Halloween 2014 - First New Prop Part 4

Here's how the gravestone began.

First I used 2 sheets of large foamcore board (30" x 40"). Standard stuff, available at most office supply. If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know foamcore is my "go-to" prop making material. Not that it's the best, it's just what I've grown comfortable using. The same way a chef might have a favorite knife, or a writer has a favorite pencil.

I drew and cut out the shape of the gravestone and basically made a box. The gravestone sides are strips of foamcore scored so they can be bent into a curve. I hot glued it together and used painter's tape as I went along to keep things in place as the glue set up.

Second, I sketched on the eyes and mouth I wanted and cut those out with an X-Acto.

Third, I filled the inside with Great Stuff expanding foam and let dry. Here's a tip, spray bottle misting the foam with water helps speed up it's expansion and drying time.

Now, the combination of the expanding foam and misting created a happy accident that I anticipated and welcomed, The foamcore warped a bit giving the gravestone a more odd and organic shape.

Next, once the foam set up, I sculpted it to make look more natural as if was stone that had broken away.

Then I began to have real fun, cutting out the details and adding cracks with the X-Acto. I also pulled off a lot of the surface paper on the foamcore adding texture.

The Gravestone was then thinly coated with Fix-It-All patching plaster compound tinted with some black india ink making it more grey colored.

Once dry, I went back and added finer cracks (just running a nail through the patching plaster) and sanded edges. Then I started dry brushing with various shades of grey and black washes to bring out details.

Now, with all the added moisture because of the painting, once dry, the gravestone warped more especially at the glue seams and thinner areas I had carved details into. Sometimes it actually split and created gaps. I filled these with ordinary tile grout tinted with some of the paint I was using. The sand in the grout also added some great texture.

Look for Part 5 soon  when I'll be adding the melted candle eyes.


  1. Cool Dave - thanks for sharing this tutorial. Is the foam core you buy the same type of material as the pink or blue insulating foam one would get from Home Depot of Lowes? Which is the best product for tombstone construction? I have to make some this year and was wondering what to buy.

  2. Now it all makes sense to me! Oh so awesome! Never thought of using foamcore board though...used to using the "pink stuff", but alas, none to be found here in Austin. Outstanding job as usual!

  3. This is a great project. Very excited to see new Halloween stuff!

  4. I love this. I've only ever made tombstones out of slabs of styrofoam. Does the foam core survive outdoors pretty well?

  5. wow, it's wonderful design ! ty

  6. truly amazing what you can do with home depo items to make one kick ass tombstone!

  7. Did you paint your hot glue gun black?

  8. Sigh....i want to make stuff as cool as Dave does.

    P.S. you really need to past everyday!

  9. Wow, that expanding foam is giving me ideas -- excellent demo, thanks!

  10. Dave, my sister and I are so excited to be making one of these and have followed along with your instructions pretty good so far. Tomorrow we will finish carving out the foam to start painting etc. We are crossing our fingers you post a melted candle "how to" soon so we know what the heck to do next!!!