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Cosplay on the Cheap: Easy and Cost-Effective Cosplay Horns


Posted May 8, 2014 by


One of the main things I get asked about of my Alexstrasza cosplay is how I made the horns. The process is actually quite easy and all materials can be found at your local home hardware and craft store.  This tutorial will cover the basics of prop making using expanding foam.

What you will need:

  1. Cardboard
  2. Drawing utensil
  3. Scissors
  4. Mirror
  5. Expanding foam
  6. Exacto Knife
  7. Scotch Tape
  8. Glue/Water or Paper Mache
  9. Newspaper
  10. Acrylic paint of your choice

Step 1: Make a base

Take a piece of cardboard and draw the general shape you want your horn to be. When you are satisfied with its shape, use the scissors or Exacto knife to cut out this shape.


Look in the mirror while holding your cardboard horn up to your head to get an idea of its size compared to your head. Recut or reshape your cutout whereever necessary until you are happy with it. If you need a second horn, trace this shape on a new piece of cardboard and cut it out.

Viola! Now you have two cardboard bases for your to-be horns.

Step 2: Lets make it 3-D

Read the instructions on the can of expanding foam before spraying for shaking and environment instructions.

Prepare an area where you will let the horn sit for a few hours while the expanding foam hardens. Lay down a sheet of newspaper on a flat, dry surface with your cardboard base on top.

Note: It’s a good idea to rest the base on an expendable object (like a plastic cup or lid) so it’s hovering off the table. This way the expanding foam has a better chance of not sticking to the newspaper.

Hold the nozzle an inch above the cardboard and spray the expanding foam across the base. Keep in mind the expanding foam will expand, so your shape now will get bigger as it hardens over the course of a few hours.

When the first side is dry, turn it over and spray the other side!


Notes about expanding foam:

The thicker the application, the longer it needs to dry. It’s best to wait overnight before carving into the shape with a knife.

You can flick/spray water on the expanding foam, too, to speed up the hardening process.

Each can of expanding foam will generally last one go since after the first use the nozzle generally becomes clogged and hard to use thereafter. I suggest getting a can appropriate to the size of your project.

Step 3: Carving to shape

At this point you have a big lump of dry expanding foam, so the next step is to carve this baby up! Take your Exacto knife and start carving the expanding foam off the main shape. Find your cardboard base by removing foam off the bottom of the horn (where it touches your head).


Note: This part can be very messy so it’s a good idea to lay something under your workspace and keep a vacuum nearby for after.

Also, safety comes first so always cut away from your body parts.

Step 4: Covering the expanding foam

You’ll notice that the carved expanding foam is rather holey and not suitable for painting. It’s completely fine for there to be lots of holes, but if a hole is too big you can always refill it with more foam.

Cover the horn with a layer of Scotch tape.

Then, cover the horn with paper mache. For my horns I substituted paper machier for a glue/water mixture at about 3 part Elmers glue to 1 part water. The thickness of the mixture depends on your preference and thickness of glue you are using.

Cut out little newspaper strips for the paper mache. Dip the newspaper into the paper mache, covering the surface with a few layers and preferably letting dry between layers.



Step 5: Adding colour

It is time to paint your horn to your desired colour! Start by painting a base colour on the paper mache, then adding your details and so on.


Yay we have a horn!

Hopefully some of you found this tutorial useful! This method makes for a very lightweight and cheap solution to making cosplay items of any size. If you are feeling creative, try a this method out for shoulder gear or weapons! Expanding foam is a great material for cosplayers looking to add volume to an item.

If you have any questions, tweet me @AshleyOshley or visit my Facebook page, Oshley Cosplay. I’m always happy to give tips and advice!


Created by Guest Contributor: OshleyCosplay

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Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor