Monday, November 3, 2008

Paper Mache Skulls

Out of all the new things I learned over the past year, making paper mache skulls was probably one of the best. I have to credit Spooky Blue for teaching me this through a tutorial on his website. Now that I have learned this I can make an unlimited amount of heads for zombies or anything else I need one for. Here are a few pictures of how I make mine.

I start with this basic skull, which came with a handy stand which makes things a lot easier. This one used to have some stuff inside that made it "talk", but I took all that stuff out.
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Then I cover it with strips of newspaper, about three layers. I have found if you alternate the colors, it helps you keep track of what you have done. For instance, use black and white for one layer, then something like the comics for the next layer, then black and white again.
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After this dries, usually overnight, I cut from below where one ear should be up and across the top of the skull and down the other side. Then start working on peeling off the pieces. Once you get them off, tape up the inside really good and fill it with expandable foam (I used Great Stuff). Be careful not to put to much in at a time as it will make the head kind of shaped wrong, which could be a good thing if you're going for that look. I usually put in a few layers at a time to prevent this, or have poked holes into the foam when it is about half setup to let the gases escape from inside, which will stop it from expanding.
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I think this ended up being the head for this guy...
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One of the cool things is that every one of these will end up looking different. I also do not add teeth, I think they look kind of cool without them and I was probably too lazy to make them. I also followed Spooky's groundbreaker corpse tutorial to make these guys.

Spooky Blue's Tutorial

18 comments:

Drop Gallow said...

Nicely done. I tried papier mache skulls a few months ago... total disaster. I guess I'll have to try again. Love those groundbreakers.

Johnny said...

I did Spooky Blue's paper skull as well way back in July. Didn't get a chance to finish him. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3082/2875336857_7cb15727c4.jpg?v=0
But I will definitely be using that technique for next year. A stand would help. Need to find a skull with a stand too.

The corpse I did finish was done using Spooky's tutorial as well. Guy has wonderful tutorials!

I really like your groundbreakers this year. The all look so...forlorn.

Grim said...

I love creating those groundbreakers. Each one starts to take on his own personality as you are making it, and kind of has a story to it (to me anyway). I hope to make many more over the next year because they are so fun.

teresa said...

How much expanding foam do you put into the finished skull? I have two ready to go with this next step, but i'm unsure how much to fill it to. Do i fill it just to the top part of the mouth or right down to the lower jaw? And if its to the lower jaw, does the foam not show when the mouth is open?
Love your work BTW.

Grim said...

I have found that it is best to put in small amounts at a time, because if you fill it all the way up it will deform the skull as the foam tries to expand. If I'm not mistaken, I think they make some "Great Stuff" that doesn't expand as much as the kind in the red can (which is what I usually use. I try to fill it about a quarter of the way full and let that expand before adding more. I've also found that it helps to poke something into the outer "shell" of the foam as it is setting up to release some of the built up air inside. I fill it all the way to the base of the lower jaw, then cut away what I don't want... inside of the mouth, etc. Just make sure to paint the inside of the mouth black (if the mouth is open). Filling it all the way to the base of the jaw gives a good mounting point also, I just cut out a hole big enough for whatever I am putting it on. That stuff is pretty easy to cut once it is completely set up... don't try it before that though as it is extremely sticky!

Anonymous said...

How do you peel the pieces off without everything coming apart and loosing the shape?

Grim said...

Veeeeery carefully! I let them dry completely, then use something like the end of a butter knife to start peeling around the edges a little bit at a time. If you're lucky, you'll get to a point where it will just pop off. Lately, I've been cheating and just using premade foam skulls. They are more expensive, but save lots of time.

Anonymous said...

You can also cover the base skull in aluminum foil for each paper mache skull that you make. This makes the peeling process go much easier...

Grim said...

That's a great idea... Never did it, but it would have made it easier, I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

Did you put something over the paper mache? The look like they have cloth or something wrapped around them. They look amazing!

Grim said...

Yes... what you see with the news paper is just a base for the final "skin". I used paper towels dipped in the same Elmer's glue and water mix for that. I think they look best if you leave lots of wrinkles in them, so they'll look like shriveled up skin. I use Kleenex Viva paper towels, because they are strong and don't have any designs imprinted in them... Unless you just want your zombies to have flowery faces. :)

mom2f5 said...

ok so let me see if i have this right...
1) paper mache 3 layers over skull
2) after its dry, peel off from skull to use as a form & spray in the foam- small amounts at a time
3) paper towels over the top of the paper mache/foam head & then painted?
I can do that....hmmm....I'm sure I have a skull around here somewhere...How did you do the bodies?

Grim said...

I make the skeleton out of rolled up newspaper, then cover all of that with more paper towels / glue mixture.

angela said...

Looks so easy and final product is creepy! Just found this now and will have to try it out.

Dale1803 said...

Thanks for the great idea. I just made a couple of these and they look brilliant.

Melissa S said...

Can you give a step by step on making t he body?

Anonymous said...

Can u post step by step on the body please

Grim said...

I pretty much did the bodies like Spooky Blue shows in his tutorial. I use Kleenex Viva paper towels, and try to put them on with a lot of wrinkles... the more the better. I just use the same Elmer's Glue/water mix for the paper towels.