How to Make Life Size Standups

Written by j.e. myers
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Life sized stand up characters, based on photographs or drawings, are easy to make thanks to computer graphics technology and widely available printing services at neighbourhood printing and copy shops. While not inexpensive, quality stand up graphics can be produced in less than hour. Use stand ups on stage for an interesting dramatic effect or produce stand ups for promotional and marketing purposes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Digital camera with high resolution
  • Suitable contrasting background
  • 4x8 sheet of 1/2" styrofoam or 1/4" FoamCore
  • Razor knife or rotary tool
  • Pencil
  • Spray adhesive
  • 4x8 or 2x8 sheet of 2" styrofoam or 1/4" FoamCore
  • White gaffers tape
  • Sand bag

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  1. 1

    Take a high-resolution digital photograph of a subject. Light the subject with bright lights. Place the lights in the front of the subject so that no shadows appear. Make sure the subject's feet are included in the picture. Stand the subject on a sheet of paper or cardboard which contrasts sharply against the subject's shoes. Use a contrasting background.

  2. 2

    Crop the digital photo so the backgrounds are no longer visible in the picture. The final image should be of the subject only without background. Be careful not to skew the dimensions of the shot and contort the face.

  3. 3

    Take this digital image to a copy or print shop. Order a large format print of the image. Tell the technician to produce a final print that is the height you desire. Advise the technician that splitting the image into two or four parts is acceptable to you. Have the image printed on 14.5kg. or greater paper.

  4. 4

    Cut out the blown up image. Lay it down on a sheet of ½" thick, 4x8 styrofoam insulation board or a 4x8 sheet of ¼" thick FoamCore board. Trace the outline of the image onto the backing material. Remove the image carefully and set it aside.

  5. 5

    Use a razor knife or rotary tool to cut the shape of the image out of the backing material. Work slowly and avoid ragged edges. Leave the middle of the image intact between the legs.

  6. 6

    Apply spray adhesive to the backing material and let set for a few minutes.

  7. 7

    Lay the image on the floor, face down, and apply spray adhesive to the back of the image. Allow the adhesive to set up for a moment.

  8. 8

    Turn the image face up again. Place it on a very clean surface. Roll up the image loosely, with the picture facing inside the roll.

  9. 9

    Unroll the image onto the backing board. Work very slowly, making sure the image lines up with the backing board correctly. Recruit helpers for this task. If you start to "go off track," reverse the unrolling and restart the process if necessary. Roll or press out any air bubbles. If this process is very difficult, consider applying the image in two or four sections.

  10. 10

    Build a stand out of FoamCore or 2" thick styrofoam. Cut a solid right angle triangle out of the foam material. The part of the triangle that goes against the backer board needs to be ¾ the height of the cut out. The part of the triangle that rests on the floor needs to be deep enough to produce stability. Attach the stand to the backer board with white gaffers tape.

  11. 11

    Cut a hole out of the triangle base and place a sandbag through the hole to provide counterweight.

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