I know there are a crap ton of troll horn making tutorials, and I don't really expect that mine is particularly better than anybody else's. But I have seen many a horn disaster at cons, and this method has served me well. This method will make your horns study and hard to break. I wore my Aradia horns I made using this method as part of a God Tier cosplay, which severely limited my peripheral vision, and I crashed them into things constantly, and they did not break nor show any signs of damage by the end of the day!
So this is my conribution to fandom, I suppose. This won't make your horns indestructable, by any means, so you will still want to be careful! But it will make them pretty sturdy.
I picked up my methods all over the place and figured some stuff on my own.
PLEASE NOTE: This method is best for larger horns such as Vriska's or Kanaya's. You can make any horn with this method (well, maybe not some of the ancestors'), but something like Tavros' horns will need extra support, and this is a little extreneous for small horns like Karkat's. I have made Aradia's, Equius', and Eridan's using this method.
First things first! These are the supplies we'll be using to make the horns.
...I said a CLEAN workspace.
There we go. You'll notice I put a bunch of flattened Mountain Dew boxes on the table to serve as protection between my supplies and my actual table. This is because I don't have any newspaper. So...I work with what I've got. :D Anything will work, just make sure if you're working on something you don't want paint and dust and crap all over, you're protecting it somehow. This is not a clean job!
The first step is to draw out the shape of the horn on the paper. I am making Eridan's horns for this tutorial. Obviously, you're going to want to find a good reference picture to use. Print them out, if you can! Sadly, I do not have a printer, so I did it this way. It doesn't match the picture exactly, but the picture is also at an angle. Eridan's horns change shape a bit throughout the comic, so this is the picture I decided to base them on.
Please excuse the awfulness of this picture as I took it with my webcam, haha. This is a SUPER IMPORTANT STEP. I'm testing the size of the horn I drew to make sure it's not too big or too small. I have found that making horns too big is REALLY EASY to do. So please make sure you don't skip over this step! I drew them about the right size, but don't hesitate to draw them over a couple times if you need to. Also, obviously, if you are doing a character with two different horns, you will have to draw it twice. For Kanaya and Vriska, I would recommend tracing the first one over and just changing the top to make sure you maintain the same shape. With Equius, you can probably get away with drawing it once and then marking off where you are going to put the break.
Little known fact: it is important to involve pets in the crafting process.
And yes, those are Rumminov's fancy dreamers on my wall. The B2 kids are on a different wall because they didn't come out until later. Actually, you can kind of see Jake on the floor near that box on the left. He doesn't like staying on the wall so he is in TIME OUT. On the floor.
Next, we are making the base of the horn with the wire. Wire is awesome for longer horns like Aradia, Kanaya, Vriska, Equius, Gamzee, Eridan, and Feferi. I'm not actually sure if this method will work for Tavros' horns; you might need a thicker wire to support the weight. It should work on the smaller horns too, but it's more important for the bigger ones. The wire is going to be what holds the horns together. If the model magic breaks or something later on, you will be able to fix it very easily, since the wire won't ever just break.
Make sure you don't cut the wire until you have shaped the end. Also, you are going to want to keep a couple of inches of extra wire on the bottom, like I did in the picture. Be careful with the wire, though; while I have not experienced this myself, I have heard that if you bend the wire too much, it will lose its strength. So try to get it right the first time.
Make sure you shape the two horns together, if they're the same shape. You want both horns to look the same (at some points; even Vriska's and Kanaya's have the same shape at the bottom). If you're going to bend them out or put a curve to them or anything, you'll want to wait until after the next step.
Then it's time for the tinfoil! This is going to give your horn shape and some of its bulk. A lot of people skip this part and just use model magic for the entire thing; DON'T DO THIS. Here is the reason: model magic takes forever to dry, and if you use a lot of it and make it thick, it will never dry on the inside, making it very squishy and brittle. You don't want squishy horns!
Don't fill the entire outline you made with tinfoil, though. You are still adding a few more layers after this.
Now is the time to add some bend that didn't work in a two dimensional drawing. For instance, when I made my Equius horns, I had them bend forward just a little bit, rather than making them go straight up and down. You might also do this with Kanaya or Vriska, and obviously with Aradia.
Now it's time for model magic, and this is also where the spoon comes in, obviously! Model magic is great because it's simple to use and it's very lightweight when it comes to clay. Spread some onto the foil base. You can make it as thick as you think necessary, but just remember, the thicker the model magic, the longer it is going to take to dry.
When you're done spreading it on, you take the spoon and carefully smooth out all the cracks and bumps you'll inevitably have. The one on the right has been smoothed, where the one on the left has not. Big difference!
You'll also want to make sure anything that has points or edges is point or, uh, edgy. :D
There! Once you have everything smooth, you're going to want to take the bits of exposed wire and bend them over so they look kind of like a little hanger.
You'll note that not everything is 100% smooth yet--that's okay. That's what the sandpaper is for later. Still, the smoother you get them now, the less sanding you'll have to do later. We also have the spackle layer to worry about too.
Now, as you may have guessed, is time for the actual hanger! I dried mine in the closet to make sure that they didn't get bumped or anything while they were still fragile. But, I also have next to nothing in my closet, so it was pretty ideal for me. You can hang them wherever you want. Just make sure you counter balance them at the edges so they don't slide together in the middle.
Please note that, when drying Aradia's horns, you might not be able to hang them this way. When I made my Aradia horns, I dried them on a counter top with a small stand holding up the outward curve.
Once again, for best results, always involve your pets in the cosplaying process.
Your next step is to WAIT. Model Magic takes a long time to dry. I would give it at LEAST two days before you start the next step, maybe longer. Model Magic is a little spongey, even when it's dry, so it's best to wait longer than you need to, just to make sure.
If you pull your horns out of the closet and they look like this, do not worry. The cracks are a thing that happens. This is actually from drying too fast, believe it or not. You can eliminate cracks, I have read, by drying the horns in like a cardboard box or something that will prevent it from drying too fast, but then you've got to wait upwards of a week, and I have no idea how well that works.
So here is where our miracle worker SPACKLE comes in! It's very easy to use, just put some on your finger and spread it right into those pesky cracks. It depends on the kind you're using, but it doesn't take too long to dry. And it's very easy to sand! Although, if you are unlike me and can apply it neatly, it'll save you some effort later.
Now, this isn't strictly necessary, but I like to cover the entire horn with spackle. Spackle is easy to sand and will add a hard, protective layer to your horn, making it more durable. The Model Magic is going to be easier to get smooth, though, so keep that in mind. I do recommend being a bit liberal with the spackle, even though it isn't necessary. It adds a lot of strength to the finish product.
Yeah, I hung them on the light fixture this time because I didn't need to leave them there for two days. Usually an hour will be plenty of time for this amount of spackle to dry, though it depends on the spackle you are using.
The spackle I used turned white as it dried, so it was pretty easy to tell when they were ready for the next step. But look at this crap! We don't want our horns looking like this. So get out your 120 grit sandpaper and get started.
Now, there's a huge improvement! What I do is I start with the 120 grit sandpaper and get things as smooth as I can. Then I go over it with the 240 grit and get it smoother. If you're feeling really picky, you can go up to a 400 grit too. I actually did a little with the 400, but not too much.
That looks a lot better, doesn't it? Not perfect, but then, when you're wearing the horns, it is highly doubtful that anyone is going to notice minor imperfections. I can prove it! (I guess if you are going for a costume contest or something, I would work harder for perfection, but this was enough to suit my purposes.)
But, wait! What's this? A crack! No matter, a little more spackle will fix that right up. Cracks seem to occur more on joint areas like this, so be mindful of that!
Small cracks won't affect the stability of the finished horn, but anything you leave at this step will show up on the final, so be make sure it looks as good as you want it before moving on to the next step.
TIME FOR MOD PODGE!
Mod Podge goes on white, just like paint. This layer is to sort of seal all that spackle and Model Magic together and protect it. It also works as a glue, though, so be careful! One layer should be good for this part, though I put a pretty liberal coat over the joints where it had cracked earlier.
One quick note! Make sure you wash the fuck out of your brush afterwards. This stuff is literal glue, and if you don't wash your brush very thoroughly, you run the risk of ruining it.
Once your horns are dry, they should look like this: nice and shiny. Here, you can do a little more sanding, if you'd like, but your horns should be pretty smooth already.
Now, it's time to do some painting. I'm going to be perfectly honest here a moment, though. I am not very good at making gradients, so I strongly suggest that you find a tutorial on how to make them and practice a bit on paper before you try to paint them. I actually had a good deal of trouble painting these guys for some reason. So I decided to leave this part out of my tutorial.
If you are just looking to paint them close to how they look in the comic, the best solution would be to use painter tape to mark off proper rings where you want the paint to end and paint them that way. I prefer the gradients, though.
Once your horns are painted and dry, they should look something like this.
It's time for another layer of Mod Podge! Once again, this stuff goes on white, but it dries clear, so don't be alarmed. All is well.
One should also note that dropping a newly Mod Podged horn onto the cat fur covered carpet is a very bad idea. I know because I tried it. I can also tell you, however, that your horn will be resistant to water as you spend hours picking the cat fur out of the glue. So that is good news.
On the note of dropping things, I also snapped the tip of the horn right off. There wasn't more damage, however, because I had used the wire. See? It already saved me! Anyway, I put some Mod Podge on the broken end and used it to glue it back together. After that dried, I put another coat of yellow paint on before the top layer of Mod Podge, and, as you can see, you can't even tell that it broke.
Now it's time for a layer of the clear acrylic coating. Instructions vary between brands, but typically, you're going to want to hold the horns roughly a foot away from the bottle and spray an even amount on all the surfaces. It is VERY IMPORTANT to do this either outside or in a very well ventilated area. This stuff is AWFUL. I sprayed a couple of sets of horns in my parents' garage once, and that was not well ventilated enough. It is very powerful and also very flammable, so be careful!
The coating doesn't really make much of a difference to the appearance, since the Mod Podge made it shiny already.
Once this is dry, you're ready to attach it to something to put on your head. This is where your wire is going to come in handy. I don't actually have pictures of this part because I haven't done it to my Eridan horns yet. I haven't decided exactly what method I want to use because I haven't bought the wig yet.
One thing you are going to have to do regardless of what method you choose is to trim down those ends. The x-acto blade will cut through everything except the wire without much difficulty. Make sure, however, you are trimming at the angle so that when the horn sits against the curve of your head, exactly where you want it, it will stand up exactly how you want it.
I am going to recommend against using hot glue, especially for bigger or heavier horns. Too many times have I heard horror stories of horns falling off of headbands at cons. I've even seen it happen. With smaller horns, you can get away with attaching them to clips or elastic headbands, but for big horns, you need something sturdier.
If you're wearing a wig, a good practice is to poke the wire through the wig and attach it to a strong piece of cardboard or even a headband underneath the wig using the wire. This is the method I intend to use with my Eridan horns, once I get the wig.
I don't have a lot of advice on this. My Aradia cosplay was God Tier, so I didn't have to worry about my headband showing because of the hood, and my Equius cosplay was done at the very last minute, so I didn't bother trying to do anything to conceal the headband. This is perfectly acceptable, I've come to realize; unless you are going for a costume contest, no one is going to mind overly much if your headband is showing! At least, in my experience.
The headband I used had a split in it, so it was two pieces of plastic that met behind the ear pieces. I got it at some general store, like Walmart or Target, I can't remember which. This made it super easy just to wire my horns right onto the headband, like this:
Please note that, when I made the Equius horns, I didn't leave the length of wire sticking out the bottom, so I had to poke a wire through the base. If you use the method where your wire sticks out of the bottom, it won't look exactly like this.
Be sure to store them in a safe place, like on top of a completely different cosplay.
And, voila! You've got horns. :)
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
~PROTIP ABOUT SANDING THE FUCK OUT OF YOUR HORNS~
The Sad Story About The Aradia Horns
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