I don’t have much practice with face painting yet but it’s another really fun medium. Doing special effects makeup takes a whole new kit of things I just don’t have. Even the paint from the face painting booths at festivals is a pretty big expense to start. It’s really nice to use but not always easy to get your hands on. So I am going to do a super quick and inexpensive zombie look using only Halloween basic makeup from Walmart. I bought a pallet of a few colours of grease paint, a zombie bite tattoo and a tube of blood, then picked up some liquid latex from the store Spirit Halloween. The liquid latex I bought was a zombie skin one, I wasn’t sure what the difference was between that and the regular until I got home. Turns out the zombie skin is trying to be a sort of flesh tone while the other one dries clear. I would have preferred having the clear as it was much harder to blend the latex with the skin tone.
I decided to do a practice wound on myself first which was a bit sketchy, I have a minor latex allergy but I did a test patch and all was fine. After removing the wound my skin had very minor irritation, a positive sign. Remember to always do a test patch on the underside of your arm or wrist before applying it in large amounts. Latex allergies are fairly common.
So for the test round I built the latex up in layers on my leg, blow drying it in between layers, but that is a lot of sitting still for a 7 year old so I built up the wound on some plastic then applied it after. I will show both here but for the finished look I would say building it up on the skin is easier to blend with the skin, but the technique I used for the second ones was better for a 3D effect. I am going to go over creating the wounds first so if you just want the make-up application scroll on down to the end.
First step is to make sure the surface you are making the wound on is clean. All I used for this was Q-tips to apply the latex and tissues.
Never put liquid latex over hair, it will take it with it when you peel it off. Ouch! Be careful not to get any on your clothes either, it will not come out.
The First Wound
Place a thin layer of liquid latex then press in the tissue. Peel away any extra tissue and cover in another coat of latex. Let it dry, I used a blow dryer on cold to speed up the process.
Once it was dry I placed another thin layer of latex and more tissue. I made this layer slightly smaller than the first to build up the edges in a taper so there wasn’t as hard of an edge. I did another layer of latex, tissue and latex, let that dry then did a couple layers of just the latex over the whole thing.
When it was completely dry I started to blend the edges. I started with some foundation, then some grease paint.
Once my wound was slightly less obvious I started applying the colours. I started with green which I applied using a wadded up napkin to stipple the makeup on. For a zombie look I wanted old wounds, nothing fresh, but still juicy. So I wanted heavy discolouration, the one thing I was missing in this pallet was purple, purple would have really helped here.
Having some basic colouring done, I used something pointy to make a small hole where I wanted my cut to be, then carefully cut the rest of it with scissors. Then I pulled the sides gently up to unstick some of it, rolling it back on itself to open up the wound.
To fill in my wound I filled the inside with bright red makeup then used the black just under the skin flaps for contrast. I speckled in some thicker spots of red and brown, then used a liquid eye liner to draw in some weird details. I also highlighted the parts of skin sticking up with some white and yellow makeup.
The final step is blood. Since I wanted this to be an old wound and not a fresh one, I didn’t want to overdo the blood. Too much blood is a great way to cover mistakes but it can also hide all your hard work.
I placed some along the inside of the wound then the let some drip out. I also dabbed some around the outside as if it was just sort of getting on things, as blood does.
To remove it I just wiped up the blood and gently peeled off the latex then washed with warm water and soap. For the edges of the latex I just rubbed it off with a finger.
The Second Wounds
For the second wounds, the ones that would actually be used for our photoshoot and Halloween, I made them on a DVD case however anything plastic would work.
The first step is the same, thin layer of latex, layer of tissue, layer of latex.
I let it dry then rolled some thin strips of tissue and formed my wounds. Once they were all placed I covered it in a generous layer of latex and let it dry. I covered it in yet another layer of latex, and let it dry completely.
When it was fully dry I peeled it off my plastic and trimmed the edges. The edges start to stick to themselves making them get chunky so trimming them, while losing the nice tapered edge, is still the better option.
One cool thing I found at Walmart was these tattoos, they had a couple different ones but they are sized for adults so they were a bit big but the bite mark was the coolest anyways. It comes with a little tube of thick scab blood to make it more 3D.
We decided the neck was the best place for the bite, it really does look cool. It is definitely something you could try to make with the liquid latex and makeup, however I know it would take me a long time.
The first thing we did was put on the tattoo. Just like any temporary tattoo, it’s just held on with a wet cloth for about a minute then peel the back away. It worked perfectly, there were a couple spots that got little bubbles under them but I just tapped them down with a finger. For some reason I didn’t think to take a picture of the bite up close.
Next I applied the wounds by placing a thin layer of the liquid latex on the back of the finished wound, then sticking it on and going over the edges with another layer of the latex. Before doing this we did a spot test to make sure he wouldn’t have any reaction to it.
While it was drying I went ahead and started doing the basic makeup. I used the black to darken up his eye sockets, down the edge of his nose and under his cheek bones. Then I used a bunched up napkin to stipple in some white makeup all over his face. I stayed away from the latex until it was fully dry and then blended the edges.
The white and green, because they are so different from any of the flesh tones here, really help to blend everything together. I stippled white, green and the tan colour all around his entire face, focusing the green on his cheeks and nose. For the blistery wound I filled in the divots with red then brown makeup and placed some spots of the same colours outside of it to help with hiding the edges. In the end nobody liked this wound as it was just too gross, which is exactly what I was going for!
On the other cheek we did a wound with two smaller scratches together. I very carefully cut a line down the center of each scratch and pulled back the skin flaps to open them up. Just like before I filled them in first with red makeup then with black around the edges of the inside. Then with my liquid eyeliner I gave it some details.
This one was a lot harder to hide the edges, but it still looks alright. I went back a few times to put more makeup around the eyes and nose. Every year I buy grease paint without thinking and every year I regret it. I think I would prefer the basic Halloween cream paint, it sets a bit where the grease paint doesn’t set at all.
Either way I didn’t want to go to close to his eyes, for an adult I would probably have filled it all in around them but, as it is, it’s hard enough to clean off. The make up definitely isn’t perfect, it’s not easy for any kid to sit still that long, he did a great job though!
The last step was the blood. We used two different kinds of blood. The thick scabbing blood that came with the bite tattoo and a thin drippy blood. They both give really different effects so it was fun to have both. I placed the thick blood around the edges of the bite mark and both of the wounds. I put the thinner blood inside the scratched wound and dripped some out of the blistery one too. Next I placed some blood here and there and around his mouth.
This year we didn’t have a white shirt I was willing to get stained so some of the more fun blood spraying was left out sadly. For Halloween night he is going to be a zombie cop instead of a plain ol’ zombie so we didn’t tear up any clothes this time.
I am looking forward to playing with more makeup and face paints in the future but for now the other kids are still too little so I’ve only got the one model. Maybe next year I will remember I don’t like grease paint.