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How to make Loki's headpiece without breaking the bank

I published this tutorial to this blog in 2017 and I pitched it to CBC Life in 2021 after LOKI was released on Disney+. It was accepted and I had the chance to revise it, mainly adjusting the language for clarity. You can find the improved tutorial at its new home here!

Over the summer, I made my first cosplay. I worked with a friend who showed me how to draft a pattern. Through trial and error, I made something wearable and I'm pretty pleased with how everything came together.

Me in costume as Loki at FanExpo Canada in 2017. Photo via OOC Photography

I am especially happy with how the headpiece turned out. It's the cheapest part of the costume by miles — it's made mostly from recycled materials, which means it's super eco-friendly too! If you're working on a limited budget, this is the tutorial for you.

If my instructions are unclear or you get stuck somewhere, feel free to shoot me a message and I'd love to help you with your project!

Sound good? Let's get started!

You will need:

  • Reference images

  • for the headpiece

  • Pencil

  • Eraser

  • Ruler (flexible is better, but don't worry if you don't have a flexi one)

  • Scissors

  • Paintbrush

  • Pair of compasses

  • Masking tape

  • Needle and thread (any colour)

  • White glue

  • Water

  • Mod podge (8 oz/237 ml pot)

  • Gold paint

  • Scrap paper, approx. 30 sheets (I used letter-size)

  • Newspaper

  • Thin cardboard (a cereal box is perfect)

  • 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).

  • Elastic (I got 1 metre, which was more than enough. I also chose black so it would blend with my hair)

  • Mirror

  • A large cup or other object with a curved side

  • Disposable gloves (optional)

If you have literally none of the above, I'd estimate the cost at about $40-$50 CAD if you buy the basics from your local dollar store. I personally spent about half of that (the only things I had to buy were the elastic, the paint, the mod podge, and the foam). If you have stationery and can find some old newspaper, you're in a pretty good position already.

Stage 1: Make the templates for the body of the headpiece, horns, and decoration

Fold your scrap paper in half widthways and sketch half of the shape you want for your headpiece body.

Cut out your shape and unfold it. Because you folded it in half and then drew half, your headpiece body should be symmetrical.

Take your mirror and hold your shape up to your face as you would wear your headpiece. Don't worry about curvature, there's further instruction on that later.

Each artist draws Loki's headpiece differently so there's room for artistic license and flexibility. I chose a more angular look.

If you don't like it or it's not sitting right, take a fresh piece of paper and draw another shape. I found it helpful to trace the shape that wasn't working and change it, as opposed to drawing an entirely new shape every time.

Repeat as many times as needed. I think I had about 20 or so failed shapes before I made one I liked.

After you're satisfied with your headpiece body template, you've got to sketch the horns and the decoration. At this point, you'll have to decide how wide you want the diameter of the horn base to be.

Trace the failed shape faintly and then you can keep the aspects of it that worked, and change the things that didn't.

Remember that your headpiece will have a raised rim all the way around that's approximately 0.5 cm in width, so make sure that you plan to have enough space between the rim and your horn bases.

I chose for my horn bases to have a 3 cm diameter. Use your compasses to mark where the bases will be.

Pick a placement for the horns and do your best to get them symmetrical. In this photo, I didn't do a great job but for my actual project, I put mine in each 'peak' of the headpiece.

When sketching your horns, make sure that the part representing the base is the same length as the diameter of the circle you just marked on your headpiece body template.

Take the time to come up with a shape that works for you. Trial and error, I've learned, is the key to cosplay success.

You might want to sketch on a folded piece of paper again so that you can cut the templates for both horns at once. Or you can just sketch it twice. Either way, do the same as you did for the body template. Sketch, see how it looks, tweak it.

Cut out your horn templates. If you like, you can tape them to your paper body template and hold the whole thing up to your face to get a slightly better idea of how big the finished product will be and how it'll sit.

Ta-da! You have a pair of horns.

Now, onto the decoration template. Follow the same process that you used to sketch the headpiece body and horn templates: fold a sheet of paper, keep sketching shapes until you're happy. You can use leftover paper from your body template to minimize waste. This piece is a little harder to visualize but again, the look of the decoration changes depending on the artist, so you can sketch to your heart's content.

Cut out your decoration template.

Trace all your templates onto cardboard and cut them out. You'll need to have cardboard templates for the horns and decoration anyway and if you have the headpiece body template in cardboard, you'll have an easier time tracing it onto the foam. It also means you have another chance to tweak the designs if you want to and you have a solid copy of your templates for future reference.

Ignore the notes on my templates; that was to keep track of which revision I was using for what. Yeah, I totally cut my templates out of cardboard and then decided to change them again. Better that than end up with an accessory you don't like!

When you're tracing your templates onto cardboard, cut out a circle on each side of the headpiece body template, to represent where your horns will actually be. Use the circles you sketched on your paper template as a guide. I cut out the circles on the paper template and drew around the inside of those for my cardboard template.

Stage 2: Make the headpiece body

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

When tracing your headpiece body, be sure not to accidentally move the cardboard. You can 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 thing is foam. The angle makes it look thinner than it is.

Once you have your three identical shapes, choose one to be the rim and one to be the middle layer. Set the ot