How to Do Zombie Makeup Prosthetics

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Zombies are a perennial horror costume favorite that can be achieved with as little effort as it takes to tear some clothes and spatter fake blood. But for the true zombie enthusiast, these efforts aren't nearly enough. For a delightfully gruesome zombie costume experience, your undead outfit should also include some latex-wound prosthetics.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid latex
  • Acrylic paint
  • Disposable paintbrushes or sponges
  • Toilet paper
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Thick costume blood
  • Sandpaper
  • Cheese grater
  • Scissors
  • Clear coat fixative or clear nail polish
  • Theatrical makeup
  • Adjust the liquid latex to more closely match your skin color, if necessary. Costume liquid latex comes in an orangey-beige, so if your skin is darker or lighter, mix the wet latex with some brown or white acrylic paint. Let a few test samples dry to see if you've gotten the color right (it will darken as it dries).

  • Write a "history" for your zombie character to determine what wounds you want. Think about things like the circumstances that led to your character becoming a zombie (such as a single bite vs. a full zombie crowd mauling), any injuries that may have resulted from humans trying to defend themselves, and any injuries that might have come about in the pursuit of human victims. Making these decisions will give your zombie a more realistic and creepy look than applying wounds randomly.

  • Apply a coat of liquid latex to your skin wherever you want to create a zombie wound. If there's a lot of body hair, trim, shave or coat with petroleum jelly. Spread latex over the area with your finger or a disposable brush or sponge. Let the latex dry for a few minutes until it's no longer runny.

  • Remove the "skin" foundation. Carefully peel away the layer of latex and hold it in your hand or place it on your work station as you finish it.

  • Make the edges of the wound. Tear some small strips of toilet paper and soak them thoroughly in liquid latex. Lay these over the latex-coated area in roughly parallel designs, forming the orifice of a wound. Let dry.

  • Texture the fake wound. Rough up the surface of the raised wound area and the latex skin by rubbing it with sandpaper and/or a cheese grater. Snip holes with scissors for particularly nasty wounds (such as shrapnel wounds or gun blasts).

  • Paint the wound. Put a coat of black paint inside the wound hole, then fill all holes and crevices with thick blood. Let dry as much as possible. Give the wound a coat of lacquer or varnish. Apply nail polish remover or spray lacquer over areas where blood is still tacky. Let dry.

  • Apply the wound with the rest of your zombie makeup. Use wet liquid latex as a glue to
    seal the wound to your skin, then apply makeup to your skin and the edges of the prosthetic to blend it. Use stage makeup: create a corpse color by mixing makeup in the color of your skin with a little white and a little gray green.

References

  • "Stage Makeup: The Actor's Complete Guide to Today's Techniques and Materials" by Laura Thudium; Back Stage Books; 1999
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