Prosthetic and Make-up Application (Basic Course contd … And Completed!)

This stage of the course was obviously the most exciting and nerve wracking of course. As I keep saying I had absolutely no previous experience and therefore no idea how anything was going to work so I decided to plan as best I could for every possible eventuality … This is actually good practice though because often, if a make-up application is required on location somewhere, forgetting a necessary item could be disastrous.

This is the list that Dick suggests of basic essentials that I used :

  • Appliances, plus spares.
  • Wigs, hairpeices, combs, scissors ,hair pins, dryer, hair spray.
  • Bald cap plus spare.
  • Adhesives, solvents, removers, brushes.
  • Sealers, brushes
  • Make-up bases, sponges.
  • Lining colours, brushes.
  • KY, moustache wax.
  • Powders, puffs, powder brush.
  • Acetone, alcohol, witch hazel.
  • Towels, tissue, cotton, cotton swabs, make-up cleanser, make-up cape.

Good lighting is needed but not having an ideal set up I had Sam sit in my parents’ kitchen that has a lot of natural light with the main light on also. I’d prepared him for it being a lengthy process, which he was sort of ok with, and sat him as comfortable and high as possible to save my back too. I also lent him my iPod with films on to watch too to help to keep him occupied. (He watched REC I think and really enjoyed it if anyone is interested).

I put a towel round him to protect his clothing and cleaned his face with wipes to make sure the appliances would adhere to his skin. It’s important to decide what order to apply the prosthetics and it’s generally easiest to start with the nose and upper lip, then the chin, followed by both cheek pieces and finally the forehead. It depends on what looks best overlapping the one next to it though. I used spirit gum (Mehron) for the adhesive because it’s cheap and easy to get hold of but you can use many different types of adhesives when using gelatin. There are also several different methods to stick on the appliances but I found it easiest to put a coating all over the reverse of the appliance except the delicate edges,  leave it a little while until it was tacky and then place it into position on Sam’s face. I could then go around and fix the edges once I was happy it was in the correct place. I used witch hazel to blend the edges a little too with a cotton bud if there was an obvious edge. Warm water can also be used but it can easily melt the gelatin so you have to be really careful.

The following set of pics show Sam before any prosthetics were applied and various views of his face with the chin and nose prosthetics applied. You can still see rough edges here and there but a lot of these were to be overlapped with other pieces …

The next set of photos show application of the left and right cheek prosthetic appliances. You can see the massive difference the pieces make to his facial structure. It was actually a bit freaky to see the transformation … :S

The next pictures show all the prosthetics applied. The first pic shows areas around the eyes etc that still needed attention which I found tricky as Sam had been sitting for a few hours at this point and his skin was warm, making it difficult for the gelatin to bond properly. I wasn’t too worried around the edges of his face because in this case I could cover with the wig for photos but obviously for a proper professional make-up these would have to be blended more carefully. Was amazed how effective the pieces all looked though, especially from a distance. Also when Sam tried different expressions the gelatin moved really realistically. Quite eerie! The tone was great too but I had to change this quite a lot to match the character as you’ll see later.

The final set of pics show the final make-up and costume applied. There weren’t many of the actual make-up application because I faffed around that much everybody was more or less totally bored and wandered off. There a few however and many of the finished character.  The make-up was ok but I was really tired by this point and had to leave it in the end to make sure the photos got taken. I used Opaque Make-Up Creme Sticks, (grease paint,) by Mehron in various colours which can be thinned down if you are aiming for a translucent effect. As I was going for an unnatural pallid, sickly look I used a combination of white, yellow and greens for the base colour with a pinky blue added for the nose and eyebags blended on the back of my hand and applied with a soft sponge or fineline brush for detail. I had to do a lot of blending and alterations with this stage. I used a black/brown colour with a very rough stipple sponge for the stubble effect but didn’t have time to get it how I wanted at all. Looking at the first photo I maybe should have just not bothered with stubble at all but at the time thought it was really necessary for the character.

I used a cheap ’70s style wig from eBay which I trimmed (with the help of my sister-in-law Kaye), until it resembled what I thought was roughly a sort of scruffy Burke and Hare period style. I borrowed one of my Dad’s grandad style, collarless shirts and a paisley scarf to complete the look and also to cover the neck as the prosthetics didn’t cover all of Sam’s neck.

The last pictures show the completed character. There were still some issues with some of the pieces around his mouth and right eye as I mentioned, because the time taken to complete the makeup caused the skin to perspire and become warm and as a result the gelatin wouldn’t stick properly but bearing in mind this was the first attempt I was still pretty happy with the results … 🙂

Once all the photos had been taken we removed the wig and costume and the appliances also came off quite easily but there was a residue of the spirit gum and gelatin because of the heat and perspiration of the skin. We used hot water and a flannel to dissolve all the gelatin so that I could dissolve  the gum with spirit gum remover (both also from Mehron), with cotton wool pads. Once the skin was clear I used just some Simple facial wipes to remove any remnants of the make-up and to clean Sam’s skin. Apart from being tired, bored and a little pissed off he was more or less back to normal. Although he won’t admit it, I think he actually quite enjoyed it all … Possibly … :S I’m really grateful to him for his patience and hopefully haven’t put him off altogether because I might need him again …


4 thoughts on “Prosthetic and Make-up Application (Basic Course contd … And Completed!)

  1. Wow I am not liking the finished article at all!! Very scary indeed. Brilliant work!! You must be pretty proud of the product!!

    The wig is hilarious too!!


    1. Thanks !! 😀 He was pretty unpleasant before the make-up went on though tbf haha … I kid of course! Turned out ok though lots of things to improve on. I learnt a lot from the whole experience. Great fun. Wig was pretty impressive. Ahhh the 70s eh? Gotta love em 🙂


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