The 48 Hour Tombstone Prop

The clock is ticking down to the big day, but there is still time to get in a few extra props for your haunt. Here's a quick tombstone prop that I whipped up in a weekend.

Before I began, I made sure I had a few tools to help with this project. First, I used a Black & Decker Lithium Compact Saw (but any jigsaw will do). I also used a Dremel Tool Kit for all of the carving. Finally, I used an Orbital Sander for all of the edges (if you don't have one, sandpaper will work fine). Once I had all of the tools gathered, it was time to begin.

Friday Night:
The first thing I did was to get a piece of scrap 2" thick foam board from another larger project that I'm currently working on. It was about 16"x24", which worked perfectly for the size of the stone. I used the Compact Saw to round the top corners of the foam (and for some reason, I forgot to get a picture of the blank foam, so for now you'll just have to picture it in your head).  I also used the Orbital Sander (or sandpaper if you don't have a sander) to rough up the edges. This gave a nice, aged look to the stone.

After that, I headed to the computer. I had the dimensions of the stone, so now it was time to start on the epitaph. I took my inspiration from a Haddonfield horror classic and began to lay out the lettering in Adobe Illustrator. With the appropriate font and all lettering laid out to my liking, I tiled together the printouts (because it wouldn't fit on a single 8.5" x 11" piece of paper) to create the epitaph. There was a little time left, so I began to cut out the letters with an Xacto knife...

I ended up adding the cross at the top as a focal point to the epitaph. And yes, Judith Myers was Michael Myers' sister, who was murdered at the beginning of the original Halloween.

I got a jump start on Saturday morning by cutting out the rest of the letters, taping the epitaph on the foam stone and tracing all of the lettering with a marker. After all of the letters were traced, I used the Dremel to start carving out the letters. This was actually the first tombstone that I have made using my brand new Dremel to carve the epitaph. I was quite happy with the results:

After the epitaph was carved, it was time to paint. I started with a dark grey coat, as this would be the color of the recessed lettering and the base coat for the rest of the stone. It's important with this coat to make sure that every little crack and crevice are coated and that no blue foam is visible.

The final day started with adding a light grey coat to the rest of the stone. Be careful not to get any of this paint in the lettering, as we want to keep the letters standing out from this new color. I used a dry-brush technique, where I lightly brushed on small amounts of paint at a time. It took a bit longer to apply, but this method gives you more control in how much of the darker base coat you want to show through. Experiment with leaving areas lighter and darker for a more realistic look.

And finally, after the grey coat dried, I went back in with a small brush and washed in (with watered down paint) two different green accent colors for a moss effect.

In less than a weekend, I had a fully painted tombstone ready to go into this year's yard haunt!



Wings1295 said...

Wow. Kudos. I am in awe of that talent.

highbury said...

Thank you very much, Joe! We've done quite a few tombstones over the years and we're always refining and improving the process.

Lisa said...

Very nice - I like the green streaks. Curious - How do you install them in the yard?

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