The Creative Lab: Basics to Special FX Makeup

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With zombie shows taking over my TV set and Netflix queue these days, I wondered how do makeup artists actually do all that insane special FX makeup to look so realistic! I was super curious about how normal human people were made to look like the undead, so today on The Creative Lab, I'm is sculpting up some horror with special effects artist Alyssa Morgan! It's scary good.

First, Alyssa taught me how to make the wounds themselves (ew, wounds). We used something that’s super popular for prosthetics these days called a 3-D transfer mold. Essentially, the wounds and cuts that you see on TV are applied to the skin just like those super fun temporary tattoos you used to get as a kid (or as an adult, let’s be honest).

We started with a mold and then added in some of the goopy silicone rubber transfer material. I was a touch heavy handed at first but Alyssa helped coach me through it. Then we took a piece of transfer paper and gently squeegeed the excess transfer material that was in the mold into a tiny gutter that runs along the outside of the mold. Pretty nifty! Also kinda intimidating. But mostly nifty!

Once that was done and the goop was dried, we were ready to place the “zombie bite” and fake busted lip onto our lovely production coordinator Bria! First, we stuck on the bite and the busted lip exactly like the temporary tattoos. She wasn’t kidding!

The thing that made the wounds look so real (seriously, I had to remind myself they were fake) was Alyssa’s amazingly detailed painting using fake blood and special makeup. And that part, I admit, was way over my head. But seriously SO cool to watch!

I may not have a future in special effects makeup, but I sure had an incredible time watching the expert. And now I have a whole new appreciation for it when I see it on TV!

This is just the tip of the bloody iceberg. Be sure to check out more of Alyssa’s work on her website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page.

Did you try doing special fx makeup yourself? Tag us on Instagram and use #bemakeful and #thecreativelab!