Halloween Garage Door Silhouette




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



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

23 People Made This Project!


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139 Discussions

I just made this, waiting for the paint to dry now, and to the people wondering how to draw it on plywood I say just draw it by hand. (I love that now someone posted the drawing from Illustrator, that is fantastic.) However I had to resize the image to fit my house and after spending waaaay too much time trying to figure it out, I just grabbed a pencil and an eraser and drew it all by hand. It really was not that difficult! Worth a try instead of spending a ton of time calculating and trying to draw a grid.

1 reply

Share your pictures with us when it's up and lit, please. Many improvements have been made to my original project, and now people don't ask me questions about it, they ask other posters. Very cool.

Looking through all the fantastic versions made over the last 3 or 4 years.........I can't get over the incredible detail you put into your trees and jack-o-lanterns. Really fantastic. You must be pretty skilled with tools.

Do you care to share your copy. I'd love to try this, going to have to do it the way you did. Thanks in advanced. Inga_mcclellan@yahoo.com is my email. Yours looks amazing as well. Love the faces in the tree's.

Your trees are great. Wonderful detail.

I did the witches in 2 pieces just to make it easier to handle and store.


9 months ago

Job well done!!!! They and those done by other commenters are fantastic. For those interested; a few years ago did a Witch silhouette including three cats (out of plywood) and obtained the 'free' pattern off of Martha Stewart's website, so that could be another option for your readers. (I just use a spotlight on mine.) That said; I have been mulling the idea of adding a tree to the display some day so do appreciate your idea so .... thank you for the inspiration.


1 reply

I know the MS witch you're talking about. She's a good one. Grandin Road is the collection.

There is one photo where she is silhouetted against a dark sky, which is fantastic.


9 months ago

Cont'd ..... Re my comment below, should mention she is life size, holds a broom and a lantern. I tweaked the pattern slightly as added a full length rod to support/stake her to the ground (did the same for the cats) and a raven perched on her shoulder. IF you do a web search, I am sure you'll still be able to find the patterns for them which can be printed off on regular size computer paper, to be taped together for tracing on to the plywood. Also shall mention; I purchased a (medium sized) lantern from Ikea and use a battery operated pillar candle for inside it. As for her broom it was a diy project as well using a fallen tree branch that had lots of character which I painted black etc. Hope the extra information will help.

I copied your original design and made it with modifications to fit my single car garage door. Green LED lights behind the trees and around the backs of the witches with orange LEDs around the cauldron and on the fronts of the witches. Rather than put the spider in the pot we made a web in the tree with a spider (store bought) guarding it and have a bat (also store bought) on a string about to be cooked. I added motion to the display by mounting the motor from a microwave oven turntable behind a witch. There is a small crank shaft on the motor shaft to which is attached a string passing through an eye hook which then goes to the bat hanging over the pot. As the motor turns it raises and lowers the bat. The overall effect is very impressive.

Thanks for giving us the inspiration Mcorbin

2 replies

Wow, that's next level! But my favorite part is the spider web. I might have to steal that idea!

Thank you for posting

I made a smaller version for above my door, looks really great.

3 replies

Thanks, i used 1 of your photo's and inkscape to make a scalable vectordrawing. Dimmensions are about 60 inch at 30 inch.

Could you tell me how I get this to get copied on my copy machine and then how do you blow it up from there? Thanks

was hoping to download the pattern. Am I missing something?

1 reply

There is no pattern to download, as such. Please read through some of the comments for suggestions.