Introduction: How to Make a Cardboard Costume Helmet
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Here's how to make a low cost costume helmet using cardboard. Helmets are usually one of the hardest and most expensive parts to make for a cool Halloween costume so here's a simple method I use. The methods I describe can be used to make almost any kind of helmet but I'm showing how to make a Star Wars Boba Fett helmet as an example - I have an instructable for the rest of the Boba Fett costume here:
The templates provided are used by permission from The Wizard of Flight via the Dented Helmet- the definitive Boba Fett costume resource-thanks Alan! The templates are designed to be printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.
For more great scifi costuming templates check out SPC -there's a lot of fantastic patterns there!
Step 1: Materials
You'll need some cardboard sheet- about 1/16 inch thick material works best. Use the kind that looks like paperboard- corrugated cardboard won't work. The kind I used is called newspaper board and it comes in 30"x40" sheets. It is manufactured by Crescent as well as Arches and is sold at craft and picture framing stores. Crescent shows it on their website as Grey News Mounting Board:
Some people have reported that Ram Board also works extremely well.
Step 2: First Form the Base
For this example I'm going to construct a Boba Fett helmet from the infamous Star Wars character but these techniques can be used to make almost any helmet. I was able to download some Fett helmet templates from the Dented Helmet forum. http://www.thedentedhelmet.com
The templates are designed to be printed on letter size paper so just open the files with a program like Adobe Acrobat and print them so they fit on letter size paper. The best way to work with the templates is to cut them out and tape the separate sheets together. I then glued them to the cardboard with some rubber cement and then cut out all the pieces with an X-Acto knife.
The first step is to make the form for the helmet base. This is used to help establish the basic helmet shape and is later removed from the helmet. The form is made from templates pages 4, 8, 11 and 12. The patterns on page 4 and 8 are glued together by cutting a slot in each piece on the center line and then fitting them together. Join the patterns on pages 11 and 12 together and cut them from a single piece of cardboard and then glue that piece to the patterns from pages 4 and 8.
Now make the inner helmet surface. This is done by cutting out the patterns on pages 18, 14,17 and 13, taping them together and cutting them from a single piece of cardboard. This single piece is then wrapped around the helmet base form. Getting the cardboard slightly damp (use a misting spray bottle) will make it easier to bend. Then I epoxy the joint at the back of the helmet.
Next make the helmet outer surface- it is made the same way as the inner surface and is wrapped around and glued to the inner surface. Once the glue is dry cut out the cheekbone sections on the helmet inner surface. Now make the cheekbone sections by gluing the cheekbone template parts together and bending the cardboard and tacking it into place using a glue gun. I only use the glue gun on the inside of the helmet. Then I smear white glue over all the joints on the outside of the helmet.
Step 3: Making the Dome Frame
To make the top of the helmet, the "dome", I first make a cardboard ring and glue it into the top of the helmet. This will give the frame something to attach to. The dome frame is made from two interlocking cardboard semicircles and is then glued to the cardboard ring.
Step 4: Filling in the Dome
Now cut some long triangular cardboard wedges. Start by bending these as close to the curve of the dome frame as you can. Start by gluing the wedges to the frame first with the hot glue gun, then working your way gradually to the middle of each frame section. There will be a lot of trimming and adjusting involved so take your time. Getting the curve of the dome right will make finishing the helmet much easier. After the dome is filled in smear all the seams on the outside of the helmet with white glue. You can see that I've also cut out the opening for the visor at this time. Now drop that bucket on your head and make sure it fits the way you want it to.
Step 5: Final Shaping
Here's where the spackling paste comes in. Spread lightweight spackling paste over the dome of the helmet and any other areas that need to be smoothed out. When it dries sand it to shape. It will probably take at least a couple of applications to get everything looking the way you want- this is especially true if your helmet has a lot of compound curves.
Step 6: Add Details
Now add any additional details. The "ears" on the helmet were made from laminated sections of cardboard the were glued together with white glue. They were then cut to shape. I used a bench top belt sander to help shape them. The "ears" were then glued to the sides of the helmet with a hot glue gun.
The dent on the top of the helmet and the two small triangles on the front were then cut out with an X-acto knife and then a piece of cardboard was glued onto the backside. The dent was then filled in with spackling paste. The rangefinder was then constructed from folded cardboard sheet and then glued together.
There is also a panel that gets glued onto the back of the helmet. This is done by cutting out a rectangular section in the back of the helmet and gluing the panel into the inside of the helmet.
Step 7: Painting/finishing
Now coat the entire helmet with some Minwax Polycrylic sealer. This will seal everything and make your helmet much easier to paint as well as help make your helmet water resistant. Then just primer and paint your helmet! A Boba Fett helmet takes a long time to paint........
The visor is just some tinted plastic that is then glued in. I used hot glue but epoxy putty works really well too and is probably stronger. I then added some foam to the inside of the helmet to make it fit my head so it wouldn't flop around.
That's it- time to go trick or treating!
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Is the mounting board single thick or double thick? How many sheets of it do you need to make the helmet?
Sorry for the late reply! I think the board I used was single thickness. I honestly don't remember how many sheets I used since it was so long ago.
I don’t know about the original make, but I’m using some cardboard backing, the type used in bulk packages of watercolor paper to keep it from bending, so it’s about half as thick as the cardboard suggested (around 1/32” rather than 1/16”) and it’s working great. Some people also use cereal boxes, and that works, looking at the comments. Depending on the size of the sheet, I’d say probably two if they’re decently large. Hope that helps!
I’m having issues understanding how to make the cardboard ring and how it fits in the inside when it’s not even? Also how do I make the arches for the dome?
Do you mean the cardboard ring at the top of the helmet where the dome sits? I just traced out the inside shape and then cut it into a ring. The dome frame arches are cut from the templates on pages 5 and 6.
I’m unclear on how the ear pieces attach and how the pattern goes together for those. Could you please explain? Thank you!