Halloween Garage Door Silhouette

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Introduction: Halloween Garage Door Silhouette

I love Halloween, and I've been looking for an excuse to try out the Dremel tool my husband gave me. I thought an eerie Halloween scene covering my garage door would have a lot of impact. Rather than a standard cut-out pasted on, I wanted to add some extra spook factor by lighting it from behind. So a silhouette was a perfect choice.

I'll apologize up front for the photography. These photos just don't do it justice. I wish I knew how to get better Halloween photos at night. Something to work on for the next instructable!

I've no special talents with drawing or tools, just a dogged determination to make something I've envisioned come to life. This took some work, but the result is well worth it. It's a traffic stopper on my street!

Also, our garage door is an old wooden one, and we don't mind screwing things like this into it. I don't think this woul d work with a roll-up panel door. Perhaps it could be mounted on a large wall, or staked into the yard with lights behind it.

You'll need:

drawing materials

roll of paper for a pattern

sharpie

tape

2 4' x 8' sheets of material. I used a 3/16th inch thick plywood I found at Lowe's. Fairly lightweight and easy to cut with the Dremel tool.

Cutting tool such as the Dremel

Sand paper (or use the Dremel again)

Black paint

Several 1" x 2"s and screws for mounting

2 to 3 strings of lights. I used 2 70-bulb strings of orange.

plastic spider

Step 1: Prepare the Pattern and Transfer to Pattern Paper

When drawing my design, I considered the size of my display space (a 2-car garage door), as well as the material I would be using. I used 2 sheets of thin plywood. One sheet runs horizontally, 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall. I had this cut into 2- 4x4 pieces at the store. Each side piece started as a 2 x 6 piece, cut from the other sheet. This gave me some height, and also frames the scene nicely.

I had the cuts made strategically, so that seams would not be too visible. One seam bisects the cauldron, one is between the 2 jack-o-lanterns, and the third is between the cat and the tree.

I drew the design on 8 1/"2 x 11" paper, then used the grid method to enlarge it to the proper size, which I drew on kraft paper, and then cut out. You could, of course, skip the pattern and draw the enlargement (in reverse) straight onto the back of the plywood. Or, if you'll be painting it black, you could draw it right onto the front, as any drawing lines will be covered by black paint.

Using a sharpie, I traced the pattern onto the back of the plywood. The entire design is 12 feet wide and 6 feet tall in the tallest places.

Step 2: Cut Out the Design

Use the Dremel tool to cut out the design. If you have not use this tool before, practice on some scrap. It's not too difficult, but it does take some practice. It can get away from you. Luckily, Halloween designs are very forgiving. A few jagged edges can make it look better! Nothing should be too perfect.

It took me between 1 1/2 and 2 hours to cut out this design. I thought the trees were going to be difficult, but they weren't too bad.

Apparently my cat looks very realistic, at least my dog thought so.

Use coarse sandpaper or the Dremel to sand off the rough edges. Again, no need to be too perfect. People will view this from at least 10 feet away, and probably more.

Step 3: Paint the Cut-outs

Paint the front of the cut-outs. Don't forget the edges, because they will show.

no need to paint the back. Mine were pre-primed. A small roller will make quick work of it.

Step 4: Prepare for Mounting

While the paint is drying, you can add the mounting cleats to the garage door. We ended up screwing in one set of 1" x 2 " boards against the door, and a second set of boards on top of those. We thought this was easier as we could use much shorter screws. Place cleats where two pieces of the cut-out meet. This will help to avoid light seeping through the seams. I also painted these black, in case they show through at all.

Step 5: Add Lights and Install

Put the cut-outs face down on a soft surface, or on something that won't scrape them up. Lay out your light strings, then begin taping them on. I tried to point the bulbs toward the center of the design, to cast the most light that way. I also did not go all the way to the top of the pieces, which put more light toward the bottom where the cauldron is, and gives a look of more heat at the bottom, where a fire would be. Sort of an ombre effect.

Now you're ready to mount the silhouette. You may need help with this step. Line the pieces up with the pre-installed cleats. Make sure cords and bulbs are not in the way. Also check that you will be able to reach the ends of the light strings, so you'll be able to plug them together. Also, the bulbs should not show when looking straight at the piece. Just their glow. Make your adjustments and screw the plywood pieces into the cleats.

As a final touch, I dangled a plastic spider from the witch's hand. It was just too delicate a shape to cut out of wood.

Step 6: Plug It in and Enjoy

Plug in (careful of the cord and the movement of the garage door).

Enjoy the intensifying light effects as daylight fades. I like this design because it's very noticeable in daylight, but it really comes to life in the dark.

It's a traffic-stopper for sure. Can't wait for Halloween!

Make it Glow!

Runner Up in the
Make it Glow!

Halloween Decor Contest

Second Prize in the
Halloween Decor Contest

47 People Made This Project!

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172 Comments

0
avcope
avcope

4 years ago

I saw in the comments questions about a template. I used Adobe Illustrator to Live Trace the image on this website and then I did a little tweaking. Hopefully this will help some of you. I plan to use a projector to enlarge the image on the plywood to trace it.

halloweengaragedoor.jpg
0
charlessenf-gm
charlessenf-gm

Reply 6 days ago

Thanks, very hep full! I use irfanview free version 4.54

Shilloette x 4 high.jpg
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jessyratfink
jessyratfink

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you for providing the pattern and a suggestion for blowing it up. You're awesome! :D

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avcope
avcope

Reply 1 year ago

You are welcom.

I haven't come back to this post in a while. I LOVE what other folks have done. This is still one of my favorites to pull out at Halloween. It is just so big and stands out.

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DIXIE58DIXIE
DIXIE58DIXIE

5 days ago

Just a wonderful idea indeed! I love all the comments and I don't think I have ever seen so many "I made it" responses before. BRAVO!

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kayakdiver
kayakdiver

6 years ago on Introduction

This is great! Your scene really captures the essence of Halloween, and the orange glow is awesome!

Unrelated to your iBle, but something I thought you might enjoy, is my Nosferatu costume I made. I could easily fold the 17 foot wings and tuck them under my cape. Perhaps I should make an iBle of this. Meanwhile, I do see this blank canvas right behind me in the photo!

Nosferatu.JPG
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DIXIE58DIXIE
DIXIE58DIXIE

Reply 5 days ago

what a fun idea! If your having a party this would be great for everyone taking pictures vs a photo booth.

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LenSolomon
LenSolomon

5 days ago

This is fabulous. It's a really evocative design, and so well executed. Your explanations of your process were great too. I also think your photos came out really well; I took a screenshot for my desktop! Happy Halloween, 2021.

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mcorbin
mcorbin

Reply 5 days ago

Thanks!

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Tarantula3
Tarantula3

5 days ago

Very well done mate

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CassieL
CassieL

23 days ago

How would you go about mounting on a metal door? Anyone find any solution that is renter friendly?

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charlessenf-gm
charlessenf-gm

Reply 6 days ago

Super Strong Neodymium Disc Magnets, Powerful N52 Rare Earth Magnets - 1.26 inch x 1/8 inch, Pack of 12 (Amazon) Hot Melt to board so they match up with the FLAT surface of the door, cover exposed face with one layer of packing or masking tape - just in case (protect paint - also make removal a tad easier.

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mkroger24
mkroger24

Reply 6 days ago

Take a magnet off your refrigerator, if you've got a steel door, it'll stick. Then buy some strong magnets (neodymium) at hardware store or from Amazon. Glue the magnets to the mounting boards. If you've got an aluminum or fiberglass door & they are uninsulated (thin!!), you may be able to use one magnet inside the door and one on the mounting board... if the doors are insulated (probably 1.5 inches thick), the magnets likely won't work through them.... OR maybe hot-glue magnets to the door...hot glue usually comes off without too much trouble...

0
mcorbin
mcorbin

Reply 23 days ago

Hi Cassie - last year I lent the piece(s) out to a friend, since my location doesn't get foot traffic. She lives in a rented house. I don't know how I'd go about mounting to a metal door (hang from eaves, maybe and then stabilize at the bottom?), but on her place, the side of the garage faced the street. We screwed the 4 pieces together using 1"x2s" that I have used before to attach to my garage door. Then we laid a couple of scrap 2"x8" and 2"x10s"on the ground to make as level a base as possible. We positioned the cutout to have enough lean to be fairly stable (you still want it to be close to the wall, or else the light gets lost). My husband installed one screw on each end. In this case, around the corners of the wall we were using. Probably about 3 feet up, or maybe about shoulder height on the witches. We tied some fairly strong fishing line to one end, stretched it across the front of the piece, and attached securely on the other end. Because the trees are so much taller, a second set farther up would have been a good idea. This did the job for the 2 or 3 weeks it was up. I think if you had extreme weather/wind coming you would probably want to remove it. Of course this worked where the surface behind it was stationary. Would also work in front of a fence or block wall. The anchored screws, if put in by someone who knows what they are doing, don't leave much of a mark and would be easy to patch.

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mcorbin
mcorbin

Reply 23 days ago

I'm a 'make-it-work' kind of person, not great at using tools. Good at figuring out a solution with my skill set. Somebody with more knowledge of different types of fasteners should be able to come up with a solution.

0
Bayka007
Bayka007

2 months ago

Has anyone tried this with Styrofoam? Curious if it would work.

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mcorbin
mcorbin

Reply 8 weeks ago

I think early on someone posted a picture of a version cut out of sheet foam. Harder to get good definition, but you could modify the design to work with the styrofoam's properties.

0
lmsisson
lmsisson

Question 2 months ago on Step 2

Every Year I have a Halloween Party. This years theme is (circus or Clowns good or evil)
I was hoping you could give me some Ideas for my garage (2 car 1 door) and cut outs for the Lawn.
Thank You
Lana