HOWTO E-Z realistic corpse from a cheap plastic skeleton

LoveCraftsman sez, "How to make a realistic corpse out of a cheap plastic skeleton in one hour."

Having experienced the tedium of creating a corpse with liquid latex and cotton fiber first hand I found this tutorial extremely helpful. It uses a cheap plastic skeleton, plastic dropcloths, and a heat gun to produce a surprisingly realistic final product. The one in the tutorial took about an hour and looks pretty good, particularly when compared to the latex treatments that take days to finish.

Quick and Dirty Corpses (Thanks, TheLovecraftsman!)


  1. As much as I appreciate the link all the credit for this excellent tutorial goes to Allen Hopps of Stiltbeast Studios. 

    As an aside, it feels bizarre to read my own words on BoingBoing.  Heh.

    1. WOWzers, your blog is FANTASTIC. thank you so much for sharing so many amazing artists and resources. bookmarked!

  2. Yes, well. . . I know a much easier way to create a perfectly realistic corpse, but. . . (ahem). . . I probably shouldn’t discuss it in a public forum.

  3. Wait, I can buy a plastic skeleton for $30? My morning commute is about to get a lot more interesting.

  4. Am wondering where to get cheap plastic skeleton in the UK? Couple of corpse in the back my landrover would make for a great anti theft device.

    1.  I make a lot of stuff for my LARP group in the UK. I too would like to know about a source for a skeleton!

  5. Ok we need a tutorial on mass corpse producing for what reason?

    Unless you are the propmaster of a zombie movie, why would  you need this?

    1. Andy, a little imagination is in order here. Think of all the excellent Halloween displays you could make with these.

    2. Because Hallowe’en is very real to some of us, and I’d love to see how to do a mass display that possibly saves me time and money over doing individual skeletons and bodies.

  6. Okay, you’ve got vision. That’s what I’m always looking for – someone who can see past what is to get to what could be. I’d love to see anything else you’d care to share!

  7. If you put several on the lawn, their hands clutching empty candy wrappers and/or shopping bags wouldn’t it make this season’s visitors more excited about ringing your bell?  And isn’t scaring people in a humorous way what it’s all about?  “…there’s a Zombie on yourr lawwnnn…”

  8. I take back my heckling. Gore and horror are beautiful artforms. It’s just my mind made the strong connection between this post and the previous and it left a really bad taste. But I’m sure that was not the intent. Reading this website always feels a bit like driving with someone just learning stick shift. You are like cruising along ok for a minute and then the whole car jerks to a stop and you go flying through the windshield. But that is part of the fun, right? :)

  9. Necessity being the mother of invention, I’d like to know what situation caused someone to invent the one-hour DIY pseudo-corpse.

    “Oh no! The whole plan is going to fall apart unless we can somehow find a realistic fake human corpse in the next 90 minutes!”
    “Hang on, I’ve got an idea.”

    1. Corpsing is a very common activity in the world of “Haunts”. (Those people who go overboard decorating their house for Halloween.) The canonical way to create such corpses is to use a “bucky” skeleton (good quality but expensive) and liquid latex. However liquid latex is expensive and time-consuming to use since you must wait for it to dry (over multiple applications).

      This procedure is a cheaper, quicker alternative.

      1. This is good stuff, indeed.  For about ten years I helped run a haunt at an elementary school Halloween carnival.  The carnival raised funds for the school, and the haunt was always by far the biggest ticket-seller.  Six or eight buddies would get together every year and build the haunt from scratch, using our own know-how and supplying our own raw materials, paint, lumber, electronics, talent, and sweat.  We built an electric chair out of two-by-fours and century-old electrical fixtures, coffins out of plywood, and pneumatic pop-up ghouls using an air compressor and hand-built PVC air manifolds.  It’s a real hands-on DIY Maker experience, and it was fun as the years went by to have kids who first went through our maze as terrified third-graders in 1998 eventually join our troupe and help scare the younger generation in 2008.

        It takes real talent and a lot of trial and error to make anything close to realistically scary on the pocket-change budget we worked with.  The school would reimburse us for a roll or two of Visqueen plastic sheeting with which we built the maze’s black walls, but every other expense was out-of-pocket, and I spent a couple hundred bucks all by myself every year on the haunt.

        Once my kids get a bit older and I can get back into the hobby, I’m definitely going to use this method to build some better-quality stiffs than the crappy ones we lived with for ten years.  Thanks for posting this!

  10. I have a friend who is moderately crafty and generally spends a lot of cash on her Halloween displays,  she’ll probably be delighted to see this.

  11. Be careful with that heatgun or you may end up performing a more realistic and painful “corpsing”! Anyway, at the end it looked pretty good, except for the eyes. A real corpse that was practically rotted to shreds wouldn’t have much of anything left in the eye sockets.

    1. I think you’re right about the eyes – but think how fantastic this would look in a Halloween display with some red LEDs installed inside those blank orbs.

  12. This is so three years ago! :D Unless I am experiencing Deja vu, or it is a different means to an end, I know I watched someone build a realistic corpse on boing boing sometime in the latter aughts!

  13. That’s Allen Hopps in the video, not Propnomicon. He’s the Art Director for a haunted thrillpark in Texas called Screams, and an all around nice guy. For those who don’t know, there is a considerable online community of home haunters that eat this type of stuff up. These are the people who live and breathe Halloween all year long. 

  14. I like the finish –  I have based my ‘Shrunken Head’ technique on fibrous papers but this looks pretty good, like a darker version of the dried pig’s ears, or beef bones you see at the pet supply store.  And faster than epoxy techniques which helps.

  15. I made two corpses a couple of years ago for Halloween.  It took about a month for each one, just from all the drying time.  I used a plastic skeleton and spray foam and latex paint and cotton.  And lots of spray paint.  And I scared the crap out of our mail carriers at the office as I was working on it during breaks at work.  :)  This looks sooo much easier and better looking.  Too bad Pitini is out of skeletons :(  

  16. i can’t wait to give this technique a shot. Absolutely brilliant. amazingly simple. kicking myself for not having come up with it myself.

    i used a Pitini skull for a severed head with missing face last year, and it looks great. with a little love and creativity, they can look amazingly convincing. Maybe augment this with the spray foam guts stuff i’ve done in the past, throw on some long grain rice and fake worms, and get some real grossness going on!

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