Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jack's Chalkboard Christmas Equation: Nightmare Before Christmas DIY Prop Tutorial

 This is a tutorial on how to make a "chalkboard" prop. You can use this tutorial to make any faux chalkboard.

   I decided to make Jack Skellington's chalkboard from Nightmare Before Christmas. Its from the scene where Jack is trying to figure out what Christmas is. He draws out a long elaborate formula / equation as he tries to find the meaning of Christmas.


Supplies Needed:

-2 black foam-core poster boards (Dollar Tree)
-Exacto blade
-Hot glue
-Acrylic paint
-Fake floral items (Dollar Tree or craft store)

Approx Cost: $5+

(Detailed tutorial corresponds with picture tutorial above)

1. Buy 2 black foam-core poster boards at dollar tree. $1 each :)

2a. Take one of the boards and trim some of the edges off with an exacto blade to make the board more "off kilter". There are no straight lines or right angles in the world of Tim Burton. (Example: If you look at the finished product photos, you can see that the left side of the chalkboard is a few inches taller than the right side).

2b. Take the second foam-core board and cut approx. 1" strips from it to make the "wooden" frame. I found out by accident that when you start cutting the foam-core into small pieces, the black paper actually peels off from the white foam center (thats why in the pictures it appears I used white material). When this happened, at first I thought, "awww crap"...but then it actually worked out better in the end. It ended up being easier to blend the paint on the foam vs the paper. 

3. Fashion the strips into a frame that fits the shape of your "chalkboard". Measure, cut mitered corners and tape the pieces together on the backside of the frame . 

4*. Paint : Prime the entire frame with an off white or cream color base. Next paint a thin, watered down coat of a "woodish" brown, let it dry. Next layer on a thick coat of liquidy dark brownish-black paint. With the dark top coat still wet, drag a wood graining tool across the surface to achieve a faux wood look. (They sell different types of wood graining tools, but for this project I made my own out of the same foam-core we have been using. Cut a small rectangle of foam-core, peel the paper off, and cut "v" shaped notches out of the edges with your exacto blade). With a continuous downward pulling motion twist the wood graining tool side to side . Repeat if necessary.

5. Hot glue the frame to the "chalkboard". You can also reinforce the mitered corners of the frame with hot glue .

6. I found an exact photo copy of Jack's Christmas formula put out by Disney/Touchstone:
I wanted my graphics to be EXACT. So...I saved this file to my computer, opened it in Adobe PhotoShop, and re sized the image to be the same measurements as my chalkboard (17"x 29"). Then I opened the re sized image in Windows: Paint. I printed the image from Paint at 100% size . It printed the image out exactly 17"x 29" on multiple pieces of paper. I cut and pasted the pages together. There may be a way easier way to do this but, I'm not aware of it. Sorry... Then I laid the image on the chalkboard and traced all of it with a pen. This ensured all of the graphics would have the exact size and placement.
(If you just want to wing it, and free hand all of the graphics, disregard the ramblings above)

7. Impressions/guide left behind from pen 

8. Paint : Follow along the impressions you made (or didn't make) using white acrylic paint.

9. The swirly top accent pieces were measured and drawn onto the excess of the second foam-core board. Then cut out with an exacto blade . The black paper peeled off again... Dry fit your swirlies to the top of the chalkboard.

10. Paint the swirlies. I did a base coat of black acrylic, then did some passes with watered down browns and golds to make it look like rusty metal.

11. Hot glue the swirlies to the back/top of the chalkboard frame .

12. Arrange and hot glue floral garland and holly leaves & berries to frame . Use the movie still photo for reference . You can also hot glue a hook to the back for hanging on the wall.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.   Good luck...

Friday, May 24, 2013

PVC Candle Prop Tutorial

This is a tutorial is on how to make fake candles out of PVC pipes. They look great placed next to your NBC/Halloween props, and they are completely safe! You dont have to worry about burning the house down. This is how I Made them:

Supplies Needed                                                                                                           

1.5" x 2' PVC pipe (One pipe makes 2 or 3 Candles)
**To save money, cardboard paper towel rolls can be substituted for the PVC, but they will not be as sturdy, and may be crushed during storage**

1.5" diameter circles/discs cut from pink insulation foam 
(One for each candle)

Battery operated tea light candle for each candle
(3 pack/$1.00 @ Dollar tree)

Hot glue

White spray paint/Acrylic paint


Approx Cost: $10 or less

Time invested: 1.5 Hours

(Description corresponds with picture tutorial above)

1. Buy 1.5 inch x 2 feet PVC pipes* ( as many as desired) Cut the PVC into 2,3,4 Pieces. I was able to get 3 Candles of differing heights from one, 2 ft. segment. 
 1.5" diameter is the perfect diameter for the average tea light to fit perfectly.

2. Cut 1.5" diameter circles or discs out of foam. I used pink insulation foam since I had a ton left over from all my other projects. You can really use anything that will wedge snugly into the PVC pipe and create a shelf for the tea light. You can use expanding "Great Stuff" foam too, but its messy and takes much longer.

3. Buy battery operated tea lights. These are available at many stores, but I found a 3 pack for $1 at Dollar Tree.

4. Dry fit all the pieces together.

5. Once everything is perfectly fit, heat up the hot glue gun! Drip layers of hot glue all over the rim of the PVC pipe, try to simulate melting wax as best you can. You will go through lots of glue sticks during this project. (Dollar Tree sells packs of hot glue sticks! Pick some up while your getting the tea lights).

6. Spray paint the entire candle + hot glue drips white. 

7. After the spray pant is completely dry, give it a wash with a mixture of brown/black acrylic paint and water. let it settle in the cracks and discolor the bright white. This will give the candle an aged & antiqued look.

Comment if you have any question....  Good luck.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Dog House Grave Stone Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to make Zero's dog house from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas. In the movie, Zero is a ghost dog, so his home is, what else? A tomb stone in a grave yard! This is how I made it...

Supplies Needed:
Pink Foam Insulation - Home Depot
Exacto Blade

Approx. Cost: $15+

Time Invested: 4 Hours

Additional measurements and cutting visual aid:

Click to view enlarged image

(Description corresponds with picture tutorial above)

*1a. Step one is always look at a reference picture, get your scale, measurements & a plan.

1b. Cut two identical pieces of foam in the doghouse shape. This will give the dog house more depth by stacking the foam. You will cut the door  into the top piece, the second piece will only  show through the door cut out. Cut a Zero shaped head and cross bones from foam as well. Glue them together with caulk. Let it dry.

2. Cut cardboard to use for the roof. It should be slightly wider than the foam roof, and overhang ( like a real roof). Also use three cardboard strips to make the covering for the apex of the roof. Use screws and a drill to quickly and easily attach the cardboard to the foam roof.

3. There is also a 1" cardboard lip that runs the length of  the front edge of the roof (eaves). These were cut, dry fit, trimmed, and glued into place.

4. Use an Exacto blade and carve the name "ZERO" over the door opening.

5. Make roof shingles. To make shingles, cut a long strip off of the pink foam board about 2.5/3" wide.
Round two edges of the strip with a knife and sand them smooth,  making a horse shoe/domed strip. Now slice thin pieces off ( like slicing a loaf of bread). Repeat until you have enough shingles to cover the roof. Use a gob of caulk on each shingle and stick it too the cardboard roof. start at the bottom and overlap/stagger your way up the roof.  Use caulk to fill any holes or unwanted gaps that are visible.

6. Sand any imperfections on house with a fine sandpaper.

7. Patch any holes, imperfections, & seams in the foam with caulk

8. Cut a cross from foam, and sand it a little. Attach cross. You can use glue. I was able to screw upward through the roof overhang into the cross making it very sturdy.

9. Prime. I used flat grey interior wall paint that was in the garage.

10. -Paint black details ("ZERO" , door opening, Zero's eye sockets).
      -Paint roof with a wash of black paint and water ( may need two coats)
      -Using a dry brush technique, age and antique the rest of the dog house so it doesn't look so bright
      and new.

Comment if you have any questions... Good luck.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Disneyland Haunted Mansion Madame Leota Static Prop Tutorial

...Another non-Nightmare Before Christmas Tutorial, but its somewhat related...

       This tutorial is how to make a Disneyland Haunted Mansion Madame Leota prop. Those of you familiar with the Haunted Mansion, know that Madame Leota is a ghostly head floating inside a crystal ball. The real Madame Leota is a projection that appears to be able to move around and speak. There are some skilled people who have been able to make an exact replica prop with projectors, and electronics. However my tutorial is much simpler. I will be showing you how to make a stationary "static" Madam Leota prop. She still looks awesome sitting out on the table at the Halloween party!

Supplies Needed:

I was able to find a 8" frosted glass lighting fixture globe at the local thrift shop.

2. Blonde Porcelain Doll : thrift shop
*Make sure dolls head fits through opening in glass globe!*

3. Pedestal : thrift shop
The one I used was an ash tray, search for something that will work for you.

4. PVC pipe segment: 6"

5. Acrylic Paints/ White Spray Paint /Glue /Scissors 

6. False Eyelashes (optional)

Approx Cost: $15 or less

Time invested: 2 Hours

How to:

First, start by finding a glass globe, then find a doll, and then the base piece. Make sure her head fits inside the globe's opening. Make sure it's not too small either, or it won't look right. Use scissors to cut and remove the doll head from the body. Do some testing and dry fitting and find out how long your PVC pipe needs to be. It will be supporting the head, and resting on the base. Once you have your measurements and the head is sitting centered in the globe, cut & glue the PVC pipe segment up into her head through the neck. You now have a creepy head on a stick, essentially...Use a comb and brush out all the dolls cute curls, frizz it out, back comb and tease it . You need the hair big enough to fill the interior of your glass globe. Spray the hair with white spray paint. After you get the hair painted white, lightly mist the hair with a squirt bottle of watered down baby blue and lime green paint (separately), and let dry. The goal here is to give her grey hair, but add that eerie blue/green ghostly glow. Next paint the dolls face & neck like Madame Leota (use a picture for reference). Apply the false lashes. Paint the PVC pipe and neck black to camouflage it ( you want all the focus on the "floating" head). Once Leota is painted, carefully wiggle and squeeze her big hair and head through the globe opening. You can use a pencil or something thin to poke into the globe and fix the placement of her hair. Now rest the globe and PVC support piece on the base. Done. If the base looks too new, antique it with paints for a more authentic look

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas Jack in the Box Scary Toy Tutorial

This is is a tutorial on how to make the scary jack-o-lantern jack in box toy from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas!

Supplies Needed:
1- Dollar Tree Craft Pumpkin
1- USPS Priority Mail Box 7"x7"x6" (free @ USPS) discontinued.
Alternate box: Duck 6"x6"x6" box
1- Semi-rigid Aluminum Flexible Hose
1- Pink Foam Insulation Square cut to fit
PVC Pipe Segment
Air Dry Clay
Acrylic Paints
Sand (or Something to weight the bottom of the box so it is not top heavy)
Wood dowel segment
Disposable allen wrench
Exacto Blade

Approx. Cost: $5 or less
(Depending on what you already have at home)

Time Invested: 3 hours

Clown Template Printable

Detailed tutorial corresponds with picture tutorial above:

1. Find a reference picture to help with measurements and scale.
I based my scale off of the size pumpkin I found. Make yours to scale according to your supplies.

2. Gather Supplies:
- Box (USPS, Duck, or whatever box you find) I have seen Duck boxes at Ralph's/Kroger & Walmart
- Foam Pumpkin (Dollar Tree around Halloween)
- Plastic or metal accordion like tubing for "spring". (Mine was metal, purchased at a an old VW car part shop. You could use plastic pool hose or whatever you can find in your area that has that accordion tube look)
- PVC segment
- Foam square for bottom of box
- Sand or Weight 
- Allen wrench for crank ( Mine came with a book case that I purchased and had to assemble)
- Wood dowel segment for lid "hinge"


3. Cut 2" foam the dimensions of the bottom of your box. Fnd the middle and twist the tubing back and forth until it digs itself deep into the foam and is very secure.

4a. Place a weight on the bottom of the box to stabilize it so it wont be top heavy and fall over ( I used sand in a plastic sandwich baggy)

4b. Slide your foam square down into the box as far down as it will go. The foam square should fit snugly into the box, and act as a false bottom.

4c. Slide a PVC Pipe segment down into the tubing to it will stand firm and not bend or flop over once weight is added to the top. 

5a. Cut 3 of the top box flaps off. The remaining  (#4) box top flap will be where we assemble the "lid".
Take flap #3 and hot glue it horizontally to the top seam of flap #4 to create a full square lid. Then take flap
 #1 and #2 and hot glue them side by side vertically to the BACK of flaps #3 and #4 for strength and thickness.

5b. Paint "Spring" tubing black.

5c. Take the foam pumpkin and twist is back and forth on the tubing until it digs into the pumpkin and the pumpkin head is secured tightly

Cover the Styrofoam pumpkin in a thin layer of air dry clay.
The Styrofoam has all those little balls and it made the surface a little bumpy with an undesirable texture.

6b. Use an exacto blade to cut the jack-o-lantern face. (Use photo for placement reference)

7. Paint pumpkin medium orange

8. Paint pumpkin dark orange in the outer edges of eyes, nose and mouth for depth.

9. Paint Pumpkin details:

a . Paint stem brown.

b . Paint a mix of watered down mix of brown and orange into all the indentation lines and blend for dimension.

c . Paint eyes, nose and mouth black.

10. Paint box details:

a . Paint entire inner box black (including inner lid).

b . Paint entire outer box primer gray (including outer lid).

c . Paint entire outer box with a watered down orange wash (over the grey to give faded, vintage look).
(Add smudges of black wash to corners and edges for a distressed look)

d . Paint dark orange striped vertically around the inner walls of the box.

e . Use the clown face template to draw/transfer the clown onto the front of the box.

f . Paint the clown face details.

(There is a discrepancy about which side the crank appears on. In the movie during the "assembly line" scene, the crank appears on the left, later in a different scene when the jack in the box is jumping down the hallway, it appears on the right)

11. Make crank out of Allen wrench and pink insulation foam pieces.

a . Cut small disc out of insulation foam. Put a small screw through the center of it and screw it through the side of the box and into the inner foam cube.( There was a counter sunk hole left where the screw had gone through the foam disc, this is where I glued the Allen wrench into.)

b . Glue on Allen wrench (it will need to be supported while it dries)

c .  Carve a small rounded handle piece out insulation foam. Slide it onto the other side of the Allen wrench.

e . Paint the foam disc and foam handle black

12a. Paint a 3-4 inch wood dowel segment black

12b. Hot glue the dowel into the crease on the back side, where the lid flap meets the box.
(It not only will look like a hinge, but it will actually help the lid stay propped up in a desirable pose instead of flopping straight back with gravity.)


Please leave any questions or comments below
Good Luck

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas Undead / Bullet Hole Duck Scary Toy Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to make the scary duck toy from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas!
aka: Undead Duck & Bullet Hole Duck...

Supplies needed:
2 - Pieces of pink insulation foam cut 7"x9"x2" (Home Depot)
1- 3" Styrofoam ball (Michaels)
1- .5" PVC pipe Cut 3" long (Home Depot)
1 - Thin wooden dowel ( at least 12" or more)
1- small tube caulk
Acrylic Paints
Masking Tape
White Glue
Knife/Exacto Blade
Eyelet Screw

Approx. Cost: 
(Depending on what suplies you already have)

Time Invested: 3+ hours

Detailed description coming soon...

Detailed tutorial corresponds with picture tutorial above

1. Find a reference picture and choose your scale, determine measurements.
(or use my measurements )

2 . Take a 3" Styrofoam ball. You will need to cut two holes into it.
a .  One circle cut the shape and size of the PVC neck . Allow the PVC to be inserted about an inch into the foam ball so its secure. 
b . The second cut will be a rectangle for the mouth. The top of the rectangle cutout should start at the "equator" or half line of the foam ball and extend down ward. I cut a 1.25" wide x 1.5" tall rectangle. The rectangle was dug out to be about .5" deep. 
c . Cut the beak out of pink insulation foam. Cut two small rectangles 2.75" long x 1.25" wide x .25" thick.
One side of the squared corners can be rounded with an exacto blade. Sand the beaks smooth. 
d . Insert the top and bottom beak to the top and bottom of the rectangle cutout in the head.

3. Carve the body out of pink insulation foam.
* Use a larger cube if your scared about carving too much away at first *
a . I used 2 sheets about 7" x 9" x 2". Glue them together using strong white glue.Use masking tape to hold the two pieces snugly together while they dry. 
b . After it dries, remove the tape and draw the rough duck body shape onto the side of the foam cube.
c . Once you have the boxy body shape cut out, start shaving away all the harsh pointed edges, start rounding and smoothing.
d . Use an exacto blade to trim away an outline under the wing, so the wing is standing out 3D.
e . Use an exacto blade to cut out a hole in the duck's back for the neck pvc pipe to be inserted into.
(1" should extend into head, 1" should ectend into the back, and 1" should be exposed as the neck.)

4. Sand with fine grit sand paper. Patch and smooth: seams, cracks, holes, dents, etc. with paintable caulk.

5. Primer: Use 1-2 coats of white acrylic on the entire duck to give a even base coat.

6. Paint: Use yellow acrylic paint to paint the head, neck and body.

7. Paint the inner beak/mouth black. Paint the outer beak and edges orange

8. Dirt Wash:
a .  Age the duck so it looks authentic. Use watered down brown paint (water color consistency) and paint it all over the duck, a paper towel or sponge is also useful to dab and blend. Let it seep into the cracks to add dimension and tone down the bright colors.
b . Paint on brown lines onto wings using watered down brown acrylic paint.

9. Eyes
Paint on eyes using black and white acrylic paint. Use photo for reference. 
(The outer black eye circle on my duck is a little larger that 1.5" diameter)

10. Teeth
Cut 12 tiny thin tangles out of pink insulation foam to make the teeth. Use a photo for reference.
This step is trial & error as far as determining size.

11. Glue teeth into the mouth using white glue

12. Cut bullet holes. Use photo for placement reference. Hold exacto blade at an angle and cut in a circle.
Use acrylic to paint them black. Paint dripping red blood.

13. Optional: Use gloss medium on the bullet holes and blood so it looks wet.

14.  Finished Duck !

15.  Wooden cart: 
a . Cut a 6"x13"x1.25" rectangle piece of insulation foam for the platform.
b . Use a pencil to carve out lines to make it look like wood grain. Use an exacto blade to notch out jagged edges of wood. Paint it black. and use a dry brush technique with gray paint to achieve the faux wood look. 
c .  Cut four 2" diameter wheels about .5" thick or less. cut out holes in their centers to accommodate the dowel passing through.  Paint the same way as the platform
d . Notch out channels in the underside for the dowels to set in.
e . Measure & cut the dowel length. 
f . Cut four thin pieces of foam and glue them to the bottom to hold the dowels in place, yet allow them to still spin (if you don't care to make the wheels actually spin, just glue the dowels into the channels with white glue or wood glue)
g . Screw in eye hook in the front of the cart 

Done . 

Hope this helps you guys figure it out
Good Luck


Comment or Question below

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion 13 Hour Clock Build Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to build a light weight life size replica of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion 13 Hour Clock, as seen in the ride. I realize this project isn't NBC related, but I keep getting asked how I made it so I thought I'd share...

Supplies Needed:
1- 8'x4'x2" board of pink insulation foam (Home Depot) 
1- Large (or 2 small) tube of silicone caulk
Assorted carving knifes/saw
Tape Measure/Ruler
Interior Paints
Screws (optional)

 Approx. Cost:
(Depending on what supplies you already have at home)

Time Invested: 13 Hours, seriously.

Printable Clock Face:

Detailed description coming soon...

Measurements/Dimensions for those who requested them:

My version of the Haunted Mansion 13 Hour clock is made of light weight insulation foam and is modified to be only 4" deep (for storage purposes). If you would like a deeper more accurate clock, I would suggest cutting and stacking more layers of insulation foam to make your clock 8-10" deep. I, however, do not have room to store a clock that big. 

When I originally made this clock, I used an actual photograph of the real Haunted Mansion clock for reference.  I used a projection of the picture to trace out the clock backing piece, then drew up all my measurements from the tracing and reference photo. I measured the clock photo printout, then multiplied all the measurements by 8 to make it 8x larger, or life size. I will give you the measurements of my clock, but I suggest you also use this method for accuracy, as my measurements were approximate and to the best of my ability. 

There is a blank background layer of foam (2"), and all the detailed pieces layered on top (2"). The front/top details of the clock should be slightly larger than the clock backing, and should overlap. (Use caulk to glue pieces together, fill gaps, and smooth seams.

Lime Green outline shows individual pieces cut.
Red shows measurements of individual pieces.

(Click any image to enlarge)

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