Cardboard Darth Vader Helmet


Introduction: Cardboard Darth Vader Helmet

About: Science Teacher. Maker. True-Believer.

Here's a fun project for the opening of the new Star Wars this week. You can either download the files, print, trace and cut your own cardboard or visit my Esty shop and purchase the kit and I'll cut the pieces for you!

Note: Use gloves to avoid paper-cuts from laser cut cardboard (and hot glue). Sand the edges a bit for less risk of injury.

Materials needed:

  • PDF file or Cardboard kit from Etsy
  • Four 18" x 24" cardboard sheets (if using the files linked above) OR cut the pieces from a cereal box or case of beer for a super silly vader.
  • GLOVES! Laser cut edges are sharp! Use gloves especially if working the the laser cut kits and hot glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Hot glue
  • Wood Glue
  • Masking tape or packing tape
  • Metal straight edge ruler
  • Scissors or xacto knife
  • Rolling pin or other cylinder for rolling (baseball bat, chair leg, paint roller, etc.)

Step 1: Some Tips for Folding and Gluing

Let's start with a few tips for gluing as you start on the helmet's main dome. Start by gathering the parts seen in the first image in this step.

Curl each of the prongs of the done around a rolling pin to loosen them up and begin to help them get into shape. As you curl the parts around your cylinder, mash the corrugation a bit to help loosen up the cardboard. The more you loosen the part up, the easier it will be to fold on these very rounded parts. Later on, we'll want a few clean flat sharp edges, but for these curvy parts, I actually rolled them in both directions to really loosen them up. The second image shows the parts after they've been rolled.

When gluing, apply the glue into the corrugated edges (image 3) and either hold or tape the edges together as the glue dries/ cools. Gluing into the corrugated edges is my preference, but it also works well to hold the edges together and glue along the back (image 4). In this case, I did both. Personally, I think wood glue gives the cleanest and most sturdy finish, but hot glue is faster. Hot glue can also be more forgiving as you can re-heat and re-glue if you're unsatisfied with your seam.

Step 2: Fold and Assemble the Main Done of the Helmet.

Fold and tape the seams of the main dome until you have a complete dome. Then, line up the centers of the two pieces that will form the extended brim.

When attaching the brim, I glue one point at the front, one at the back, left and then right to be sure I have everything lined up. Working around the circumference of a large piece like this can throw the alignment off and make your final seam very difficult to glue into place.

Step 3: Fold and Glue the Nose/mouth

Find the parts shown here and fold the part shown in the first picture. Glue this part to the triangular trim/ frame part as seen in the second and third images.

I've included the rear view (image 3) so you can get a better idea of how to fold and glue the trim.

Attach this triangle to the part in image 4 which forms the bridge of the nose.

Step 4: Assemble the Face/ Back of the Head

Start by locating the parts shown in image 1. Roll the prongs outward near their ends and inward near the base to begin developing the shape. Use the next three images as a guide. Notice that the ends of the prongs will become the neck, and flair out a bit while the base of this part will start to form the back of the head and curl inward. Glue the prongs together as shown in image 2. I've included a shot from the inside to help guide your glueing. (image 3)

The sides do not need as much shaping as they will begin to form the more angular features of the front of the face. Notice that the cheecks fold to almost 90 degrees as they wrap around to attach to the nose/mouth.

Attache the nose/mouth as shown in image 5. Use the shape of the nose and the bridge to guide your cheek folds.

Step 5: Build the Skull/ Inner Dome and Attach to the Face

Locate the two parts shown in image 1. Roll or press this against a mixing bowl to loosen it up and begin shaping.

Glue the prongs at a steep angle as shown in image 2 to achieve this inner dome's shape.

The inner dome fits fairly obviously (for once) into the parts you created in the previous step. Use the images to get a better look and take your time to glue a nice seam.

Mine is a little rough here, with the eyebrows not matching up, as I didn't fold the sides outward enough, but they're supposed to be a bit concave. I'm probably bringing out the exacto next (gasp) to make these fit up, and I really want to give it a bit more of the Ralph Mcquarrie look, but well see...

Step 6: Finish What I Started!

So I loaned the semi finished helmet to a friend for Halloween, after finishing it with a beautiful fiberglass resin and slick black paint job. She turned it into a super lady vader BUT our drunk friend fell on it and crushed it. (It was a great party, though.)

So, I'm going to have to recreate quite a bit, but so many instructable users have been asking for this for months, an with the Force on the eve of it's Awakening and all, I just really wanted to get this up and not keep you waiting. If you were hoping to finish this by tomorrow... um... I'm really sorry? Get to work!



    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Hey! Have you got pdo file? Can you upload it if you have?

    What exactly are the measurements for each piece? It's rather hard to gauge it while looking at a phone

    Is there any way you could transfer the template for this onto 11x8 inch Paper?

    6 replies

    No, sorry.
    If you read through the comments, I've included some tips for scaling and editing these documents.

    As i think i understand you, I use this in pdf and print them on a4(11x8 inch)paper and then put it into 18x24 inch cardboard?

    I don't see any tips for editing & scaling.

    My apologies. Tips are on the Boba Fett comment thread:

    Thanks! About how long does it take to make?

    Well, this one was destroyed before I was able to finish, but these usually take me about 3-4 hours to assemble the cardboard. My first one took 2 days. Depending on how you want to finish it (resin and sanding vs decorating with a diy look) it can take a very long time or not much time at all.

    Hi! After finishing step 5, there seems to be many parts unused! Could you please help? Im using the helmet for a performance and its in a months time ><...

    3 replies

    Very sorry. My model was destroyed after step 5 (last halloween) and I haven't been back to it since. If you download pepakura, you can find this model online (rpf or pepakura library) and see where the parts fit. I've modified a few for cardboard by connecting the parts, but you'll be able to figure it out by looking at the 2d and 3d layouts in pepakura.

    Can you please send me link of that 'tutorial' from pepakura.Please.Thank you.

    Looks good, I'm glad this one is somewhat helpful. The eyes are tough, paper might be easier. I finish with layers of fiberglass resin and a lot of sanding

    18 inches by 24 inches.

    Do you have to use cardboard because I used foam for the boba fett one

    1 reply

    Of course, foam works too!