Cardboard armor is a fun project that the whole family can get involved in. It’s a great way to spend time together and create something that you can use for Halloween or cosplay.

It’s also a great way to get kids involved in the creative process.

The first step is to find some cardboard boxes.

There are many different types of armor you can make and many different materials you will use to create your armor.

Some other optional materials include paper mache, foam board, plaster cloth (a fabric dipped in plaster), plastic sheeting, aluminum flashing, and fiberglass resin and cloth.

The cheapest and most common armor material is cardboard, so we will discuss how to make your own using only a few supplies: A pair of scissors, packing tape, construction paper, and super glue.

One of our favorites is this cardboard Mandalorian armor: 

This option includes templates (not free) but will equip you with the precise measurements you need to make this awesome-looking cardboard costume.

These are awesome DIY projects for kids. Check out some of our other fun projects, like these DIY paracord bullwhips, how to make an electric guitar, DIY dollhouses, how to make a mousetrap car, and these DIY bird feeder plans.

Cardboard Armor Plans

1. Knight Cardboard Armor

Cardboard Armor

What a cool medieval look! There are many different ways to recycle cardboard boxes. But there is one particular way I like to share with people when they have come over or have been given a box: making a superhero costume out of it!

View plan

2. Cardboard Armor Suit

Cardboard Armor Suit

Awesome looking shoulder armor! Cardboard is a form of inexpensive and recyclable corrugated paperboard, many people already have around their house. With some basic materials and equipment, like corrugated cardboard sheets, brown wrapping paper from the Dollar Tree and specialty adhesive tape found at Michael’s craft store, you start waging siege warfare for #$1 per day!

View plan

3. Cardboard Samurai Armor

Cardboard Samurai Armor

You can also use an old newspaper or something else common – just stay away from using staples when making armor because they will stick into someone in a combat situation.

View plan

4. Cardboard Armor Lvl 2

Cardboard Armor Lvl 2

Creativity is the key if you want to take your cardboard armor further. Individuals can make their armor different from many others by adding things like LED lights, sound effects that go off when they are attacked, and other types of modifications.

View plan

5. Cardboard Armor Lvl 1

Cardboard Armor Lvl 1

DIY cardboard armor is a type of armor that is made out of cardboard. It is typically worn by cosplayers, and it can also be used as a costume in theater productions.

View plan

6. Cardboard Poleyns (Knee Armor)

Cardboard Poleyns (Knee Armor)

The DIY cardboard armor is often made out of corrugated cardboards, which are then covered with different types of paper or fabrics.

View plan

7. Cardboard Samurai Armor That Looks Authentic

Cardboard Samurai Armor That Looks Authentic

Cardboard armor is a great way to get into the DIY spirit. It’s also a great way to get out of the house and have some fun with your kids. Check out some 3D printed samurai costumes if you want to up your game from cardboard!

View plan

8. Iron Man Armor for My Little Brother

Iron Man Armor for My Little Brother

DIY cardboard armor is a trend that has been growing in popularity. You can make your own armor from cardboard, duct tape, and other household items. It’s a great way to save money on costumes or you can use them for cosplay.

View plan

9. Awesome and Cheap, Iron Man Mark 42-43 Armor

Awesome and Cheap, Iron Man Mark 42-43 Armor

DIY cardboard armor is a great way to get creative and have fun while making something that can be used for cosplay or as a costume.

The tutorial will show you how to make a cardboard armor that is easy to assemble and looks great.

View plan

10. Cardboard Halo Master Chief Armour

Cardboard Halo Master Chief Armour

View plan

11. Roman-esque Soldier Uniform – From Cardboard!

Roman-esque Soldier Uniform - From Cardboard!

View plan

More Cardboard Knight Cosplay

If you want to suit up and save the kingdom- you’ll need this creative outfit to save the imaginary princess!

Making Cardboard Armor Step by Step

Step 1: create your template.

You can use any shape or design you want. The most common shapes are geometric, but others include non-euclidean, insectoid, amorphous, spiral, blob-like, etc. Cardboard provides a lot of leeway for creativity.

For example, you can cut the separate pieces out of cardboard pieces bigger than your finished piece to give yourself more room to work with. Make sure that each piece is large enough for two layers of construction paper on either side.

For example, if your armor is approximately 1.5 inches thick, make each piece at least 4 inches long and wide enough to accommodate two pieces of construction paper on either side.

Step 2: Trace your template onto the cardboard & cut it out.

Once you have your template, lay it out on a flat surface with the shiny side down (the surface should be clean if possible). Lay your cardboard piece on top. Use the tip of a pencil to trace around the template onto the backside of the cardboard, using short straight lines if you are tracing around geometric shapes (like triangles or rhombuses) and curvy arcs for circular or amorphous shapes.

Cut along these lines with scissors. If you are making more than one piece, repeat this process for each piece.

Step 3: Cover your armor with paper mache paste

Take a large mixing bowl (or if you’re only working on small pieces of cardboard like bracers or greaves, a small cereal bowl can work just as well) and fill it about a third full with water.

Mix in enough flour until it starts to form a paste (you can add it slowly and mix as you go or dump all the flour in at once and start stirring). Once the mixture is thick and syrupy, scoop out about half of the paste into a separate bowl.

Dump any leftover paste back into your flour bag/container. Spread your paste onto the cardboard armor, covering it thoroughly. For large armor pieces like helmets or breastplates, you can use newspaper instead of construction paper to cover your cardboard pieces.

Make sure you cover all surfaces of the piece (inside and out). If any areas are missed (like under flaps or corners), they will not harden, and you will have to do the whole thing over again.

Step 4: Wait for your armor to dry

Allow the paper mache to dry; this can take anywhere from a few hours (if it is very thin) to overnight (if it is very thick). If you are impatient, set up fans in front of your pieces so that they will dry quickly- the more air you can get in front of them, the better. Once your pieces are dried, go ahead and paint them however you want.

Step 5: Attach your armor with tape & super glue

Now that your paper mache is finished, it’s time to attach your cardboard piece to other pieces. Using strips of packing tape, attach the paper mache armor to your body piece by piece.

Once this is done, you can paint on a thin layer of super glue over the edge between each piece so they will stick together better and not slide around when you move.

Additional Information

Some people have had success making cardboard armor with Plaster of Paris instead of paper mache, but most people prefer the paper mache method because it is more malleable.

Some people also recommend painting the armor with a clear acrylic sealer- while this does make the armor sturdier and slightly more waterproof, it also makes it very difficult to shape, and you will not be able to bend or flex the armor without breaking it.

Cardboard has many advantages over other materials used in cosplay because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to manipulate, lightweight, and sturdy enough for costumes that will be worn or transported frequently.

However, cardboard has disadvantages- most notably, the need to paint the pieces to cover up the corrugated texture that is visible when viewing the armor from an angle. Cardboard also tends to be a bit flimsy and fragile, especially with materials such as plastic or fiberglass.

Cardboard is an excellent material for constructing lightweight props and costumes but should not be used in applications where exposed to high levels of moisture or abrasion. When exposed to heat, cardboard becomes very weak. The overall shape is made with small pieces cut out with an X-Acto knife and glued together with white school glue.

The large neckpiece is made up of two halves cut on the fold to form a complete sphere. The circles for the shoulders are cut out of cardboard boxes and glued to both sides of the torso piece. A large flap was cut out on one side, folded over, and glued to form an armhole.

The edges are all covered with thick strips of masking tape, which were then painted black. White glue was then applied over the tape and allowed to dry. Once dried, a top coat of acrylic paint was applied. The inside of each piece is lined with craft foam for comfort and fit. Each piece was attached to a belt made out of elastic material around his hips and waist.

Elastic loops were glued to the armor pieces and the belt to hold them in place.

The helmet is made from a wire fencing material bent into shape and then covered with paper mache and foil tape to give it its distinctive shape. The edges of each piece were heavily glued together to add strength and diminish the likelihood of chafing when in use. A strip of elastic is glued between the two halves of the helmet.

The inside has been lined with craft foam for comfort and fit.

The shield is made from a foldable cereal box cardboard cut to shape and covered with foil tape on both sides to give it its smooth metallic glistening look.

The handle was constructed out of a piece of wire bent into shape and covered with a strip of foam before being secured to the back of the shield. The arm straps are made from Manila rope. All edges have been painted black for a better appearance.

Conclusion

Cardboard is an excellent material for constructing lightweight props and costumes but should not be used in applications where exposed to high levels of moisture or abrasion. When exposed to heat, cardboard becomes very weak.