SFX Books

Prop making

Books about prop making, including sculpting, molding, casting, painting, mask making, paper mache, foam armor, graphic design, fake food, and props for Halloween.

These books will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to create professional-quality props for any project.

Whether you’re working on a film set, stage production, or just looking to expand your crafting skills, these books will provide you with all the resources you need to succeed.

The Prop Building Guidebook - For theatre, film and TV

The Prop Building Guidebook For Theatre, Film and TV

By Eric Hart

Experienced prop maker Eric Hart walks readers through techniques used in historical and contemporary prop making and demonstrates how to apply them to a variety of materials.

Hundreds of full-color photographs illustrate the tools and techniques used by professional prop makers throughout the entertainment industry.

New features to the second edition include:

  • Updated information on the latest tools and materials used in prop making
  • Both metric and standard measuring units
  • Step-by-step photos on common techniques such as upholstery, mold making, and faux finishing
  • Expanded coverage of thermoplastics, foam, and water-based coatings

Get this book if you’re looking for a well-documented and user-friendly resource on prop making. It covers the entire process, from conception to execution. With clear explanations and a wealth of information, this book is a must-have for anyone serious about prop making.

The Prop Effects Guidebook - Lights, motion, sound and magic

The Prop Effects Guidebook: Lights, Motion, Sound, and Magic

By Eric Hart

Great book that demonstrates how to make props light up, move, explode, make noise, and bleed.

In The Prop Effects Guidebook, Eric Hart expands on the techniques he previously covered in The Prop Building Guidebook, showing readers how to connect and assemble components and parts to bring props to life with lighting, explosions, sound effects, and more.

Through exploration of electricity, pneumatics, liquids, and mechanical effects, Hart teaches readers how to incorporate magical performance elements into their props for live audiences.

Recommended for prop builders at any level, from beginner to advanced.

The Prop Makers Workshop Manual

The Prop Maker`s Workshop Manual

By David H. Rigden

The Prop Maker’s Workshop Manual is a definitive guide to the materials and techniques used in the professional performing arts industry.

It covers both traditional methods and modern practices, and includes original illustrations and over 300 color photographs to illustrate the topics covered.

The manual covers paper mache and card construction, flexible canes and withies, timber and steel frameworks, sculpting, molding, and casting, texture and paint techniques, GRP and epoxy resins, thermoformable plastics such as Plastazote and Wonderflex, and an introduction to life casting.

An essential resource for any prop maker.

The prop builders molding & casting handbook

The Prop Builder`s Molding & Casting Handbook

By Thurston James

This comprehensive book is the go-to resource for theater props builders of all skill levels, offering a wide range of molding and casting techniques using over 30 different materials, from papier-mache to breakaway glass.

In addition to covering traditional materials like plaster and polyester resin, it also provides unique information on the selection and use of rubber materials like latex, neoprene, silicone, and urethanes, as well as the process for creating breakaway windows and bottles.

Written in an easy-to-follow style, the book is useful for professionals and amateurs alike in the fields of theater properties, puppetry, and costuming, and is also a valuable resource for students studying these subjects.

The book includes over 450 photographs to illustrate the step-by-step procedures, and a special section on designing and building a vacuum forming machine for use in theater prop construction.

This book is a must-have for anyone interested in prop making.

The Fake Food Cookbook – Props You Can`t eat for Theatre, Film and TV

By Karestin Harrison and Tamara L. Honesty

The Fake Food Cookbook: Props You Can’t Eat for Theatre, Film, and TV contains step by step instructions on how to create the most realistic prop food for a theatrical production. From appetizers such as oysters on a half shell and chicken wings, entrees such as lobster and honey-glazed ham, to desserts, breakfasts, and even beverages, every meal is covered in this how-to guide. Full color images of each step and finished products illustrate each recipe, along with suggestions for keeping the budget for each project low. Safety Data Sheets and links to informative videos are hosted on a companion website.

Prop Building for Beginners – Twenty Props for Stage and Screen

By Eric Hart

Prop Building for Beginners outlines the basic concepts of prop building by featuring step-by-step instructions to create twenty of the most commonly featured items in theatrical and filmed productions.

This book uses a combination of projects to expose readers to a wide range of materials and tools that they might find in a basic scenery or costume shop, serving both as a guide to building simple props and as a crash course in the variety of items a props person may have to build. The projects require a variety of tools, techniques, and materials so that a practitioner who completes all of them will have received a complete introduction to the basics of prop building.

Assuming no previous knowledge of prop building, this is the perfect primer for students, hobbyists, or community theater enthusiasts looking to enter the prop shop.

Prop Building for Beginners includes access to full-scale printable versions of the patterns featured in the book.

Shrunken Heads - A workshop with Russ Adams

Shrunken Heads – A Workshop with Russ Adams

By Russ Adams

Shrunken Heads: A Workshop with Russ Adams In this how-to workshop series, by special effects artist and creature designer Russ Adams, you will learn how to create professional looking shrunken heads using methods performed by professional Hollywood prop designers. This book includes in depth step-by-step tutorials from concept to finished work of art. In addition to this creating stunning shrunken heads, you will learn how to save money by make your own sculpting tools, armatures, and turntables. The author includes a multitude of other professional tips from his many years of experience. Also included in this book are nearly 100 diagrams, a quick-reference mold making check list, and more. The author even discussed the real gruesome head shrinking rituals used by Amazon tribes.

Foam Patterning and Construction Techniques - Turning 2D Design info 3D Shapes

Foam Patterning and Construction Techniques

Turning 2D Design into 3D Shapes

By Mary McClung

Foam Patterning and Construction Techniques: Turning 2D Designs into 3D Shapes explains how to create your theatrical prop, puppet, or costume design using the unique and tricky medium of foam. Step-by-step instructions, photographs, and explanations illustrate how to translate your design from paper to reality by creating custom “skin” patterns, followed by creation of a foam mockup. The book details how to bring your project to life with varied finishing techniques, including using fur and fabric coverings and dying and painting foam. Numerous supplies, tools, and safety procedures and protocols are also covered.

Make: Props and Costume Armor

By Shawn Torsson

Have you been trying to think of a way to conquer your local comic convention through cosplay? Do you gaze with envious eyes upon the fan-made suits of armored awesomeness strolling around every year on Halloween? Do you have a spot on your wall, bookshelf, or desk that desperately needs to be filled with a screen-accurate replica of your favorite science-fiction or fantasy weapon? If so, look no further. We’ve got just the book for you!

Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking

By Annie Atkins

Although graphic props such as invitations, letters, tickets, and packaging are rarely seen close-up by a cinema audience, they are designed in painstaking detail. Dublin-based designer Annie Atkins invites readers into the creative process behind her intricately designed, rigorously researched, and visually stunning graphic props. These objects may be given just a fleeting moment of screen time, but their authenticity is vital and their role is crucial: to nudge both the actors on set and the audience just that much further into the fictional world of the film.

The Cosplay Handbook

A book of costume and prop making techniques.

By Grace Herbert

The Cosplay Handbook is full of techniques, and tips for everyone interested in cosplay! Learn how to create your own patterns, costumes, props, photoshoots, and more.

Foamsmith – How to make foam armor and costumes

By Bill Doran

“Foamsmith: How to Create Foam Armor Costumes” helps you create stunning, comfortable pieces of costume armor as painlessly and cheaply as possible. Learn everything you need to fabricate, paint, and wear your stunning foam armor creations. You’ll be introduced to basic tools to work with EVA foam floormats. Then, you’ll learn how to make armor templates and combine the foam pieces together. Go over painting techniques and how to add straps to your armor. Also, learn how to add lights to your amazing costume!

Foamsmith 2 – How to forge foam weapons

By Bill Doran

You’ve read our first Foamsmith armor making book and now you’re ready to build that perfect, complimentary prop to go with your jaw-dropping armor costume. Fantastic! Foamsmith 2 is a deep look into the tools, materials, and techniques you’ll need to know to make your own incredible foam prop weapons! Foam weapon making can be a challenging proposition for the uninitiated. Fortunately, this book breaks it down for you in a way that’s easy to pick up quickly. With the techniques in this tome, you’ll be building incredible prop swords and guns quickly and cheaply in no time! Not only does this book include two highly detailed example builds, it also includes two free PDF blueprints to go along with those builds! That’s right, you can follow along as professional prop maker Bill Doran takes you through his creative process, building a pair of amazing foam prop pieces. Looking to up your game? Foamsmith 2 also covers many tools and techniques that are a little bit more advanced than the first armor making book. Prepare to start making props that have your friends asking “Wait, that’s made from foam!?”

Foamsmith 3 – How to make helmets, crown and masks

By Bill Doran

Our first two books on EVA foam crafting, Foamsmith 1 & 2 taught you how to make stunning foam costumes and armor. Foamsmith 3 will empower you with the knowledge you need to make mind blowing headgear from humble sheets of foam. Building costume pieces that you wear on your head can be an extremely frustrating and challenging process. In this book you’ll learn how to tackle the challenges of patterning a wearable piece of costume art so that it looks exactly the way you want. You’ll also figure out how to build a helmet so that it’s as functional, and comfortable as possible. The first half of the book is focused on techniques like patterning, assembly, prototyping/fitting, making visors, and advanced finishing techniques. You’ll also learn about some new materials like EVA foam dowels and foam clay! The second half of the book is a series of three example builds, complete with free, downloadable templates that you can print at home to follow along with the build! Each project varies in difficulty and style, so there’s something for every maker.


The Book of Prop Making: With Foam and Worbla

By Svetlana Quindt

Want to start building fantasy swords, spears or axes? This is the place to start! Followed by millions of people from all over the world, Svetlana Quindt aka “Kamui Cosplay” published this beginner guide as part of her bestselling line of tutorial books.

Never underestimate the power of make-believe! Simply holding a cosplay axe can turn anyone into a Viking, no matter if it’s just made out of foam! Being able to actually make that axe yourself, however, is even cooler! In her typical bubbly way Svetlana talks about everything you will need to get started: choosing the right materials and necessary tools, figuring out the right scale, drawing blueprints, shaping, layering and detailing foam and thermoplastics, adding details and even how to take your props apart for easier transportation! 

Over many years Svetlana has grown to be one of the most beloved and respected figures in the cosplay community. Still she loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with others.

This book will inspire you to craft, explore, and–most of all–enjoy the excitement of making your own costumes.

Making Stage Props - A practical guide - book by Andy Wilson

Making Stage Props – A Practical Guide

By Andy Wilson

Prop makers everywhere now have available to them a broader range of products and processes than every before. Making Stage Props is a book for anyone involved in prop making who wishes to explore the wealth of materials and techniques open to them. This highly illustrated guide covers planning, costing, and scheduling; tools and safety; working with wood, steel, and clay; making and repairing furniture; painting and finishing; and more. Andy Wilson has worked with theatrical companies throughout Britain, including the Royal Shakespeare Company. He currently teaches propmaking at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

printing props - a beginners guide to 3d printing for cosplay and replicas-book by christopher maddalena

Printing Props

A beginners guide to 3D printing for cosplay and replicas

By Christopher Maddalena

If you have ever wanted to use 3D printing to create a replica prop or use 3D printed parts in your cosplay, this book is for you. Whether you’re new to 3D printing or a veteran, these pages contain what you need to know to take a raw print to a fully finished prop that looks like the real deal. The chapters cover basic concepts and materials and progress towards more intermediate topics: editing and creating models, tips and tricks for finishing printed parts, and how you can reproduce a 3D print in solid metal. Each chapter features models created by the author and other makers so you can see the discussed techniques in action. The book also includes free 3D models you can edit and print to follow along with the examples.

The Properties Director's Toolkit Managing a Prop Shop for Theatre 2nd Edition

The Properties Director’s Toolkit

Managing a Prop Shop for Theatre

By Sandra J. Strawn and Lisa Schlenker

This book explains and provides templates for organizing and managing a prop shop, from pre-production organization to production processes, budgeting, and collaborations with other production areas. It explores how to plan, organize, and maintain a prop shop for safe and efficient production work.

Paper Mache The Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Make Paper Mache Sculptures, Animals, Wildlife and More by Andrea Gundrum

Paper Mache

Learn everything you need to know about paper mache! The Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Make Paper Mache Sculptures, Animals, Wildlife and More

By Andrea Gundrum

This book is for people who want to learn paper mache. The art of paper mache is a fun and inexpensive activity to carry out with your friends and family, and especially with your children. It is also a great way to express your inner creativity. This type of art allows you to let your imagination run rampant while getting messy with glue and paper.

Why You Must Have This Book!

  • Why you should paper mache.
  • How to paper mache.
  • Step by step instructions on how to make cool paper mache sculptures.
  • The importance of paper mache.
  • What to do with the paper mache ingredients.
  • How to make the paper mache paste and pulp.
  • Learn how to make a mask using paper mache.
  • This book will guide you through the steps in an easy to follow manner.

Papier Mache Design-Advanced techniques By Monique Robert

Papier Mache Design: Advanced Techniques

By Monique Robert

Choose a subject and build any sculpture with papier mache using proven techniques that guide you step by step through the process! Unlike any papier mache book you’ve ever seen, you will use methods and materials you never thought possible in the art of papier mache.

The Mask-Making Handbook by Thurston James

The Mask Making Handbook

By Thurston James

The prop builders mask-making handbook

The Prop Puilders Mask-making Handbook

By Thurston James

How to Make MasksEasy New Way to Make a Mask for Masquerade, Halloween and Dress-Up Fun, With Just Two Layers of Fast-Setting Paper Mache Paperback by Jonni Good

How to Make Masks

Easy New Way to Make a Mask for Masquerade, Halloween and Dress-Up Fun, With Just Two Layers of Fast-Setting Paper Mache

By Jonni Good

Latex Mask Making-A Workshop with Russ Adams-mask making book

Latex Mask Making – A Workshop with Russ Adams

By Russ Adams

LATEX MASK MAKING: A Workshop with Russ Adams In this how-to workshop series, by special effects artist and creature designer Russ Adams, you will learn the latex mask making process used by professional mask makers and Hollywood designers. This book includes in depth step-by-step tutorials from concept to finished mask. In addition to this latex rubber mask making process, you will learn how to save money by make your own sculpting tools, armatures, and turntables. The author includes a multitude of other professional tips from his many years of experience including how to revitalize older raw materials like latex and clay. Also included in this book are nearly 100 diagrams, a quick-reference mold making check list, and more.

“My goal for this book is to give you the tools to succeed in your latex mask making endeavor by guiding you through a step-by-step process that will increase your odds of success. In this book, you are going to learn more than just how to make a latex mask. I am going to rescue you from the idea that you need to buy specialized tools and equipment to succeed.”

Halloween Propmaker's Handbook

Halloween Propmaker’s Handbook

By Kenneth Pitek

With some corn syrup, drink mix powder and water, you can make a splendid concoction of stage blood – without spending an arm and a leg. From budget-friendly frights to sophisticated props, this book offers dozens of imaginative ways to haunt a house for Halloween. Readers will find generously illustrated step-by-step instructions for creating a barbecued skull, devil eyes, bonehead tableware, a magic bottle, a glowing brain and other projects. The book details ways to enhance an eerie ambiance with effects like blacklights and music. Props use many common household items and tools. Where specialty items are required, the author tells where they can be found at a reasonable cost. Projects take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete. The chapters ooze with tips on topics like creating apprehension and surprise, using design to guide guests, creatively using plastic skulls, and making papier-mache masks and molded hands. There are recipes for fake blood and vomit and ideas for using them, and other creative and adaptable ideas. Appendices include Merry Halloween, which advises, One of the best times to look for bargains on Halloween prop-building materials is right after Christmas; an alphabetical listing of props and supplies and where they can be found; a list of specialty suppliers; and an epitaph inviting comments.

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