Realistic Custom Tombstone Decorations for Halloween Display

Highly Realistic Custom Tombstone Decorations for a One-of-a-kind Halloween Display

Here at Tom Spina Designs, it is probably not a surprise that we are huge Halloween fans, and we always love the chance to help a client bring their fiendish dreams to life! Over the last couple of years we have helped this incredible client create a completely unique and over the top Halloween display. Each year, we’ve expanded his large collection of life-size tombstone decorations, a custom mausoleum, and this year… even a giant Time Portal that would fit right in at any theme park!

Each Spring we start planning for that year’s theme-park style display to give us the necessary few months to work on his themed foam props. The design intent for this year was to create some more modern style gravestones to provide some variety to the expansive Halloween displays.

We discussed some basic details including budget, sizes and potential characters for the tombstones. Then Richard Riley, our lead foam artist, was given nearly free reign to create tombstone decorations which would fit in with the rest of the gravestones we have created in previous years.

To create the headstone props, Rich started with basic geometric forms in a dense EPS foam. Depending on the design for each piece, he added layers of different decorative elements to give each a unique design. Sometimes that was additional foam, sometimes those were other real-world elements. The work itself combined machine foam work and hand carving. For these tombstone names we used characters from different horror films and fiction, all chosen with the client’s input.

Once the foam sculptures were completed, we added a hard polyurea resin coating which will provide durability so the pieces can remain outdoors for the annual Halloween season. An added bonus to this hard coating is that when applied it adds some addition stone like texture to the large foam props. We worked in varying grey shades and washes to give the headstone props a realistic distressed and aging look. The finished foam prop sculptures looked nearly indistinguishable from real stone grave markers. A sword in the stone prop straight out of Arthurian legend was added as well!

The client loved the glow paint effect from their previous pieces so much that they wanted the same treatment added to these new pieces.  The paint treatment is really effective, because during the day or under normal lighting the UV reactive glow paint is nearly invisible. This allows us to sneak in some ghostly messages and references to the films and characters from the headstones. Once you put the pieces under blacklight, the paint glows and gives the tombstones and eerie and supernatural effect, perfect for a haunted Halloween cemetery!


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Do you need one of a kind custom foam props for your next event or party? Email or call today and let’s discuss your project!

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Want to learn more about Rick Baker’s 40-plus-year journey as a special makeup effects artist?

Check out his book here!