Corpsing 101




Introduction: Corpsing 101

"To be forgotten is worse than death itself" DSKB

Very cheap and easy Halloween prop skull

Step 1: What You Need

I got a skull from my area Dollar store. Very basic, plastic, and cheesy! One plastic bag and either paint or wood stain.
You just need a heat gun and a razor or scissors.

Step 2: Make People Curious or Furious

Cut out the black from the eyes, nose and mouth. Use the heat gun to extend the jaw out by warming the back and sides and slowly/lightly pulling it outward and downward.
Wrap the plastic bag, randomly around the skull.
So you don't burn yourself, use the heat gun on low! Slowly go around it so the plastic starts to shrink down. Once its good and shrunk a little, set it down and slowly start shrinking the rest of the plastic. Let the plastic pull apart, it'll have a more natural rotting to it.

Step 3: Color of the Dead

From here, once its cooled down, add your choice of coloring. Some people use wood stain, but I used acrylic. I like the "juicy" look over the dry look.
Really, this is the rule of thumb for most corpsing techniques. From basic plastic hands and feet to full skeletons. Add personal touches from here. Some mold, a tongue, endless possibilities!
I spent 1 dollar (plus tax), and about 10 minutes. Easy Peasy!
Hope this prop idea helps anyone who is looking to step up their game in Halloween!



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96 Discussions

That is an awesome idea! I never would have thought of using it as a costume piece, I just do it with props. Does it have any movement? Did you make a mask then corpse over it or did you do the work then trim to fit? I think that would be a great idea for a corpsed skull mask or even an easy way to make a version of the mask from Texas Chainsaw massacre! Well done indeed!

Love the work! Since it's so far from Halloween I'm having issues finding cheap skulls to work with. I've looked everywhere & the ones I can find are either too pricey or not the right material. Anyone know where I can find cheap plastic skulls in bulk? I'm needing at least 15 or 20 of them.

Every Halloween I always hit all the "after the holiday" sales and buy a lot of masks, costumes, skull, etc.. I know these particular skulls are just the 6 inch, and I bought them at one of the dollar stores (Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree...). I suppose you could call one of them up and see if there was an off chance that they had a box sitting around in storage? At a dollar a piece, you cant do much better. Maybe they know the manufacturer? I haven't tried Amazon, but eBay wasn't a very good turnout there. Good luck!

I used a clay mask I had made years ago as the form and just pulled the bags tight across it. I used spay adhesive between layers so I could stretch some of the extra bag to give it that tendon/viscera look. It was not stuck to the form so I could take it off and put it on my face.

It does not move except for what movement my face gives it. I have another project that will involve movement. Plus the lack of movement gives it a more disturbing look, like if one was to wear an actual skin mask (one would assume at least.)

Thank you for the supportive words!

It almost looks like it's smiling, and that makes it that much more disturbing? I love it! Lol!

This was done for demonstration purposes. As has been repeatedly said, there are many ways to make it more realistic. This was a cheap, easy, and quick way to corpse a skull. Terminology dictates that "101" means day one stuff. Aside from that, I am not sure what you mean by "screwed up". The lower portion of the jaw was left in, so if you look you can see the inside is still there. I didn't paint the skull first, so the plastic skull shows here and there, but once again, this was done just to show the process more than anything.

Lol! Thank you. It sits on a shelf in my workshop and I have had a few people look at me funny when they get a quick glance of it!


Tissue technique

I like making the soft tissue over a prepared skeleton, with tissue paper and glue.

Make sure the skeleton is ready. Eye sockets and mandible joints on a skull are cut free. Appendages with two bones are cut into separate bones.

Brush a layer if white glue on the skeleton, and manipulate the tissue into position. Don't worry if it rips; another layer will fix it and possible look like ripped muscle. Besides, this is going to take two or three coats anyway.

Painting Tips

Once the glue has dried, paint with a gray base coat. Lighter grays for younger corpses.

Then the first detail coat is usually a brown or reddish brown. Dry brush it on only. You can alternate the gray and brown, until you get the effect you want.

Then the final detail coat is applied. Start with a wash of a little black paint and a lot of water. This brings out the detail. A little white paint dry brushed on the edges highlights them. A dark black pair in the shadows accentuates them.

If it's a really old corpse, I like to dry brush in one or two small locations, a little moss green paint. For an active youngster, some red paint judiciously applied can imply some ghoulish activities.

4 replies

djsfantasi, why are you using the comment section of this instructable instead of writing your own? From the sounds of it, the plastic bag method illustrated here sounds a lot easier than you method.

Because I didn't have the resources nor the time. I won't comment on the differences between methods. They are what they are.

All good! I like all the comments I can get, it helps me to try more methods and allows other people to see what other ways there are as well! Instuctables was made so we can help each other more effectively! Thank you!