A significant amount of research focusing on the formation of surface seals and crusts and their effect on erosion can be found in the literature. In contrast, there has been limited research investigating the formation of surface shields, a layer of loose coarse sediment on the soil surface, despite the consequences for the transport of sediment, nutrients, metals and microorganisms. This study used rainfall simulation to examine the role of slope (2 and 10%), infiltration (with and without) and ponding depth (0, 0.3 and 0.7 cm) on the development of surface shields on a silt loam and a loamy sand soil. The results show that a continuous surface shield of loose coarse particles developed on the loamy sand, whereas the silt loam soil surface was covered by varying proportions of aggregates, compacted soil and loose coarse particles. Infiltration had a limited positive impact on shield development and both slope and ponding depth were significant controls over the development of the surface characteristics.