Here is my Zombie project for Halloween 2017. Using PVC pipe, Spray foam, cheap Home Depot returned paint and clothes from the Salvation Army, You can make these zombies for under $25.
Step 1: PVC Skeleton/Frame
I like to use PVC for the framework on all of my Halloween props. Here you can see how simple it is to get a sturdy skeletal structure using PVC pipe and boards. It is easily shaped into complex pieces by heating it.
For the Zombies I used a one inch PVC pipe with several different fittings placed in male and female mannequin forms to get the basic armature. In these pictures you can see some of my past projects along with the torso of the zombie with the ribs showing. I had to offset the framework in order to see the backbone of this zombie, otherwise I would have made it like the illustration provided.
Step 2: Adding Zombie Meat
The forms are then coated with wax as a release agent and filled with multiple layers of spray foam. I usually spray a mist of water before and after each layer to help the foam cure. The expanding foam I use reacts to the humidity in the air, but by misting it with water I can speed the process up. After the first layer I drop in the PVC frame along with other internal bones I will need for each zombie and add another layer. This encapsulates the PVC and gives the form strength. As you can see from the pictures the front is very smooth and detailed and the back is just there to give it a body shape. When all the foam is cured I shape the back a little and we are ready for the head.
Step 3: Foam Heads for the Win
I use foam heads form the basic shape. On these zombies I cut into the heads with a hot wire cutter to remove large pieces and used spare parts for all the detail. The first male was done entirely from the foam head. I used plastic balls for the eyes that were glued in place along with fake teeth that I made from oven bake clay for the top and cheap costume teeth for the bottom. The female was pieced together from an old plastic skull jawbone and some monster costume teeth. More plastic balls for the eyes and pieces of foam I had cut off are glued back on. I use Gorilla Glue for my projects because it expands a little to fill gaps. Then all the large gaps are filled with spray foam and I press plastic bags onto it to contain it and smooth out the shape. Once the foam is cured the plastic bag peels off easily. Then I sculpt the head with a soldering iron and sandpaper. For the second male zombie I used half of the same skull from the female. I traced it out so I could cut away the foam head and glue it in place.
Step 4: Attaching the Heads
After I am happy with the shape and detail of the heads I glue them onto the bodies. I use either PVC pipe or wood dowels pushed into the heads to support them while the glue dries. at this point you can angle the heads anyway you want by cutting the neck at the appropriate angle, then the neck is shaped using the wire cutter, knife or corse sandpaper to match the head to the body.
Step 5: Adding the Gory Details With Paint and Spare Parts
Now that the Zombies are finished being sculpted I turn to paint and spare parts. I used grown breaker hands attached to PVC pipe arms for the male zombies and a bag of amputated feet and hands glued to PVC pipe for the female. You can get almost any angle you need using pipe and fittings. I paint the entire form with DRYLOK water proofer to seal all the foam and then begin painting each one when it dries. I always start with black paint on the open wounds and build up in layers to red blood and flesh. The zombies are painted a variety of skin colors and all the teeth, eyes and other details are added. As you can see in the picture I use pool noodles to ad mass to the arms and legs. These are painted as well so that the bright colors do not show through the clothes. The final thing to do is paint their eyes and teeth with 5 min epoxy. It dries hard and gives them a wet look.
Step 6: Adding Clothes and Hair
I buy clothes from the Salvation Army for all my props, The price is fantastic and the money goes to a good cause. To distress the clothes I carefully use a belt sander after clamping the fabric down. if my zombie is missing a part I tried to cut or rip off that piece of cloth. Then the clothes are distressed more with fabric dye and paint to give them final appearance. The wig is also distressed using different colors of paint before it is glued or pinned down.
Step 7: Set the Stage
I used PVC pipe and black plastic security fence to create the chain link gate. The pipe along with the fencing was cut down to size and painted gray with a touch of silver to simulate metal. The fencing was zip tied to the PVC pipe and each section was slipped over steel rods hammered into the ground The final touch was adding a few Zombie signs and plastic barbwire.
Step 8: Always Light Your Display
I used a variety of LED spot lights to showcase the zombies. All the different colors and a eerie look to the whole display.
I hope you enjoy this project and if you have any questions leave them in the comment section and I'll try to answer them. Happy Halloween!