Tutorial: How to Make Tiefling Horns for Costumes

tutorial: cosplay horns

Crafting tiefling horns for your cosplay ensemble isn’t just about adding a striking visual; it’s about embodying your character’s otherworldly charm. It’s easier than you might think to create your own custom horns that look great and stay put no matter how many convention halls you trek through. The process involves materials that are simple to acquire and methods adaptable for crafters of any skill level.

Get ready to bring your fantasy character to life. Whether you’re going for regal and intimidating or quirky and cute, the shape and texture of your horns can set the tone for your entire look. You’ll start with basics like foam or clay, learning how to mold and refine to get that perfect curvature and detailing that makes the horns uniquely yours.

Attaching the horns securely to your wig or headpiece is crucial, because no one wants a horn mishap in the middle of a photo op. There are reliable techniques involving everything from hair clips to headbands, ensuring your impressive horns stay fixed, giving you the confidence to fully step into your role. With a bit of patience and creativity, you’ll be the tiefling everyone is talking about.

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Supplies needed

The supplies you will need to follow this tutorial include:

  • Aluminum foil (optional).
  • Plastic wrap (optional).
  • Duct tape (optional).
  • A sheet of EVA foam. I recommend 4mm EVA foam to keep the horns as lightweight as possible. You can also use craft foam.
  • Sharpie or writing utensil. Make sure it can easily write on the foam surface.
  • A sharpened razor.
  • Contact cement. You can also use super glue or hot glue
  • A heatgun
  • Sandpaper. I use a rotary sandpaper tool called a Dremel
  • Clay foam (optional). This is used for giving your horns natural-looking ridges.
  • Primer
  • Paints. Acrylic paints or flexible paints work well.
  • Hairband or hair clips.

Step 1: Find or make a pattern for your horns

The first step for any EVA foam project is to get your pattern pieces ready. These are the separate, flat pieces that you’ll cut out and glue together to make your 3D horn shapes.

There are two ways you can go about getting a pattern for your horns. The first is to purchase a pattern. Kamui Cosplay has some great horn patterns that you can download and print so that they’re ready to use.

If you don’t want to buy a pattern or none of them work for your desired horn shape, then the other option is to create your own pattern. For this step, you will need:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Duct tape
  • A sharpie
  • A pair of scissors
step one: using foil to create the sample horn shape
Mold the aluminum foil into your desired shape, then cover it with plastic wrap and duct tape.
  1. Start by crumpling sheets of foil together to form the shape of the horn you want. You only have to create one horn because once you have the pattern pieces you can flip them to create the other horn.
  2. Wrap the foil horn in a layer of plastic wrap. This is to keep the duct tape from sticking to the aluminum foil.
  3. Layer strips of duct tape over the plastic wrap. You want it to be snug, but not too tight.
  4. Use a sharpie to draw on lines that you will cut along to create the pieces of your pattern. You want to create pieces that will lay flat when they are cut. For horns, I will generally separate them into four sides.
  5. Draw registration ticks on all of your lines. These are going to help you line up the pattern pieces correctly when you are constructing your horns later. 
  6. Label all of the pieces. I also like to take a picture of the labeled horn before cutting it so that I can go back and reference it when constructing the horns.
  7. Cut out the pattern pieces.
  8. Trace the pattern pieces onto plain paper and clean up the lines. Don’t forget to also transfer the registration ticks and labels to your paper pattern.
draw your pattern pieces

Step 2: Cut out your pattern pieces in EVA foam

This step is pretty simple. All you’re doing is cutting out the foam pieces that will end up being the base of your horns. 

  1. Trace your pattern pieces onto the EVA foam. Make sure to include the registration ticks and label all of your pieces as you go.
  2. Use a razor to cut the foam pieces on the inside of the traced line. Cutting along the inside of the line ensures that the foam pieces are the same size as the pattern pieces.
  3. Taper the edges of the horn tip. To help the horn come to a point, you’ll want to taper the thickness of the foam at the tip.
  4. Flip the pattern pieces over and repeat for the second horn. Make sure to label which pieces go to the right horn and which go to the left.
cutting the pieces out of EVA foam

Step 3: Glue your pieces together

Now it’s time for the fun part! In this step, you’re going to glue the pieces together so that you’ll have the basic shape of your horn. I like to use contact cement for this, but you can also use superglue if that’s what you have available. 

Make sure to do this step in a well-ventilated area because the fumes from the contact cement can be mildly toxic.

  1. Add contact cement to both edges that you’re gluing together. Wait 5-10 minutes for the contact cement to get tacky.
  2. Starting at the tip of the horn, connect your first two pieces. Slowly roll the two edges together, making sure to match the tick marks on either side. Push the two edges together to make sure the contact cement will hold everything together. The foam can stretch and compress a little to help you get it into the correct position. The base of the horn should match up, but if they’re not exactly right you can clean that up later.
  3. Using the same method, attach the other pieces until you complete the shape of the horn. Once the horn shape starts to close up, it gets a little tricky. Always start at the tip of the horn so that you have more space to maneuver your hands on the open base.
gluing the horn pieces together
Apply glue to both edges and start attaching them at the tip of the horn. Try to match up the tick marks along the way.

Step 4: Fine-tune the shape and heat seal

Now that you’ve got the basic shape of your horn, you’re already 80% of the way done. All we really need to do now is clean it up and add some details. To start with, we are going to use heat to make the shape of the horn exactly what we want. This will help make sure it curves correctly and keeps its shape. Using heat will also help to seal the foam which makes it easier to prime and paint in the later steps.

Because the plastic foam can be toxic when heated, make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. It’s also recommended that you wear a face mask to avoid inhaling the fumes.

  1. Using a heatgun, gently heat up the plastic foam horns. Don’t keep the heat pointed at one place for too long or the horns will start to burn.
  2. Gently bend the horns and keep them in the desired position until the foam cools.
  3. Repeat as many times as necessary until the horns look right to you.
heat forming the horn
Use a heatgun to heat up the EVA foam plastic and fine tune the shape. Hold it in place until the plastic cools down.

Step 5: Sand the seams

You have your horns and you’ve shaped them to perfection, so now it’s time to smooth everything out to make the horns look as seamless as possible. For this step, you could use good old sandpaper, however, I find it is much easier to use a rotary sanding tool, like a Dremel. It will make the process go much faster.

Like in the previous two steps, you want to stay in a well-ventilated area when sanding EVA foam. You don’t want to inhale too much of the dust since it is toxic. It’s also recommended that you wear a facemask and goggles to keep the dust from getting into your mouth, nose, and eyes.

  1. Go over each of your seams with the sandpaper or Dremel. This will help to smooth out the ridges that you might get when connecting pieces together. 
  2. Once you’re finished sanding, brush off the dust. This way it won’t get in the way when you are decorating and painting.
sanding the seams with a dremel

Step 6: Add details

If you want to make something like ram horns or dragon horns, you probably want to add details that will bring them to life. 

To create organic shapes with EVA foam, you’ll want to use something called foam clay. This is a material that behaves similar to clay when wet. When it dries, foam clay becomes a material that works similarly to EVA foam (flexible and lightweight).

Some people will add decorations or details to your horn by using engraving tools, to etch lines into the horns. Or you can even cut out more pieces of EVA foam to add details that way. It all depends on what you want the final horns to look like. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find the techniques that will work for you and your project.

To use foam clay you will need water to help the clay adhere to your foam horns. It’s also useful to have a razor to score the foam and the clay to make it stick better.

This is what I did with my horns:

  1. Start by taking a small amount of clay and rolling it into a log. Check to make sure it will fit around the horn near the tip.
  2. Score the foam with a razor on the spot where you will be adding your clay. Scoring is a technique where you make shallow cuts in the foam. It’s a technique used with clay molding to help the clay stick. 
  3. Add water to both the clay and the foam surface, then wrap the clay around the horn. I just use my fingers by dipping them in water and wiping the foam and clay.
  4. To create the ridge effect, pull the clay down along the horn with your fingers. Keep the upper edge of the clay piece intact.
  5. Repeat the process to form another ridge below the first. Make each ridge toward the base thicker than the last to create a more realistic effect. I added six ridges to each of my horns, but you can easily add more or less depending on the effect you are going for.
  6. When you are finished with your design, allow the clay to dry for 24 hours. When it’s dry, it should feel like foam.
  7. Sand any areas that are too uneven. I’m not always neat with the clay, so I always have to go back with the Dremel to sand down areas that are a little too bumpy and lumpy.
Adding details with foam clay
Add ridges on the horn by attaching loops of clay and pressing them down toward the base of the horn. Create as many ridges as you want, let it dry and sand the final result.

Step 7: Prime and paint the horns

Once your horns look exactly how you want them to, it’s time to paint! Some people will want to go in with tiny brushes to make meticulous designs, whereas others will only need horns in one solid color. This is another area where you can absolutely feel free to play around until you find something you like.

Regardless of how you paint your horns, you always want to prime them first. Using a primer helps to seal the surface of the horns. It will keep the paint from seeping in so you need fewer layers of paint and the color won’t look faded. My favorite primer to use with EVA foam is called Flexbond, but even something like Mod Podge will work well for these.

This was my technique for painting the horns, so if you like how they look you can follow these steps:

  1. Prime the horns. I used two layers of primer to make sure it got into all the little crannies of the horns.
  2. Paint the horns black. My base color for these horns is black, so I added two layers of a solid black paint.
  3. Use a sponge to streak grey paint along the horn. I dip the sponge in the paint and rub a thin layer on the horns. This creates a layering effect so you have streaks of grey on top of the black.
  4. Go back in with black paint. I didn’t want the horns to be evenly streaked with grey so I went back in with the black. I feathered black paint on the underside of the ridges.
painting the horns
After priming the horn, I used black paint for the base layer. Then I streaked a metal-gray paint on top and used the black to add more dimension on top of the gray.

Step 8: Decide how the horns will attach to the wig

After all of your layers of paint dry, you have your finished horns! Now all that’s left to do is attach them to your costume. You have a couple of options for attaching the horns. The first is to use a headband. This is probably the easiest method for keeping horns in place and it’s recommended for anything that is going to be very tall or top-heavy.

  1. Using a wig head with a wig on, put a headband on the wig and hold your horns in place how you want them to appear.
  2. Mark the headband so you know where to attach the horns.
  3. Glue the horns to the headband. Alternatively, you can cut little slots in the base of the horn and slide them onto the headband instead. This would give you more ability to adjust the horns later on.
sewing the hair clip
Since I used thin foam, the hair clip did not stick well when using glue. Instead, I used a thick thread to sew the hair clips in place.

Instead of using a headband, you could also use hair clips so that you can attach each horn to the wig independently and avoid needing to cover up the headband. I ended up sewing the hair clips onto the base of the horns. I recommend using two clips for each horn to help them stay securely on your head.

completed horns clipped onto a wig
When your horns are complete, clip them onto your wig and arrange the hair over top to help them look more natural.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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