Category Archives: Makeup FX

The How and Why of Silicone. Part 5

Alright, its been a while coming, but here as promised is the section on Painting Silicone. And yes, I know this says Part 5, and Part 4 isnt up yet, so you may think I’m jumping the gun, but Part 4 is going to deal with seaming and finishing techniques, as well as some interesting manufacturing tips, so bear with me and I’ll get there eventually!!

There is a lot of information here, so read carefully.

Each section has a “WHAT” describing which products we use for each purpose, followed by a “WHY” we use that and not something else, and then finally the all-important “HOW” to do it.

The products available to you will vary according to your location, and you may not have access to a particular thing, but you should be able to find the information here to help you make the most of what you CAN get.

Materials are expensive, so to avoid costly mistakes it is best to research your materials well and talk with your local distributor as well. They are there to help, and have a vested interest in getting you to come back and spend more money with them, so they will (usually) try to be helpful!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE INTRINSIC COLOURING OF SILICONE:

The best paint job should complement the colour of your silicone, not completely hide it. Painting silicone isn’t like painting foam latex or latex, where you are starting with a very unnatural flat dead appearance and trying to bring it to life. In fact there isn’t a lot of point using silicone for pieces if you aren’t going to take advantage of the very flesh-like translucency it inherently possesses. So the crucially important step is to tint your piece intrinsically before you cast it, to give your piece the best and most lifelike tones onto which you can then paint your ‘skin’ surface.

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Misadventures in Mouldmaking

Hi all,  I thought I would just post a bit of a primer for newer readers, and all the lurkers with perhaps a little less experience.

We are incredibly privileged to have as Members of ‘Neill Gorton’s Makeup FX 911’ Group on Facebook many of the worlds most talented Makeup FX Artists. We also have several sensational sculptors, magnificent mouldmakers, terrifyingly talented technicians and fantastic finishers.

Each of these areas is a speciality all on its own, and you could easily devote a lifetime to learning and developing your skills in just one particular area and still not know everything about it!!

Most early career artists don’t start out with the intention of becoming, say, a great fibreglass mould maker, or a particularly expert seamer and patcher of foam latex and silicone. These skills are viewed as ‘less glamorous’ than something like sculpting or painting, or on-set application of prosthetics, although most people don’t even consider that by making a career out of honing a particular skill that it is possible to be more in demand as a specialist and get more regular work than a Jack-of-all-trades!

When we start out, it is natural to want to do EVERYTHING!

And, in our naiveté we often assume that if we are pretty good at one thing, we will be pretty good at all of it.

There’s your first problem… 😉

There is a lot of resource material on here and elsewhere in books and online, to tell you what you need to know to get started.

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REVIEW: BOOK, Todd Debreceni’s “Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen” Second Edition

I purchased the original edition of this book shortly after its release in 2009, and read it from cover to cover in a day. Perhaps ‘read’ is not quite the right word- devoured, is probably more accurate! I was certainly hungry for the knowledge Todd had packed into it, and its sleek cover encased a particularly comprehensive guide to making and applying prosthetic makeup.  Now Focal Press have just released the Second Edition, with even more fantastic information and techniques.

Unlike a lot of the standard makeup tomes (although they are valuable repositories of information in their own right) “Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen” covers all of the latest industry techniques and materials. Not only does the book provide in-depth explanations, it is illustrated with fabulous photographs, in easy to follow chapters, covering the entire process of Prosthetic Makeups from Design to Application, and more! While perfectly suitable as a self-teaching manual – it is clearly laid out, like any good textbook, it also provides a great reference book for more experienced Makeup Artsist wishing to brush up on industry-standard techniques.

9780240816968

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What Do I Need In My Makeup FX Kit?

What do you need in your kit when you are a Makeup FX Artist?

To a large extent it depends on the kind of work you usually do. Is it factual recreation or fantasy creations? Do you have time to build FX in your workspace beforehand, or are you regularly called upon to put together an Out-of-kit Effect at the last minute?  Of course, you won’t necessarily need your entire kit on every job, but you will want a comprehensive set of tools and products to get you through any situation you are likely to face in your working life.

If you trained at a formal school you will have purchased a very basic kit to use during your education. If you are self taught you may have acquired everything piecemeal as you needed it, but that can leave gaping holes in your kitlist when it comes to things you just haven’t done yet…

Either way, shopping for Product and Equipment can be a minefield of torturous decision making and insecurity… And making the wrong purchase can be worse than not buying anything!
When faced with a multitude of alternative brands and glossy marketing material making grandiose promises, it is always difficult to know where to start.

Most of us get swept up in the excitement of new and exciting products from time to time, only to find them languishing at the bottom of our kit months later while we rely on our familiar and predictable old favorites…

A case in point is Makeup Brushes: how many do you own?    Twenty?  Forty? 
Now, being honest with yourself: how many do you actually USE???   I’d wager that you rely on the same half dozen for everything you do!!  

With this in mind, I advise you to read the following list carefully and pick out only items that seem to you to be immediately necessary, or perhaps things that you have seen in other peoples kits and think would be useful to you in your current line of work.
Accumulating a comprehensive and versatile kit is a major investment in your career, so try to only buy things you know you will use or are willing to learn to use!! And always buy the best quality you can afford, that is justified by the work you do.

So your checklist before purchasing an item goes something like this:

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BLOOD FOR FILM: Information, Ingredients and Recipes

Just updated!!!

naomidlynch

The original version of this post was written for the Film and Television Institute in Perth, Western Australia a few years ago. It has since been updated and added to several times. In its current form it summarises the best and most accurate recipes and useful information currently available to Makeup Artists, to allow you to make your own Theatrical Bloods for Film, Tv or Stage.

THE HOLY GRAIL OF MAKEUP FX

As a Makeup Artist, I am often asked about the best way to make a CHEAP, REALISTIC artificial BLOOD, that won’t stain, and can be made in bulk for film and theatre.

The answer isn’t always what they want to hear, sadly, there is no such beast! As always, the classic designers triangle applies here: Good, Fast and Cheap. Pick two…..

Quite honestly, if you are only using a small amount then you are better off buying…

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REVIEW, WEB: “Neill Gorton’s Makeup FX 911” on Facebook

So, you’re a working Makeup FX Artist, or just a keen beginner.  You have some questions you want answered- you might be trying out a new technique for the first time, or maybe you had an unexpected problem crop up with something you’ve done dozens of times before, and you aren’t sure what happened or why?  Where do you look for help?

Call 911!

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REVIEW: DVD, Neill Gorton’s “Creating Character Prosthetics in Silicone”

The Compilation Set of Creating Character Prosthetics in Silicone covers more advanced techniques than The Art of Silicone Prosthetics, the previous series from Neill Gorton of Millenium FX in the UK. Neill has pioneered the use of single-piece flexible silicone prosthetics over the past decade and his expertise in this area is second to none.  It is available as 4 individual DVDs or in the Box Set.

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REVIEW: DVD, Neill Gorton’s “The Art of Silicone Prosthetics”

If you have seen any movie that features realistic facial or body scarring in the last five years, chances are you have seen flat-moulded encapsulated silicone prosthetic transfers in action. They give an incredibly realistic result and as far as looking like real flesh and skin they have not been surpassed. The consist of a thin membrane of plastic (the encapsulant) filled with a special silicon gel, the texture of which which can be modified to create firmer or softer pieces for different areas on the body. Once applied the edges of the encapsulant are melted away and become invisible on the skin surface. The appliances are coloured using special alcohol-soluble ink makeup (such as Skin Illustrator).

Neill Gorton, of Britain’s Millenium FX, is a pioneer in this method of making prosthetics, and in this excellent series of Instructional DVDs, he demonstrates the design and manufacturing process in simple, easy to follow steps.

Don’t waste materials making expensive mistakes- get this DVD and understand the process before you start!

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BLOOD FOR FILM: Information, Ingredients and Recipes

The original version of this post was written for the Film and Television Institute in Perth, Western Australia a few years ago. It has since been updated and added to several times. In its current form it summarises the best and most accurate recipes and useful information currently available to Makeup Artists, to allow you to make your own Theatrical Bloods for Film, Tv or Stage.

THE HOLY GRAIL OF MAKEUP FX

As a Makeup Artist, I am often asked about the best way to make a CHEAP, REALISTIC artificial BLOOD, that won’t stain, and can be made in bulk for film and theatre.

The answer isn’t always what they want to hear, sadly, there is no such beast! As always, the classic designers triangle applies here: Good, Fast and Cheap. Pick two…..

Quite honestly, if you are only using a small amount then you are better off buying a good brand of theatrical blood as it will work out the same price to make your own and wont always be as good, and less fuss!

However, if you need a large quantity or are unable to source a good quality product in your geographic area, there are plenty of recipes around and one of those listed here is bound to suit your purposes.

In my personal Makeup FX kit I routinely carry between 12 and 16 different types of bloods at any one time. Yes, thats right- at least a dozen! The reason for is that there are many variables on a shoot, and rarely is one product suitable for every occasion. You need to mix and match. I carry runny bloods that dont dry, runny bloods that do dry, runny bloods that are mouth-safe or edible, bloods that stay where you put them, bloods in different colours in the above categories, opaque bloods, translucent bloods, blood pastes, blood that can be reactivated by a spritz of water, blood that will stay on underwater, blood that sets scabby, blood that looks fresh, blood for eyes, blood powder, blood capsules…. you get the idea?

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The How and Why of Silicone, (Part 3)

USING YOUR SILICONE:

So you are now fully equipped to choose exactly the right silicone product for your purpose, and you are champing at the bit to get started. So lets look at how to do that.

I’m not going to go into the entire multifaceted sculpting and mould-making process here, it would take me six months, and there are already a lot of fabulous resources out there…. (see post on My Makeup Books) what we ARE going to look at now  is the actual silicone itself and what you need to do to end up with a usable product at the end.

There are several things to do before you even open the product.

FIRST, make sure your workroom, tools and materials are neither too cold, nor too hot   This, I understand, can be tricky…. but especially in your first few attempts with silicone, it will make the process much smoother and increase your chances of success.  (All Technical Data sheets list the estimated geltime and total curing time of your product, at an ideal working temp of around 24C (about 75F).)
Wait a minute- chances?  You mean this isnt a guaranteed, easy peasy, smooth as pie process?  Weeeelllll…. technically, yes, it could be, as long as you follow the instructions perfectly and work in optimum conditions. But Im not going to lie to you- there are many things that can go amiss if you aren’t careful, and sometimes, even if you are…

SECOND, assemble your tools and materials.  You will need to make sure your materials and workspace are clean, and all components are compatible with the silicone of your choice- remember your list of inhibitors.  You really need to have an accurate electric scale measuring by the gram for working with silicones, plus a pocket scale that measures by 0.1 grams, especially if you are making prosthetics and the likes that use only small amounts… (see The How and Why of Silicone (Part 2) for some good pocket scales).  Dont forget the calculator and a notebook to write things down- NEVER assume you will remember it all.  Also, you will need to make sure you have CLEAN CONTAINERS. Never try and skimp on this… as my 16 yr old observed, recycling isnt a large part of Special Effects, and although we can re-use some things, it pays to be scrupulous when working with something as fussy and expensive as silicone.  You can save a container you have used for the same silicone before and remove the old cured mix, but if there are uncured parts you are best to dispose of them and start again. Some cardboard cups contain wax that can inhibit some silicones. Clean paper cups, plastic containers or foodgrade plastic buckets are best.
THIRD, it goes without saying that you should ALWAYS test your materials before starting your project.  It also goes without saying that most people simply don’t bother….

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