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Make Loki's horned headpiece at home

This easy, inexpensive DIY lets you put your own spin on this Asgardian royal symbol.

This easy, inexpensive DIY lets you put your own spin on this Asgardian royal symbol

(Photo: OOC Photography)

Whether you're a longtime cosplayer and follower of the God of Mischief, or a new fan who found him in the Disney+ series LOKI looking to be him for Halloween, this guide is for you. 

I'll walk you through all the steps needed to make a beautiful headpiece that you can wear again and again. This was the first cosplay accessory that I ever made myself and I can attest that it's both beginner friendly and affordable. Even if you're an experienced cosplayer, you can make this and save your money — it'll look fantastic.

It's based on the headpiece that Loki wears in the Agent of Asgard comics, but you can easily tweak its design if you want to use it for the President Loki variant, who appears in the Disney+ show and comic miniseries. 

You will need:

  • Reference images for the headpiece (use stills from the show and/or panels from the comics, both of which you can find by doing a quick internet search)
  • A pencil
  • A pencil eraser
  • A ballpoint pen
  • A ruler (flexible ruler preferred but not mandatory)
  • Scissors 
  • 1 oz/30 ml  of gold acrylic paint, 1 oz/30 ml 
  • A large paintbrush
  • A geometry compass
  • Masking tape
  • Needle and thread (any colour)
  • White school glue
  • Water
  • Mod podge, 8 oz/237 ml
  • Approximately 20 sheets of letter-sized scrap paper
  • Approximately 10 newspaper sheets
  • An empty cereal box or other thin cardboard paper
  • Craft foam (I used two sheets of 12"x18"/30.4 cm x 45.7 cm foam. You may need a larger size or more sheets depending on how big your headpiece will be).
  • 1 metre of elastic, 0.5 cm thick
  • A stiff, curved object to hold the shape of your headpiece while it dries

Step 1: Make templates

Fold a sheet of scrap paper in half widthways. Using your reference images, sketch half of the shape you want for the body of your headpiece.

Each artist draws Loki's headpiece differently so there's room for artistic license and flexibility. I chose a more angular look. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Cut out your shape and unfold it. Hold the shape up to your face as you'd wear your headpiece. Don't worry that it's flat — you'll make it curved in Step 4.

If you don't like it, or if it's not sitting right, take a fresh piece of paper and draw another shape. If you don't like it but are unsure of how you want to change it, trace the shape you didn't like and draw over it instead of drawing an entirely new shape every time. Take the time to come up with a shape that works for you. Trial and error, I've learned, is the key to cosplay crafting success.

I ended up with about 20 “failed” shapes before I made one that I liked. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Repeat as many times as needed. When you're satisfied with the template for the body of your headpiece, it's time to mark where you want your horns to be.

Remember that your headpiece will have a raised rim all the way around it that's approximately 0.5 cm in width. Be sure to leave enough space for the rim when deciding where the bases of your horns will sit.

I put my horns in each 'peak' of the headpiece. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Decide how wide you want the bases of your horns to be. I made mine 3 cm in diameter. Use the compass to draw matching circles. Place them as symmetrically as possible. I shaded mine for visibility. 

Next, you'll need to make the templates for the horns themselves. Use another folded piece of paper — this time so you can draw the horn's shape once and cut both templates at the same time. The bottom of the horn should be the same height as the diameter of the circle you drew on the body template.

Sketch it, see how it looks, tweak it.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Cut out your horn templates. To see if they're the right size, tape the horns to your template for the body of the headpiece and hold the whole thing up to your face in order to get a sense of how big the finished product will be and how it will sit. 

Ta-da! You have a pair of horns. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Now, onto the template for the centre detail. Once again, fold a sheet of paper and draw half of the shape of the emblem. Keep sketching shapes until you're happy.

This piece is a little harder to visualize but again, the look of the centre detail changes depending on the artist, so choose your favourite iteration from your reference images.

Cut out the template for your centre detail.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Use your templates to trace the shapes onto the back of your cereal box (or other thin cardboard) and then cut them out. You'll need the cardboard horn and centre detail templates to construct the headpiece; the cardboard body template is just for when you're tracing the shape onto the craft foam later.

At this stage, migrating the templates to cardboard means you have another chance to tweak the designs if you want. Make sure to also trace the circles that show where your horns will go. Then use the exacto knife to cut them out.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Stage 2: Make the body of the headpiece 

At this stage, you should have cardboard templates for the horns, the centre detail, and the body of the headpiece. Take the template for the body of the headpiece and set the rest aside.

Place the cardboard template on your sheet of foam and trace it. Use the pen for this, since the pencil may not show up as well.

At its thickest, the body of the headpiece is made of three layers of foam. Cut out your body template three times. I was able to fit two cutouts on one sheet of foam, but you may need more space.

If you're having trouble keeping the cardboard template still, roll up a piece of masking tape with the sticky side facing outwards and stick it between your template and the foam to stop it from moving around.

Believe it or not, that white stuff in the picture is foam. The angle of the photo makes it look thinner than it is. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Once you have your three identical foam shapes, choose one to be the rim and one to be the middle layer. Set the other one aside for now.

Take your rim piece and mark a series of little lines 0.5 cm away from the edge. Use a ruler to ensure a consistent width.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Join the lines together to create the outline for the raised rim of the headpiece. It should look like you've drawn a smaller headpiece shape on the inside.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Cut along the 0.5 cm strip that you just drew. This strip will be the rim of the headpiece. Set the rim aside.

On the piece of foam that you designated as the middle earlier, mark where you want your horns to go, using your cardboard template.

When you're done, you should have a middle piece and a rim piece that look like this:

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Use an exacto knife to cut out the circles from the middle layer piece and glue the rim piece on top of the middle layer piece. Since you made them both using the exact same template, the rim should sit naturally at the edge of the middle layer piece, as shown below:

The two pieces are stacked in place as they will be during the final assembly. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Cover the whole thing with a coat of white glue, spreading it evenly so it doesn't clump. Leave it to dry.

Stage 3: Make the horns and centre detail

Remember those cardboard templates you made for the horns and centre detail back in Stage 1? You'll need them in the construction of the headpiece itself.

If you want to keep a copy of the cardboard templates for the horns and the centre detail, trace around them and make new ones. Save one set and use the other set for the headpiece.

Use your ruler to measure the length of your horn template down the middle, accounting for its curvature. If you have a flexible ruler, simply curve your ruler to align with the curve of the template. If you don't have a flexible ruler, it's perfectly fine to eyeball it (which is what I did).

Cut out a strip of cardboard, the width of which should be half the diameter of your horn base (1.5 cm if you chose to make your measurements the same as mine). The length should be the same as the length of the template that you just measured.

Since you want your horns to taper, cut a curve at the top of the strip.

Cut one more long, thin strip with the same dimensions as your first one. When you cut the curve, make sure you cut it in the opposite direction. At this stage, you should have these pieces:

A horn template and two strips. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Take one of your strips and place it perpendicular to your cardboard horn template. Bend it to follow the curve of your horn and use the masking tape to tape it in place. Make sure the strip stays at a 90-degree angle to the horn shape.

When you're done, you should have a structure that looks like this:

To keep with the angular look I wanted, I created this structure. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Do the same for the other side of your first horn, and again for the second horn. It's the same procedure: cut thin strips that curve at the end, bend and tape. When you're done, you should end up with two of these: 

The finished horn structure. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

The centre detail works in much the same way; draw a line on your cardboard template to mark the centre. You'll find it easier to judge how long to make each strip. How thick it is in the centre is up to you. You'll also need to make a tiny triangle in place of a strip for the bottom of the decoration.

I did mine by eye and ended up with this: 

The finished decoration structure. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Now you have all the base pieces to start your papier-mâché. To make the papier-mâché paste, mix three parts glue and one part water together in a bowl.

I used newspaper strips that were an inch wide for the horns and half an inch wide for the headpiece decoration.  

Dip your strips in the paste and make sure they're fully coated. Wrap your strips around the horn bases, using the structure for support. Make them as smooth as possible. Keep your paper strips taut but don't pull them too hard or they will tear.

This photo is a recreation of the original process, which is why my paper strips look dry. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Do this until you're satisfied with your coverage. You don't want to have too many layers because that might make the horns too thick to attach to the headpiece body later.

Leave them to dry.

The horns, after papier-mâché. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)
The headpiece decoration, after papier-mâché. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Once they're dry, roll up some of those newspaper strips and stuff them in the end of the horn shell. The purpose of this is to create friction to make the glue more effective.

(Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Cut out a small square of cardboard and glue the base of the horn to this piece of cardboard. Use masking tape to secure it further if you need to.

Stage 4: Put it all together

At this stage, you have the body of the headpiece with a raised rim, one foam cutout, two papier-mâché horns, and a papier-mâché centre detail. Here's where everything comes together.

The remaining piece of foam cutout is the bottom of the headpiece and is the part that will make contact with your head when you wear it. The next step is sewing the elastic to this piece of foam. 

Start by sewing your elastic to one side of the foam piece. Don't cut your elastic yet. Make sure that the raw edge of the elastic is far enough away from the edge of the foam piece that it won't tear if stretched. I would also recommend that you sew it facing upwards so that the elastic will be sandwiched between the two pieces of foam when they're eventually put together.

There are two strips of elastic in total, so plan for one near the bottom and one just below the peak of the headpiece base.

To figure out how much elastic to use, hold the piece of foam up to your face, just like you did with the paper template before. Pull the elastic around the back of your head. I recommend pulling the elastic loosely, so you're not stretching it. Hold the place where it would join the other side of the headpiece between your finger and thumb.

Measure 1 inch back (shorter) from the place where you're holding the elastic and cut it there. This is to accommodate the fact that the elastic will stretch while you wear it, which will keep it in place. Sew it to the other side of your bottom foam piece.

Repeat for the second piece of elastic near the top of the headpiece body.

This image shows marks where the elastic should be sewn. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Now you're going to glue the whole thing together.

Use your paintbrush to coat the upper side of the bottom foam piece where you can see that the elastic has been sewn. Slip the tips of your horn first through the holes in the middle piece (that is now attached to the rim). The cardboard base you affixed earlier will stop the horns from sliding all the way through. With the horns in the holes, align your two pieces of foam perfectly on top of each other. The cardboard base of the horn should be sandwiched between the foam layers, as should the ends of the elastic.

This is an exercise in layering. From the top down: Rim piece, middle piece, horn and cardboard base, bottom piece. The elastic should be visible when added. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Place the decoration piece in the centre and glue it to the top of the headpiece.

Press all the layers together and then use your paintbrush to cover the whole thing in a thin layer of mod podge. You will need to do several coats. Wait until each coat has dried before applying the next.

When you leave the headpiece to dry, bend it slightly. This is to get it to dry in a curved shape. I used a half-empty bag of flour that I rolled up and curved to create a stiff shape to rest the headpiece. The weight of the horns should help you form the curve.

My headpiece when it was drying. I curved it over a rolled-up bag of flour and used a tube of cling-film to support the horns. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Once it's dry and sealed, check that all the pieces are secure by pulling the horns gently. They should stay in place and the whole structure should be solid. If you need to apply more mod podge, now's the time to do that. 

If you're satisfied with how it looks, you can move on to painting it. Several thin coats of paint are better than one thick coat. Make sure the paint is evenly spread. Be careful not to miss any spots.

The painted headpiece. (Photo: Sebastian Yūe)

Leave it to dry, and then you're done! Enjoy wearing your new headpiece!

(Photo: OOC Photography)

Sebastian Yūe is a cosplayer, model, and game designer. They have appeared in commercials for the Toronto Blue Jays and Milky Way. Sebastian placed first in the Journeyman category of FanExpo Canada's Masters of Cosplay Competition in 2018 in a joint entry with costume designer Morgan Eilish. Follow them on Twitter here.

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