How to Make a Child's Clone Trooper Costume from Cardboard

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Probably one of the more challenging craft projects I've undertaken with the kids, to fabricate a childs full Clone Trooper costume (including helmet) from rigid boxboard sheets. Below is the end result and a bit about how it was done.

The model is my ten year old son.
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Step 1: The Breastplate

This sort of project takes planning. I started by viewing a lot of Clone Trooper outfits online, downloading detailed images for reference and working out measurements.

These measurements I then scaled down to my sons size.

2mm wire is a useful way to capture the unique contours of the wearer

Using those measurements, I fabricated basic frameworks around which to build the armour. Some pieces didn't require this, however, pieces that encircled a part of the body were best assembled around a frame; this helps maintain symmetry. All framework was fabricated from the same cardboard as the costume.

Step 2: The Helmet

The Helmet easily takes the longest to fabricate; especially when it's a first attempt.

As a prototype, this finished helmet consists of approximately eighty individual parts; many of them could be consolidated together.

Again, the first step is to transpose the wearers measurement into a framework upon which to attach the basic shell of the helmet. Getting the helmet dimensions is a challenge. I started by taking key measurements of my sons head: circumference from above the eyebrows, distance from eye to bottom of chin, distance from eye to top of head etc. I used number 2 wire to capture his head shape. From these I created a frame upon which to temporarily position the key parts and create the dome.

TIP - Once you have the circumference, cut the wire to that length, then bend the wire around head to capture basic shape, lay the wire flat on cardboard and mark around shape adding a further 5-10mm all around so helmet doesn't end up too tight.

Many of the parts were created by simply snipping away at a piece of cardboard until I'd found the right size and shape.

For the dome I used a combination of Honus's method and papermache; using a blender to pulp the papermache to a very smooth consistency. The dome consists of a base layer of cardboard, upon which paper mache was used to get a more accurate shape and a thin layer of Super Filler to smooth off.

A blue LED light was installed at the end; this shone from the back of the 'Mohawk'.

Step 3: All the other bits

Including the pistol and rifle, there were 23 parts in all.

It's best if templates are first created on cheap paper, test fitted and adjusted as necessary. this will save wasting the more expensive cardboard on mistakes... not that we make any of those :)

Velcro was used throughout to fix all the parts onto the wearer, and foam was used to pad out the suit for comfort and best fit.

Step 4: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
The finished outfit took a pile of pasted boxboard (cardboard) that reached my waist. I think that's over 200 sheets; each sheet 200x280mm. The boxboard came in two grades, 1800 and 1400 gsm.

Other materials included:

Glue (heaps of it); including craft and PVA glue, hot glue and super glue
Super fine filler (I used Nordsjo Super Filler)
Foam padding
White and black fabric (stolen from my wife's sewing basket); used mainly as a backing to give strength to cardboard
Velcro; for connecting and holding all the parts in place
Misc: rivets, clear plastic for helmet, LED lights for helmet, various plastics bits, vinyl.
Lots of white spray paint!

Any job is made easier when using the right tools, and I would go as far as to say that with projects such as this, they are a necessity.

For this project I used the following tools:

Razor knife (absolutely essential), with lots of spare blades; you'll need them.
High revolution rotary multi-tool (these things are a godsend)
Quality craft shears and a range of scissors
Range of paint brushes from fine to 25mm
Sharp pencils and a few dark felt tip pens
Range of sand paper grits
Self healing cutting board
Putty knife or equivalent
Craft clips and/or pegs
Stainless steel rule
Safety glasses
Spray bottles
Duster brush
Dust mask
Rolling pin
Rivet gun
Glue gun
seamster3 years ago
By far my favorite costume on here in a long time.

I recently introduced my four boys to Star Wars... and this is something we'd considered, but it seemed too daunting. It turned out really well, and doesn't have that "ahh-shucks-it's-homemade" look. Killer work.

Best of luck in the contest!
parrster (author)  seamster3 years ago
Thx Seamster. Star Wars is a great movie(s) in regard its ongoing enjoyment factor. Having made a Boba Fett helmet, I felt ready to attempt something bigger; and yes, I was aiming to avoid that home made look. Thanks for appreciating.
TheDentedChestplate made it!17 days ago
I surely recommend to detail the back,anyway it does,i mean, it REALLY DOES LOOK GREAT if i were Lucas,i would hire you for my staff! Keep up the Good Work!
parrster (author)  TheDentedChestplate17 days ago
Thanks Champ, appreciate the feedback
Colonel Hogan4 months ago
Nice job tho
Colonel Hogan4 months ago
Please make a ible for the shoes, i saw sneakers
rodney.lim7 months ago

This is such a cool costume! Do you have the digital templates? I would like to try make one for my 5 year old! He loves Star Wars!

parrster (author)  rodney.lim7 months ago
Hi Rodney. Unfortunately I don't have any templates. This was a design and build project, and as such no templates were used. I did attempt to work out some crude templates, but it all got too hard. Sorry to disappoint.
pjadenalex1 year ago
What did you use for the black part behind the eye holes so he can see out of the helmet?? btw Great costume!!!!
kiddooddle2 years ago
is there a youtube video for this
parrster (author)  kiddooddle2 years ago
Sorry kiddooddle, but no, there is no youtube video. Would have been a good idea though.
vtheawesome3 years ago
could you please leave the picture of the templates here, or even a link?
parrster (author)  vtheawesome3 years ago
I'm presently working on getting the templates into a digital format. I'll let you know when uploaded.
Honus3 years ago
Wow- that looks fantastic and it seems like you guys had a great time building it!
parrster (author)  Honus3 years ago
Thanks Honus. We did indeed have a great time, so much so that now my youngest daughter wants one (back to the drawing board :)
Honus parrster3 years ago
All three of my boys (ages 3, 5 and 7) really got into Halloween this year so I'm sure I'll be working on some great stuff for them next year. Three Clone Troopers would be cool. :)
parrster (author)  Honus3 years ago
I just realised your the dude behind the Boba Fett cardboard helmet. Kudos to you sir! I used your insructable as a reference when it came to making the helmet for the Clone Trooper; many thanks.
I've just read the Featured Author writeup about you... even more Kudos to you. You seem quite the remarkable individual. I look forward to seeing the latest CNC machine. all the best.
Honus parrster3 years ago
That's very kind of you to say- I guess I'm always trying to figure out how to make cool costumes more accessible. It's really cool that you were able to take what I did to a whole new level- the Trooper costume really looks fantastic and that's not an easy helmet to make! Stay tuned- I'll have my latest costume creation up soon. The CNC is coming along nicely as well. :)
r-philp3 years ago
Where did you get the thick cardboard?
parrster (author)  r-philp3 years ago
It was given to me by a friend, it was what remained of a pallet of damaged cardboard no longer suitable for retail.
Lucky have a dad of your talent.
parrster (author)  The Papier Boy3 years ago
Thx PB. It was also a great time spent with the kids. Both of my youngest children (8 and 10) moved their craft tables into the garage, and we spent many hours together; even moving in one of the lounge sofas so we could hangout in comfort. By the end, the rest of the house became neglected, my wife taking up residence on the sofa, and even meals eaten there... it was great!
Fypsigon3 years ago
This is just......WOW!!!!!!
parrster (author)  Fypsigon3 years ago
Thx Fypsigon, I am very pleased with the final result. Next I'm planning to build a vaccum-form and see if I can duplicate using thermoplastic.
omnibot3 years ago
Holy sci-fi! That is awesome! Peoples heads must turn a bit when a halfsized clonetrooper runs by.
parrster (author)  omnibot3 years ago
Thx Omnibot. Yes, my son took it out trick or treating last night and had many requests to pose for photos; not something you see every day. Thanks for commenting