How to Build Additive Sculptures With Foam Core and Packing Tape




About: I am an art educator within the Philadelphia School District at CCA Baldi Middle School. This is my 12th year teaching, as well as, learning to become an even more effective teacher. Full STEAM ahead!!!

I started to build sculptures about four years ago for atrium at my school. I was coming up with my own creations and strategies until I found alexthemoviegeek on I have since been advancing the techniques learned on this site and have developed my own version that is constantly improving over time. I use foam core, hot glue, packing tape for skin, paper mache and paint to finish these mammoth sculptures.

Step 1: Concept: I Develop a Thematic Unit for My School Year and Prepare My Own Blueprints

First, I come up with a concept and thematic unit for the school year. I have done dinosaurs, then Baldi Park 1.0, I Love the 1980's/90's, Harry Potter, Baldi Park 2.0 etc.

Step 2: Create the Middle Plane and Build Out 90° Planes to Create a Form

Draw your middle plane and then start to build your form out. Try to keep the planes at a 90° angle and place triangles to reinforce the planes for structural integrity. Make sure to construct frames out first if necessary! I will be building another T-Rex this year, however bigger and stronger and am still planning it out currently. Basically, you start out with the middle piece, which is simply a 2-D plane drawing. Use a snap-off utility blade or X-acto blade to cut out your initial part and then begin to create a form. Form, by would be anything that has a third dimension to it. Sculptures are form, not shapes. Shapes are what are used to create form.

Step 3: Skin: After the Form Is Created, Begin to Create a "skin" With Packing Tape of Masking Tape (for Finer Precision)

BRIDGE the GAPSs with packing tape for strength! For finer areas, use masking tape for better control. Once you bridge the gaps you can start to paper mache. The masking taped areas can simply be added with glue via a paint brush. Wood glue is stronger and better! Some of the "skin" will require newspaper to push out the tape to make it seem more organic. Bridging the gap sometimes means a straight across bridge and sometimes it means you should have the tape fall a little bit in between for your desired affect— others actually require you to create additional forms or ball up newspaper to bump out your tape for other effects.

Step 4: Paper Mache or Masking Tape Skin With Glue

Cut strips of newspaper . Add glue to the front and back of the strip and apply to the packing tape form. Everyone has their own technique for mache— I simply just use glue that is paint brushed on. More layers will add strength to the surface area.

Step 5: Gesso and Prime the Surface

After the paper mache and /or masking tape has been covered. You will prime the surface with gesso.

Step 6: Paint and Finish Your Design!

After your creation is primed. You can go ahead and paint the surface area. Acrylic and house paints seem to work best.



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    6 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago on Step 6

    Do you make these for sale? I would love some for my indoor blacklight mini golf course


    1 year ago


    sou do Brasil e gostei muito dessas artes

    você não tem canal no youtube mostrando passo a passo como fazer isso?

    Thanks! We are building another one this year. Our first one was donated to a Children's Hospital and was not taken care of properly. The new one will reside on our school atrium.


    1 year ago

    Wow! Loved the base structure--I have only seen with plywood before and it just was too expensive for my application. Thanks for the foam core examples. I'm excited to try a couple projects.

    1 reply

    Plywood can be pricy and very heavy! Foam core can get to be expensive but is still cheaper than wood. It is also relatively strong and very light weight. Enjoy creating and designing!