I know there are a lot of horn tutorials out there, but a bunch of people asked me about my horns at Otakon, so I decided to whip a tutorial in case anyone is interested! (also apparently tumblr decided to resize things funky…. I’ll fix that later)
Page break for huegness, now LETS GO!


That’s better. Gotta start out with a clean workspace! Okay, now to gather materials!

Okay, this is most of it: Sandpaper (150 and 400 grit), reference pictures, aluminum foil, pencil+paper, colored paint, white primer paint, a paintbrush (it doesn’t have to be a sponge brush), air dry clay (please! it’s cheap and looks good!), clear spray gloss, two dowels of some sort, plastic screw anchors and screws, and a headband.
Time to begin!
The first step is the most important: PLANNING.

Now go get some reference pictures and study them! Look at the horns relative to the head, try ad find a good way to transition them into real life. Heck, while you’re at it, why don’t you go look at some cosplays other people have done of the character? Find what looks good and what doesn’t!

Now that you’ve done your research, draw out a blueprint for your horn, to find a size and shape that you like, and check how it looks on your head. See how the paper’s on an angle? This makes it easier to get your horns to stay on your head at the right angle. Try and make the paper tangent to your head, and draw the horn from there.

Hmmmm, now this doesn’t look quite right. Back to the drawing board!

Hey, now that’s better! Lets get started on the actual horn now.
==> acquire dowel

Mkay, now wrap that sucka in some tinfoil. This creates the core of the horn and makes it much lighter and cheaper than solid clay.


Now compare it to your sketch, and make sure you’ve got at least .5 mm of free space around the core, the clay will bulk it up, and you don’t want a chunky horn!

Repeat for your second horn, then it’s time for clay.

This here is going to be the main material for your horns

I really cannot recommend this clay enough. It’s  $6 a pack at AC Moore’s, and you can always print out a coupon from their website to get it even cheaper. This is so much easier that model magic; even though it’s common to use that on horns, I still don’t like it. Paperclay is so easy to sand!

Now get your clay and start kneading!

Next step: Snakesssssssssssss. Roll out a big long snake of clay.

Now take that and wrap it around the tinfoil core


Now wet your hands and start to smooth out the coils and form the horn

Once you’ve got a general shape, compare it to your original drawing

Eugh, that doesn’t look so good. Needs some reshaping.
Now doesn’t  this look better?

Now repeat all those steps and get your second horn caught up with this one!

Yeah, now we’re talking! Now for my favorite part: SANDING. Make sure the clay is entirely dry first, or else you’ll ruin all your hard work. You can speed up the process by putting the clay in the oven at 200 degrees F for an hour or two, but this causes the clay to crack. Sometimes you can sand out these cracks, but other times you’ll have to go back in with wet clay and fill them.

Here is the butter to my horn-making Paula Deen. If you skip this step you’ve left out a mad important part of the recipe. For this step, I used 150 grit sandpaper. 

ALSO IMPORTANT: Dust mask! It’s not good for you to breathe in large amounts of any particle, so better stay safe! Now sand those horns until They’re nice and smooth.

Here’s an unsanded vs. sanded shot for comparison. There’s a pretty big difference!

Don’t be afraid that you’re sanding off too much material either, gotta get ‘em smooth!


Don’t worry if you exposed the tinfoil, a few coats of paint will cover it up

Now it’s time for primer. You can use either white acrylic paint or a spray on primer, which I used here. (Note: If you’re using white acrylic paint, do NOT use the cheap folkart stuff. I tried that and it peeled right off.) You can’t see much of a difference here because the clay is white.

Mkay, now back to sanding! I sanded these lightly with 400 grit sandpaper. See how they’re glossy already?

Time for color! I used Cadmium yellow deep hue, Cadmium orange, and Cadmium red light.

Now slather some yellow on the tip. It’s okay if you paint more yellow than there needs to be. (The color in this pic is off, just fyi)

Next step is more sanding! Still with the 400 grit. If you sand through the paint (like here), just put on another coat and sand again

Okay, now you’ve got the first color!

Orange is next, paint one clean line of orange along the yellow, thes you can sloppily fill in the rest. Sand.

Do the same thing for the red stripe, then it’s time for the SECRET INGREDIENT

Stick your horns on the dowels and take them outside or some other well ventilated area, it’s time to spray! Spray it on in a few thin coats, letting the gloss dry between coats. If you try and do one thick layer, your horns end up pockmarked. (Note: if it’s REALLY humid out, like it’s raining or something, the gloss will get hazy. Watch out, it’s a bad scene.) It’s best if you have some way of letting the horns dry without them touching anything, dirt sticks to this gloss really easily when it’s still wet. I don’t have any pics of the shiny horns on their own, so time to attach them to the headband!

Here’s what I used to connect them to the headband:

Now go put on your headband and mark off where the horns are going to be attached, then drill a hole to put the screw into. I used a dremel for this, but if you don’t have power-tools, I think you might be able to get some sort of result with an exacto knife and some elbow grease.

(resizing gets weird here….)

Holes! Next step: Screw in the screws

Put the plastic anchor onto the screw…

and wrap it lightly in masking tape

Now glue the whole setup into the horns. Take note of what angle the horns are on in relation to the headband, you don’t want to glue them on crooked! (though after making this I realized this isn’t the best way to use screw anchors, you should probably google the correct way to put them into walls and adapt it for your horns)

Yeaaaaah! Look at how shiny those suckers are!  And so smooth! (except for a few pockmarks where I tried to spray too much glaze OTL…) You’ll also probably want to put felt or some kind of padding (heck even paper towels would probably work to some extent!) over top of the screw heads, they’re not fun to have digging into your head for an entire con.

Now go! Go and create your own set of horns! Run free as a troll!
Thanks for reading!

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