DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Scott Stoll

Article Posted By: Scott Stoll

of Stolloween

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Scott Stoll is known for creating an amazing DIY Halloween display every year. Take a look at some of his impressive papier-mâché projects on his website STOLLOWEEN. And here on The Home Depot Blog, you can see how he set up his amazing Spookshow Obscura on the side of his house, and an over-the-top Halloween display in his backyard, too.

Now he turns his attention to his front porch Halloween display, and a new technique for creating Halloween magic.

Scott put together an ingenious shadow puppet show of whimsical monsters. He used items from the aisles of The Home Depot, as well as some of the Halloween decorations we sent him for our Halloween Style Challenge.

Needless to say, it’s amazing.

Monster Shadow Puppet Halloween Display

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember and I say that without a shadow of doubt. Speaking of shadows, that brings me the theme of my Halloween Style Challenge.

This year it is all about shadows, that creepy place devoid of light and filled with things that go bump in the night, shadows of the night.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow PuppetsDIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Last month, a couple of boxes arrived from Home Depot filled with an assortment of Halloween goodness such as lights, tombstones and skeletons. Immediately, my brain shifted into high gear trying to figure out a way to incorporate these items into a shadow-themed Halloween display.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

The idea of turning our front porch into a shadow-puppet theater jumped into my brain. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but it presented itself strongly enough for me to take notice.

Over the last 23 years, we have turned our front yard into a ghastly display of Halloween horrors, but never really paid much attention to our front porch, which is quaint and has much potential.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

I quickly sketched out a plan of attack and took the crude blueprints to Home Depot to get necessary supplies.

Scott Stoll of STOLLOWEEN picking up supplies at The Home Depot

The trip resulted in six sheets of 4 x 8 OSB (Oriented Strand Board), spray foam insulation, screws, saw blades, lights, bulbs, joint compound, black paint, cellulose fiber insulation and a lot of lumber.


Building the Window Panels

Next on the agenda was to build four window panels that would enclose our front porch.

Each frame was made from ½-in. x 1½-in. boards and ¼-in. OSB. A mixture of drywall joint compound, latex paint and cellulose fiber insulation was added to the front surface of the panels and sculpted into a brick pattern.

The panels were then painted black and lightly brushed with white paint to highlight the texture.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets


Shelves for Jack ‘O Lanterns

Once the window panels were complete, I built two shelves that would be installed below the panels, the shelves would be capable of holding small jack o’ lanterns.

The shelves were created by cutting a 4 x 8 sheet of OSB in half and rounding the corners. To add interest to the shelves, I sprayed Great Stuff expanding foam insulation along the outside edges and placed an assortment of plastic bones into the foam.

These were painted black and lightly brushed with white paint to highlight the texture and shapes.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets


Installing the Shadow Puppet Screens

Now that the major construction was complete, it was the time to install the pieces on our front porch.

Once the shelves and window panels were secured in place, I used a staple gun to attach white fabric over each window’s opening.

The fabric was stretched tight to eliminate wrinkles. It wasn’t pretty on the back side but it worked.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets


Making the Monsters

Now for the fun part, which was making the monsters.

The monsters were made from black foam board; these shapes would cast the shadows against the white fabric.

I did some very loose sketches using a white crayon on the black foam board. A body, head and arms were drawn on the black foam board and cut out using a sharp utility knife or craft knife. My goal was to create seven whimsical but creepy monsters that would haunt each window.

The body, head and arms were secured together using paper fasteners; this allowed the head and arms to move freely on each puppet. The black foam board silhouettes were then hung behind each fabric-covered window.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Each puppet was attached to a very simple marionette type of set-up and a small 40-rpm motor was used for movement.

There was a lot of tinkering in the set-up to make sure everything worked correctly.

A clamp light was positioned behind each window to cast the shadow. A yellow incandescent  bulb provided a nice warm glow.


The Completed Halloween Display

The Home Depot Halloween props were then added to the front of the façade.

An animated skeleton was hung in the center of the display and two large bats were positioned on either side.

Two bright purple banners warning guests to “Beware” added a nice pop of color on the corners, and the final touch was the addition of Blood Drip Flickering Lights along the roof.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Once darkness fell, the Shadow Puppet Porch came to life.

During the photo shoot, several people stopped by to check it out and could not help giggling at the goofy dancing monsters.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

This has been one of my favorite Halloween projects to date, and I can say that without a shadow of a doubt.

During the build everything came together as planned and the final result is colorful, fun and whimsical.

DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets DIY Halloween Display: Animated Monster Shadow Puppets

Thank you Home Depot for the chance to once again participate in the Halloween Style Challenge, it is always a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing all the entries.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Scott A. Stoll is an award winning papier-mâché artist specializing in Halloween-related subject matter. He lives with his wife and two sons in Midland, Michigan, where he has his Stolloween Studio. See more of Scott’s amazing papier-mâché creations and tutorials, and sign up for his classes on his blog STOLLOWEEN.