Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Knights Who Say Ni - Free Helmet Templates!

Ever have a project you thought would be a breeze, and then it ends up taking 8-10 months? 


Well, it turns out, the Knights Who Say Ni really DID demand a sacrifice: all our time and patience.

We're on the home stretch now, though, so let's get to it!

Oops. Sorry, guys. I'll try not to say that word again.

Without further ado, our completed helmet:

We've made seven total, though only 6 are show-worthy. They're made entirely of EVA and thin craft foam, and the horns attach with magnets:

This makes storage & transport much, MUCH easier.

I lost count of how many tries it took us to get the helmet shape right, but here's just some of the reject pile:

Once we nailed the shape the rest was relatively easy, though, so if you want to make your own, rest assured we've done the hardest part for you. (And if you're so overwhelmed with gratitude you want to help feed our cats and/or shop through our Amazon affiliate link, then hey, I won't stop you.)

The helmet is just four pieces of EVA foam (which you can buy in rolls at Harbour Freight, Walmart, and/or many hardware stores), while the horns and trim are the thinner "fun foam" from the craft store. You'll also need contact cement to assemble everything.

This will not be a full step-by-step tutorial - there is too much. Instead I'm going to give you our templates and some quick pointers and explanations. If you get stuck feel free to ask questions in the comments, though!

First, the templates John very sweetly labeled and arranged so you can print them on standard paper at home:

 Right click and save each of these to your desktop, then print at 100%.

The helmet's front seam is a raised edge, like so:

To get this angle, cut the 2 front edges at a 22.5 degree angle on a scroll saw. (There are ways to do angled cuts without power tools, too, so don't despair if you don't have a scroll saw.)

PRO TIP: Use a hair dryer or heat gun to round the helmet pieces a little before you glue them together. It really, really helps.

The eye trim is optional and a real pain in the keister, so feel free to skip it.  In fact, here's what the helmet looks like without the eye trim:

Not bad, right?

If you're like John and really want that trim, though, you can make it by routing the edge of pink insulation foam, cutting thin strips, and attaching with hot glue:

This stuff is surprisingly flexible in thin strips. But do NOT use contact cement or E-6000 on it; it will melt.

The top fin on the helmet is thin but surprisingly sturdy. Fold the craft foam in half and use contact cement to glue the edges down the center line of the top of the helmet. 

This also hides the top helmet seam, which is handy.

The horn seams are tricky little buggers - they'll want to pull apart -  but keep in mind you can go back and fill gaps with caulk, plus sand down any edges. (Which is also true for the helmets.) Not to mention the streaky paint finish will hide a multitude of sins.

You can glue the horns in place, or go the extra mile and inset magnets like we did. I'm not going to walk you through that, but this photo should get you most of the way there:


The white horn insert is hefty 6mm craft foam, and the magnets are attached with high-heat hot glue.

(I recommend numbering the horns, since each one will fit just a LITTLE differently.)

Attach the horns BEFORE you glue on that extra silver band over the base; that will help hide any gaps.


There are a zillion different ways to seal, prime, and paint foam armor, so if you're new to this head over to Youtube (I love Evil Ted & Punished Props) for some seriously entertaining research. I'm a newb myself, so I hesitate to recommend any specific products.

Once you prime, though, this Dupli-Color Chrome is pretty sweet.

Then we aged with watered down acyrlic paint. 

The nice thing about armor: any mistakes are now "battle damage!"

To paint the horns I used a soft brush and these three colors over a gray primer:

Streak them all together, then add black tips lightly feathered out at the ends:

 My craft paint is dead flat, so I added a satin clear coat on top to give a more realistic sheen to the horns. (This also makes the colors richer.)

Note that the horns are tipped forward slightly on the helmet, like a steer.

The helmet has an oversized noggin that will be way too big for most people who aren't John, so shove a little upholstery foam into the top if it sits too low on you. (Without the foam the eye slit sits level with my nose. :D) You'll also need to hot glue a strip of thin black cotton over the eye slit, to act as a scrim. 

But first, let's take a selfie:

 #NoMakeup #IWokeUpLikeThis

John and I are still finishing up the rest of the costumes, but here's a laugh for you:

That's me, testing out John's robe.

And here's John in it after a little grungifying:

The gloves are still a work-in-process, and everyone will have beards I spent all night matting up, but otherwise this is close to the finished result.

If there's enough interest (or if I'm feeling chatty regardless) I'll walk you guys how we made the rest of the costumes later.

Oh, and yes, we WILL have the big tall Knight with us...  played by our friend Christie.

 She's a former stilt dancer and an EXPERT at all the ridiculous Ni dialogue, so needless to say, I'm psyched. We just have to get her giant helmet done in time. And find a fake herring. And make a shrubbery.

 The goal is to take our Shrubbery Fest on the road to Dragon Con next month, so if you're going, be on the lookout for our Magnificent Seven Ni-Sayers! I have a feeling we'll be pretty easy to spot.

And finally, you KNOW you want to watch this again:


  1. Those look great :) looking forward to seeing the costumes finished

  2. this is beyond. i'm just sitting here, by my lonesome, and laughing out loud and enjoying this so much! wow and wow and man i wish i could see the whole production when you're all finished and at CC.

  3. Absolutely wonderful work! Can't wait to see it live at Dragon Con!

  4. Awesome!! I can't wait to see it all come together! I hope someone gets video of you guys at Dragon Con!

  5. They look great! It's always amazing how the simplest looking things can be the most complicated. Are you guys coming to Tampa Bay Comic Con?

    1. I think so, yes! At least for Saturday.

    2. Wonderful! Hopefully we can see you. (Because my husband continues to ask, "why exactly haven't we hung out with them yet?" to which I have no good answer!)

      I'm doing variations on [Beauty & the Beast] Belle. One will be Belle in the Beast's blue formal suit and the other a steampunk Belle. Not sure which day which. :)

  6. I agree. We will need video of you all in action!

  7. This is my favourite make so far!! You clever, utterly ridiculous geniuses.

  8. Now I just need to find more people to join my ren fest group so I can make these!!!! My daughter, her friend and I go as Arthur, Patsy and Robin (cause he has the best theme music!). Can't wait to add these to the group. Thanks for doing the frustrating part for me!!!!

  9. HOLY HAND GRENADE! That is awesome. Good luck at Dragon Con!!

  10. This is ridiculously fun. My family and I are sitting here marveling at the excellence of your work, laughing at the image of you all at Dragon Con playing this out, and wishing we'd be there to see it in person. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

  11. Freaking awesome! Can't wait to see photos from Dragon Con!

    Also loving the photo of you in John's costume and that selfie-cuteness pic.

    Oh, and in my next life, I want to be Christie.


  12. I can't even... So. Much. Awesome.

  13. Aha so while you did the garbage lady you were working on these too! I wonder what *else* you have bubbling in the cauldron behind the scenes. VERY VERY COOL. I LOVE how you are creating very popular characters for the Cons that I haven't seen before. I'm excited to see the whole group together. Thank you for sharing your how-tos as well, it's a great starting point for those interested in trying something themselves, even if it's something completely different. Your priming, connecting methods, painting skills, and costume pictures are great inspirations. Love ALL you do, Jen and John. Your skills, patience and attention to detail are yielding spectacular results!!! :) :) :)

  14. I think you have FINALLY convinced my husband that it is worth his time to cosplay. He now want me to make him a Ni-sayer costume!

  15. Another idea for the eye scrim: black pantyhose. Stretch it a bit and it's quite see-through.

  16. You never cease to amaze me, Jen & John. Rock on.

  17. Hard to believe it's Dragon Con time already!

  18. Such greatness. Such unbelievable greatness. I love it. I can't wait to see video from the con!

  19. Such greatness. Such unbelievable greatness. I love it. I can't wait to see video from the con!

  20. I really REALLY wish we were going to Dragon*Con this year!!

  21. Oh yes, please share more information because now I really want to do these costumes too! :D

  22. Now that all my major shows are open, I need to start playing with foam - these are so inspiring!

  23. As soon as I saw pic of Jen in John's garb, my brain started singing "KILL DA WABBIT! KILL DA WABBIT! KILL DA WAAAABBIT!" from 'What's Opera Doc?' and I nearly did a spit-take with my seltzer [reference:] My brain is weird. :D Anywhoo, these costumes are AWESOME! I need to pass the tutorials on to a friend who's planning a Holy-Grail-themed Halloween costume!

  24. I think you just figured out what our theme is for the Pet Trick-or-Treating Walk this year! Except our shubbery is going to have legs (and a head and tail.) I was playing around with Captain Marvel/Rocket Raccoon but DH wants to dress up too and I am running too far behind on other projects to make him a Nova Corps uniform.

  25. HELP! Did I get the wrong foam? can you message me on Facebook? I posted on your page there also. tkx

  26. I wanted to thank you for this inspirational tutorial. I made two of these helmets for my 11-year old son and his friend. I think they turned out pretty good! I could not get the thin craft foam to cooperate, so we carved the horns out of styrofoam and sealed it with Modge Podge before painting. They are not as perfect as yours but everyone loved them at our house! Thank you!!

    Link to photo:

    1. Poo, link won't work for me! Could you share it on the Epbot FB page? I'd love to see!

  27. Thanks for the pattern! First time using EVA foam, easy to follow. Instead of routing pink insulation, I sliced a round foam dowel in half lengthwise.

  28. Hi. I'm in 7th grade. I love costume designing and for my schools middle school play we are doing spamalot. I was asked to partner up with a room parent to designs the Ni Knight costumes. (the rest were ordered). Without this I wouldn't be able to do it. Thanks so much.


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