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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:21 PM   #1
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Need help creating a tombstone.

I'm about to start shooting a project this june, and a lot of scenes are centered around this particular grave. I don't want to use an existing tomb stone because that would be very disrespectful, even with permission I think. Basically I need to create something that looks like a tombstone... cheaply. it doesn't need anything engraved on it because I imagine I could manage that effect in post.

Any Ideas anyone?
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:31 PM   #2
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Need help creating a tombstone.

Go to a company that makes tombstones and film one then use maybe photo impact to make the letters as a png or gif and then superimpose in a timeline over your clip, might work!
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:33 PM   #3
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Styrofoam. Easy to shape, and give it a quick spay paint with one of those gray speckled bombs that are available for the cement/marble look.
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:46 PM   #4
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Hugh, I'm not sure what you mean exactly by that, I need to film a lot of scenes with the tombstone and I have a specific location for it. I doubt they would let me borrow one.

Ken, Do you really think that would look realistic, it sounds like a good option because I'm not a bad artist. Can you give me some more info on that "gray speckled spray-paint"
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:47 PM   #5
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How about borrowing a real one from a gravestone engraver in exchange for a screen credit?
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 05:05 PM   #6
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Need help creating a tombstone.

maybe buy a damaged one or one that is sitting in the back room for some reason and if it has the wrong letters on it use the other side, and don't forget about the green screen possibilities
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 07:11 PM   #7
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We make stuff like this out of styrofoam all the time, and if you have artistic abilities so can you. There are several types of foam insulation board which should be available from a local supplier - check you yellow pages. Most common is the blue or pink styrofoam and white bead foam. The blue foam has a smoother texture and can be carved and sanded to a nice finish. The bead foam is made from little spheres compressed together and won't give you as smooth a finish but you might like the rough texture. You should be able to find these products as thick as 3", 4" even 6" at a supplier but at Home Depot or Lowes probably only 2" thick. Sheet sizes are either 4'x8' or 2'x8' depending on the product. We have gotten big blocks as large as 4'x8'x2' to carve statues and big stones. If you can't find the thick foam you can glue together layers of 2" foam to get the desired thickness. Use panel adhesive designed for foam board - check the label because other adhesives will dissolve the foam.

A cheap keyhole saw works well to cut it, as do other handsaws. A drywall saw is also handy. Also try a variety of knives for carving, and Stanley Surform files and planes are great for shaping it. Also coarse sandpaper for finishing. Get one of those large circular cup-shaped wire brush attachments for your electric drill and try that - it's one of the most effective ways to shape the styrofoam and give it a smooth surface.

If you want to experiment with texture, get some lacquer thinner and put it in a small sprayer. DANGER - fumes will be toxic and very flammable! Only try this outdoors in small quantities, or don't try it at all if you don't feel like you know what you're doing!

You could use a Dremel tool or a round rasp bit in an electric drill to carve letters. Some of our artists like to do this with a knife however - the break-off box cutter knives are good for this.

We use a product called "Jaxsan 600" to coat the finished styrofoam. It's a rubber roofing compound that is really tough. It protects the styrofoam if you put it on heavily, and you can add more texture by adding styrofoam dust or sawdust to it. Contact the manufacturer, Plastics Coating Corporation at 304 755-9151 for info.

Here are some examples of how we use it on the stage:
Attached Thumbnails
Need help creating a tombstone.-01.jpg   Need help creating a tombstone.-02.jpg  

Need help creating a tombstone.-03.jpg   Need help creating a tombstone.-04.jpg  

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Old March 22nd, 2007, 08:09 PM   #8
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Boyd, that's some really great advice, I'm probably gonna try something similiar to your process. I'm sure it'll turn out great. Thanks!

Oh wait, I have one more question, how did you add weight to your completed set pieces? Did you just anchor it from the non-visable side?
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 08:10 PM   #9
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Need help creating a tombstone.

wow, really nice stuff out of styrofoam, I have had three taxidermy shops going back to the late 70's thru the 80's, and did alot of creative stuff with styrofoam, I bought blocks of blue foam, maybe 12 ft x 2x 2, looks like the best way to go
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 08:16 PM   #10
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Thanks! The big face, the eagle and the brick wall all consist of plywood covered frames with styrofoam layered on top. The balustrade spindle has a piece of wood running down the center which allows it to be a structural support for a railing. Styrofoam (especially the blue/pink variety) is actually very dense and tough. You can walk on it as long as there's some sort of plywood base underneath.

There are other techniques for covering/protecting the styrofoam. A traditional method is using cheesecloth soaked in glue (such as Elmer's white glue) and wrapped around the foam.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 01:19 AM   #11
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We made our own tombstones out of styrofoam for a music video we worked on. Simply and effective.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 01:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Rothwell View Post
Ken, Do you really think that would look realistic, it sounds like a good option because I'm not a bad artist. Can you give me some more info on that "gray speckled spray-paint"
There is a type of spray paint that comes out speckled for that instant textured look. You can buy it at any paint department and comes in a few different types and costs only a few bucks more then regular spray paint.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 04:33 AM   #13
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We have a graveyard up the road...Some old graves markers were simply made out of of wood. The top of the plank was curved to keep rainwater from settling. The Hawaiians took a plank also curved at the top so that it could be surfed in religious observance. Thus was born the sport of surfing.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ken Hodson View Post
There is a type of spray paint that comes out speckled for that instant textured look.
If you use styrofoam be sure to test any spray paint on a scrap before using it on a finished project. The solvent in spray paint will eat into the styrofoam and make a mess; generally speaking it's a bad idea to use spray paint on styrofoam. If you do a base coat with the Jaxsan product I mentioned, that *might* protect the foam but again I would do a test and let it sit overnight. You may not see a problem at first, but after several hours sometimes the solvent will gradually eat into the foam.

As a general rule, only use water-based paints on anything which is made from styrofoam.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 01:29 PM   #15
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When a boy scout we were out camping. At the end of the trip, one of the trucks wouldn't start. The adults decided to siphon some gas into a cup so they could prime the carburettor. They used a Styrofoam cup. Within seconds all they had was the lip of a cup and a puddle of petroleum products on the ground.

Definitely stick with water-based paints.
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