Introduction: Darth Vader Helmet/Mask
Halloween is a time to push your creativity to the limits. Not only is it fun to make your own costume, it can be an amusing challenge to create something with items you already have at home. If you haven't had your recycling picked up yet, you'll probably have the bulk of what you need for this tutorial; the rest can be procured with a quick trip to Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.
-1 vegetable oil container, rinsed and drained
-1 milk jug (half gallon or gallon size), rinsed and drained
-Hot glue gun and sticks
-Black spray paint
-White or silver paint pen
-Optional: foam or batting to pad the interior
Step 1: Cut the First Plastic Jug
A large jug works best to create the sides and the portion that will rest atop your head. I used a vegetable oil container. With a sharpie, draw the outline of where you will cut, then carefully follow along that line with a razor knife. After creating the initial opening, I also cut into the top corners to help round out the naturally boxy shape of the container. Finally, I drew and cut down the centerline from the front (forehead portion) to the top (head portion) of the container. I did some additionally shaping of the front (not pictured) so that it rested comfortably above my eyes.
Step 2: (Optional) Insert Padding
If you happen to have leftover batting from a sewing project, use this to create a comfortable lining for the helmet. If not, a thin flexible foam of any kind will do. The amount needed to line the helmet will be between 1-2 feet. To get the best fit inside of your semi-spherical helmet shape, you will want to cut some slits. I found that an x-shape at the middle and 4 slits at each midpoint along the perimeter of the pad were sufficient for working the material into the dimensions of the inner dome. Once you have the padding laid out where you want it, hot glue it to the plastic container and trim any excess that's hanging out.
Step 3: Attach the Second Jug
Cut a milk jug along the seam that travels from the cap, down the handle, and all the way down to the base. Open and attach to the first jug with duct tape, positioning as shown in the photo. Cut and glue scrap cardboard pieces to the front, forming a smooth transition between the two helmet pieces. These can later be shaped to create a narrow brim like you see on the real Vader's helmet.
Step 4: Cover With Aluminum Foil
This step is probably the most self explanatory of all, and finally you will start seeing the project come together! You could just as easily cover the whole thing with duct tape instead, or perhaps try paper mache. It may take some trial and error to get the aluminum foil to your liking. I went through this process twice and I was pleased with the results of my second trial; the steps I followed then were 1) layering pieces of foil, 2) gluing them down, and 3) lightly sanding with a piece of very fine grit sandpaper to smooth the bigger folds.
Step 5: Create Face
The face piece is made using black felt with cardboard to create dimension. Use the front opening of the helmet to create the outline of a face that will fully enclose the Vader head. With scraps of cardboard, assemble a pyramid shape and long box shape as shown in the photos. Then locate where you will want the eyes and use that to guide the placement of the 3D nose/mouth elements. Glue down the cardboard pieces and cover with a second piece of black felt. Tuck the ends of the black felt under the cardboard, hot gluing as you go.
Note: helmet shown was already sprayed black because I did multiple trials ;)
Step 6: Attach and Detail Face
The face is attached using hot glue around the top edges and adhesive velcro strips near the bottom. The duct tape keeps the mask connected to the underside of helmet, while the velcro strips make it so that you can detach the sides of the face and more comfortably slip the helmet on and off. You can now use a paint pen to accentuate your 3D details from the previous step. I actually used a white chalkboard marker. At this point, some of the details may appear a bit rough, but everything will look better after the next step.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Spray paint the helmet with a good quality black spray paint like Rustoleum. You don't need to spray the felt face unless there are areas that you'd like to "correct." For example, I could see some traces of hot glue where I had connected the different face pieces. A dash of black spray paint covered them up nicely. I also lightly sprayed over the mouth grill drawn in the previous step. This resulted in a more subtle look rather than the obviously painted effect I had before.
Step 8: Awaken the Force
To achieve the most authentic look, apply black face paint around your eyes before donning the helmet. If you're silly like me, you can be classy happy hour Darth. Happy Halloween!
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