How to Make Zombie Props

Written by alexis rohlin
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Zombie props consist of undead human heads made with paper mache covered styrofoam and foamed gelatin body parts. You can make your own zombie props and use them with your zombie costume or place them in your yard during a Halloween party. Place the zombie head on the ground with the hands sticking out of the dirt to make the zombie appear to be digging out of a shallow grave. Set the zombie prop head at the top of a plastic skeleton that has ripped up clothes on it to make your zombie prop look "well aged" or decomposed.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Styrofoam head
  • Craft knife
  • White craft glue
  • Fake Halloween monster teeth
  • Twine
  • Newspaper
  • Bowl
  • Tan exterior latex paint
  • Paint brush
  • Blue acrylic paint
  • Red acrylic paint
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Green acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Glycerine, 454gr
  • Sorbitol, 482gr
  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Plain powdered gelatin, unsweetened, unflavored, 198gr
  • Candy thermometer
  • Spoon
  • 3 mixing bowls
  • Tartaric acid, 3 tsp.
  • 3 disposable cups
  • White school glue, 18 tsp.
  • Plastic mixing spoon
  • Skin-tone acrylic paint
  • Salmon coloured acrylic paint
  • Baking soda/sodium bicarbonate, 3 tsp.
  • Brain gelatin mould
  • Heart gelatin mould
  • Hand gelatin mould
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Fake blood gel

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    Zombie Head

  1. 1

    Carve wound holes out of the styrofoam head with a craft knife. Cut out C or half-moon shapes under the eyes to make them large and sunken in. Glue the half-moon shapes you cut out of the eyes to the sides of the head to make the ears.

  2. 2

    Cut the mouth of the head larger to create an open mouth for your zombie prop. Glue fake monster teeth to the mouth of the styrofoam head. You may have to trim them down to fit. Cut pieces of twine and glue it to the styrofoam head to make veins that are popping out of the zombie's skin.

  3. 3

    Cut newspaper into 1-inch wide strips. Add 1 c. white craft glue and 3 c. warm water in a bowl and stir it until the mixture looks like thick milk. Soak the newspaper into the mixture. Pick the soaked newspaper up and squeeze it to get rid of any extra water. Lay the newspaper over the head, starting from the crown and work your way down to the neck. Use the paper mache to create eye lids for the eyes. Rip the paper apart to make small sections to cover the upper lip and nose area. Let it sit to dry overnight.

  4. 4

    Paint a base coat of light tan exterior latex paint onto the head. Let it sit for 30 minutes for it to dry. Paint blue green over the veins. Mix red and brown paint to make blood, then paint any wounds you made with it. Paint the area surrounding the wounds with a layer of yellow, then a layer of green paint. Add dark brown to the details of the wound. Paint the area around the lips black with blood red highlights. Paint the eyes black.

    Foamed Gelatin Props

  1. 1

    Place 473ml. glycerine and 454gr. sorbitol into a microwave safe bowl. Add 1 tbsp water to the bowl and stir it. Microwave the mixture on high for four minutes. Check the temperature of the mixture with a thermometer. When the mixture reaches 70 degrees Celsius, add 198gr. plain gelatin, 1 tsp at a time, while stirring constantly. Let it sit for five minutes for the gelatin to soften and dissolve into the mixture.

  2. 2

    Microwave the mixture for two-minute intervals, stirring every 30 seconds for a total of 16 minutes or until the gelatin has completely dissolved and formed a gel. Do not let the mixture come to a boil while you heat it.

  3. 3

    Place 1 tsp tartaric acid and 1 tsp sorbitol into three disposable cups and stir it to make the tartaric acid dissolve. Place 113gr. of the gelatin mixture into three bowls. Add 6 tsp white school glue to each bowl and stir with a plastic mixing spoon.

  4. 4

    Add 1 tsp skin-tone acrylic paint to one bowl for the hand, 1 tsp red acrylic paint to the second bowl for the heart, and 1 tsp salmon pink acrylic paint to the third bowl for the brain. Add the tartaric acid and sorbitol mixtures (1 cup per bowl) and stir it. Add 1 tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the bowls, one at a time and stir it in. The mixture will start to foam. Let it sit for 30 seconds. Slowly stir each mixture for one minute to ensure the baking soda dissolves completely in the mixtures, then let them sit for two minutes so foam bubbles can form.

  5. 5

    Line the cavities of the brain, heart and hand gelatin moulds with a thin layer of petroleum jelly for ease of removal. Pour the salmon pink mixture into the brain mould, the red mixture into the heart mould, and the skin-tone mixture into the hand mould. Let the moulds sit for 30 minutes or until they have set. When set, the props will form an inedible, rubber-like substance that is flexible and somewhat resembles foamed rubber latex.

  6. 6

    Remove the foamed gelatin props. Add fake blood gel as desired to the props for a gruesome affect.

Tips and warnings

  • You can make the foamed gelatin props three days before use, but don't make them a week ahead of time, as foamed gelatin isn't as stable as foamed rubber and will start to collapse and break down on you.
  • If you want to make edible props, do not add the school glue or acrylic paints to the foamed gelatin, just use food colouring and milk in the same proportions. Grease the moulds with vegetable cooking oil spray, pour in the mixtures and place them in your refrigerator overnight to let them set. Make edible fake blood with 1 cup corn syrup, 2 tsp cocoa powder and 4 tsp red food colouring to slather on them to make the edible props as gory as possible.
  • Handle hot gelatin with care as it can cause severe burns. Wear oven gloves to remove the bowl with the hot mixture out of the microwave.
  • Foamed gelatin props are not edible, even though they are made with food-grade gelatin, so do not attempt to consume them.

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