Plants vs Zombies!!!

Last July I was commissioned by PopCap Games here in Seattle to create a puppet version of their Zombie character from their hit game “Plants vs Zombies”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, players plant a butt-kicking garden of destructive plants around their house to ward off swarms of attacking zombies.


The character sheet PopCap provided me with for Zombie.

Zombie was the first completely custom puppet I’ve built. Because of his unique head shape, I had to build a custom foam skull and create my own pattern for covering it with Antron Fleece (Muppet skin!). His eyes, teeth, hair, and clothing were all tricky to figure out, but one of the things I love about building puppets is problem solving. There is nothing more satisfying to me than figuring out how to build something from an initial concept sketch.


Back, Front, & side view of Zombie

Zombies skin is custom dyed Antron Fleece. His eyes are coated and painted styrofoam. His skull and hand forms are upholstery foam and his teeth and fingernails are coated and painted upholstery foam. His hair is single strands of ostrich feathers. His suitcoat was sewn from a vintage toddler’s pattern. It was truly a labor of love creating this guy.

Zombie_mouth open & closed

Zombie’s mouth, opened and closed

Zombie’s mouth turned out to be trickier than I expected. In every image of him, in the game and anywhere else, his mouth is always open. Always. I had to figure out a closed mouth position and hinge the jaw correctly so it would be true to the character. It took me a while to get it right but I am happy with the results.

One of my favorite features of the puppet is that his eyes, teeth, and fingernails all glow in the dark. I grew up in the 70’s and for a time everything was made of glow in the dark plastic. I LOVE that stuff, and I thought it would be fun to do. Fortunately Krylon makes a glow spray paint, so after carefully coating all the pieces (foam and spray paint are natural enemies, spray paint dissolves the stuff) I painted multiple layers…


Zombies features glowing in medium and low light

Just seeing him glow makes me happy 🙂

Thanks for checking out my work, feel free to email me with comments, questions, or critiques. I will be posting process photos of Zombie and the PopCap Cats later this spring, so you can see how they were built. I love to see the progress shots of other puppeteers builds, so I think I’ll share mine with you…

Thanks for stopping by… “Feel” you later,



All photos by the incomparable John E Hollingsworth, @


One thought on “Plants vs Zombies!!!

  1. Awesome work, Paul! I’m glad to see the site up and moving again. Keep ’em coming! Your puppets are amazing.

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