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14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Heat Lighting Nativity scene Art Interior design

You'll need:

drawing materials
roll of paper for a pattern
2 4' x 8' sheets of material. I used a 3/16th inch thick plywood I found at Lowe's. Fairly lightweight and easy to cut with the Dremel tool.
Cutting tool such as the Dremel
Sand paper (or use the Dremel again)
Black paint
Several 1" x 2"s and screws for mounting
2 to 3 strings of lights. I used 2 70-bulb strings of orange.
plastic spider

Step 1: Prepare the pattern and transfer to pattern paper

Drawing Sketch Child art Artwork Visual arts

Floor Tile Flooring Road surface Concrete

When drawing my design, I considered the size of my display space (a 2-car garage door), as well as the material I would be using. I used 2 sheets of thin plywood. One sheet runs horizontally, 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall. I had this cut into 2- 4x4 pieces at the store. Each side piece started as a 2 x 6 piece, cut from the other sheet. This gave me some height, and also frames the scene nicely.

I had the cuts made strategically, so that seams would not be too visible. One seam bisects the cauldron, one is between the 2 jack-o-lanterns, and the third is between the cat and the tree.

I drew the design on 8 1/"2 x 11" paper, then used the grid method to enlarge it to the proper size, which I drew on kraft paper, and then cut out. You could, of course, skip the pattern and draw the enlargement (in reverse) straight onto the back of the plywood. Or, if you'll be painting it black, you could draw it right onto the front, as any drawing lines will be covered by black paint.

Using a sharpie, I traced the pattern onto the back of the plywood. The entire design is 12 feet wide and 6 feet tall in the tallest places.

Step 2: Cut out the design


Flooring Floor Tile

Canidae Dog Dog breed Ratonero bodeguero andaluz Sporting Group

Use the Dremel tool to cut out the design. If you have not use this tool before, practice on some scrap. It's not too difficult, but it does take some practice. It can get away from you. Luckily, Halloween designs are very forgiving. A few jagged edges can make it look better! Nothing should be too perfect.

It took me between 1 1/2 and 2 hours to cut out this design. I thought the trees were going to be difficult, but they weren't too bad.

Apparently my cat looks very realistic, at least my dog thought so.

Use coarse sandpaper or the Dremel to sand off the rough edges. Again, no need to be too perfect. People will view this from at least 10 feet away, and probably more.

Step 3: Paint the cut-outs

Hand Wood Table Finger Floor

Table Floor Concrete

Paint the front of the cut-outs. Don't forget the edges, because they will show.

no need to paint the back. Mine were pre-primed. A small roller will make quick work of it.

Step 4: Prepare for mounting

Wall Art Door Architecture Mural

While the paint is drying, you can add the mounting cleats to the garage door. We ended up screwing in one set of 1" x 2 " boards against the door, and a second set of boards on top of those. We thought this was easier as we could use much shorter screws. Place cleats where two pieces of the cut-out meet. This will help to avoid light seeping through the seams. I also painted these black, in case they show through at all.

Step 5: Add lights and Install

Green Illustration Grass Design Tail

Put the cut-outs face down on a soft surface, or on something that won't scrape them up. Lay out your light strings, then begin taping them on. I tried to point the bulbs toward the center of the design, to cast the most light that way. I also did not go all the way to the top of the pieces, which put more light toward the bottom where the cauldron is, and gives a look of more heat at the bottom, where a fire would be. Sort of an ombre effect.

Now you're ready to mount the silhouette. You may need help with this step. Line the pieces up with the pre-installed cleats. Make sure cords and bulbs are not in the way. Also check that you will be able to reach the ends of the light strings, so you'll be able to plug them together. Also, the bulbs should not show when looking straight at the piece. Just their glow. Make your adjustments and screw the plywood pieces into the cleats.

As a final touch, I dangled a plastic spider from the witch's hand. It was just too delicate a shape to cut out of wood.

Step 6: Plug it in and enjoy

Art Mural Visual arts Silhouette Black cat

Cat Black cat Felidae Small to medium-sized cats Silhouette

Silhouette Flame Fictional character Heat Dragon

Plug in (careful of the cord and the movement of the garage door).

Enjoy the intensifying light effects as daylight fades. I like this design because it's very noticeable in daylight, but it really comes to life in the dark.

It's a traffic-stopper for sure. Can't wait for Halloween!

28 Posts
My jaw just dropped! Incredible, absolutely incredible. I have always wondered what to do with my garage door and now you have given me a silhouette of light to walk towards. This is perfect in every way!



14,834 Posts
Ghost2015, welcome to HF and wow your garage silhouettes look fantastic. The orange glow really gives it a great punch. How far away from the garage door is the plywood set? You seem to have found a nice distance there to bounce the light off of it.

As much as I like using LEDs, I don't think LEDs would work as well for this application since they tend to be more one directional. The traditional lights have a nice spread to them. I've been updating my holiday lights to LED but think I will be holding onto some of my traditional lights now :).

Very nice work and thanks for the tutorial!

14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The distance away from the garage door is about 6 inches and the lights are orange fairy lights, With the white background it gives a nice glow.
If people here want to make this but dont have plywood,dremel Etc. this can be made using cardboard. Im sorry but ive lost the template i used to make this but if you use the picture (white picture under "step 6) you can either use the "grid" copy or use a projector and trace around it.

*EDIT* - I tried this with blue lights and purple but didnt look right so my advice on colour is anything bright (White,Orange,Yellow Etc.)

103 Posts
I absolutely love this. Thanks sooooo much for the tutorial on how you make this great creation ghost2015. Don't have time to make it this Halloween but defo going to give it a try next year. I don't want to screw it to my garage so will have to figure a way to have it free standing, any suggestions???
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