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- Best Zelda Fan Art: You Can’t-Miss It - February 28, 2022
Perhaps even more so than the master sword, Link’s shield is synonymous with his abilities to take on any challenge. While the most recognizable shield Link uses is undoubtedly the Hylian Shield (the model most commonly used by the knights of Hyrule), he’s also utilized a wide variety of different types throughout the series’ long history. Given this variety of different styles — often covering a wide range of materials and bearing intricate designs — it’s no surprise that skilled fans have taken up the challenge of creating their own replicas.
This particular topic is of great interest to me. Not only am I a huge fan of the series — deeply familiar with each shield from all the games — I’m also a keen woodworker. I’m used to making (or trying to make!) cool stuff, and that merging of interests has led me to create this list. I’ve trawled the net to find the best of the best and have compiled them into an array of 12 specific models — many of them are even for sale right now. My only criteria for the list was that the shields were fan-made: the list will not contain any official merchandise from Nintendo. It’s also in no particular order (but I’ll be sure to give you my top picks!).
Bottom Line Up Front
This article features a widely varying selection of replica shields: some you can buy and some to give you inspiration for your own designs. Ultimately, your decision on whether to buy or make your own will come down to what you’re looking for. Cosplayers will most likely want durable, handheld replicas which are designed to be as close to the original models in the games as possible. For this case, the variety of Hylian shields throughout the list may be the best fit. Those looking for an ornamental replica might have a little more room for a particular stylistic choice: they’ll want to make sure their choice has the option of wall hanging and might favor the more muted, subtle designs I present. While many of these shields have the option of being handheld or hanging, you should take note of the weight of the model you’ve chosen. Where the heavier shields may still be fine for some walls, modern, plasterboard fixings may be problematic.
If you’re looking for something more specific — either for cosplay or otherwise — your best option might be to make your own. The wildest designs in the list also describe how they were made in the links provided, so you may want to check those out if you’d like to give it a go yourself! Irrespective of your interest in the topic, I hope this list offers you a great starting point. If you just want to check out each of my picks immediately, you can find an overview of the entire list below.
As you’ll discover, people’s reasoning for buying a shield like this can vary considerably, and while you can find my personal top three at the bottom of the article, I think ‘s Steel-plated Hylian Shield would ultimately fit the bill for everyone. It’s got a great balance between being authentic and lightweight (so it’s great for cosplayers), and the weight and durability also make it appropriate for kids. There are no options for wall mounting, but as with most Etsy sellers, messaging them directly and asking for a modification will likely be successful.
My Picks at a Glance
Here’s a summary of each shield featured in the list. Clicking the name of each creator/studio will take you directly to the page associated with that model.
3. Fiberglassblades.com‘s Twilight Princess Hylian Shield: A durable, high-finish Hylian shield aimed at cosplayers.
4. Sonia Kandah’s Mirror Shield: An original mirrored design with a detailed breakdown of the creative process available.
8. An unknown designer‘s authentic Deku shield: A one-of-a-kind replica of the Deku Shield from Ocarina of Time: great inspiration for anyone wanting to try their hand at shield making.
11. WorthPoint‘s Mirror Shield: A one-off replica of the mirror shield from Ocarina of Time’s Spirit Temple.
12. Sonia Kandah’s Hero’s Shield: Another design from Sonia Kandah’s workshop; this one is a replica of the Hero’s Shield from Wind Waker. Again, the link provided includes step-by-step documentation.
13. AWE me‘s Hylian Shield: One of the most ambitious designs I’ve ever seen. A fully functional, solid steel replica of the Hylian Shield forged by experienced blacksmiths.
Why Buy/Make a Zelda Shield?
You may be totally new to the fact that people are interested in replica shields from the Zelda series.
People’s interest is multifactorial: The greatest interest invariably comes from cosplayers: a portmanteau of ‘costume play’, or in other words, those who like to authentically dress up as fictional characters. For Zelda cosplayers, Link’s shield is the quintessential prop.
Then there are those who love to decorate their houses with gaming memorabilia. In this case, the classic Hylian shield from the game makes an elegant addition to the homes of those wishing to express their love for the series.
There are also shields aimed at children: I’m sure most reading this article will have wielded a prop from their favorite franchise at some point in their childhood.
While there are replica props for just about every single movie, book, or video game these days, I think there’s something special about this particular one. In many ways, it’s emblematic of the entire medium: a symbol of solidarity between gamers, perhaps — enjoyed and respected by people of all walks of life, and to be enjoyed in their own way.
Modestly priced, authentically engraved, and with versatility as a kids toy or wall decoration.
Being made solely out of wood, it might not be the most appropriate for cosplay; for that, you’ll likely want some component of your shield to be metallic (or at least to give the appearance of being so).
First on the list is this solid wood Hylian shield replica by SetsstickS. Complex doesn’t always mean better, and through its basic design, this model seems to accentuate the central artwork where more color may not have. The Hylian shield’s hallmark emblems have been carefully routered out into pine plywood: an impressive feat given the necessity for perfect symmetry. If you like this design you can buy one for yourself, and they’re even customizable. The buyer can choose from a variety of different stains, and they can also have it colorized if they want. It’s available in three sizes: an 11″x15″ child size, a 16″x23″ adult size, or a giant size at 21″x27″.
This is a functional prop you can hold, so it features a carved wood handle to boot.
1. TorMjau‘s Hylian Shield Wall Ornament
A stylized ornamental replica that makes a bold statement.
As cool as the hollowed-out design can be, how good it’ll look depends on the wall you place it on. In a patterned wallpaper room, for example, it might look a little odd.
Here’s another excellent Hylian Shield replica you can buy, but this one is for your wall. TorMjau’s design tastefully mixes wood with aluminum to create an understated yet bold appearance.
Veneer wood is stained a dark oak color to contrast the gleam of the brushed metal that borders the shield’s exterior. What’s particularly unique about this design is the decision to hollow out the Hylian artwork; not only does this emphasizes the design on its own, it also means that the emblem will take on the color and texture of the wall behind it. Cleverly, this means that their shield’s look alters depending on where you put it, ensuring that the design blends in effortlessly to your chosen setting.
Hand-made in Norway, TorMjau’s Hylian shield comes in at around 500 grams with a height of 15.74″ and a 13″ width.
3. Fiberglassblades.com‘s Twilight Princess Hylian Shield
With its metallic look, lightweight feel, and one-for-one likeness, this is the perfect shield for cosplayers.
Hardcore cosplayers might be put off by the fact that there’s no real metal on this shield.
Moving on to a high polish design (both figuratively and literally), we have this glistening replica of the Hylian Shield as it is seen in Twilight Princess. Aimed at those cosplaying Link, the shield body was made of cast resin to maintain a durable exterior, but it was also filled with foam to keep the weight down.
The incredible sheen achieved with this design was accomplished using automotive paint, and in keeping with the dark undertones of that particular entry in the franchise, the creator has made an alternate version in black. Coming in at only 5lbs with a dimension of 25″20″, it’s impressive how light this model is whilst still being able to give the appearance of solid steel.
4. Sonia Kandah’s Mirror Shield
This shield exemplifies the most creative of designs, merging classic elements with an individualistic twist.
As great as this model is, it’s hard to see how it would be appropriate for dress-up or cosplay given its bespoke look.
Designer Sonia Kandah’s work offers great insight into the step-by-step process of making a replica shield. She’s completed a ton of unique designs that can be viewed on her page, and she details their creation from start to finish.
Take a look at her stunningly rendered mirror shield. She built the base out of a mixture of wood and foam, and then, using a computerized design and a laser cutter, she etched a design into mirrored acrylic: a material that has the appearance of mirrored glass but without the associated fragility and extra weight.
The end result is one of the most beautiful designs I’ve ever seen — a unique eagle render with the triforce in the centre and bordered by a wonderfully contrasting metallic blue border.
Not many designers have made the effort of using three separate materials — let alone having gone to the lengths to emboss leather for a quality final touch.
While this model looks awesome, the Traveller’s shield itself isn’t the most memorable of Zelda shields. As such, it might not be recognizable enough for people wanting to show off their devotion to the franchise — be it on their walls or as part of a costume.
This is the most rustic design of the bunch. Using a mixture of authentic materials including steel, brass, wood, and leather, designer Jordan Britt’s is currently selling this one-for-one replica of Breath of the Wild’s Travelers Shield.
Coming in at 19″ across, this shield can either be fitted for wall mounting or be held in hand. I’m thoroughly impressed with how accurately the serpent has been embossed in leather; where the majority of designs opt for paint or rudimentary engraving, there’s no denying the statement of three-dimensional texture as is seen here.
The customer has the option to go for this weathered and embossed look or a standard paint finish.
This is a brilliant statement for the avid Zelda fan, and there’s nothing else like it on the market.
It might be a bit much for some — an acquired taste for sure.
Take a look at this backpack you can buy from AstoriaWorkshop: undoubtedly our most functional pick (unless you’re planning to actually go into battle!)
Featuring the classic color scheme of the series’ most recognizable shield, what’s especially impressive is the hyper-realistic weathered effect; the way the 3D sword chinks and shadowing make the shield look battle-hardened is astounding. It’s a meticulously designed piece everywhere you look, from the lush blue padding on the back to the embossed emblems on each of the straps.
With 677 five-star reviews, this is by far the coolest Nintendo-themed backpack we’ve ever seen — and who wouldn’t want to stroll around looking like the hero of time on their way to class?
This is another perfect choice for cosplayers — even for those who demand metal plating. No one would be disappointed with the quality of this model.
I think this would look brilliant on a wall, but unfortunately, there are no options for mounting.
While there are some seriously impressive ways to make an item look like steel, nothing quite beats the real thing.
LarpMedieval’s mock-up of the Hylian shield is emboldened by mirrored stainless steel plating. This is accented by high-gloss painted wood, and the shield even includes interchangeable handles: both wooden and leather handles are supplied and can be swapped on the fly.
I’ve covered a lot of unique takes on the Hylian shield so far, but you can’t go wrong with a one-for-one design like this if you’re going for the most authentic look! The dimensions are an appropriate 26×20 inches.
8. An Unknown Designer‘s Authentic Deku Shield
With its natural inclusion of a tree bark surface, this is the coolest model Deku Shield I’ve come across.
This wouldn’t be one to wield: while the bark is its defining feature, it would undoubtedly deteriorate if used out-and-about.
It doesn’t possess the majesty of the Hylian Shield, but the Deku shield’s understated and cute aesthetic has become a fan favorite. Given its simplistic design, it comes as no surprise that plenty of people has had a go at creating their own versions — but I haven’t seen one quite as accomplished as this. This design’s authenticity comes from the use of actual tree bark as opposed to sawn wood. Its shape fittingly evokes the rough-and-ready feel of Link’s iconic first shield from Ocarina of Time. This model is proudly displayed in the creator’s bedroom and measures 3 by 4 feet.
Deku shield designs are perfect for wall display. The aesthetic adds a touch of character to a room without being overtly referential.
Owing to its angular design, The Fisherman’s shield is a difficult design to pull off, but its contrasting color pallet and tricky dimensions have been accentuated excellently here.
Similarly to other rarer or bespoke designs, this one won’t be the best for a cosplayer or someone going for an authentic link look.
Any Breath of the Wild veteran will be familiar with the Fisherman’s shield: one of the game’s rarer defensive tools. EMsCreation’s recreation is made out of a mixture of wood and pleather (a type of textured, synthetic leather) and is finished with a high gloss acrylic.
Credit should be given to the choice of the color pallet. It’s often we see designs that slightly miss the mark with their contrast of colors, but this Fisherman’s shield’s sublime mix of mustard yellows and deep blues is right on the money. The shield’s diameter is approximately 40cm, and it’s for decorative use only.
You don’t see many smaller ornamental designs, but this one’s subtle allusions to the genre make it a stand-out piece — whether you recognize it from Zelda or not.
Owing to its size, this is a pretty specific ornament: on a wall, it might look too small or out of place, so you’d need to have a certain place for it in mind before buying.
Similarly detailed as number 4 is YeOldeProppeShippe’s Travellers shield. This creator took the shield’s serpentine design even further by painstakingly routing out the snakes into solid wood. It’s a striking three-dimensional piece featuring a simple, yet effective use of color.
The entire thing is carved out of wood, and coming in at a mere 8.5 inches, this is for decorative use only. Appropriately, the creator has displayed it ornamentally above a door. It’s an awesome hat tip to the series’ most ambitious title and a simple but elegant addition to your home.
11. WorthPoint‘s Mirror Shield
This is one of the most unique and complicated designs I’ve seen, and it’s great to see this classic brought to life in such a spectacular way.
It’s a very specific piece that most would struggle to place: it would be difficult to match either a Link-inspired costume or a wall in your home to fit the aesthetic of this shield.
This is the most ornate piece I came across on my search for replica Zelda shields — it’s certainly a show stopper.
Featuring a dazzling, mirrored appearance, this creator managed to faithfully recreate the Mirror Shield from Ocarina of Time. Those familiar with the game will remember that Link obtains this tool in the Spirit Temple. He uses it to reflect powerful beams of light into the desired direction — and perhaps you better watch out you don’t do the same if you’re wielding this replica!
It’s quite incredible just how polished the surface is, and a lot of work must have gone into embossing the curvature of the crescent moon into the surface. The impressive finish was achieved using automotive paint, and this is a particularly large model at 34″ x 22″.
It weighs a modest 10 pounds and comes with a leather strap for wielding.
12. Sonia Kandah’s Hero’s Shield
As with all of this creator’s designs, this is a lovingly crafted piece that nails every detail. It’s also one of the only hand-made replicas of this classic Wind Waker shield I could find.
With the beautifully designed and carefully cut emblems being made out of foam, I’d worry this model might get damaged if used as part of a costume.
This is our only pick from Wind Waker’s shields, and again, it comes from Sonia Kandah’s workshop.
The hero’s shield is distinct for its segmented, angled design, and by attaching three separate pieces of wood together with fitted brackets, Sonia was able to replicate the effect.
According to her detailed rundown of the process, managing the seamless, curved bored was a challenge, but she did so by cutting several segments of wood and smoothing them together with Bondo. She then cut out each intricate element of the face and finished the piece with the appropriate colors. The results speak for themselves.
13. AWE me‘s Hylian Shield
As far as like-for-like Zelda shields go, this one makes no compromise. It’s by far the most intricate and authentic model I’ve ever seen.
Its greatest strength is also its biggest downfall; while this would arguably be the ultimate cosplayers shield, its truly solid steel design would likely leave them crippled at the end of the event! You’d also better have some sturdy walls if you intend to mount this thing.
At popular request, blacksmithing YouTube channel AWE me attempted one of the most ambitious recreations of the Hylian shield I’ve seen to date.
Their design certainly took no compromises or shortcuts; featuring in an episode of the Man of Arms series, the smiths crafted the entire thing out of solid steel — from the triforce emblem (which was even filed with colored glass) to the thick, strong beveled borders featured in the game.
As is shown in the epic montage at the end, this is a fully functional shield, too, able to withstand the strongest of blows. They even went as far as to whip up a replica of the Master Sword to go with it!
My Top Three
We’ve covered a wide variety of different types of shields, but my bang-for-buck pick aside (covered in the bottom line up front) there were a few that I think stood out in particular.
4. Sonia Kandah’s Mirror Shield: There’s just something about Sonia’s mirror shield that’s inherently appealing. Perhaps it’s because, unlike each of the other designs, the shield doesn’t aim to replicate any particular model; it possesses its own character and, given the designer’s detailed breakdown, it’s clear so much work and thought went into realizing this technical, beautiful mockup.
7. An unknown designer‘s authentic Deku shield: This model is emblematic of the essence of fan works: passionate devotees recreating elements of their favorite games for no other reason than for their own enjoyment. I’ve covered some thoroughly impressive pieces by some very talented people, but there’s a special quality to the attempts of the everyday fan. It might not be the most technically impressive shield on the list, but it is, nonetheless, the coolest Deku shield I’ve seen. It’s a shame I can’t credit the creator properly.
Question: There are a Lot of Different Zelda Shield Models. Which Should I go With if I Want to Dress up/cosplay as Link?
Answer: For classic Link attire, you’re going to want to go with Hylian Shield. This is definitely the most recognizable shield in the series and, as you can see from the list above, it’s by far the most common.
Question: I’d Like to Have a go at Making my Own Shield: How Difficult is it to Get Going?
Answer: Whether you’re a cosplayer or you just fancy taking a stab at making something cool, making your own props and ornaments can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding hobbies you can take up.
With the advent of YouTube and plenty of detailed guides online, it’s also easier than ever to get started. Doing a quick search for making your own shield pulls up a plethora of great results, while websites like Instructables or the woodworking and metalworking subs on Reddit are similarly great resources. I also recommend following Sonya Kandah’s page. I featured two of her designs above, and she does an excellent job of breaking down the process in an interesting, fun, and easy-to-understand manner.
Question: How Much Should I Pay if I Want to Buy a Zelda-inspired Replica Shield?
Answer: As with most items, you generally get what you pay for. How much you should pay comes down to what you’re looking for, and the main barometer for prices is usually the amount of work that’s gone into making the item. As you can see, the majority of our picks for purchasable shields come from Etsy: an online marketplace for independent creators.
Something like a shield can take a lot of man-hours to produce and, generally, the more detailed you want the piece and the materials you want it to be made from are going to be the biggest determiners of price. If you’re a cosplayer, authenticity might be highly important to you. In this case, you’ll probably expect to pay a higher price. If you’re looking for a model for a child — where canonical accuracy and detail might not be the most crucial factor — your options will be decidedly cheaper.
We hope you enjoyed this peek into the Zelda community’s creative side. It never fails to amaze how fans manage to actualize in-game items with such detail and artistic flair. Hopefully, this list has inspired you to give your own creativity a chance — maybe we’ll be featuring your work in our next list!
Find more interesting guides by checking the links below: