So you want to take your Halloween costume to the next level this year, but you don’t know where to begin. You don’t have to be a professional makeup artist to make an excellent costume. There are plenty of techniques and products which are easy to use no matter your skill level.
Let’s take a look at some products every aspiring makeup artist should keep in their kits:
Body painting videos have become incredibly popular on Youtube in the past couple of years. The best body and face painters can create spooky looks complete with the illusion of volume and dimension, and it is all done with nothing but paint. For inspiration, just look through Youtube for some great tutorials. They offer some fantastic tips and tricks for creating optical illusions with paints.
Body paints come in cakes, which are activated with water and have a bit more staying power than cream paints. Cream paints come in tubes and offer thick coverage with fewer coats. If you want your paint to last more than a couple of hours, it is a good idea to also invest in some no color powder to set the paint. This will keep your body paint from smudging or rubbing off as quickly.
I recommend investing in a good quality body paint such as Wolfe Hydrocolor or Kryolan Aquacolor. These are professional brands which offer a wide variety of colors and they offer the best coverage.
Spirit Gum and Prosaide are two of the most used products in any special FX makeup artist’s kit. These adhesives are useful for applying prosthetics … and just about anything else.
Werewolves are a good example here. Buy some crepe hair from a costume or hobby shop. Crepe hair is normally used to make doll wigs, and comes in a wide variety of colors. Use a little spirit gum around the edges of the face, and allow it the surface to become tacky. Separate your hair into thin flat sections, and then cut stray hairs on one end with a pair of sharp scissors. Starting at the back and working toward the front, lay each section of hair in the tacky spirit gum. Make sure you are laying the crepe hair so it matches the natural direction of your real hair.
This process works with just about any type of hair, fur, or even small objects like rhinestones. To add texture to a wood-elf or nature spirit costume, use spirit gum to attach craft moss or fake leaves directly to the skin.
Be careful of facial hair, body hair or eyebrows. Spirit gum and prosaide will bond with hair, and can make taking off your costume quite painful. The easiest solution to this problem is to shave the area where adhesives will be applied. Some hair, such as eyebrows can be protected with mortician’s wax and school glue.
For some more advanced looks, add a little volume with latex, gelatin or wax.
Liquid latex is most commonly used, and can be picked up at any makeup or art supply store. It can be applied directly to the skin with a brush or sponge, or combined with cotton balls and tissue paper to build up volume quickly. Stipple the edges of your creation with latex on a makeup sponge to help blend out your edges for a seamless look. Use eyelash glue around sensitive areas such as the eyes, since it contains latex without the strong smell of ammonia.
This technique is commonly used for making one-off prosthetics, and was widely used in film before prosthetic molds were invented. For a good example of this, check out James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein. This iconic monster look was made from scratch every day with nothing but cotton balls and latex.
An alternative option for anyone with a latex allergy is gelatin. Gelatin prosthetics can be applied directly onto the skin in liquid form, much like how you would use liquid latex. Or, it can also be poured into a mold for making larger prosthetics.
Here is the basic recipe for homemade gelatin prosthetics:
· 1-Part plain powder gelatin
· 1-Part liquid glycerin
· 1-Part water
· (optional) A couple drops of liquid makeup foundation or acrylic paint for color
Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat in a microwave for about 20 seconds. Allow mixture to cool slightly before applying to avoid burns.
Another major bonus to using gelatin is that any extra product made is reusable. If your gelatin sets before you can use the whole batch, just put it in the microwave for another 20 seconds and keep going. You can also make a large batch in a sealable container to go and keep it in your makeup kit for later.
The last option for making homemade prosthetics is to pick up a container of mortician’s wax. This wax can be found at most makeup stores, and comes in a variety of skins tones. As the name would suggest, morticians use this product on corpses to make them presentable for funerals.
Mortician’s wax can be applied directly to the skin with a palette knife and sculpted to the desired shape. This wax is excellent for creating one-off prosthetics with high levels of detail. However, unlike gelatin or latex, wax does not stretch or bend with the skin. Mortician’s wax is not good for areas which require a lot of movement, such as joins or the brow area.
Use one or all of these tools to create the perfect look for your Halloween costume this year. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the best technique for the look you want to create. But most of all, have fun!