KINGDOM HEARTS Special Photoshoot Report - Part 1: Making of High Quality & Realistic Keyblades

KINGDOM HEARTS Special Photoshoot Report - Part 1 Making of High Quality & Realistic Keyblades Report1 ©Disney GRACE Co.,Ltd.

In celebration of the momentous KINGDOM HEARTS 20th anniversary, we at SuperGroupies are doing a number of projects including an expansive new line of fashion items!

For this photoshoot, we welcomed back stylist Takahashi Tsuyoshi-san as creative director to help us in a special project: capturing the magic of KINGDOM HEARTS with real life Keyblades!

In this Part 1 report, we’ll cover the production site where the Keyblades were made and take a closer look at the intricacies involved in creating such high quality and realistic items.

Further Reading:

Watch on Video!
Keyblade Production & Special Photoshoot

Check out the video for an in-depth look at the production site where the Keyblades were made, including the process of using a 3D printer and airbrush coloring.

We also interviewed Takahashi Tsuyoshi-san about his stylistic vision for the photoshoot. Don’t miss it!

At the KeyBlade Production Site

As part of our KINGDOM HEARTS projects, we decided to recreate Ventus, Aqua, and Terra’s Keyblades in real life.

We headed to the workshop to witness the Keyblade creation journey from concept to completion.

1) Using 3D Printing

This time, we used a 3D printer to create the base models of the Keyblades.
After preparing the data for printing, we divided the data into parts before commencing printing.

1) Using 3D Printing ©Disney

The main body of Ventus’ Keyblade consists of 7 parts along with decorative details.

1) Using 3D Printing ©Disney

The room with the 3D printer maintains a temperature of around 40℃. According to the staff: “The room has to be warm to ensure a beautiful print. But we do have to consider that continuously printing in such a warm environment can also break the printer (lol).”

1) Using 3D Printing ©Disney

With all the 3D printed parts ready, they now fall into the hands of professionals.
Staff: “The printing can be done with a machine, but the 3D printer is a helpful tool at most. Final finishing and color coating are difficult processes and require specialized skills.”

2) Polishing

All parts are organized after printing is complete.

2) Polishing ©Disney
▲The towers of triangles act as support beams for the main printed part. All support parts are slowly and carefully removed by hand.

Staff: “This is the part of the production process that takes the longest and directly correlates to the quality of the finished product.” He says this as he uses sandpaper to polish the surfaces. Checking the unique horizontal stripes from the 3D printer, the connecting joints of each part, filling empty spaces with putty, then polishing once more. Polish, polish, polish…

2) Polishing ©Disney

3) Primer

Once the earnest polishing is finally done with, it’s time to apply primer. Using an independently formulated surfacer, the coating is uniformly applied with an airbrush.

3) Primer ©Disney
3) Primer ©Disney

Once sprayed, the 3D print is moved to a drying oven and dries completely in about 10 minutes. Once dried, the surfaces are polished once more with fine sandpaper.

3) Primer ©Disney

Normally, 2 to 3 coats of primer are applied. If applied too thinly, surface roughness may be visible. If applied too thickly, finer details may get lost. This is a process that clearly requires specialized experience.

Staff: “The surface needs to have a glossy finish without any drips.” Well, he makes it sound easy, but it’s certainly anything but.

3) Primer ©Disney

4) Vivid Coloring

With the primer carefully applied, it’s finally time to add color.
The paint here is also generally applied using airbrush.

4) Vivid Coloring ©Disney

Masking tape is rarely used.
When using masking tape, residual paint along the tape border may result in a border forming, or cause an undesirable paint texture. Preparation for the perfect finished product starts before printing is even underway.

4) Vivid Coloring ©Disney
▲The appropriate amount of paint is considered and prepared according to the size of the part being painted.
4) Vivid Coloring ©Disney

The first coat is lightly sprayed onto all parts to apply color.

After all parts have the first coat, a second coat of paint is applied.
The second coat is where the color really pops, so every part is carefully and meticulously painted.

4) Vivid Coloring ©Disney

All parts are painted with 2 coats in about 10 minutes, then moved to the drying oven again to dry.
All at once, these previously lifeless parts have weight and presence to them.

4) Vivid Coloring ©Disney
▲Blue parts used in Aqua’s Keyblade.

Once the paint is fixed, it’s the final clear coat before completion.

5) Completion!

Three Keyblades, complete!
The glossy finish, intricate chain details, and more combine for a beautiful final product.

5) Completion! ©Disney
5) Completion! ©Disney
5) Completion! ©Disney

Closer look at
the special photoshoot
in Part 2 of our report!

More behind the scenes of the special photoshoot we did using the Keyblades for our new collection is available in Part 2 of our report.
Check out the key visual!

KINGDOM HEARTS 20th Anniversary
SuperGroupies Special Collection

We have an expansive 45-item lineup inspired by 9 characters!
We hope you enjoy celebrating this momentous anniversary with our items.

KINGDOM HEARTS 20th Anniversary SuperGroupies Special Collection ©Disney

In Collaboration With

Special Effects Director, Amazing JIRO

Extensive experience in face & body paint, special effects makeup, and prosthetics effects in a wide range of fields including videos, commercials, events, and in the fashion industry, specializing in design, creative production, and direction.
After graduating from the Tokyo University of the Arts, he entered the field of special effects makeup and established Jiyuro Co., Ltd. Beyond special effects makeup and modeling production, he is also active in other roles including working as a creative director.

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