shoulder armor) that appeared to be made from the pages of an antiquated book. The idea was for a pauldron with a neck guard and two lames.

(Here's a quick photo for vocab reference)

Labeled pieces of a pauldron, shoulder armor

Naturally my first reaction was 'yes please!', so I started figuring the best way to go about it. We landed on starting it as a piece of generic foam armor, then covering it with 'aged' paper.

To start figuring out the pattern, I grabbed a sheet of paper and pinned one over the shoulder of a mannequin for the main pauldron piece. Using the pictures he had sent, I drew out a rough draft on the pinned paper, folded it in half, refined where I could, and cut it out while folded to keep symmetry. The lames were patterned out similarly. The neck guard is where it got tricky, as I had to figure out the exact curvature for the neck guard to rest flush on top of the pauldron. I'm sure there was a math equation to figure something like that out, but I'm no math wiz, so there was quite a lot of guess work until I got it as close as possible.

(The border on the pattern indicates where there would be a raised edge)

Foam pauldron template with lames and neck guard

The pattern was then traced onto pieces of foam. I ended up using foam 1/2 inch in depth for the main pauldron piece, 1/4(ish) inch foam for the neck guard and lames, and 1 cm foam for the edges.

Foam pauldron pieces cut out and shapedFoam pauldron pieces with edges cut out

Now that I had all my foam ready, it was time to make some aged paper. I had done a little research on ways to age paper a while back, and we had already agreed on a font for the story pages, so I whipped up a few practice pieces to show the client to get his preference.

Different methods of aging paper

Ultimately he went with the bottom right, so I got to work crinkling up, tearing, rubbing, cooking and painting tea on lots and lots of printed up story pages. It was time consuming doing 12 or so pages in 2-3 page batches, but very therapeutic. For those curious, the top two were stained with a few layers of tea with the happy accident of black spots from an old cooking sheet (I understand you can get a similar effect with black paint or ink), the bottom left two were stained with coffee/black-spotting, the bottom right two were several layers of tea.

To adhere the paper to foam, I used Barge all-purpose liquid cement (I suspect you could use other adhesives, but it's what I had on hand and it has a STRONG hold - it's the same stuff you'd use to re-glue soles to shoes, so it has to be strong).

First foam pauldron piece with aged paper

Foam story pauldron pieces with aged paper

The main pieces and edges were papered separately then glued together. The edges were not glued together at the time I took the last picture, but have been since then (I'll try to get a pic of that up soon!).

The upcoming steps will be adding papered 'rivets', clear-coating everything, and adding leather straps to the main pauldron and lower lame to hold them around the torso and arm.

Don't worry guys, I'll be updating this walkthrough as more progress is made so y'all can see how it looks as it's finished.

As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this!

Chris Nelson
Practical FX Creator


Edit: Here are all the pieces with their edges glued down. Still in the process of making rivets - the first ones made were too large, so trying a different method.

Pauldron pieces together


Edit II: The first rivet of many has been added.

Pauldron with first rivet

Pauldron with first rivet


Edit III:

All rivets have been added, and everything has been coated in Smooth-On's Urecoat: a flexible-ish urethane coating that is excellent for foam armor and weapons.

Story pauldron near completion!

All that's left is to strap it (currently awaiting measurements).


Have you been working on your own foam builds? Let's see what you got: post in the comments below to show off your work or work-in-progress!

Comments, questions, suggestions for the blog? Let us know in the comments!

Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published