Sorry I've been an irregular Halloween blogger this year, but here's a full blown prop "how-to" post to make up for it. This is a cheap, easy and super fast project. Perfect if your haunt needs last minute details or you want some extra decoration inside for a party this Friday night.
How fast and easy? Well... I created these Zombie windows to cover our set's french door area in little over 4 hours today.
Step 1 - Get yourself lots of black foam core board. Cut boards to cover windows atleast a 1/4" - 1/2" wider. These will be the main support and create the blacked out areas. Once done, set aside to be used later. If it takes more than one board to cover your window it's okay, you can seam them together easily (explained later).
Step 2 - Making wood planks. These are cut strips of foam core. Why cheap foam core planks? To keep light and easily hung temporarily in windows of course (you could also use thicker foam or real wood, but this worked for me on this project). Cut irregular widths and lengths. Forget the ruler, going for that old distressed look. I also cut exaggerated cartoony notches at the end of planks to help sell it.
Step 3 - Painting. Trying to pass off foam core as wood planks requires a really decent faux finish. I used a wood grain paint tool, you can find these at most paint or craft stores. If you don't have one, get one. A handy tool in any prop making arsenal.
First I painted a board with a thinned coat of grey paint (1 part water/ 3 parts paint).
Quickly, while the paint was fresh and wet, I dragged the tool across to create grain. If you've never used one, practice a bit. Varying the angle of the curve while dragging creates unique knots and other natural wood grain textures. Tip - keep a rag handy. The wood grain tool can get gunked up with paint after several passes ruining the effect. So wipe it clean often.
Second tip - Once your planks are painted, they may curl a bit, this is because the drying shrinks the paper surface of the foamcore on that side. If happens, lightly wet the back with sponge or brush and the curl will flatten out some when that dries.
Step 4 - The fun part. Once planks dry, start arranging them on the window black out boards the way you like. Once set, just hot glue in place. If you have boards that need seaming, hot glue a plank across the seam to bridge them together.
Step 5 - Details. On the black areas between planks glue on store bought skeleton arms and hands as if breaking through. If needed, cut the base of them flat to glue more securely on board. I painted all mine green for a classic cartoon zombie look and so would "pop" against the darker boards. I also lightly dusted the bottom of each arm/hand with flat black spray paint so would blend in with the black void better and help suggest emerging from shadow.
I also added Zombie eyes. These were Ping Pong balls cut in half. I painted them yellow and used a Sharpie to create pupils and a neon green paint pen for color. Quick and easy.
And for extra detail, I used a silver paint pen to dot on nail heads where planks connected.
Step 6 - Hanging it up. On the back of the board hot glue a length of picture hanging wire. On the window attach a suction cup hook. Hang Zombie board on hook. Done!
They're ya go. My project was constrained by time and budget, but I hope all reading this will take this basic build and get inspired to make your own and improve on.