How to Make a Skyrim Iron Helmet (From Paper to Prop)




Hail Dovakhiin! This Instructable will teach you how to take a 3D model and turn it into a real, solid, sturdy prop. Specifically, I will be creating the iron helmet from Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. As my entrance to the Make it Real challenge, this focuses on the person with minimal tools, materials, and budget. The easiest way to turn a digital 3D model into a tangible thing is by 3D printing or laser cutting, but not just anybody can do that. If you have paper,  glue, and a couple bucks you can follow this Instructable. This process involves finding (or making, if you know how. I don't) a papercraft of your model, building it, and turning that paper model into something a little more solid. You can use the concepts I will teach you here and apply them to a statue, a knife, a Pokemon or anything you can think of, not just this specific helmet. Let's get started!

Step 1: Building the Papercraft

So what is papercraft? defines papercraft as "a hobby where computer images are printed, cut into pieces, and glued into a 3-dimensional model." I used z8-0's Iron Helmet Papercraft, which can be found at To assemble your model you will need:

-Card Stock Paper
-Exacto Knife
-Something sharp for scoring/the aforementioned exacto knife
-Tacky Glue

The glue must be tacky for good results! A glue stick won't cut it. Print your papercraft (this one is 13 pages long), and make sure you are using the version with the fold lines and edge numbers. Now build your model! If you want more precise directions, take a look at this ( beginner tutorial and this ( advanced tutorial and read both. I am going to assume you can build your model without my help. Make sure not to attach the horns yet, as they are far too likely to crush in the coming steps without a little extra help. Also, a more experience papercrafter might want to make certain parts of this model without creasing their folds, such as the horns and the dome of the head for a smoother look.

Step 2: Fill the Horns

There are two ways to do this: the way I ended up doing it, and the way you should. I lined the sides of the horns with duct tape, then stuffed small balls of duct tape in and covered the hole. This was strong, but if I had the spray foam at the time I would have used that. So I recommend lining the sides with the duct tape, then filling with spray foam. This is really up to you.

Then I glued the horns on and secured them with duct tape. With the extra weight of the horns I had to use cardboard to keep the helmet in the correct shape. Make sure you can take this out later.

Step 3:

First, take some wood sealer or some kind of spray enamel and coat the helmet. This will help your paper from bending under the weight and wetness of the paper-mache. Do a few coats. When it is dry, apply the paper-mache. Use long strips for stability and do at least two layers. For glue just water down some school glue clothing starch, no need for anything fancy.

Step 4: Spackle Time

I didn't have the spray foam yet, so I couldn't do the inside yet. But if you have yours, just do all that now. Just skip ahead a few steps and I'll go into detail, then come back here. Anyway. For texture and more strength, coat the whole thing in a layer or two of spackling paste. Then, sand it down until it's nice and smooth.

Step 5:

Once the spackle dries, wrap the horns with a thin twine or string and use tape to keep it in place. The goal is to make ridges when you put another layer of paper-mache on. Once the string is in place, go ahead and put yet another layer of paper-mache and spackle on. These puppies ain't gonna crush on your watch. Once all that is dry, coat the whole thing in a waterproofer. This water proofs it, but the main purpose is to give a smoother more plasticy texture to paint on, as spackle can chip and dent too easily without it. Give it a few coats, make sure to follow the directions on the can, it might take a few days.

Step 6:

Ok, Here is where I did the spray foam. If I had had this at the start, I would have filled the horns first and stuff, but that's ok. Coat the sides, and don't be afraid to coat that sucker, you will be cutting it back after. Then put some duct tape across the gap to make sure it doesn't warp the helmet as it dries. Spray a little water on it to speed it up if you want. Once it's dry, use a dremel with a cutting but and even out the foam. Make sure it sits nice on your head. Sand it out and cover the entire interior with duct tape, paper-mache, and spackle. It get's a bit old, I know.

Step 7:

Painting time! At last! First, just prime the horns in white, and the metal parts in black. Make sure to get the inside. Do a couple coats. Ok, now take some miniature brads and cut off the tails. Hot glue these on like the one in the game. Get some reference pictures or look at the model, I didn't photograph all of them. For the center one, I used the head of a large nail. Once those are glued on, spray the black parts with silver spray paint, but stand back and use it sparingly. It should just be lightly speckled with silver. Now actually brush some on the "rivets" and the dges and smudge it around. You can paint some rusty areas if you like too. There are some other good tutorials on making a metal effect if you need more detail.

Step 8:

Hail Dovakhiin, DRAGONBORN!

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    37 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 6

    try to use foam without isocyanates. iso-cyanate is is carcinogen. there are ioscyanate free spray foams available. still not "healthy" but way less harmfull then isocy. .

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Well, I have never worn it longer than 10 seconds, it is mostly shelf art until someone asks to use it as a movie prop or something. But thank you for the tip!

    Void Schism

    7 years ago on Step 3

    It's a good idea not to use brand names, such as "Elmers", as these are often not available in other countries. It is better to use the type of glue (eg. "woodglue"), or the chemical name (eg. "PVA") to make your 'ible more globalised.

    Other than that, love it!

    3 replies
    justjimAZVoid Schism

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I disagree, Void Schism. While it IS a good idea to know and mention generic terms like PVA glue or spray paint for plastic, it is valuable to be as specific as possible about brand names and product names.

    This allows those in the same country to get the specific items if they choose, and also to find substitutes as close to the original as possible. If I walk into a store and ask for PVA glue, I may not get a useful response. If I say I need something like Elmer's Glue All, I am far more likely to get what I need. It is also easier to look up specs on the internet.

    I would go so far as to say use specific product names like "Elmer's Glue All" or "Krylon Fusion Hammered Metal" or "Liquid Nails Heavy Duty", since a company may have several products that look similar but are not identical.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

    For other users outside the US of A it's hard to get a substitute for a specific brand name product series.
    "Elmer's glue all" can be everything from cyano- to woodglue.
    A specific product description of it's attributes and characteristics is the essential thing.

    "a tacky non-transparent/transparent, viscous paper glue" is far more convicing then "get your Elmers XX Glue".

    Brand names are not redundant but, no offence justjimAZ, googeling for the characteristics of some brand name product to find a substitute in other countries is often a pain.

    anyways, awesome instructable !


    7 years ago on Step 2

    how exactly did you do the duct tape lining inside the horns ?
    did you first glued the paper pieces together and lined the inside as far as you could get it ?

    or did you lined the duct tape on the inside-side of the paper pieces BEFORE you glued them together ??

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    from the first picture I can see you glued the pieces together and the lined the inside with duct tape.