Spooky Tombstones Tutorial
by Big Phil
Click on any of the images to see the full size pictures.
Here's a picture of some the materials and tools you'll need. At the top is a variety of balsa cut to handy sizes for tombstone making. Most of the pieces were cut from 3/8 inch thick sheet stock into convenient widths. The thinner sheet is for monument type stones and I'll mention that again later. Also pictured are some sanding sticks, an Xacto knife, a hobby type mitre box & saw, and pen & pencil. You'll also need some kind of compatible glue (I use super glue) and suitable paints (acrylic) & brushes to finish them off. A wood burning tool might also come in handy to add names or other markings.
Here I have cut and shaped some rough tombstones. You can use the Spooky Town pieces for inspiration or better yet, go visit some local cemeterys. I love cemeterys. You can see the Gothic Ruins in the background and some of the tombstones on it. You needn't be too concerned about getting perfectly straight cuts on the bottom. Many old stones no longer sit straight anyway so it's good to have some odd angles.
Here is another set of stones showing some more variety in shapes and styles that have had a coat of medium grey paint applied. Note the monument style stone on the right. This one was assembled from several pieces including divider slabs cut from the thinner sheet balsa stock I mentioned above. If you look closely you'll see the upper edges of base as well as the dividing "slab" pieces are chamfered on the top corners. This gives a much more realistic look than merely using the square edged blocks and is easy to sand onto the balsa pieces. Try to get the chamfers uniform in size, stone cutting is very precise. This is also where the mitre box comes in handy to keep the parts square. This one is actually a bit crooked and doesn't look very good to my eye. Your imagination and creativity are the only limits to the variety of stone shapes you can make.
Here are some bases I made for the gargoyles that lined the path to Hell's Gate on my village last year. These were made in a manner similar to the monument stone described above. A much better job this time, all of them are very straight & precise. You can again see the chamfered upper edges. These have also been finished painting by adding a wash coat (paint thinned with water) of dark brown. Most of this was wiped off again. This leaves the nooks and crannies darkened. Finally, I very lightly dry brushed the corners with white to add some highlights. The gargoyles are the finishing touch for these pedestals.
You can experiment with different base colors as well as different wash coats for a variety of colors too. They shouldn't all be the same color. You can also add more details with a wood burning tool. While I don't have photos of them here, I've added names and epitaphs on many of my stones. You can also add surface details like recessed areas in this manner too. Be creative, have some broken ones or chips missing. What ever you can think of. I strongly recommend a visit to the oldest cemetery in your area.
I'm sure not everyone is as enamored with Wilson as I am but here he is making his obligatory Big Phil tutorial appearance. He's having some fun with the wrappings from a gift for my wife.
This is a fun and easy project that I hope some of you will try. Let me know if you do and show us some photos of your work.