Introduction: How to Make a Cardboard Costume Helmet

Picture of How to Make a Cardboard Costume Helmet

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.

You'll also need some white glue, sandpaper, a hot glue gun, some lightweight spackling paste, an X-Acto knife and some Minwax Polycrylic sealer.

Step 2: First Form the Base

Picture of 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.

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


starwarsfanatic95 (author)2008-12-29

so finished the helmet(had alot of fun building it).im trying to build this u think i should use the newpapaer board or should i use a boba fett helmet as a base and paper mache from there on.

Depending on the amount of work you want to do, you can A. buy one from a dealer for about 140 dollars on the clone trooper forums. B. use Pepakura cut out all the parts, then fiberglass/resin them together bondo the whole thing. Or C. sculpt one from clay then cast it and end up with one as produced by method A.

If you really want one my recommendation is to contact Evo3 he's a fantastic bucket maker he made mine as seen in my photo. The first image is the blank he sent me the second is my paint job.

DaveAnh_Nguyen (author)syates32015-12-26

Hi syates3 ! your helmet is beautiful ! how much money you paid to Evo3 to he makes your helmet ?

syates3 (author)DaveAnh_Nguyen2015-12-26

I think it was 140, for the blank. I spent about 20 hours on and off painting to get all the weathering and details along with taping masking etc.

DaveAnh_Nguyen (author)syates32015-12-27

Thanks for your answer. 140$ ? I live in France so maybe it's complicated. Apparently he doesn't have a website.

syates3 (author)DaveAnh_Nguyen2015-12-28

He has a facebook page. You can submit your orders via message and then pay with paypal. I dunno how he handles international shipping though.

DaveAnh_Nguyen (author)syates32015-12-27

We can't see with the helmet in the head ?

syates3 (author)DaveAnh_Nguyen2015-12-26 that's his page you can contact him there he also does Tie-fighters, Animated Arc Troopers, Clone troopers and a few others.

I would say paper mesche and/or pepakura.

Honus (author)starwarsfanatic952008-12-29

I'd make it from scratch- it's too different. You might do a search and see if someone has already made a template for it.

koopatroopa (author)2009-11-01

Here is my helmet i used the cardboard at the bottom but used plaster for the top

Anoop101 (author)koopatroopa2009-11-12

 Its awesome

Honus (author)koopatroopa2009-11-01


Honus (author)2008-07-20

Here's a preview for the next cardboard project- Rocketeer! I've always wanted to do this one. The helmet patterns are almost finished and then comes the jetpack..... stay tuned for Halloween. :)

Chicken2209 (author)Honus2008-10-26

hows the rocketeer helmet coming?

Honus (author)Chicken22092008-10-26

It's getting there but it's going to be a while before the project is finished.

Chicken2209 (author)Honus2008-10-27

cool, i wish i could do something as cool and inspirational as this

noxvox (author)Honus2008-08-27

Gasp! I love that movie, and no one's ever heard of it! Stop encouraging my fetish for heroes with jet packs. Great job BTW.
For those of you who want to make helmets on the cheap, art stores sometimes sell silver reflective paper that looks a lot like metal until creased. For some reason, my school had reams of it, so I used it to make a murmyllow sp* gladiator helmet (one with a fish crest). It stayed in my car for months and I wore it occasionally to scare other drivers.

Mr.NHRA (author)Honus2008-08-23

I see the dome of the helmet looks to be tricky. I measured around the boba fett helmet and then blew up a balloon to that size. then i paper machete the balloon. it worked great and was so easy compared to all those triangles.

minerug (author)Mr.NHRA2008-08-26

bloody good idea

minerug (author)Honus2008-08-10

On the topic of blender, do you have to model the helm from scratch, or can you upload a pic or something?

Honus (author)minerug2008-08-10

I had to model it from scratch based on reference photos.

musicninja17 (author)Honus2008-08-15

But you can upload a pic to paste into the backround of blender so you can kind of trace over it in 3d.

minerug (author)musicninja172008-08-16


Honus (author)musicninja172008-08-16

You sure can- the trick is to get them scaled the same.

minerug (author)Honus2008-08-10

Could you send me the .blend file of your rocketeer helm, I am interested in modifieing it to suit the helm I am designing. (

Honus (author)minerug2008-08-11

Sorry, but I'm not posting it until it's finished- there's still a lot of work to do! There are a ton of online Blender tutorials- just click the help button in Blender.

minerug (author)Honus2008-08-12

ok, np

musicninja17 (author)minerug2008-08-15

Also look up blender noob to pro wikibook. Its THE BEST learning guide!

minerug (author)musicninja172008-08-16

ok, thanks

minerug (author)Honus2008-08-10

How long doe it take to make a pattern like the rocketeer?

Honus (author)minerug2008-08-10

I could probably do the 3d design in a couple of hours now that I sort of know what I'm doing. A really complicated design could take several days.

musicninja17 (author)Honus2008-08-07

Holy crap its blender!!! I lOve blender! but how do you make the template? (into a flat page that is?) How exactly could you do that in blender without having to manipulate all the edges yourself?

Honus (author)musicninja172008-08-08

Blender is great! This is actually the first 3d object I've ever done. Make your model in Blender and then import it into Pepakura Designer to make your template. Pepakura is just awesome.

musicninja17 (author)Honus2008-08-08

One question though--- how exactly do you get the .blend file into a usable extension??

Honus (author)musicninja172008-08-08

You have to export it as a 3d file such as .obj or .3ds

chinchymork (author)Honus2008-08-09


musicninja17 (author)Honus2008-08-08

Dude thanks! Pepakura rocks!

cisco3609 (author)2007-11-04

Here is my spartan helmet

diablo_03 (author)cisco36092008-10-23

hello i love this helmet, you are great. can you please tell me how you did it? what are the measurements that you took? thanks allot.

Honus (author)cisco36092007-11-05


cisco3609 (author)2007-11-04


SpikeCoatsA (author)2007-09-02

For those whom this may concern, I've revised that Leonidas Spartan template to make it look more like it did on the movie.

SpikeCoatsA (author)SpikeCoatsA2007-10-15

Here are some pics of my helmet. It's made from a child's batting helmet (I cut out most of the padding for it to fit), I cut off the visor and about 1/4 of the back of the helmet (the back is actually the front. I cut the faceplate out of two paper notebooks (the cardboard in the back). I used gorrilla glue to glue it on and duct tape to hold it in place while it was drying. for the crest I cut a couple pieces of some thin board, glued it on, put play-do inside of it, then I used bristles from an old broom to stick in the play-do. Then I sprayed it down with metallic gold spray paint. I used black paint for the crest

Honus (author)SpikeCoatsA2007-10-16

Great job!

omnikin (author)SpikeCoatsA2007-10-16

Awesome! What did you cut the batting helmet with? Also, what are the measurements for the revised face plate? I'm making a similar one.

SpikeCoatsA (author)omnikin2007-10-16

The faceplate measurements are as is, except I went ahead and stretched out the top as far as I could. I cut the helmet with a jig saw.

morrisona2022 (author)2017-11-04

Hi, Honus. I'm using part of this design for my first instructable. I'm making a statue of K2SO, and needed a little help starting the head. I give reference to this link, and you get credit for the design. Hope you don't mind.

morrisona2022 (author)2017-11-01

FANTASTIC!!!!!!!! I'm gonna be busy making a LOT of Star Wars stuff.

GLaDOS_ (author)2017-02-04

i haven't tried it yet

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a former bicycle industry designer turned professional jeweler. I like working with my hands and am happiest when I'm in the shop ... More »
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