Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bat infestation! for Halloween

sc go batty

papapishu_bat_2Bats. Thanks to Bram Stoker, these helpful little mammals are forever connected to Halloween. So, let’s go with it. Sorry, bats, you are rather creepy looking.

Trompe l’oeil paintings fool the eye into thinking a flat object is three–dimensional. You can take a simple bat drawing and add shading/highlights to produce a swarm of bats across your front door. Just in time for Halloween.

Grab a bat from an open source clip art site like, which is where I found the little bat. Open the file in your graphics program and size it to about 8 in. across. Your monitor screen now doubles as a light board. Tape thin paper to the monitor and trace the bat’s outline. Use a soft felt–tip marker so you do not damage your screen. Also rough in the dark areas with the marker. This drawing will be your master (muwahahaha).

sc draw 1
sc progression

Make a copy of the master drawing. The copy is your working drawing. Neatly cut out the bat. The outside is now your stencil, and the inside is your painting guide.

Stencil the bat outline onto thick tag board with black craft paint thinned with acrylic blender. The blender helps the paint flow smoothly from the stencil brush. I used an old shirt box for the base. Cereal boxes work as well. Be careful not to tear the edges of the stencil as you paint.

sc stencil sc stencil 2

Rub the back of the cutout bat drawing with white chalk to create a transfer. Flip the drawing right–side up and fit it onto the bat stencil, matching the edges. Tape down the bat and trace all the dark outlines with a pen or pencil.

sc trace

Remove the bat drawing to begin your painting. The chalk outlines may be fuzzy, but rubbing them lightly with your hand should remove the excess chalk without removing the guidelines.

You’ll be painting in the light areas. Use the drawing you traced as your guide. Mix the black craft paint with enough white craft paint to make a mid–gray tone. Mix the gray paint half and half with the acrylic blender. You want the gray glaze to blend into the black without harsh edges.

sc paint

Follow the guidelines you traced in chalk to build up lighter areas. Remember, the bat will not be seen from 6 in. away. Squint your eyes occasionally or step back to gauge your success. Estimate your light source. If the light source is coming from the top, objects on top will be lighter.

sc finished

When dry, cut out the bat. Trace and paint a few hanging bats to add to the infestation.

sc upside down

Place a few pieces of foam tape on the back of the finished paintings and add them to your decor. When the kiddies run away screaming, you can keep all the candy for yourself.

sc bat on door

Trick–or–treat for the eyes!


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  1. Great instructions! I could really "sink my teeth" into this project (sorry. I'm sure you were expecting someone to say it!) Seriously though, I do enjoy the projects you share.


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