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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #21
I was working on this again tonight so I thought I'd take a few more pictures and show how I deal with adding footwear to a prop that is mounted to a wooden base.

I went to 3 Goodwills this week looking for shoes and I found nothing. :( Tonight I decided to look in a couple of stores to see what I could find. I ended with a cheap pair of Route 66 dress shoes from Kmart. I think they were about $19 (about double what I would pay at Goodwill which is usually around $8) but I am kind of running out of time and options. ;)

Anyways, back to prop building. With a prop like our swaying zombie, it is important to make sure the bases are mounted firmly to your platform so your prop doesn't end up on the ground halfway through Halloween. We have found the best way is to use a 3 inch hole saw and to cut a hole through the shoes that will allow the bases to sit flat on the platform and also be hidden by the shoes. I typically use a cheap Harbor Freight hole saw and it works just fine for this task.

A couple of notes on this before you start, first, make sure you find shoes wide enough to hide the bases. For this one we used a size 11 and they worked out great. Secondly, before you attempt to drill them, remove any cushioning, insoles, basically anything you can tear out. Make sure there are no steel strips under that, if there are remove them or they will really hinder your drilling. Try to center the hole saw so your pipe will end up in the middle of the opening of the shoe. Drill slowly if you don't want the shoe ripped from your hands. :) This process will very in difficulty depending on the quality and materials used in the shoes. The Kmart specials were almost like foam and the holesaw blew right through them. Easiest ones I have ever drilled through. Once you are done they should look something like this.


Once this is done you can just slide the shoes down over your bases and you are ready to go! I typically run a small drywall screw through the sole of the shoes into my platform just to keep them flat and from moving.
 

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I second the bubble wrap idea, mainly because I can collect it during the year for free, but it's very easy to form. I've made a waist by making a wire loop and then wrapping it with bubble wrap. It sits on the hip joints though I could just as easily taped it to the spine.

I also want to say how great Spiderhill is. I'll be buying more kits from them in the future.
 

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Hauntless
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Wow, Diabolik! What great ideas to quickly (and lightly) bulk out a zombie.

Hope you don't mind but I'd like to toss into this that you can go to Level: Bananas! by further manipulating hardware cloth. It really is a prop maker's go-to cloth. It's a supreme medium to fold, bend and pinch into exactly what you want. When making Terra I took many of the following ideas from LaurieBeast's, The Vampiress tutorial.

A dress form is a helpful start to form the top of the torso. Here you can see that the hardware cloth is being pinched with needle nose pliers. It's also been folded and cut in other areas:




Hardware cloth is also great to be 'sewn' onto existing areas or even 'sewn' together:




Here's where Level: Bananas! comes in and takes most of your Halloween prop-building time - you can easily coat it in layers of Celluclay:




Then - if you are truly dedicated - you can put a layer of Paperclay and/or DAS Clay and sculpt every last detail and then paint:

 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #25
Wow, Diabolik! What great ideas to quickly (and lightly) bulk out a zombie.

Hope you don't mind but I'd like to toss into this that you can go to Level: Bananas! by further manipulating hardware cloth. It really is a prop maker's go-to cloth. It's a supreme medium to fold, bend and pinch into exactly what you want. When making Terra I took many of the following ideas from LaurieBeast's, The Vampiress tutorial.

A dress form is a helpful start to form the top of the torso. Here you can see that the hardware cloth is being pinched with needle nose pliers. It's also been folded and cut in other areas:




Hardware cloth is also great to be 'sewn' onto existing areas or even 'sewn' together:




Here's where Level: Bananas! comes in and takes most of your Halloween prop-building time - you can easily coat it in layers of Celluclay:




Then - if you are truly dedicated - you can put a layer of Paperclay and/or DAS Clay and sculpt every last detail and then paint:

Terra, you have way more patience (and talent) than me. I never realized you made her whole body, but somehow I am not surprised. ;) She was probably a piece of cake after the horse and demon dog. :)
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #26
I think I have pretty much wrapped this guy up for now. I finished griming him up and dressing him tonight. Our weather here is supposed to be horrid Friday night, so I am sure my zombies will be taking a beating. I am doubting anyone will notice any little details that I might have missed.;)
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I have got my four SpiderHill kits almost done. I too used the ... Hardware mesh ... But I did it in a circle rather than over the shoulders. Sure does look cleaner over the shoulders. Where was this thread three weeks ago?!?!?

I havent done the shoes yet. The wife gave me 8 pairs of black runners she has laying around, just havent gotten to the hole drilling.

After watching a Making Monsters episode where Mike and Ed just loooved drilling shoes, I have been a bit reluctant.

Anyhow, my question is, I see you screwed your legs to the back of the wood platform. Why is that? I put all mine in the middle ???
We too are having another crap anniversary/ halloween nite. 15mm of rain and 2mm of snow that day :(
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #28
I have got my four SpiderHill kits almost done. I too used the ... Hardware mesh ... But I did it in a circle rather than over the shoulders. Sure does look cleaner over the shoulders. Where was this thread three weeks ago?!?!?

I havent done the shoes yet. The wife gave me 8 pairs of black runners she has laying around, just havent gotten to the hole drilling.

After watching a Making Monsters episode where Mike and Ed just loooved drilling shoes, I have been a bit reluctant.

Anyhow, my question is, I see you screwed your legs to the back of the wood platform. Why is that? I put all mine in the middle ???
We too are having another crap anniversary/ halloween nite. 15mm of rain and 2mm of snow that day :(
There is no wrong way to do it. Many times I make a "hoop" for around the chest/waist and then I make another piece for the shoulders. I did not have a lot of hardware cloth left and that is mainly why I did this one like that. It is easier, but I think doing it in 2 pieces allows it to be shaped a bit more.

If they are running shoes they might not be too bad to drill. Men's dress shoes are tough. As I said, tear out anything you can from inside them as it is less you need to drill through. If the are tough, I'll even clamp them in the vise to keep them steady. Overall, it is not fun, but it looks great once it is finished.

As far as where on the platform you mount your character, totally up to you. We do it that way on the swaying zombies because I like the see the character and its shoes all contained to the platform and not hanging over. Makes storage easier if you are standing multiple characters together. Again, only my method and thinking, certainly not the only way to do things. I really try to give our customers a good starting point and let them go from there.

I see all of our kits and dimensions that way. Just about very prop I build varies from the dimensions we provide. When you build something like the swaying zombie, you really need to craft the frame to match the character you are building. On this one I narrowed the shoulders, and shortened the legs and spine a couple of inches. That is the great thing about the PVC. Easy to change and if you make a mistake, you can always just cut another piece.
 

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Ryan, I wanted to thank you for making my first prop builds possible! I used the advice/templates on this thread to fill out my phantoms, and they ended up looking so much better than the bags and newspapers I tried first. I used cardboard for the hips with the measurements you provided, and no more falling pants. I ended up buying the plastic hardware cloth because I have mishaps with sharp things. I still managed to scrape myself with the plastic. I imagine the steel would have given a much more natural look as it holds the shape you bend it into, but the plastic sufficed for this year. The shoes I had bought off of ebay had very narrow heels. I ended up completely cutting the back of the soles off, and that worked out okay. We mounted one phantom to the middle of the base, and the other more towards the back. I also prefer not to have the shoes hanging off, so future figures will be attached towards the back of the platform from now on. I also altered the measurements for my phantoms after my husband brought home this huge scarecrow. So I bought some more pvc pipe and used the cutter I got with my order. Good thing I did that especially for the phantom inside, because I hadn't counted on the window frame blocking my prop's faces (it blocked my shorter venetian victoria bride's face).
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THANKS SO MUCH RYAN!
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #31
Ryan, I wanted to thank you for making my first prop builds possible! I used the advice/templates on this thread to fill out my phantoms, and they ended up looking so much better than the bags and newspapers I tried first. I used cardboard for the hips with the measurements you provided, and no more falling pants. I ended up buying the plastic hardware cloth because I have mishaps with sharp things. I still managed to scrape myself with the plastic. I imagine the steel would have given a much more natural look as it holds the shape you bend it into, but the plastic sufficed for this year. The shoes I had bought off of ebay had very narrow heels. I ended up completely cutting the back of the soles off, and that worked out okay. We mounted one phantom to the middle of the base, and the other more towards the back. I also prefer not to have the shoes hanging off, so future figures will be attached towards the back of the platform from now on. I also altered the measurements for my phantoms after my husband brought home this huge scarecrow. So I bought some more pvc pipe and used the cutter I got with my order. Good thing I did that especially for the phantom inside, because I hadn't counted on the window frame blocking my prop's faces (it blocked my shorter venetian victoria bride's face).
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View attachment 229646
THANKS SO MUCH RYAN!
You are welcome! First off I am very thankful for your support, and very glad that you liked your kits! It looks like you did a great job. There is nothing wrong with using alternative materials. It sounds like you've got the idea now and from what I can see your Phantoms turned out awesome. As I said before, there is no one plan or way for building props. Finding a starting point is half of the battle and that is what I try to provide. :) I would really suggest checking Kmart and Walmart for shoes. I am not sure what you paid buying them online, but for about $17-$18 you can get them there and they are very easy shoes to work with. For me the ease of cutting through and the time saved makes them totally worth it to me. As for your current pair, have you considered making "fake" heels? Maybe cut out of some foam or wood and then just painted to match. You could make them slightly wider than the shoes if need be to cover the bases. ;) It's all about tweaking. Sometimes I cut or adjust a frame 3 or 4 times before I am happy with the end results. It does get easier as you go.

Maybe next season you'll be ready to build your first animated prop? ;)

StanFam3, I am happy to help out any way I can.

Ryan
 

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Halloween Elitist
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Thanks for the tip on keeping the pants up, it was a huge upgrade from my method and worked like a charm, didn't have time for the hardware cloth but I'll try it this coming year
 

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Diabolik - because you are pretty much the front runner of the Animated Zombie Prop, I practice what you preach. However after stabbing my hands (through gloves too) repeatedly so many times with hardware cloth, I had to find an alternative. It is the Green Plastic version. Drawback - it only comes in 1/2" (that I can find) I make the same "poncho" like you but cover it in Great Stuff to get it ridged enough. I use rubber gloves to smooth it out a little, but some bumps are ok - alter all it is a zombie! I also allows me to paint it if I need a little skin showing. I also use GS on the arms and legs on top of the pool noodles to give more bulk - again smoothing it out with gloves. More on the arms than the legs because they can't be seen.
I want to try something off the wall - I want to do a shambler in his boxers and a t-shirt - not everyone dies with all their clothes on!
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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Discussion Starter #34
Diabolik - because you are pretty much the front runner of the Animated Zombie Prop, I practice what you preach. However after stabbing my hands (through gloves too) repeatedly so many times with hardware cloth, I had to find an alternative. It is the Green Plastic version. Drawback - it only comes in 1/2" (that I can find) I make the same "poncho" like you but cover it in Great Stuff to get it ridged enough. I use rubber gloves to smooth it out a little, but some bumps are ok - alter all it is a zombie! I also allows me to paint it if I need a little skin showing. I also use GS on the arms and legs on top of the pool noodles to give more bulk - again smoothing it out with gloves. More on the arms than the legs because they can't be seen.
I want to try something off the wall - I want to do a shambler in his boxers and a t-shirt - not everyone dies with all their clothes on!
I totally feel your pain with the hardware cloth (literally) I have the scars to prove it! I have seen many other great ways here to fill out bodies. We are actually looking at ideas for new products right now for next season and finding an easier way to finish these props is on the radar. I am not going to give away too much just yet, but we are hoping to be able to offer something easier here in the near future.

I would love to see a zombie in his undershorts,maybe with his pants at his ankles? Who says we all get to die with dignity. You can't tell me that with all of the zombies on the Walking Dead, not a single one lost his pants!
 

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WHAT NOT TO DO..when trying to fill out a body.
My father was making these "cute" scarecrows, out of flat pine, painted and dressed in jeans, flannel shirt and shoes and stuffed with straw.
Being the "clever" son I didn't want to store away wet straw, so I used the packaging peanuts. I filled the shirt and pants, both tied off at wrists, ankles and waist and he looked great. put him out side. So YES the wind came along, he fell open, shirt opened and I spend 2 hours picking up packing peanuts. I have since gone to bubble wrap.
 

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WHAT NOT TO DO..when trying to fill out a body.
My father was making these "cute" scarecrows, out of flat pine, painted and dressed in jeans, flannel shirt and shoes and stuffed with straw.
Being the "clever" son I didn't want to store away wet straw, so I used the packaging peanuts. I filled the shirt and pants, both tied off at wrists, ankles and waist and he looked great. put him out side. So YES the wind came along, he fell open, shirt opened and I spend 2 hours picking up packing peanuts. I have since gone to bubble wrap.
you didn't want to store away wet straw because it would of drew in bugs and such? I never used straw but was always worried that it will be filled with bugs next time I went to go get them out of storage. I think the best way to fill out a body would be plastic bags or chicken wire mesh!
 

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I have a reaper I would like to make and was not quite sure how to bulk him up a bit. Thanks for posting this it will help me a great deal.
 
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