Introduction: DIY Aluminum Foil Millennium Falcon

Picture of DIY Aluminum Foil Millennium Falcon

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Welcome to my first Instructable! I’m here to guide you through the steps I used to create great geeky art. I used a coloring book page of a Millenium Falcon (you can use any design you choose) and everyday materials you may already have at home. If you make some geeky art of your own, I’d love to see it in the comments. Have fun!

Supplies & Materials:

  1. Design of your choosing
  2. Cardstock (back of yellow legal pad)
  3. Corrugated cardboard
  4. Aluminum foil
  5. Tacky glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue works great)
  6. Spray adhesive
  7. Razor / craft knife
  8. Scissors
  9. Toothpicks
  10. Eraser or other squishy thing
  11. Shoe polish
  12. Rag and/or brush

Step 1: Choose Your Design & Glue It to Cardstock

Picture of Choose Your Design & Glue It to Cardstock

Choose a design from a coloring book. The dollar store has some great Star Wars coloring books. You can also draw your own design instead. Space ships or metallic objects work best with this foil relief effect. Photocopy your design if you wish to preserve the original for future projects.

Cut around your design with scissors. Spray the back with spray adhesive and glue to cardstock. Rub design with your fingers to flatten and get rid of bubbles. Cardstock is best for this because it isn’t corrugated and non-glued areas will be flat and not show lines.

Step 2: Cut Cardboard Flush With Design Edge

Picture of Cut Cardboard Flush With Design Edge

After drying, cut through both the design and cardboard with a razor. For a dynamic finished product, cut as close to the lines as possible. The cardboard is tough to cut through, so be patient and cut many times in the same place. Compared to cutting forcibly and all the way through the first time, this improves detail, reduces risk of cutting the wrong thing, and saves your hand from cramping.

Step 3: Strengthen With 2nd Layer of Cardboard

Picture of Strengthen With 2nd Layer of Cardboard

Cardstock alone isn’t sturdy enough to lay flat all the time, so use some tacky glue and glue it to a piece of regular corrugated cardboard. While the glue is drying, stack some books on top to make it lay as flat as possible. Let it dry for a couple hours at least.

After the glue has dried, use the razor to cut through the corrugated cardboard flush to the cardstock edge. This cardboard isn’t easy to cut through the first time either, so be patient and use many small cuts.

Step 4: Trace Lines With Tacky Glue

Picture of Trace Lines With Tacky Glue

Use tacky glue to trace lines you wish to show up under the foil. I found that the glue bottle’s tip was too large for the detailed lines I wanted, so I pried off the tip of an old mechanical pencil and popped it onto the glue tip. This produces nice, fine glue lines, perfect for tight detail.

For edges and areas with lots of lines, go over them a few times to make them taller, but wait for them to dry completely before doing this.

Step 5: Glue Foil to Design & Rub It Out

Picture of Glue Foil to Design & Rub It Out

Wait until all glue is dry before starting this step. Use spray adhesive to glue a piece of aluminum foil to your glued design. Shiny side up or dull side up, it’s all your preference. I chose to do shiny side up.

Use your finger to press the aluminum foil down over the glue lines, careful not to tear the foil. Use an eraser (or some other sturdy, squishy tool) to further press the foil tight against the glue and cardboard. Toothpicks are the best for making sharp creases in the foil, but be gentle to not tear the foil. I sanded my toothpicks with a nail file to blunt them a little before doing this.

Use a toothpick to lightly scratch the foil in open areas, and add extra lines by etching a little harder (again, try not to tear the foil).

Wrap the extra foil around the edges of the cardboard and secure to the back with glue. Glue scrap pieces of foil to cover bare corrugated edges.

Step 6: Rub Shoe Polish Into Grooves

Picture of Rub Shoe Polish Into Grooves

Now for the fun part! Watch the design come to life by rubbing shoe polish on it. The amount you use is totally up to you; when you’re satisfied, stop. Don’t forget to do the edges. Some tutorials suggest using acrylic paint for this step. I tried this and did not like the result. Shoe polish is more forgiving and helps give it a pewter-type finish. A brush works well at getting the polish into tiny scratches and tight areas, but this is optional.

Once you get your desired look, you’re done! Glue magnets to the back, use Command Strips to adhere it to the wall, add it to another mixed media art piece, etc. The possibilities are yours to explore. Enjoy your new piece of geeky art!

If you use this tutorial to make your own, I'd love to see it in the comments!


Jedi_zombie85 (author)2016-03-10

actually pretty impressd with the result looks great, vert tempted to see if i can do something like this to my drone quad lol

starwarsgeek1 (author)2015-07-31

pretty genius idea

Cyndal (author)starwarsgeek12015-09-19

Thank you very much :D

starwarsgeek1 (author)2015-08-05

this is the one I made

Cyndal (author)starwarsgeek12015-09-19

That's awesome! I love it!

Mysterious_Gal (author)2015-01-24

Very cool :)

Cyndal (author)Mysterious_Gal2015-01-25

Thank you :D

macrumpton (author)2015-01-14

Awesome ideas and technique! I had a couple of thoughts: If you are going to spend this much time on this, making it with a piece of plywood rather than cardboard will make it last longer and be more flat. Don't get me wrong, I have used cardboard for mounting drawings, and making lots of other stuff, but it does not tend to age that well.

The second thought is that it might be possible to press the foil onto the glue lines using a heavy weight on top of a pillow, or possibly use a vacuum.

Oops here are another few ideas: Use your finished piece as a mold for making multiples out of plaster, cement, or even resin. You would want to cover it with saran wrap to protect it first.

Finally if you want to give the falcon some dimension, you could cut a short pie slice shape from the back end of the falcon to the central hatch area, and draw the edges together to make the top of the disk into a shallow cone, like the real falcon. It would be better to do that before the foil is applied.

Cyndal (author)macrumpton2015-01-14

Great ideas! Although, this was intended for those who don't have access to a lot of tools and stuff. I live in a one bedroom apartment and I have no way to cut plywood or anything like that. Using this technique with cardboard also allows children to create what they want. I do plan on sealing it, but I need to test how different types of sealant look after drying before trying it out on this. Ultimately, this was an easy DIY project that anyone can do with materials they most likely already have. :)

macrumpton (author)Cyndal2015-01-15

I have used both polyurethane and acrylic medium to seal cardboard sculptures and they both work well. Using glue lines to add surface detail is an interesting technique that might also work well for paper mache as well.

jklovance (author)2015-01-13

I have done a lot of painting and there is a way to use acrylic paints effectively. The secret is to thin them down with a lot of water to make a wash. This way the wash will collect in the corners and give the effect you want. You can also drybrush with a silver to highlight after the wash. I would also recommend adding a coat of clear to protect the object.

Cyndal (author)jklovance2015-01-13

Yeah, I think I let the paint dry too much before wiping it off. I'll try this technique again with thinned down paint (thanks for the tip!). I also want to seal it, but was unsure what to use for that. I have varnish and spray clear coat, so I may test both before trying it on the Millennium Falcon.

jklovance (author)Cyndal2015-01-13

When using the thinned paint let it dry completely you can then buff off any thin film in the large flat areas. For the clear coat just use any clear spray. Just remember to do several very light coats rather than a few heavy coats. It will not bead or run that way.

tubaska (author)2015-01-13


thanks for sharing...............I have thought of a use for this with my jewelry and sculptures.

looking foreward to more of your ideas and good looking art.

Cyndal (author)tubaska2015-01-13

Thank you so much! I'd love to see this technique used for making jewelry :D

Chain N Sprocket (author)2015-01-13

Very cool!

Cyndal (author)Chain N Sprocket2015-01-13

Thanks! :D

Blackice504 (author)2015-01-13

Nice work mate the effect looks really good.

Cyndal (author)Blackice5042015-01-13

Thank you!

Marc - FR (author)2015-01-13

That first Instructable is very clever, i've seen your interest (Star Wars, HP, star trek....) can't wait to see the other! Keep the good job and may de Force be with you =P

Cyndal (author)Marc - FR2015-01-13

Thank you! And you're right, my future Instructables will be geeky ;)

MoTinkerGNome (author)2015-01-13

Is it bad that the first thing to pop into my head was the Robot Chicken bit when Vader is calling the Emperor after the events of "A New Hope"

"What the hell is an aluminum falcon?"

You got a smile out of me today. as now we know what an aluminum falcon is. LOL

Cyndal (author)MoTinkerGNome2015-01-13

LMAO! I forgot about that episode! You, sir, got a smile out of me as well :D

dboulant (author)MoTinkerGNome2015-01-13

Nope. You ninja'd me by 43 seconds.

generationstx (author)2015-01-13


Cyndal (author)generationstx2015-01-13

Thanks :D

araczynski (author)2015-01-13

nice write up on how to achieve a great effect. thanks :)

Cyndal (author)araczynski2015-01-13

I'm glad it was easy to follow, and thank you :)

cbrien2 (author)2015-01-11

Best instructable I have seen.

Cyndal (author)cbrien22015-01-11

omg thank you! :D

longwinters (author)2015-01-10

Great instructable i could see using this technique to make signs with designs, using tinted epoxy in various areas instead of polish

Cyndal (author)longwinters2015-01-10

This technique really is versatile and it would make great signs. Good luck!

amekdala (author)2015-01-09

totally awesome

Star Wars Rulez!!!!

Cyndal (author)amekdala2015-01-09

Indeed. I'm excited for The Force Awakens!

CabbitCastle (author)2015-01-09

Very useful technique to make really affordable and amazing-looking decorations.


Cyndal (author)CabbitCastle2015-01-09

Thank you! It's hard to travel to the store during winter in Michigan, so crafts made with material you may already have is not just affordable, but a stress-relief as well. Glad you enjoyed it :)

smorgsborg (author)2015-01-09

Awesome! Totally making a USS Enterprise NCC-1701 D, woot woot! I love me some aluminum foil! Thanks for sharing :)

Cyndal (author)smorgsborg2015-01-09

Dude, awesome! I was planning on trying this technique to make an Enterprise as well! I'd LOVE to see photos of it when you finish! :D

M3G (author)2015-01-08


Cyndal (author)M3G2015-01-08

Thank you!

BMXsquad88 (author)2015-01-08

thanks so much! I'm gonna use this method to make some bike silhouettes for my shop!! you're a life saver man! thanks a ton!!!

Cyndal (author)BMXsquad882015-01-08

Sweet! I'd love to see photos of the finished result. Glad to help the creative process in others :)

Mielameri (author)2015-01-08

Whooooa! This looks really cool!

Cyndal (author)Mielameri2015-01-08

Thank you very much! :)

seamster (author)2015-01-08

Very clever idea! I like the way this turned out. So nerdy/awesome!

Cyndal (author)seamster2015-01-08

Thank you very much!

jedii72 (author)2015-01-08

very cool!

Cyndal (author)jedii722015-01-08

Thank you!

np_grum88 (author)2015-01-08

you should put this in the on a budget contest

Cyndal (author)np_grum882015-01-08

Thank you for the suggestion! I just added it. It's also entered into the Papercraft Contest, so don't forget to vote in both places :D

About This Instructable




Bio: ★ It's what I do. I craft and I know things ★ Instagram: @YouHadMeAtGeek ★
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