Halloween Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Bog Body
Joined
·
1,474 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello, welcome to this quickly made tutorial. I created it due to a high demand of questions concerning the building and painting process of my tombtones. It was made last year and I posted it on the net. Now I'm converting it to this forum section.
Here goes =)



When I mention a name, refer to the tombstone picture with that name in the reply under this post. I have also included a link to the font I used below each tombstone pic. Just right click and save as to your c:\windows\fonts or c:\winnt\fonts folder depending on which version of windows you have. Sorry mac users, not a mac person so i don't know where your font folder is or if ttf fonts will work.



I use cheapo'o white Styrofoam in the 4x8' by 2" sheets. I got it for around $15 at The Home Depot. I used a key to score down the very center and snapped it over my knee to make it fit into my car. I get 12 out of one sheet. I plan the shapes I want first, drawing them to scale on paper.




Then, using a ruler and a sharpie, I draw them onto the Styrofoam. First, I find center points and draw one side then duplicate it. For curves I use the ruler and measure the radius from a center point and make dots every 1/2 inch or so. Like a connect-the-dot half circle, or quarter circle depending on what the plans call for.


Then I cut out the section (not the stones but the divided sections of the Styrofoam so I am not working on the whole sheet at once) and use a regular steak knife to cut them out. The steak knife cutting give a real nice roughish edge I like for old tombstones. It makes a hell of a mess, but a vacuum easily cleans it up. Save big pieces of scrap foam for other projects and practice/test pieces for the lettering and painting.





http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v45/batfly/halloween/12stones.jpg]


After planning what epitaphs I want and finding fonts I like for each (you can use the same for all, I just wanted different fonts =P) I print it out in HUGE font. I’m saying smallest font size of 90 and largest of 120. I’ll do the RIP or name in 120. The year in 110 or smaller and most of the epitaphs are 90-100 font size. Then I cut out the words individually and choose which stones they go on, longer epitaphs for bigger stones, shorter for smaller. I also try to see which stone looks like the epitaph. Barry d. live stone I think looked kind of like a shovel. E. Z. Landen was a girl so I picked a girly, curvy stone. Kerry Emhoff's looks like a coffin shape, etc. I lay down the words so they fit, are arranged as I like, and level. I tape a line of words together and tape the edges to the foam. Then repeat for the next line.

[img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v45/batfly/halloween/paperletters.jpg>



Next is the letters. I use a wood burner to melt letters into the foam.
Before I go further, I strongly recommend doing this outdoors or in a screen room as it puts out toxic fumes. I use a floor fan propped up on a chair. I pointed it towards my face on medium speed. Even with the fan, I wear a dust mask thing while burning the foam. Also be careful, as the wood burner is HOT, mine goes to 900 degrees F.

With the disclaimer out of the way let continue.

I got my wood burner from Michaels for around $30. I got the kit not knowing which tip I’d want to use. I practiced with all of them. I found the all-purpose tip to work the best with sloped pointed end in the direction of travel. It’s the same tip that is in the cheaper wood burner packages. I burn right through the paper, which seems to actually slow down the burning effect, making it much easier to work with.



Practice using the wood burner on a scrap piece of foam for a while first. Practice with a spare printout on the foam and on just bare foam itself. Get a feel for what the wood burner can do and the speed at which you need to move it around for the desired results. I burned all enclosed parts of letters and numbers first. Next, I burned lines in one direction, horizontal or vertical. Then I rotated the stone and did all the lines in the other direction. I had the tip only burning about 1/8th inch into the foam. Other than that, there is no easy way to explain how to burn the letters. It just takes practice on the spare foam and then still more practice. Also remember the longer the tip is in the foam the wider and deeper the burn will be. For the dots and periods, I just poked it through the paper for about half a second.




Next is the most annoying and time-consuming step, painting the letters and numbers black. I used a small paintbrush. The cheap kind you can get in the kid’s paint or school section work fine. You can use acrylic or latex paint for this. Don’t worry about being messy; just make sure you get it in all the parts of the letters and numbers. If you decided to make cracks or chunks missing, (just poke you finger in and pop out pieces) paint them black also. If you only do one or a few tombstones, this doesn't take so long. However, 10 at once was HORRIBLE!

After the lettering has dried somewhat, you need to paint the backs, sides, and then fronts. Doesn’t matter what order you do it in. I did the fronts to get the work done and out of the way so, I’ll explain it that way. You can paint the stone any shade of gray you like. Biglots had a gallon of "southern gray" for $7.50, which worked great. I used a 2" sponge brush for the fronts only. Get some paint on it and have some newspaper nearby to squish some out before each application. You don't want too much on the brush, as it'll seep into the letters. Just lightly smack the brush straight down onto the foam, going over the letters with the area of the brush where the tip and side meet. I do this in a rapid motion with my wrist only about 2 inches above the foam, almost as if I’m fanning the foam. Just plop plop plop. It’ll be self-evident once you do it. You want the paint to cover the messy black areas around the letters while not seeping into the letters. Don’t try using a paint roller. I did and it squishes paint into the letters a lot. I used the same brush to paint the rest of the front of the stone too. After about three or four stones I needed a new foam brush. It also took me three coats to cover the black around the letters and the sharpie marks on the foam. In this pic of just the fronts painted, you can see the paint drying around the letters in the two most left stones.




Here you can see the chunked out paintjob on the closest stone.





After the fronts were done and dry, I painted the back. For this, I used a paint roller. It took only one thick coat, real nice and quick. Then once that was dry, I painted the sides with the same roller. After it dries comes the exciting moments.


The last step (my favorite) is the aging fun part. I was going to use <a href=http://www.hedstorm.net/HAUNT/instructions/tombstones/painting.html> Keeba’s water hose and spray-paint method</a>, but it didn't give the results I wanted. Therefore, I went with an almost dry brush method. I went to Wal-Mart and bought some acrylic paint in the crafts section. You only need the cheapest ones that are around $0.50 each. I bought 'burnt umber' (dark brown), 'vineyard green', 'caramel candy' (yellowish brown), black, and white. I also bought a few cheap paintbrushes from the home paint section. Pretty much, once again, the cheapest one-inch brushes work best. Their bristles are somewhat stiff and are not cut perfectly straight or in line. Things you want for a streaky effect. I picked up a few as they are cheap and wear out after four or five stones.





You need to decide if you want your tombstone(s) base to be the original gray or a different color. For an example, the U.R. Necst stone is the original gray color. Some I decided I wanted them to be a light brown (sandstone) or dark gray (granite). Go ahead and mix colors and experiment. Add white to tint it lighter, black to darken it. Green and brown mixed make nice dingy moldy/mossy looking colors. After making a color I liked, I wiped most of the paint off the brush. You want the light gray underneath to show through. This is just like dry brushing. I then made large broad strokes in one direction, back and forth, covering the whole stone. Again, in the opposite direction, I made broad strokes over the whole stone. Occasionally, of course, I had to dip the brush in more paint and wipe most off again. It doesn't have to be all an even tone. It looks more like natural rock to be a bit darker and lighter in places. Do the sides and back in the same manner.

Now it's time for the streaky fun bit. Decide if you want your streaks to be black, gray, brown, green, what have you. Get creative. For the E.Z. Landen stone, I made a mint green and went over it with white. All you do is get your brush (which should be nice and ragged if you dry brushed the whole stone with a second base color.) and just dip the tip into the paint and wipe some off. Don’t wipe as much paint off as in the last step. Put the brush on the foam and quickly pull it straight down a few inches. Make some strokes longer than other ones. I go over strokes a few times until it looks right to me. I streak down from the letters and horizontal top pieces, cracks and. Anything that looks like it'd collect muck and drip and stain over decades. I did the same for the backs. For the tops, I just went back and forth with the brush. I put more on flat surfaces, less on vertical and the sides of curved pieces.



I streaked it from top corner down on the sides. On the edges/corners of all the sides, I used the wide, flat side of the brush and quickly glided it along to accent them. You can go over it however many times to your liking. I made it lighter and darker in different places.


For a final touch on some tombstones, I dry brushed blotches of brown and/or green for dirt and moss in random places. Good examples are on Kerry Emhoff and Edgar Oscar Near.


I might go back with a toothpick and refill some of the letters and numbers that might have accumulated too much paint in them. However, this might be nit picking.


To put them in the ground I use one 2' section of 1/4" inch steel rod and two 2' sections of wire coat hanger. Rod goes into up into the middle, and a wire hanger piece to each side. Be careful to put them in straight. It’s easy to stray and poke out the front or back. Then shove it all into the ground. The rod will rust a little which will actually lock it into the ground. The foam will lock to the rod from rust also. It becomes a nice ‘lil deterrent! When removing them I find I might need to twist the stone a bit to break the rust, the stone then slides off and you really have to yank to get the rod out of the ground.

That’s it. Good luck and happy haunting!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
325 Posts
Very impressive and detailed work. The great variety of gravestone silhouettes really make them stand out. Each shape is unique, but very realistic. And your aging technique is certainly something to emulate. Just all around great work. Makes me itch to make some myself. Will definitely have to find this thread again when I am ready to carve Styrofoam.
 

·
Bog Body
Joined
·
1,474 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
thank you all! they look better in real life under natural lighting conditions. not in pictures with head on up close flash lighting. i think the very last pic looks the best.

<a href=http://www.angelfire.com/me/Batfly/tshowto.html>This</a> is the link to the web page version i did of this tutorial. they are virtually identical. just the intro is different. so you can bookmark that if it's easier.

for gitz and shiggles here are the tombstones hanging out in the yard last october.





and the view from my door...

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Very nice! I love the shovel in the yard, too...nice extra touch. Thanks for the great tutorial! I've been wanting to make these myself for awhile, but wasn't sure where to start...
 

·
Reaper Queen
Joined
·
8,570 Posts
Excellent tutorial, lots of ideas, put in a easy to understand format!!Your stones looked great too. Lots of deatil. Mine aren't usually so detailed, I thnk I am going to try more. I really like the paint on these too, the paint running down in the different colors , I will look back on these when I get ready to make mine!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Great tutorial. Glad to see it in this section. I saved it in my favorites last season when you put it up originally. Someone already said it, but the shovel is a the perfect finishing touch.
 
B

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Nice pic Great Job now all you need is your Gravedigger,lol
I hope you are still going to make him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
445 Posts
great tutorial, it's easy to understand, and the pictures are helpful . Thanks, I was looking for something like this too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
Great job, nice step by step, I was looking on a way to build these, my bro in law can get me all the styrofoam sheets I want!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Thanks for the awesome tutorial, I finished ten tombstones following your techniques and they turned out great. I'll probably be throwing away the ones I made last year since they aren't nearly as good. I did a couple of things differently, but overall your tutorial helped a lot. Thanks again!
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top