Introduction: Cardboard Batman Samurai Helmet

This is a mash-up idea I randomly had. Researching what an actual samurai helmet looks like and how it is constructed is the interesting part of doing something like this. Get inspired to make something from your imagination. There seems to be a Ninja Batman out there but not quite the same...

I made this Batman-themed Samurai Helmet. You can carry it further by making a full suit of Samurai armor.

Of course, you can also make Dark Helmet's helmet from the movie Spaceballs.

Step 1: Cardboardology

This is made from the cardboard salvaged from a medium to large shipping box.

It helps to have a head form to make it easier to glue up the initial helmet shape. The one I have seems sized smaller than an adult person's head. I even built the cardboard stand for it to make it steady when using. You can make a duct-tape dummy or get a dress form but you can do without. The irregular shape becomes gets unwieldy when making.

You can start out with a construction worker's helmet/hardhat for a base but I just sized the helmet to fit my head.

Cut strips of cardboard from the cut panels of the box. Cut across the corrugated grain of the cardboard to give you more flexible strips to form the helmet.

Be careful using scissors or a utility knife when cutting cardboard as it is tougher to work with than thin paper.

Make a ring to fit your head and then start gluing on strips to form the shape of the helmet.

Glue on a few strips of cardboard that extend out to make it easy to glue on parts for the visor and bottom back wrap.

Step 2: Roughing It...

Piece together all of the main shapes by gluing up pieces of cardboard.

No need for any actual measurements. Just go with it to get the look.

Go around the top portion with pie-shaped pieces. Glue the bottom part to the headband and curve in to the top center. Go around and repeat to fill in gaps.

Layer on as many pieces of cardboard necessary to give it strength when dry.

For bent shapes, you may have to prop them up until the glue is dry.

You can use paper clips, spring clamps, tape, pins or whatever to hold pieces of cardboard together until the glue sets up. Having a "pliers" type handheld stapler would be perfect to pin the parts together so you can move on to the next assembly.

Cut out final details when the glue is dry and the piece stiffens up. Cutting wet paper with scissors or a utility knife does not work well.

Step 3: Cover It Up...

To help smooth out all the rough edges and glued-up cardboard pieces, we turn to a bit of papier mache.

I have found that using paper towels and glue full strength from the bottle speeds up the process a bit. I use glue dispensed from on of those small squeeze bottle applicators and refill from a gallon-sized jug of glue.

Paper towels are a bit thicker than newspaper and when dried, has a subtle texture from the pattern that was embossed in the paper towel. I tack a piece of paper towel with a couple spots of glue and go back to saturate the area with glue.

When everything is wet and saturated with glue, it is easy to shape parts like pressing in a sharp corner. Keep adding layers as necessary to cover and add strength when dry. Smooth out the surface.

Step 4: Details, Details...

Add texture to the surfaces to make it look authentic otherwise it will look like you just made it out of cardboard. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

You could go all out with auto body fillers and 3D printed parts but just grab what you have laying around and glue it to the helmet.

In the model-making world, these odds and ends are called "greeblies" usually left over to taken from other models or incomplete projects. Recycle and reuse! Sustainable making!

Since the raw corrugated cardboard edges need to be filled in or covered, i could have papier mached them over but I just filled it in with the hot glue gun. I then used cord pieces cut from a hank of clothesline to line the edges of the panels. It adds depth and definition to the pieces.

I used the hot glue gun to "paint" some "veins" for the wings to make it look more realistic and animal-like.

I had some precut model plywood disks in various sizes to embellish the helmet panels.

I cut some strips of craft foam to use for lacing the bottom panels together. I punched some holes with an awl, put down some glue and pushed the ends of the foam strip in to make it look like it was actual lacing.

The finial or ball on top of the helmet is a wood ball and clothespin doll stand part.

I "primed" most of the helmet with a coat of glue to act as a primer for the paint and to help give a smoother finish to simulate the lacquered or leather surfaces on an actual samurai helmet.

Step 5: Old Paint...

Bare paper or cardboard should be primed with a base coat of paint since it it quite porous.

A wash of glue will provide that primer for the rest of the paint, especially over glossy slick surfaces like exposed hot glue.

Since we are looking to give this an aged and possible battle-worn look, we will go with a dark colors reminiscent of lacquered leather and antique gold.

Dry-brushing is a technique to use a brush that has a hint of paint on it "dry" and quickly brushed over the base color to give it that feathery metallic look. Highlights.

I am going for a golden visor and headpiece, with an lacquered leather iron-like cap and leather bottom piece.

When dry, I attached the Batman bat logo in the center of the top ring by hot gluing it to "invisible" monofilament fishing line cross hairs. It looks like it is suspended in mid-air.

I also hot glued ends of the chin straps to the inside of the helmet. The straps are rope inside of a fabric tube I sewn from a strip of black scrap fabric. I didn't have any thick fancy braided cord to use and braiding some paracord would look out of place. Speaking of anachronisms...

And... I stuck in two candle fade red LEDs to light up the eyes. These LEDs blink automatically without the need for other electronics. They are powered by a single 3 volt coin cell battery. I guess I had to.

So there you have it. Make one yourself.


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