In a pinch, but you still want to create your own DIY gravestones to impress your friends this Halloween?
Have we got the tutorial for you! You can make the simple stone above in just 20 minutes!
Ready to make your own creepy gravestones? Well, what are you waiting for? Dig in!
NOTE: The basic stone with painted lettering should take about 20 minutes to complete. Steps marked with a * are EXTRA touches you can add. Account for some extra time if you’ll be adding these.
Before You Start: Gather Your Building Materials
- Styrofoam sheets large enough for your stone (no more than 2″ thick)
- Butcher block paper
- Small ground stakes
- Small push-pins, any type
- A pencil
- A craft knife
- Lettering and art stencils, if desired *
- Small dowels, if you’ll be attaching a base *
- Stone-texture style spray paint
- Black or very dark gray acrylic paint for lettering (darker than your spray/base paint) *
- Pottery tools to add texture and realism *
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Draw Your Stone’s Outline
For beginner artists, we suggest you start with a classic gravestone shape.
Here are some tips:
- Google “tombstones” or “gravestones” for inspiration.
- With your pencil, trace your shape on a piece butcher block.
- You can use straight edges, rulers, or curved items to draw around if you’d like to make sure you’re being perfectly geometric. *
- Using a push-pin, poke holes periodically around the shape of your stone. This will show you where to cut in Step 4.
Step 2 (Optional): Etch the Epitaph *
This part is an extra * as we mentioned above. IF YOU DON’T WISH TO CARVE, SKIP THIS STEP AND GO ON TO STEP 3.
Carving images will take extra time, so account for this factor.
TIP: take a piece of scrap styrofoam you won’t be using and practice first.
- Use your imagination and come up with a great saying for your stone.
- Use stencils or a steady hand to write/draw the words and images on your butcher block paper.
- Remove the paper and cut your shapes and letters deeper and wider with your cutting tool. Go slowly!
- TIP: Don’t create decorations too close to the edges of your tombstone. You may lose parts of them when cutting the styrofoam.
Step 3: Cut the Outside Shape
- Lay the paper back onto your styrofoam sheet. Tack it down with pins for extra stability.
- CAREFULLY cut around the shape of your tombstone with your craft knife. Keep your steadying (non-cutting) hand well away from the cutting tool and don’t cut toward that hand.
- Remember: a somewhat jagged appearance will add realism (see pic). You don’t have to be perfect about this, especially if you’re aiming for a creepy, weathered look.
- Creating a base is optional. * If you want to add one, cut either one or two rectangles 1-2″ longer and 2″ wider than your base. You can double-tier it as shown in the stone above by cutting two slightly different-sized rectangles.
- You can also * create a wider, jagged base as shown so it looks like there’s earth around the base.
Step 4: Attach a Base, * if Desired
- This is straightforward: Lay the stone on its side and drive two to three dowels from the base through the bottom of the tombstone.
- Leave at least 3″ sticking out from the base so you can drive them into the ground when you’re setting up your cemetery scene.
- You’ll need three dowels for a wider tombstone or two for a smaller stone.
Step 5: Paint the Tombstone
- LIGHTLY spray your tombstone with the stone-texture spray.
- The spray will slightly melt the styrofoam in short spurts. It’s fine if some white of the original styrofoam shows through. This will contribute to a pitted look.
- TIP: Go SLOWLY with a very light touch so you don’t melt too much of the stone.
It’s really hard to go wrong with this, as the tombstone is meant to look weathered and imperfect.
Step 6 (Optional): Paint the Lettering *
- Wait for the spray paint to dry completely. Then paint the epitaph and any other touches you desire.
Step 7: Insert the Stakes
Push two or three stakes into the bottom of your tombstone so you can secure it into the ground later.
Go slowly so you don’t poke through the bottom of the stone. Grip the stakes by the side if you’re using a staple style, so you don’t cut your hands during this step.
Add touches such as graveyard moss or a faux crow for an additional scare factor. Or simply place your gorgeous and grim new creation in the ground as is.