You may be asking what is a prosthetic makeup?
It is a makeup technique that allows for significant and dramatic changes in face and body shape by gluing a sculpted piece to the skin. This allows for more complex characters to be developed. If you have seen a zombie, alien, cyborg or monster in a movie chances re there was a skilled FX artist behind it.
When you are looking to have a prosthetic piece applied by an FX artist there are two options available to you.
The first of these options is simpler, less expensive and more artists are equipped to do it for you. This method involves selecting a premade mass produced foam latex piece and having it applied blended, sealed and painted by your artist. An application like this will take around 2-4 hours to complete and will generally cost 200-500$ depending on the type of piece selected and what if any kinds of additional body or hand makeup are required to complete the look.
A makeup application of this type allows you to make a last minute character for a lower price point. One downside is that as the pieces are “One size fits all” if you have a particularly large or small face the piece will not fit as well and may not be as comfortable. Secondly as the pieces are premade you can only chose from a limited selection of characters. This can make it more difficult to create exactly the character you are imagining.
Some examples of premade prosthetic applications are shown below
The second type of prosthetic makeup is a custom piece created from a cast of your body and individually sculpted for you by an artist. This process has many more steps and requires a greater investment of both time and money. The biggest benefits to a custom made piece are that you get a one of a kind piece made to fit you perfectly.
Getting your own custom piece starts with meeting your artist to discuss your character design. At this point any reference pictures, descriptions or inspirations are useful to bring along.
A second get together with your artist is required so a life cast can be made of your head or body.
When preparing to be life cast make sure you remember the following things
- The whole process can take up to 2 hours so make sure you schedule enough time
- Wear a shirt with a low neck line so your clothing will not interfere with the cast
- Remove any facial piercings
- For men please come clean shaven
- Eat something before hand and make sure you are well hydrated
- Be sure to let your artist know if you are Closter phobic or unable to sit with your face covered for 15 minutes as the mold can be made in a few pieces so your head is never fully covered
- Most importantly remember that if you are uncomfortable or unwell at ANY point let the artist know and they will take off the casting material as quickly as possible.
The following are some pictures of the casting process and a finished head cast.
After a cast is made your artist will the prosthetic, when it is near completion you will have the opportunity to see it an make any final adjustments. Finally a second cast is made, the clay is cleaned out and your piece can be created.
The final application process is the same as with a mass produced prosthetic and takes about the same amount of time.
From first meeting till the piece is ready for application can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks depending on how busy the season is and how complicated a sculpt you require.
Prosthetic pieces can be a great way to build an amazing character for Halloween, film or photo shoots. Keep in mind that there are significant time commitments needed to ensure you get the piece you want. If you plan accordingly you can have some amazing results.