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Monday, 10 December 2012

【Tutorial】How to make Merida's (from Pixar BRAVE) bow and arrows?

Merida is my first Disney Princess, and well, not like typical Disney princess story about all those romantics and adventures, Brave is more like a Mother's day special. Thanks to Alex (A.R.C. photography) for inviting and got such a wonderful results  (^ω^)

I would say I suffer quite a lot when trying to figure out how to actually make the bow. First I was thinking of using plywood, but after getting advice from Jerry, I suppose that is not a good idea. The problem with plywood is that its very hard to carve shapes especially without a wood grinder. Especially when I don't have that strength and time to carve it slowly with saws or blades. 

I did try to search a better way in the internet, but I can't seems to find any that would be easy and fast ( mostly are plywoods... OTL) , imagine my desperation especially when its like 2 weeks to the photoshoot. At last, Yuu gave me the inspiration of using wires instead, and I think it worked pretty well, though not perfect, but it saves time and was considerably cheaper. 

Hence, I want to share my experience here with a simple and fast way of making a bow out of wires and tapes, hope it helps people out there looking for a simpler version of bow-making tutorials. 

Here is the tutorial on how I make Merida's bow:


(i) Thick Wires ( I used those for fencing purpose) - hard enough to stay in shape but not too hard to be able to shape =w=
(ii) Thin wires ( for coiling purpose)
(iii) Pliers
(iv)Masking tapes
(v) Cellophone tapes
(vi) Measuring tape
(vii) Scissors
(viii) Newspaper
(ix) PVA glue / wood glue/ white glue
(x) Acrylic paint (I use Alpha's Raw Sienna, and White, and some Burnt Umber + Black)

Step 1: Shape the bow.

Use thick wires, shape until u are satisfy with the bow shape ( Please refers to the original picture (google it ) to make sure that the shape would be as similar as Merida's bow). Get two of them, overlapping both of the wires and tape them together at the very end. Make few coils from the thinner wires, stuff it in some critical points of the bow shape ( as shown below with the masking tapes on), and tape with plenty masking tapes ( I make five points here). The diameter of the coils is based on your preference if the thickness of your bow. Make another two bow shape from the thinner wires ( well if u prefer thick wires, go ahead), and stick them at the up and down of the wires. It should look some thing like below.

The coils, mine is around 1 inch diameter.

How to coils looked like when stuff in the bow shape.
Thickness of the bow will just be nice to hold.
 Step 2: Insert coils into the bow shape
Now, coil as much of coils as possible, you'll have to insert to the whole bow. The purpose of this step is just to fill in the the empty spaces, so when holding the bow, it would be firm enough. Try to stuff as packed as possible. ( I was in rush hence I tried to finish as fast as possible).

I thought of using newspaper only after I had done with this... well, since its just to stuff it in to make  sure that its stiff enough, I think if exchange the coils with newspaper might be good as well, but it will definitely be heavier. =w=

Step 3: Cover the whole bow with masking tapes
Use as much masking tapes as possible, covered all the parts that exposed, until you get something like that at shown below.

Taping the whole bow with masking tapes

Results after taping all with tapes

I left the end of the thin wires out (both sides) , and made a hook from it, for the bow string of course.

End of the bow, to hook bow string

Step 4: Cover the whole bow with newspaper + glue

I was very used to newspaper + PVA glue, since its the cheapest and most convenience way of making a surface. Though it might not be perfect, it gives rough surface =3=.

PVA glue:water = 1:4  
Covered the whole bow with stripes of newspapers ( Yes, tear the papers into rectangular strips ahead). Put bundle of PVA glue mix make sure that it is sticking thoroughly on the bow, which means paint the whole strips with glue until its totally soaked wet. PVA glue had the properties of making papers and tissues harden and that's another reason I like it so much.

Step 5: Paint the bow with Acrylic paint 

I mixed the two color Raw Sienna + white to get kind of pale wood color. Paint two layers. 

Step 6: Add on some details:

I used some brown papers, torn from some old exercise books. wrap it nicely on the middle parts and also the end of the bow. 

Paint with Burnt Umber+ Black Acrylic paint.

Step 7: Put on some details

Tie gold/ brown strings on the end of the bow, and also some little details in the middle part.

That's all for the Bow part!!!!!!!!! Just tie on the bow string will do. I use some elastic band in dark blue color. 

Final results of the Merida's bow!!


(i) Something as the base ( I used the roll of finished masking tape)
(ii) Manila Cards
(iii) Colour Papers
(iv) Glue
(v) Scissors

I used the roll of the finished masking tape as the base, since the size suits well, draw a circle 1cm larger then it, then glue it on.

For the body of the quiver, I used manila cards, paste a layer of brown colour paper on it (or if you prefer to paint it instead). 

Now, there is total 3 pieces for the quiver. For respectively size, please refer to the tiles, one tile = 30cm x 30cm. 

Left piece: the top part of the quiver, a piece of rectangle with the edge slightly slant. I fold it half, to fit in the top part of the quiver.

Middle piece: half the rectangle than the left piece, for the bottom of the quiver.

Right piece: the body of the quiver. Diameter of the body depends on thee base. 

Just fix everything on place, then its done. Draw some details if necessary.


(i) Cane ( yes, those that parents use for caning the kids =w=)
(ii) Black threads
(iii) Papers ( here I would recommend cards, or anything harder)
(iv) Cellophone tapes
(v) Water colour ( Brown, white, black)

Step 1: Tie the edge of the cane with black thread

Step 2: Cut the papers ( or cards) into the shapes below.
Draw a rectangle, snip the papers based on the red line below (left) to get the shapes of the fletching ( right)

Step 3: Paint the fletching with brown and white.
In one arrow, there are 3 fletching: one with brown strips, 2 plain white.
Try to paint out feathers texture.

Step 4: Stick the fletching on place with cellophone tape.
3 fletching per arrow, adjust yourself =w=.

Fletchings for the arrows

Step 5: For the head of the arrow, cut two diamond shape from colour papers and paste them together. Insert on the tip of the cane, and its done~

This is how to results looked like. I painted the body of the quiver with a darker shade of brown, to distinct them apart. I hang the quiver on my belt through the loops there. 

Few comments on the product:

(i) Its not a professional way of making props I suppose, BUT, I always prefer things the easiest, fastest and cheapest way.

(ii) Using wires did not give a very stiff bow, hence have to be slightly careful when handling with it ( i suppose if I could bring the bow and archery set all over the botanical gardens for 4 -5 hours, jumping here and there, then it should consider quite tough right? =w=).

(iii) Acrylic paints tends to wear off if scratched, hence, might recommend a layer of protective sprays to settle the paint? I can't ensure the results since I never try before, but worth a try ~

(iv) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE  REFERS to a picture of either the original bow or a real bow when doing this...

HOPE that this could help someone out there troubling with bow-making tutorials (At least I suffered). Cheers!


  1. You helped me a lot!
    Awesome ^^

  2. Wow! Your bow is really pretty! :)

    Thanks for writing this tutorial! I'm planning on making a bow (for a different character, but the same style as Merida's), and this was very helpful! One question: what sort of wire did you use for the "thick wire" portions?

    1. I am sorry, I just saw this. T3T Thanks for the compliment. ^^
      What sort of wire is hard to say.. Its usually used for fencing purpose here in Malaysia. Its the same with normal wires, just that its thicker in diameter, around 3-4mm. As long as its able to be shaped and maintain in shape, i suppose its suitable to use.

      Sorry that I just reply now, but hope this will help you. Wish you luck~

  3. Brilliant tutorial. I need a bow for cosplaying, but don't want to have to use plastic and complicated tools. I have garden and millinery wire and brown paper tape so this is perfect.

  4. Perfect! This is exactly what I was looking for and kind of what I was considering doing already! Thank you for the great write up! Hope mine turn out as nice as yours did!!!

  5. Fantastic, great idea, just what I wanted, turned out great. Thank you for sharing and posting.

  6. that was awesome!!!! like wow! I'm so sick and tired of seeing tutorials using worbla or other expesnive stuff no one can afford. Like...if I could afford to buy worbla I wouldn't be looking into this.
    It's not super easy but it's doable and the materials are all easy to find. Brilliant and thank you so much! If that'snot proffessional I don't know what is.

  7. Thank you so much for your tips ! It really helps me a lot ! Great cosplay ! I think you might look better with quality Merida cosplay costume from