Iron Man Helmet...the Cheap-ish Way.




About: Hey, my names John. I'm a mechanical engineer for the Navy and I LOVE my job, my wife, and my life. It's ALL good.

Hello, everyone. I've got yet another simple, VERY fun yet time consuming instructable here. It is the Iron Man helmet from the pepakura files. Although it is similar to what others have done, this one is done entirely with thick paper, tape, spray adhesive and paint. This helmet is designed to be done for those looking for a great iron man suit and also being able to do it on a SMALL budget with readily available materials.

Step 1: Download and Print Files

what you will need is the Pepakura Viewer. It is a software package that allows the user to view 3D paper models. It is 100% free for everyone. The files I am using I have uploaded along with  a great helmet i found online and included are the hands, fingers and boots. I have not began on the boots due to time constraints such as finishing college. Although I have constructed the left hand (no pics available sorry). The fingers are scaled very nicely though the actual hand needs some fine tuning. With some good ingenuity and imagination, its easily attainable for good fitting pieces.

Step 2: Constructing

what you will need:
very sharp exacto knife.
medium to thick craft paper (i will get the exact type i used later)
spray adhesive such as tacky glue.
elmers glue
painters tape
cherry red, metallic gold and black paint.

Print out the helmet pieces and cut and tape together as many flat small pieces as possible so that they can be cut out of one solid piece of the craft paper and the folded. The tabs seen on the print outs can be ignored, just cut along the outer dotted lines and figure it out. Many small thin pieces can be neglected (such as the inner eye components and cheek parts unless you want EPIC movie quality), it just takes some thought about where to tape what and how to piece the helmet together. A lot of pieces are large and folded in on each other to be joined by tape. Although a hot glue gun would be more preferable for joining these pieces together. Such a case can be seen in the pic where tape was only used and masked with the two cans of tacky spray glue and coated with two layers of elmers glue.

A quick aside, the inner eye pieces can definitely be left out for those who wear glasses such as myself.

Once the pieces have been joined, the helmet begins to take shape and can be coated. Use the tack spray to coat the entire helmet inside and out for strength. The flexibility of the helmet after completion is surprisingly amazing. After sprau has dried, be sure to wipe off the excess that has accumulated as large dry particles, then you can simply use your finger to coat the helmet in elmers glue.

After everything has dried, begin painting. BE PATIENT and don't rush anything. Lightly tape off the parts that need to gold colored. I began with everything red, then used a walmart bag to wrap around the helmet and taped it down just before the face plate to be painted gold. The black parts were painted using just tape, no bag. The black was applied using a small (very small) brush.

Step 3: The Next Steps/Discussion

Okay, so with this one done and in the books, I am opening for discussion on how to make this helmet if not the entire suit similarly. I want to stray away form using the fiber glass resin although that would be awesome to do and the foam would be even better, but this is done with very little to be spent.

I am considering paper mache as an alternative. I have seen and read about masks and helmets for costumes being made out of paper mache. I know that it will harden like crazy and tend to be more brittle, but with multiple layers and coatings of the spray adhesive, it should be good. I hope for some feedback on these ideas as it would broaden my ideas for making this work and also kick start the ideas for the readers as well.

Thank you for your time and have fun with what ya do.

UPDATE: 15" x 20" Cold Press Illustration Board @ Hobby Lobby. I will find out if this is actually the one i used. I did this helmet a couple weeks ago at my home 4 hours from my college apartment. Updates will follow. Take care.

UPDATE (8/27): I went shopping at hobby lobby for some extra paper for another helmet (war machine) and I got the Paper needed. It is "COLORLINE 140lb 01 WHITE" rough textured paper that is $2.99.

Step 4: UPDATE!!!! 7/15/2016

Hello again everyone! I have decided to add a new helmet to this instructable with photos of the current progress. The file that I used for this new helmet is also uploaded as well. Keep in mind that I used the purchased version of Pepakura Designer 3 to edit the file and fit the helmet to my dimensions.

This helmet was created with cardboard, hot glue, Smoothcast 65D, and All Purpose Spackling. I edited the pepakura to print only 6 pages. As most of the mask pieces can be mirrored for left or right, I printed one side of the template only and used the trace pattern pieces to cut out two templates from cardboard; the left and right pieces. Cardboard allows for a strong structure and rigid frame to build from and allows for the glue to fill more area and build a stronger bond.

I had found that other cosplayers and craft enthusiasts recommended using Smoothcast 65D resign as an alternative to fiberglass resin or other strong resins. The Smoothcast is an equal amount two part resin mixture that needs to be slowly folded into itself and then must be used immediately within 2 minutes of mixture. A fast mixing of the resin will increase the temperature of the mixture and result in an accelerated curing time as well as adding air to the mixture. If too much air is in the mixture during curing, there is not enough time for it to escape and the surface will have pits and will need to be either sanded down or filled in. It is a rotocast type resin so before application to the helmet surface, I had created an outer wall barrier with clay to act as the mold of the cast.

I then mixed the appropriate amount (I found that 2 oz of both part A and B proved enough, sometimes too much, for one surface) and slowly poured the mixture onto the surface and then began to move and rotate the helmet to allow the resin to flow freely onto the surface while the clay had prevented the mixture from pouring all over the floor and off the helmet.

After many trials and having to shave the excess resin from the helmet, Spackling was used as a filler and then sanded down and blended into the surface. The faceplate is a great example of using the two part combo. The faceplate will be removed by hand much like many scenes in Iron Man 3. The faceplate will have a series of magnets glued in place and match with magnets in the helmet to secure it in place.

I still need to apply Smoothcast to the chin of the helmet, remove excess resin and blend in with adjacent surfaces, apply spackling and sand down to a smooth finish. Once all surface are smoothed out and blended in, the painting of the helmet will follow the same as the first helmet. Detailing may be done, but I would say that this helmet would look far better than the first attempt.

Also, with all the work added in I would say that this helmet took less time than the first attempt.

Step 5: Final Mk III Helmet, With Led Eyes

The chin was finished by building a barrier with clay and pouring the smoothcast resin inside.

One can of primer was enough to coat the entire helmet with multiple coats. Once can of red and one gold was used for the helmet and faceplate. Painters tape was used for the chin first, then allowed to dry. Tape was then applied over the gold to apply to the red.

The following video was a reference for lighting the eyes. I used a thinner/more see through plastic for the lenses.

I kept one of the led housing and used it as the battery holder and switch holder.

I had also used the existing terminals to act as the contact for the lights to activate once the faceplate is put on. I thought it was pretty clever and I am pretty proud of it.

That completes the Mk III helmet with light up eyes and detachable faceplate. Any questions, feel free to ask and I will get you an answer. Take care everyone and have fun!



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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I'm a little confused about the explaination of gluing the peakura peices together. All the designs I have found are very complex, and I don't want/have the time to make a complex one. How did you get yours to look so much simpler?

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I felt the same regards to the complexity and highly detailed helmets being made out there. I had spent time studying the various pieces within the pepakura software and seeing how they were connected and comparing the joint space to pictures and scenes from the movies. I then determined which pieces could sacrifice extreme detail and save on printer ink and also be printed on only one piece of paper. I have updated the instructable with a new helmet I am working on right now. I have also added a new file that I have edited and made even shorter. Once I finish this helmet, I will make a new highly detailed instructable. Please feel free to ask any more questions and Good Luck!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks so much! I am so excited to get started on this for my Halloween costume.


    5 years ago on Step 3



    6 years ago on Introduction

    what paper did you use??
    i tried to make fallout 3 helmet with normal printer paper but it wasnt good

    4 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    unfortunately, i don't have any on me. i didn't bother to get it down and i used it all. i found it at hobby lobby for $2.99. Its great paper and just with tape it definitely held its shape as if it were carved. I'll find out soon what I used. if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    i did mine in a span of about three days, but total hours would be under 60. (had to sleep, lol). With spray gluing and painting of course a couple more hours for good coats.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    the paper i used is NOT flexible. it keeps a flat profile and does nut buckle on itself and is sold by the sheet that at least 2ft by 2ft and the paper has a "textured" feel to it.