Buster Sword Tree Sculpture For The New Final Fantasy VII

Sometimes a sculpture is exciting because the subject is a challenge or I get to try a new skill. And sometimes a sculpture is exciting because of the story, the background, the historic connections. My latest ‘reveal’ (the Final Fantasy VII Buster Sword tree sculpture) is one of those…

Chainsaw artist simon o'rourke stands in front of a 6' christmas carved from wood. The trunk has been carved to look like the Buster Sword from Final Fantasy game franchise. Simon is holding a large stihl chainsaw.
With my Buster Sword tree sculpture

Background to the Buster Sword Tree Sculpture

For gamers, it’s pretty obvious what this tree is based on. For those not versed in the world of video games, it may be a little confusing!

Final Fantasy is a popular video game franchise made by Square Enix, dating back to 1987. Since then there have been 15 main entries in the franchise, and it’s now available on all major platforms. However, the original is said to be one of the most influential and successful role-playing games. It played a major role in popularizing the genre, and the franchise has been a big favourite of mine.

This week Square Enix released a prequel to Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core – Final Fantasy – VII Reunion. As a big fan of the game, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to create a sculpture celebrating the event…

simon o'rourke kneels down by a sculpture in progress: the final fantasy vii buster sword tree sculpture
He's using a milwaukee rotary tool with a saburrtooth burr to add texture to the trunk of the sculpture
Using a rotary tool and Saburrtoth burr bit to add detail to the sculpture

The Buster Sword Connection.

The sculpture I made is based on the Buster Sword; one of the weapons from the franchise. It’s such an iconic weapon, and I love the patterning on the blade of the sword. Just as Final Fantasy VII kind of merges medieval weaponry and sci-fi (part of its appeal for me!) I had a vision for merging the sword from a natural-looking tree.

Christmas trees are obviously a big feature of this season so were at the forefront of my mind. The ‘circuit board’ type patterning of the sword leant itself nicely to stylised Christmas tree branches and gave it the more ‘sci-fi’ feel I wanted to bring in.

Close up of the tree branches of the Final Fantasy VII Buster Sword tree sculpture
The patterning on the Buster Sword blade inspired the lines of the tree branches

Making the Buster Sword Tree Sculpture

One of the things people often want to know is how long it takes to create a sculpture. In the case of this one, it was about four days of planning, prepping and sculpting with help from my assistant Paul Edwards. As always, the process was to visualise the final sculpture and take away the wood that didn’t belong!

The sword is quite mathematical or engineered-looking which is quite different from my normal style. It was definitely a challenge to get everything straight and perfectly proportioned, and I actually used a laser level to make sure everything was perfectly straight. The simple look is definitely deceptive – it was a very technical sculpture to plan and execute.

Simon O'Rourke's Final Fantasy VII buster sword tree sculpture lit up at night

Finishing Touches on the Buster Sword Tree Sculpture

When Square Enix interviewed me about making the sculpture (you can read the full interview HERE) they asked about elements of the tree I’m most proud of.

Overall, I love the effect of the ‘circuit’ design of the branches. The contrast between the vertical sword and the diagonal lines of the branches is really satisfying too. I don’t often add things to my sculptures, so it was a bit of a different choice for me to add the steel rivets in the hilt, but I think it sets it off nicely.

I also don’t often add colour or stain to my carvings (find out a bit more about that HERE) but I did use an ebony stain on this one. It creates a “gunmetal” feel while still allowing the grain to be seen and makes the sword jump out which I love. And, being a Christmas tree, I added the essential fairy lights as you can see below!

simon o'rourke with his buster sword tree sculpture. the photo is taken at night so the sky is dark. there are blue and white fairy lights on the tree that are the only lighting. simon holds a stihl chainsaw

Some Final Thoughts

Overall, it was fantastic to be involved in this project and to bring my love of gaming into my sculpture. Square Enix were brilliant to work with, and I’m really pleased with the finished sculpture. As with all my sculptures, it’s quite satisfying to give life back to a fallen tree too!

In this case, the timber is from a Blue Atlantic Cedar that was dying due to dieback. It’s heartbreaking to see trees killed in this way, but I’m fortunate to be able to give them second life as a carving.

If you have a minute, you can watch me create the sculpture below…