For a while, I’ve been interested in SFX makeup; I took a course on it and quickly heightened my skills. At first, it’s kind of scary. You see Instagram professionals doing it fantastically, but then you try and it’s terrible because it’s your first try and their hundredth. Here is a short post on where to start with your special effects!
Specifically, I like the gore side, like most, creating wonderful works such as:
For the first two photos, I used Ben Nye scar wax, home-made fake blood (more on that later), and Snazaroo face paint (for the bruise). In the third photo, I used just red face paint and melted gelatin, which I will also talk about later.
I did the bullet to the head using scar wax and fake blood.
Ben Nye is sometimes a bit expensive per pot, but it’s very good quality. It ranges from £20 to £50, depending on the size of the pot. It comes in a few skin colours, from peachy, to coffee, to darker skin. Some brands, like Snazaroo, sell cheap scar wax for under £5, and that’s never good to use.
Ben Nye scar wax is sticky. I like to make my fingers wet before moulding it on to my model’s (or my own) skin, however it’s important not to have wet or greasy skin before you apply it, or it’ll come off. Wearing foundation – however ‘matte’ it may be – will also make your skin greasy, so that should be removed. My problem when taking my SFX course was that the people I worked on all wore lots of makeup, so the wax kept falling off until I just wiped their faces clean.
Scar wax is also known as mortician’s wax because years ago it was used to cover up imperfection on dead bodies’ skin, or cover wounds up, etc. People call it both now, it doesn’t matter too much.
For a bruise, the face paint colours should be blue, green, greeny-yellow (not bright yellow) and a brown-hued red (not a pinky red, though). It can be any brand you like, but Snazaroo is good quality and isn’t greasy like the paint from dollar/one pound stores, though a little expensive considering the amount of colours you need.
I lightly pat the colours on, starting with yellow, then green, then blue and red. I like to use a reference photo for my bruises to get the black-eye shapes right. The blood in the bruise tends to pool around the eye socket, rather than bruising your eyelids (unless it’s extreme). For my blood and gore, however, I never use reference photos because I personally don’t want to see it if it isn’t real.
It’s good to start light before going darker and heavier, because you can go back easier. Some brands of face paint stain your skin a little; not noticeably so, but it’s still annoying when trying to be subtle.
Irrelevant to bruises, but still relevant to face paint, darker colours are better than lighter ones in the sense that Snazaroo white and bright-yellow face paints look crusty if you use them all over the face, though they look okay in small sections.
The home-made blood is edible and tastes sweet. This is good because you can get the ingredients in supermarkets and it’s completely fine to put in your mouth (I have found that when doing bloody lips, or whatever, blood goes in my mouth and the taste of chemicals isn’t pleasant, so this home-made blood is pretty naff).
You will need:
- Golden syrup (or something else of the same or similar consistency)
- Cocoa powder
- Corn starch (also known as cornflour)
- Food colouring (red, blue and green)
- Gelatin (for thicker blood)
- A cup or bowl and something to mix with like a spoon
In a cup, pour some golden syrup – this will be your main ingredient, so pour the amount of blood you want. Roughly between one teaspoon and tablespoon (give or take, depending on how much syrup is used) of cornflour should be added, to make it slightly thicker and less like coloured syrup.
Add about a teaspoon at a time of cocoa powder. This will give it the brown-red blood colour. After you add your food colouring, you will know if you should add more or less of the brown. Remember: it isn’t meant to look like diarrhoea.
One to three drops each of blue, green and red food colouring will also be added, for the colour. Add more red if it isn’t the right colour yet. And mix it all up! It should look like:
(I took this photo from Google Images but the website it was linked to was thegeeksclub.com)
Wound-filler is more congealed blood for the insides of wounds – you would find that blood tends to be a bit runny. So add a little gelatin powder until you’re happy. It might be a little bit clumpy and that’s fine. Just a little more mixing needed, in that case.
My only problem with liquid latex is that it stinks so bad that your nose scrunches up and your eyes literally water. So don’t smell it, please, I’m begging you. It also gets stuck to everything. It makes looks like this:
That was my first ever liquid latex look, using that and tissue paper (as well as blood) and I have improved from then. It’s best for burn scars, or abnormalities, because I cannot make the tissue go smooth for the life of me. It’s also really hard to get the foundation to match my real skin, so I tend to dot bruises around the “seams” of it so it looks normal.
You can get liquid latex on amazon quite cheap. I got 1L and it’s lasted ages.
Try not to get it on your clothes, or the carpet, etc. because it won’t come off easily. I got it on a tee shirt and I got it off with a nail file.. And made a hole in my tee in the process. At least I’m good at sewing! It dries stretchy, kind of like really thin elastic. So, with time, you could probably pick it off, but I’m impatient.
It kind of pulls the microscopic hairs on whatever body part it is, though, which hurts while you’re peeling it off, but it’s not that bad.
If you spill it on flat surfaces, like kitchen counters, or a desk, don’t try to wipe it off. Wait for it to dry and just peel it off. Don’t use sponges, or anything of the like to apply it. It will probably not come off.
I created this with just melted gelatin:
I melted a small chunk of set gelatin in the microwave and then put it on. It gets extremely hot, so be careful, and test a bit on your wrist or something first. It also cools and hardens quickly, so be careful and fast.
I got a kebab skewer to move it around and make it stringy, and applied red around it to make it look sorer. A little brown wouldn’t hurt either. It’s probably the most simple part of SFX.
I hope this post helped you in one way or the other. It certainly revived my knowledge.