DIY Cosplay Helmet Part 1: Design the Pattern

We’re going to design a custom fit helmet, so the first thing we need to do is create a frame over the subject’s head to base a pattern from. Once we have a pattern, we’ll use it to cut out the foam parts to assemble back into a helmet. Let’s start with designing the pattern. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Construction Paper (anything that won’t easily tear)
  • Scotch Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors
  • Optional: PC w/Photoshop

Step 1: Research!

Collect a bunch of reference images and start to plan your attack. At this stage, I’m looking at the overall shape and ignoring details like the “ears” and complexities like in the cheek. I’m noting that this the form is largely symmetrical. The helmet is slightly wider at its base and its chin in longer than the back of the head. We’ll build a frame with these notes in mind.

Step 2: Hang the Frame

Cut strips of paper and tape together a frame for the mask. I started with the horizontal headband and hung four long vertical strips down from the top of the head to cover the front, left, right, and back sides of the head. I’m marking general places for where the eye slit should be, where the nose/mouth/chin sit, and where the base of the helmet should be on its front/side/back.

Step 3: Fill in the Structure

Trim the vertical strips and tape up some more cross strips to fill out the skeleton of the helmet. At this stage I’ve made sure to widen out the base of helmet since I noted that it’s wider there. I’ve pencilled in more detail about where the eye slits will be.

Now take strips of duct tape and give half of the frame a “skin”. We will eventually cut this skin up and flatten it out to create our pattern. We only need half because the helmet is symmetrical so we can mirror our pattern to complete the other side.

Step 4: Mark Up the Skin

Using a permanent marker, subdivide the duct tape skin into smaller pieces. These cut lines are indicated by red below. I’ve chosen to have most of the seams follow the natural breaks in the materials. Use your permanent marker to add some smaller guide lines (purple below) to help you line things up later on when the templated piece is eventually going to be reassembled. You may want to label these pieces to indicate what is front/back, up/down, left/right. Once these pieces are cut up it may be hard to understand what’s what so mark it up for future you.

Step 5: Cut Up the Skin

Now that you’ve got your cut lines all figured out, cut up your skin and lay it flat. For the peices that don’t lay perfectly flat, cut a slit or two until it’s able to lay perfectly flat. These pieces are going to serve as our pattern to cut foam pieces from.

Step 6: Scale Up the Pattern

If we were to use these pieces as cutout guides as they are, the mask will end up being too small because we haven’t yet taken into account the thickness of the foam. We need to scale these parts up by about 15~20% it’s current size to account for that thickness. You can do this by hand or, if you’re anal like me, you can scan them into a computer and do it in an image editing application like Photoshop where you can clean up the lines while you’re at it. To do that, I took a pictures of the various pieces against a common background and a ruler so I could scale the pictures to match. I then rearranged them to fit on two 8.5×11″ sheets of paper. Using the pen tool, I made cleaner vector lines and printed these out.

Step 7: Print Out the Pattern

Congratulations! You’ve now got a reusable pattern. Cut up the pieces and set them aside. You’re now ready for Part 2: Construct the Form.

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