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Tsubasa: Sakura Staff Tutorial

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Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles: Sakura’s Art Book Staff Tutorial

Staff= Foam. Lots and lots of foam. This was my favourite part of the cosplay to make, but also probably the most difficult part. I ended up working frantically on this the last three days before Anime North 09. It is a slightly modified version from the original art book design for various reasons. Anyhoot, here are some notes on it for anyone who is considering doing this cosplay.

The HANDLE: Mr. Broomstick
It was just a wooden broomstick that I spray-painted gold. I suggest wood because I figured that wood would hold onto the spray paint better than a smooth plastic handle, but if anyone has success with plastic, let me know. ^_^The length of the broomstick is up to you depending on your preferences, the size of the head of your staff, and your ability to wield a blunt trauma weapon safely in large crowds. I made mine go up to my shoulder. The top of the broomstick is rounded with a vertical notch cut into the centre. This is where the head of the staff slips in snugly, and is secured by two screws.

Pros: This allows for easy disassembly for transportation in a regular-sized car. (If you have a van, or you aren’t traveling with four other otakus in a normal car, then you could probably fit it in one piece on the back seat.)

Modifications: The art book design includes two prongs that stick out from the handle and curve around the head of the staff. I did not incorporate them in my staff for three reasons.
1. Safety hazard- the prongs stick out pretty far in both directions. I was worried that they could poke someone’s eyes out in a crowd.
2. I didn’t like the way they looked.
3. I did not know how to attach them, and they would certainly break off if I made them out of foam.

The HEAD: The evil known as “Do not leave till the end”
Crescent-shaped BASE: Theoretically, you could simply cut this out of wood. However, I only had a simple handsaw, so while I could cut the outer circle, I couldn’t cut out the inner circle (or maybe there is a way, but I’m not particularly handy with tools). Using cardboard and an exacto-knife was another option, but cardboard isn’t durable, doesn’t always cut cleanly, the cross-section looks unprofessional unless you cover it up, which is extra work. Also, you don’t often see flat objects that are perfect circles on the outside, but crescents on the inside at art stores. After much running around, I found a flat, regular ring made out of material that was not quite cardboard, but not quite wood or plywood either (hmm…. Really, really compressed paper?). It’s one of those rings that you use to grow decorative flower wreaths on, and can be found in various sizes at Michael’s.

The next issue was to give the inside of the ring a crescent shape, while keeping the gap in the shape of a perfect circle. The back view of the base is included here to show the ridges where I added crescents of foam and glued the edges to the inside of the ring using cement glue (better to be safe than sorry). Tracing out templates of the shapes and checking their placement on the ring before cutting the foam is a good idea to improve symmetry. The foam was simply the kind that little kids use in crafts, and can be bought in sheets at the dollar store. Afterwards, trace the modified ring into bristle board, and add the bristle board onto both sides of the modified ring to hide the edges where the foam meets the ring to give a seamless crescent.

Pros: Very inexpensive. Because of the compressed paper that the ring was made out of, the base was nearly as durable as wood, but light and easy to carry, like cardboard.

Cons: Surprisingly time-consuming. Measuring how much to add onto the inner edge was a pain in the ass- you try drawing a huge, perfect circle without a compass. -_-;; Also, get large sheets of foam so that you don’t have to spend extra time tracing, cutting, and piecing together multiple foam segments of the crescent.

Modification: There is actually also supposed to be a raised border near the outside edge of the base, but I did not have time to make it.

WING DESIGN: I had to eyeball the design because the art book illustration doesn’t show the staff very clearly. I suggest tracing the completed base onto paper and sketching a scale model of the wings on top to get a good approximation of the size, curve, and proximity of each of the feathers in relation to the base. I used the sketch to make templates for each pair of feathers. Then, I traced the templates onto sheets of foam and bristle board, and glued the two together. Foam tends to curl, so I placed a light book on top of the feathers to keep them straight while drying.

Pros: The foam serves to give the feathers a raised edge on the base (depending on how thick your foam sheets are, you may want to use two layers), and the bristle board backing supports the parts of the feathers that aren’t glued onto and supported by the base.

Cons: The feathers still get damaged easily. You can probably see in the pictures that the feather tips that protrude from the outer edge of the base have developed creases from where doorways, car interiors, luggage, and fellow otakus have bumped into them. I even made the feathers shorter than the original to avoid hitting people, but it wouldn’t be Murphy’s law of disorder if things were that easy. ^_^;; The foam feathers makes the head of the staff hard to transport safely- you can’t put anything on top of it for fear of bending or marking it. However, they surprisingly don’t break off. If you are spending more than one day at a con, it would be best to bring extra gold paint to cover up day-to-day damage. Wood might be safer. Heaver and more time-consuming, but definitely safer for the staff (if not for the careless bystander).

Note: I spray-painted the base and each feather separately before gluing them together, but glue makes the spray paint come off sometimes, so it might be safer to glue everything first, and then spray paint.

Well, I hope this was helpful, and good luck on your cosplay!
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anonymous's avatar
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fleetwaygirlsonic's avatar
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
I tried to include all the suggestions I could think of in the description, but if you have any specific questions that you would like some feedback on, I'd be more than happy to help! :D
fleetwaygirlsonic's avatar

I have one specific question...

can you teach me how to draw like that...?

or a suggestion of tutorial...?




Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
And thank you so much!! <3 I'm so glad that you like it.
fleetwaygirlsonic's avatar
also... no problem ^-^
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
Aside from making the wings template and the circle/crescent bits, there wasn't too much drawing involved in this project, so I'm kind of wondering if your comment was actually pertaining to a different piece in my gallery.  O_O Sorry if I am misunderstanding something.

(If you are referring to this Tsubasa staff tutorial-->) Are you looking for a drawing tutorial for wings in general, or are you looking for a template for the wings in this Tsubasa cosplay prop?
fleetwaygirlsonic's avatar
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
I'm definitely no expert, so I don't think I'm qualified to make tutorials on how to draw wings yet. (>///<) However, I can provide you with some links to wing tutorials on deviantArt that I find pretty useful.  I hope these help! (。・ω・。)ノ♡

A great tutorial by *Uzlo on drawing winged people:

A popular angelic wings tutorial by ~Crysa:

A great tutorial by *TheAntimonyElement, which explains things like the structure of bird wings (bones and types of wings) and the appearances of different types of feathers, etc:

fleetwaygirlsonic's avatar



thank you...

also, i'm now watching you...


Sakura-Seraphim's avatar

|・ω・`)  *hides*


Just kidding! And thank you for the watch! <3
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Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
Thank you very much! 。◕‿◕。
Peacherine's avatar
: ) First of all, I love what you've done with this staff! It really looks great, especially if you were in a rush with it >_<

One suggestion, for any various project that may need it, if you don't have a compass or need a big circle: cut a piece of non-stretchy yarn the length of the circle's radius plus a few inches. Tie one end around a pencil, close to the tip, and tape over the yarn so it doesn't slip. Then hold down the other end wherever the center of the circle is, and draw! It usually works pretty well if you don't tilt the pencil around.

Again, beautiful job. The outfit she wears in the artbook picture with this staff is amazing too, so I bet everything was spectacular!
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
(。・ω・。) Aw, thank you for your kind words! This was one of my favourite outfits from Tsubasa, so I put a lot of love into the making the props. I had a lot of help on the dress from xRaven-Wolfx and anime-manga-luver, too.

∑(O_O;) Wow, your suggestion about using the string is a great idea! I wish I'd thought of that beforehand. It will definitely come in handy for other projects. Thank you so much- you just saved me from a future headache!!
benihimecosplay's avatar
i'm curious how did you seal your foam so you could paint it? thats the part I always mess up on, mine is always lumpy :(
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
Eh? Actually, I didn't seal the foam with anything. I just painted right on top of the foam using acrylic paint and metallic paint. Depending on the original colour of the foam, I would have to do between 2-4 undercoats with yellow acrylic paint, and then add 2-3 coats of the metallic paint. I don't recall having problems with lumps- maybe because I made the acrylic paint kind of watery to keep it smooth.... The downside was that the foam would absorb the liquid, and consequently required more coats in order for the paint colour to show. I hope this helps.
WISHingSTARchaser's avatar
thank you so much for this! i'm cosplaying as Sakura in her Clow country clothes, but i felt this prop was just necessary for the finishing touch. :heart:
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
It was my pleasure! Good luck on the cosplay!
ShiangLi's avatar
Awesome! What type of foam though. The only type of foam I'm aware of is the soft stuff.
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
It was called "fun foam," but it is basically just known as craft foam, I think. It's not the kind of foam that comes out of spray cans, lol. ^__^ It's a solid sheet made out of some sort of plastic(I think)that is soft, smooth, flexible, and squishy. Often times, they have a sticky side, and are common in kids' crafts. You can find them in art stores, but they are also available in most dollar stores, too. Hope this helps!
ShiangLi's avatar
yes it does thanks. I'm just hoping its light enough to fit on my dress. I'm cosplaying as the white Sakura in the beginning outfit and have been trying to figure something out for it.
Sakura-Seraphim's avatar
The material is not heavy at all. I used it on my Sakura dress too (the one that goes with this staff). However, beware that if you are planning on gluing the foam to fabric, the foam might bend due to sitting, moving around, or folding of the fabric. Fabric tends to shift around, and does not provide a lot of support for the foam (resulting in cracks forming in any layers of paint that you have applied to it). However, depending on where the foam is positioned, the damage may not be that bad.

Good luck with your cosplay!
ShiangLi's avatar
Thanks for the tip. Now to wait for spring break in order to test it.
xxsonyarockxx's avatar
this is relly they sell this?

and is there a link? to the website?
anonymous's avatar
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