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Transform cheap Dollar Store plastic skulls into high quality, realistic looking Halloween props

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In this instructable I will show you how to transform low quality Dollar store skulls into high quality, expensive looking halloween props.

I will detail two methods you can use to achieve these effects.
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials

Materials Needed:

As many $1 halloween skulls as you wish from the dollar store or equivalent where you live

1 utility knife or exacto

1 can rubberized undercoating spray (method #1)

1 can of turpentine

1 can of dark wood stain (method #2)

1 can of grey primer

acrylic or water based airbrush paint

fine tip brushes

airbrush (you will of course need an air compressor if u use this)

rags

Step 2: Cut away black plastic area between the jaws

Picture of Cut away black plastic area between the jaws
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One of the easiest things we can do to improve the looks of our skulls is to cut out the mouth, removing the black plastic with your exacto.

Be very careful, the blade can easily slip and seriously cut you.

Alternatively you can cut the lower jaw away completely so that it sits flat as I did in image 4. Those are completed skulls.

At this point you should also take the time to sand down the lines formed where the molds connected during the manufacturing process

Step 3: Method #1

Picture of Method #1
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The first method is the faster and less labor intensive choice. If you plan on using a large amount of skulls this may be the best option.

First take the can of rubberized undercoating and spray or brush a light/medium coat onto the skull and allow it to dry.

Next take the turpentine and soak a little into a spare towel. Gently rub the skull until the rubber has thinned leaving a thin yellowish coating.

Now grab a clean dry towel and very gently rub the skull. This removes rubber in the most elevated areas creating highlights.

Repeat this process until your happy with the highlights, shadows, and overall appeance.

Step 4: Method #2

Method #2 involves a bit more labor and time to create. You will however be rewarded by your extra work as this method produces more realistic and visually appealing skulls.

First take your can of plastic primer and spray the entire skull. Allow time for the primer to dry.

Once dry begin applying the wood stain to the skull using foam brushes. Allow the skull to dry but not completely. Before the stain fully dries take a clean rag and gently rub the skull.

Repeat this process a number of times until your happy with the appearance.

Next take some black and brown acrylic or water based airbrush paint and darken the eye sockets. You can also use the paint to darken in between the teeth, nose, or any other areas needs shadowing. Use a fine tip paintbrush or airbrush to apply.

Step 5: Finished skulls

Here's what I was able to do using these methods.

Halloween has become very expensive, especially for those who are and are trying to build a prop collection or put on a haunted house. Don't pay the outrageous prices you find in places like the spirit halloween store.

Since I already had all the materials needed apart from the skulls, the only costs involved were the $1 skulls. That's decorating on a budget!
sabu.dawdy10 months ago

so interesting

pie2010201110 months ago
I have those same exact skulls my teacher "forced" me to take it from him since Halloween was over and this instructable is the best
BLR_RAVI10 months ago
great color and effect...nicely explained

Very cool. You can also just buy 1 or 2 an paper mache them, cut the mache off the skull when dry and you have many skulls you can make for free.

riverswamp10 months ago

cool weathering tricks.