If you have been watching The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime you will know that the Black Sword that is featured heavily in the trailers has become a key prop in the first six episodes. I won't delve too much into those episodes -- check out Russell Holly's article for a-- but please note I cannot write the rest of this article without a few spoilers. Ye have been warned!
What is the Black Sword? (spoilers ahead)
The hilt that Theo -- a character created for the show -- found in Waldreg's barn turns out to be not a sword, at least not only a sword. It is a sword that acts as a key used to help Adar, the father of the Orcs, turn the Southlands into what we now know as Mordor. We still don't have its exact origins, but it is clear that it has been a part of the bad guy's plan for a long time. It was likely made by minions of Morgoth though, perhaps early in the Second Age, or even in the First. The details are sketchy, but needless to say, it was made to forever change that part of the world.
The sword looks to be made of obsidian glass, and when blood is spilled upon it, the broken blade magically reforges to become a full-length weapon. Though it looks formidable, the only time it is ever used is when Waldreg stabs it into the ground and turns the lock. I won't go into what happened when the key was turned, but suffice to say, it did not go well for the people of the Southlands.
How can you own a Black Sword?
There has been a growing group of cosplayers and designers creating incredible art around The Rings of Power and the beautiful sets, costumes and props that litter the show. Nikko Industries, one of the more popular designers of 3D-printed props and well known for creating screen-accurate Mandalorian armor, created this model of the broken sword featured in those amazing character posters, and I can tell you it's a fantastic model because I've spent some time 3D-printing one for myself.
Unfortunately, the model can't expand into a full sword, even with a blood sacrifice, but with one of the, some materials and some elbow grease you can have a beautiful prop to grace your home.
The poster that Nikko was working from only showed the front of the sword, obscured further by hands holding the hilt. But Nikko managed to extrapolate a final shape and give us this model. It may not be exactly screen-accurate, but it looks close enough to fool anyone. Even before painting, you can feel the roughness of the texture in your hand. If you've ever picked up a rusty piece of metal, you'll know the texture I mean.
When you zoom in on the sword in the poster, you can see it was once gold, and this blackness is some kind of oxidation. Some of the gold still shines through, and I had to consider that when painting the model.
I 3D-printed the sword in a smokey resin bythat I hoped would be dark enough to look like obsidian. It wasn't, but resin is easy to paint, so I didn't mind the lightness. I used a large-scale to print the model, as it's the only printer I have that's big enough to print something like this in one piece.
I hollowed the model out to save material but made sure there were plenty of supports. A top tip for resin printing: If you submerge your model in hot water from the tap for around a minute -- no need to boil it -- you can easily remove supports without the need to clip them off.
One of the big advantages of resin is the lack of post-processing required. Normally I'd spend hours sanding to remove layer lines, but resin comes out perfectly smooth. I went straight to painting with a gray primer followed by a base of shining gold.
I was blown away by the detailing. All throughout this prop, there's the feeling it was once a majestic blade, but it's somehow corrupted now. I used a light spray of black over the gold to achieve that same look. Holding it in your hand is a strange experience. It feels like a weapon, but the texture is almost repellent, adding to that corrupted feeling. We now know that the blade was likely designed this way -- forged by Sauron perhaps? -- and would have always looked corrupt and sinister.
I used Rub 'n' Buff, a waxy metallic paint, to lightly add details to the rune and deeper grooves, then gave the whole model a weathering. Weathering uses brown and black acrylic paints to make the whole sword dirtier. I even added some sand from my garden to dull the black a little more.
The file is available to download over at Nikko Industries for just $15 (£11, AU$20) and, at my suggestion, now has a removable blade to make printing and painting even easier. Nikko even has a course that will teach you how to design your own 3D models in Blender, which is well worth checking out. Cosplay can be an expensive hobby and learning to make your own models might not save you a billion dollars, but it will help a lot.
To give you an idea of how close the 3D model looks compared to the poster, I went full nerd and tried my best to recreate the look and feel so you can see them side by side. I'm interested to know what characters you're planning to cosplay or if you've seen other Rings of Power models popping up. I'm excited to put together a cosplay of Halbrand and his horse head sword, and I'll also be 3D-printing all the swords in the show over time.