Work on the unfinished Troll Screamers shown above as well as several NEW Troll Screamers will resume soon. I have several body parts ready to go for the new creations.

Thursday 28 January 2010


As with many things in life you will find there IS more than one way to do the same task. Obviously quite often the newest way tends to be the best, however which ever way suites YOU is the best in my opinion. I find this rule especially follows in reproductive art such as i am about to show you.

If all you require is a simple basic copy of something, in this case a human skull i have found the fastest & cheapest method is to do so is in foil & masking tape. Remember my paper mache art is based around recycling as many paper & cardstock materials as possible & for artists who may be working on a tight budget. Of course having a large family means we produce a LOT of paper & cardstock waste so for ME this is the main driving force behind how & why i do things the way i do too.

Latex & plaster mold copying IS the best undeniably when it comes to copying subjects in high detail. For MY skulls how ever i simply need to copy a 'rough' skull form which i can then add the defining details to later in minutes. Also because of HOW i intend to finish off each the project using these skulls i don't require ALL the finer details such as cranium cracks & finer tooth shapes etc so the method i am about to show you will make sense later when you see what i make with them.

Start with a simple stripped down skull minus the small thin bone running along side the cheek & the small section at each side of the template.

When it comes to life like art ie: my skulls i normally try to work to one third true scale but these skulls are around half true scale. As you can see to make copying easier i have only created a 'basic' stripped down skull form. HOW YOU do the following steps is entirely up to YOU.

Begin with a small piece of foil that is slightly 'wider' than the skull. Then tack it in place.

Place a strip of masking tape across an eye socket then 'push' it into the socket & hold it there.

Whilst holding the first piece of tape 'in' the eye socket tape around the socket with smaller pieces of tape. Include up the side of the nose cavity too if you have one there. In doing this you will force the foil to retain that shape.

Whilst holding a finger 'in' the 'first' eye socket repeat the proceedure for the second eye. 

At this point you can add a small piece of foil to the forehead too if you like.

Now cover the lower face with foil & tape over. At ALL times pull the tape 'tight' & rub it down 'hard' to keep as much of the skull shape as you go. Any small holes or tears you create can easily be repaired with a small piece of tape.

You do not need  to cover the entire skull with tape as i have here, but i did so to show you can if you want to, some people like to be thorough like this. In reality you ONLY need add tape to seal the edges of the foil pieces & to hold the shape of the face of the skull. Now cover in paper strips & leave to dry FULLY.

IF you plan to cover your skull(s) with Dragon Skin or some other hard coating you need ONLY cover the skull in 2 layers of news print & 1 layer of standard A4 white printer paper. As in 1 layer of news print then 1 layer of white printer paper, then finally a layer of news print again to finish. IF you simply plan to paint the finished copy then you WILL need to go a little thicker with the paper copy. Do not forget how ever you have to cut this copy free. If you make the copy too thick with paper then cutting it WILL be MORE difficult.


  1. very cool artwork, I've always been a big fan of Dragons

  2. If only they had exsisted eh. I can't say what it is about dragons but i have always liked them too.

  3. arshad: It IS good to see you visit again, but if you do not mind 'no more' links to handsets or mobile phones etc please. That IS too close to 'spamming' for my liking.

  4. thank you Jonty for showing so explicit this superb technique.i will definitely try it sometime.and good luck with your 70 skull project are a v valuable artist and lots of other artists should learn from you how to share elegant and generously their knowledge.this is amazing.thank you again!

  5. Ildiko: I may not have explained this correctly my fault i am sorry lol. No it is not 1 project with 70 skulls in it it is several, many projects with 'groups' of skulls in 'them' lol. Some will have 2 or 4 skulls whilst others especially 1 large project will have up to 40 skulls in it. I will email you 'privately' later to explain better lol.

  6. Hey Jonty,your mold making ideas have led me to a whole new world of dragon head making.Instead of all those paper mache balls,drying,cutting,taping,and shaping,I now have four completely different size head molds to start with as a base.I glue tack on a release barrier of plastic wrap and then six layers of paper mache.I also add glue to the paste which helps to give me a very hard thin shell to start with.I papered all four head molds and let dry for three days,cut and removed,and then taped them back temporarily to completely dry out...Now I can work on all four at once...thanks are the man

  7. Hi Kent. Plastic wrap IS as good as foil in many respects, more than likely cheaper to purchase which is one of the key factors on the basis of how i do 'my' art with the money starved artist in mind out there lol.

    I personally found it to be not as good as foil as it requires a lot more tape to keep the shape you are copying. Foil once pressed/rubbed into the shape you are copying stays there pretty much.

    It works for you though & as i often have said there is NO wrong way.

    Your site is looking awesome by the way lol.

  8. Jonty,

    I recently came upon your site and love the tutorials and the artwork. Great job!

    In looking at your foil-and-tape method of skull replication, I wonder if combining your method for doing the face with Stolloween's cardboard "armature" for the rest of the skull might not be an even quicker, cheaper, and more recycle-friendly method when you need to make large numbers of skulls.

    While his skull face is fairly detailed, the cardboard strips for the rest of the skull could quickly fill out the bulk of the back of the skull. I would imagine the cost of using balloons to make the rest of the skull can add up over time, even as cheap as they are.

    I'll be needing a large number of skulls for a fireplace surround prop I'm building and will be employing this combined skull replication technique. Thanks again for all the great information.


  9. Hi Rich, I am glad i helped in some way. The foil copying technique can be very accurate, if you have the time to rub/brush the foil in place that is lol. Yes it would be a very fast way to do it. If i do nothing else i can make 6 skulls a day. I simply add the finer details later where required.

    A fire place surround AWESOME. PLEASE, PLEASE send me some pics i would love to see the result.