Realistic "Brain" Prop




Introduction: Realistic "Brain" Prop

It's been a while since my last Instructable, but I'm back from the dead now with a tasty new tutorial!

This is one of my latest creations, which I built as an accessory to go with a zombie costume I made to wear at conventions. Because really, if you're going to spend a few days as one of the undead, you might as well carry along an appropriate snack :)

Here's what you'll need to create your own delicious looking brains, complete in the package of a fresh skull, too!

  • Block of foam - you can use any type of scrap foam as long as its dense enough for carving and will hold its shape.
  • Skull - I used a real coyote skull that I picked out of my bone pile from last trapping season. It was already damaged in the back, so it made the perfect candidate for this project. However, if you'd rather not use the real thing, you can buy replica skulls of any type, and simply cut out the back of the brain case portion.
  • Knife for carving - your foam will need to be shaped to look like a brain! So use a pocket knife or any type of blade to give it the right contours to fit the skull.
  • Sand paper - for smoothing out the foam after carving.
  • Hot glue gun - for detail work and adhering brain to skull.
  • Hair or fur (optional) - I used some scrap coyote fur for added detail work on this piece, however you could use also artificial fur if desired, or simply none at all depending on your personal preference.

This is the type of project you can get really creative with and add any additional details or features that you'd like to, so use these tips as starting points and just have fun with it!

Step 1: Carve to Shape

Use your knife to cut the foam into a rough oval shape, and then work it to fit the skull. Don't worry about trying to be too "anatomically correct" at this point. The extra details you'll soon add with the hot glue will give it extra realism, so don't fret if it looks awkward to start with.

Once you get it to a shape that fits the skull, smooth it out with your sand paper and cut a "ridge" down the center to represent the two hemispheres of he brain.

Step 2: Make It Look "brainy"

Get your glue gun heated up, and once the hot glue is flowing steadily from the nozzle, gently drizzle it over the foam to look like the natural surface of a brain. Take your time with it though - if the glue is too hot or if you put too much on at once, it will all "blob" together and the result will end up looking too flat and too smooth. The good thing is that if this accidentally happens, simply let it cool and then peel off the mistake, and start over.
I did this one in small sections at a time, letting each spot cool off entirely before working on the next. It took a little while but it prevented accidental glue blobs and I was happy with the outcome.

Step 3: Colors Matter!

The so-called "gray matter" isn't entirely gray, if you look at a fresh brain (yes I have, on several occasions - don't ask!) you would see that it's actually pale pinkish or beige, with only slight grayish tones along the folds and lobes.
So after the hot glue detail work was entirely cooled, I hand-painted on a natural looking base color with acrylic paint, and set aside to dry. When the base coat was dry, I thinned out some black paint and allowed it to run through the crevices to give the "brain" an added look of depth and realism.

Step 4: The Gory Details

Now that the brain has been painted, its time for detail work on the rest of the piece to truly give it realism! I glued the brain into the back of the skull, then pasted the fur on. Then I began adding further "flesh" texturing with the hot glue, by allowing strands and strings of the glue to drip over the bone itself to give the appearance of torn raw meat.

It won't look like much at first, but that's where the red paint comes in handy!

Step 5: The Bloody Finish

Using acrylic paints, I mixed realistic tones of reds, blacks and browns to come up with a natural looking "fresh meat" look to this piece. I painted it on by hand, brushing the colors onto the glue and also on the fur and bone itself, to give the entire prop the appearance of having been gnawed and mangled by slimy bloody zombie teeth!
Darker shades were used inside the eye sockets and underneath the skull, while brighter reds and pinkish tones were used for the exterior and around the brain.

After all the paint was dry, I brushed on a light coating of polyurethane gloss to give the whole thing a lasting "wet" look to finish it up!

Step 6: Enjoy!

When I carried this around at the convention, I even had quite a few people stop me to look at it up close and ask if it was "real" - which just goes to show how an old scrap of a skull, and some foam and hot glue can be transformed into something that looks disturbingly realistic - and even good enough to eat, if you're a zombie!

Halloween Props Contest 2016

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Halloween Props Contest 2016

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    6 years ago

    Bloody brilliant :)


    6 years ago

    Wow how artistic. It looks so real. HOPING TO FIND A FREE SKULL ANY OFFERS? Ha ha


    Reply 6 years ago

    Thank you! And maybe try asking a taxidermist or wild game processor in your area - they typically discard skulls from deer and other animals and would probably give you one for free or cheap :)