Leaf Man Helmet Creation Process by Pasiphilo
These are the general steps I went through to construct my Leaf Man cosplay helmet. This was the first such helmet I’d ever made, so I don’t consider myself an expert by any stretch, but perhaps my experience with it will be helpful or interesting to others attempting the same thing. You can see the finished helmet here.
1. In constructing this helmet, I referred primarily to the Leaf Man helmet concept art by Sang Jun Lee on page 41 of The Art of Blue Sky Studio’s Epic. The final helmet design that appears in the movie is a little different from the concept drawing, but I liked the look of concept design and because it was presented in convenient front, side, rear and three-quarter views, it made for a very helpful guide.
2. I started with the cranium which I assembled from corrugated cardboard strips to fit my own head. This served as the base to which all the other pieces were attached. I used a glue gun to attach everything.
3 & 4. Using a combination of cereal box cardboard and corrugated cardboard, I started cutting out shapes to match the basic sections of the concept art helmet as accurately as I could. This was largely a trial-and-error process and often involved tearing off pieces to replace them with more accurately shaped ones.
5. I used strips of cereal box cardboard to bridge the larger gaps between the sections where the helmet is supposed to be smooth. (This turned out to be a problem later on when I began applying the paper mache paste because the moisture caused the thinner cereal box cardboard to buckle and lose it’s shape. I think I could avoid this problem in the future by coating the entire cardboard form in gesso or a water resistant medium before applying the paper mache.)
6. Using the quick-drying paper mache technique demonstrated by the ingenious Jonni Good of UltimatePaperMache.com in her excellent tutorial on “How to make a pantalone mask”, I covered the cardboard with paper mache that hardened into a very durable skin once completely dry. I was able to fill in the “dents” caused by the buckled cereal box cardboard with a combination of Jonni’s equally ingenious homemade air-dry clay and drywall compound; once that dried, I sanded the entire helmet with 80 to 160 grit sandpaper until it was smooth.
7. Referring now to screenshots taken from the movie and allowing myself a bit of artistic license, I carefully painted the final design onto the helmet with Americana brand crafters’ acrylic paint.
8. To give the paint some protection from scuffing and moisture, I sprayed the entire helmet - inside and out - with two coats of Pebeo Satin Finish Picture Varnish for acrylic colours, which also gave it the semi-gloss finish I wanted. For the final touch, I affixed the feather-like scale mail, which I made from green felt, to the back of the helmet.
9. The end result!