Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's Make Cosplay: Lightweight Horns for Head

In this tutorial I will cover how to make a set of lightweight horns for your head. When making horns for your head you want to make sure they are light. If you make heavy horns for your head it will drag on your head and put pressure on your neck and spine. They can also fall off and move around, which is less than ideal. Making them lighter will make it easier to mount, and for horns like these you will want them mounted fairly well. 

I chose to use the following materials: EPS foam, shish-kabob skewers, plaster of paris, gesso, wonderflex, yellow and papaya acrylic paint, head band, cement glue, and varnish.
I used the following tools: hand saw, wasp, paint brush, sponge brush, 60 and 180 sanding sponge, and yanky push drill. 

To begin with, I opted to use a headband to stabilize the horns. They would provide the best method of securing and stabilizing the long horns to your head. DO NOT use spirit gum or prosthetic adhesive. Those kind of materials are dangerous to use with horns that are as big as the ones we are making in this tutorial because they can damage your skin when they fall off and they won’t last that long. It’s best and easier to use a headband. Many artists chose to use prosthetic glue to fasten the horns onto their heads because they see actors use it for their props. However, actors don’t wear horns for extended periods of time and prosthetic glue is not a good idea if you want to use it to keep your horns on all day long during a convention. The easiest way to do this is to put a headband underneath the wig and attach the horns to the headband through the wig.

To start the prop I decided to begin with foam. Take your saw and you can begin to cut the basic shape out of the foam with the saw. After you cut the basic shape you can use the rasp to give it a basic round form. Since foam needs to be smoothed out I chose to use a rough sanding sponge (60) to smooth out the foam and to get the large pink pieces out of the horns.

Once you’re done shaping and smoothing your horns out of the foam you will want to reinforce the horns internally so that they have more rigidity and stability. I took skewers and pushed them into the horns so they would be more stable. I also used the skewers to mount the horns to the headband by drilling holes into the headband and then gluing them into place. After that, you will need to take some wonderflex and use it to cover over the foam. This will act as a coating over the foam because you will need to cover the horns with some plaster of paris. The plaster of paris will peel off the foam so the wonderflex will act as a base for the plaster of paris to stick to. Apply the wonderflex to the skewer portion in the headband as well.

However, as you put the wonderflex around the side of the horns you need to be careful so they don’t show around the side of the horns. In order to make sure the wonderflex doesn’t mold in an odd way around the edge of the horns I chose to stop the wonderflex about an inch or so above the end of the horn. This way, the edge would not fold funny and it would be hidden with the wig.

Now it’s time to coat the horns in plaster of paris. I chose to start with a plaster of paris mix mixed with water because this creates a smoother application. I also expected that the horns wouldn’t be worn for long lengths of time, given that the horns were much bigger than the six inch rule that most conventions have in place. After the plaster of paris fully dried, I took a sanding sponge and sanded down the plaster of paris to go with the brush strokes that I would use when I painted the horns. Then, I opted to use a traditional brush instead of a sponge brush to give the horns stream marks from the tip to the base so that they looked like horns.

Now, I’ve noticed that most people choose to paint the horns in yellow, orange, and red. However, these aren’t the correct colors. The colors tends to be a medium color between yellow and orange, which tends to be a difficult color to paint since you need a really dense pigment paint to paint yellow. Artist paints are usually the best pigmented paint but it is usually  extremely expensive. You’ll need to put in multiple layers. I opted to coat three thin layers of yellow on the entire horn as a base coat. Once I was happy with the color I mixed a papaya orange (which is a red orange ish color) with yellow to get the medium color I was looking for. In order to get a straight, crisp line, get some painters tape and wrap it around the section that you want to protect from paint. Start on top of the painter’s tape and brush away from it to get a nice line. I did two more layers of the mixed color paint over the initial coat and then did the same thing with the straight papaya paint on the last section of the horns.

These horns ended up light and durable enough that the headband wasn’t needed. The person I made these for ended up reshaping the wonderflex at the base of the horns into a bunch of tabs before he punched some holes into it so that he could sew the horns into the wefts of the wig. He painted the tabs and the bottom of the horns black before he varnished it with three layers of glossy varnish.
That’s our tutorial on these fun horns! If you have any questions, please feel free to check us out on Facebook or email us at finalcosplaycorps@yahoo.com!