Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zombies, for Fun and Profit

"That's too much work!" Oh, please.
"It's too expensive to do it right." Give me a break.

Next in Pooka's Craft Circle: Zombies, for Fun and Profit

It doesn't take a lot of work (just a bit of practice and willing victims -- I mean, subjects), or a lot of money to turn out some quality zombification. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for some of my victims to send on their own photos (and you know how slow the mail is when graveyards are involved), because my own cameraperson was apparently inconvenienced by gravity and oxygen, thus leaving me with a precious few pictures to illustrate my point.

I'll help show you how to do it CHEAP, and still get a quality look that will hold up even if your event is in daylight.

Forget most commercial accessories. You only need a few of these. The "realistic" FX tricks come through items you probably already have around your house. Ready? Let's go ...


Cream Makeup:
(Greasepaint is complicated, requires powder-setting or it Will Not Dry and smudges everywhere, and is more expensive. Avoid it.)
(Optional colours with a bigger budget: brown, yellow, blue. Different types of zombies need different colours, obviously.)

Detail Makeup:
A bruise kit -- These cream makeups can be bought separately, as a kit of four, or as part of a prosthetic kit, which is obviously more expensive. DO choose costume makeup for this, or you won't get the same effect. They also have a different consistency from the cream tubes, so I consider them necessary.
The colours required: yellow, red-brown, brown, black (or deep purple).
An assortment of makeup pencils for deep lines (brown, black, green, purple, you can get these under a buck each).

Blood: If you do buy commercial, make sure to get theatrical blood that will dry as well as mouth blood or blood capsules. They're not interchangeable, and you Do Not Want regular theatrical blood in your mouth or eyes.

Blood, however, is easy enough to make. If you do go for making your own, I'd still recommend picking up a tube of theatrical blood. The homemade stuff is sticky, and while edible, can get really messy over the course of your zombie stomp. There's a huge number of blood recipes on the net, so I won't post any of them here. Has a pretty good list of multiple methods for homemade blood.

Home Supplies: Many of these are optional according to how decayed your zombie is and the look you're going for.

For Texture:
Rotting Skin:
Oatmeal -- two piles, whole and well-crumbled but not powdered.
Breadcrumbs -- Different types create different effects. If using oatmeal as well, try Panko breadcrumbs for a finer texture.
Birdseed -- also great for road rash, without the weight of rock. If you have a mixed wild seed bag, it's perfect. Just take out the sunflower seeds (you can use them elsewhere).

Tears, rips, and further texture:
Toilet paper -- only use the cheap stuff you don't want anywhere near your butt. 2-ply ultrasoft is a pain to use. If it's all you have, opt for ...
Paper towels -- Type and quality doesn't matter.
Cotton balls -- just pull and tear till you get closer to a sheet of fluff. Also good for bloody hair sliding free of skin.

Peeling, shedding skin: A lot of people have latex allergies these days -- my method avoids that.
A Peel-Off Face Masque -- is great for rotten, peeling skin. If you don't already have it, don't worry about buying it, unless one of your victims has sensitive skin.
Elmer's School Glue -- yes, good old Elmer's. Come on, you remember doing this back in school. You spread the stuff on your skin, wait for it to dry, peel it off. Here, it serves multiple purposes. Not only do you get the peeling flesh, but you can build up several layers, then tear it open in select spots to create gaping congealed holes and open blisters, plus, it serves to attach your texture items to the skin.
***Yes, it's skin safe. You wouldn't be wearing it long enough for it to be a problem, IF it was a problem. I have ridiculously sensitive skin, and I sat all day yesterday while doing makeup for a Halloween event with my hand gored up, using Elmer's as the base for the makeup, and was just fine.
*** Yes, cream makeup goes on just fine over it --yes, I said OVER, clear zombie skin is not convincing -- and mostly stays put unless you start rubbing it off deliberately. Once the cream sets, you're fine, AND the colour will then come off with the glue, making cleanup easier.

Application: Not required unless they have a *, but useful if you already have them.
Sea sponge for makeup -- good for mottling without a lot of effort and time.
* Cosmetic sponges -- you don't want to use fingers. Not only is it messy, it won't apply well and will be streaky.
Wide-holed textured makeup sponge -- these are usually a sort of mesh, but you can fake one if you look around the house. Awesome for mildew spots on your zombie. Personally, I'd consider this a requirement, but that's just me.
Saran Wrap -- bunched up, this can take the place of other sponges when used to apply makeup, or to further texture the glue skin.
* Q-Tips, small makeup applicators, detail brushes (soft paintbrushes work) -- necessary around eyes, and for facial creases unless you're really good at small detail with a big sponge.
* Powder puff or big makeup brush -- needed to apply powder.
* Cornstarch baby powder -- I prefer cornstarch over regular. Will help set makeup, especially in heat, will further pale up skin, and can help give your zombie a dusty look.

The Costume:
For a zombie, the costume is already in your closet. Everyone has a few items that they don't care about getting destroyed. Here's the time to make good use of them.
Always remember to tear, not cut. Cuts are too clean, you want to look like you've been in a fight for your life, and lost. Seams are a good place to make your outfit look worn and ragged. Scrape, slice (to start a hole) and tear, use sandpaper -- just make it worn. DO NOT get carried away with this. A little goes a long way, and too much looks silly. Make it believable damage.
Also, when doing your cutting and tearing, DO IT WHILE THE COSTUME IS ON. Otherwise, you may end up with holes in places that are awkward and may break local decency laws or dress codes. Not that a zombie would worry about that, but you know.
Important: Keep in mind that any visible skin will need makeup as well. This includes hands, the neck, and anything else clothing isn't covering. Plan accordingly for the amount of time you want to spend doing the makeup.
Lose a shoe, if you can stand being partially barefoot. A zombie isn't going to stop and put a shoe back on if it comes off, and it looks good. Don't forget to tear holes in your sock if you do (and if you're wearing them). Toes don't really need makeup, they just need dirt, and lots of it.

The last thing needed is simple: Dirt. Yes, dirt. Make sure it's clean, free of any animal debris (ew), but doesn't have to be free of assorted sticks, grass, and other plant life. This also adds texture and realism, especially if your zombie just crawled from its grave.

-- Grind some dirt into clothes, getting it as filthy as possible.
Mix mud. This covers a multitude of cheap sins, including too new clothing, means you don't need a wig (Yes, rub the mud in your hair -- it washes out easily, saving you from trying to colour it), and skin areas you didn't have time to do makeup on. Plus, it crumbles nicely, and creates more texture.

Mixing mud: Go for wet. Really wet. Standing water should be in your bucket. Then you can dig the mud out, and it's easier to apply.
Mud dries lighter, however, and you may want your zombie to stay looking, well ... moist. Mix your mud, then, with your liquid half and half between water and corn syrup or vegetable oil. A corn syrup mixture will be stickier, of course, while vegetable oil will have a slimier texture.

Notice what is missing from the supply list. There's no liquid latex, no spirit gum, no appliances or prosthetics. You don't need em. If you've got the budget, buy some liquid latex anyway -- if you have time to go with your budget, you can make your own custom appliances on a sheet of glass to cut down the time actually putting the zombification into action, using the texture goodies mentioned above in the list. But you don't NEED it.


The above zombies were created using only the supplies I've mentioned in the list. That's it. No commercial prosthetics. Granted, their makeup jobs looked much better before they went a little crazy with the mud (note: never let your creations do their own mud job).

You can see some of the peeling and rotten skin in this picture without a closeup, but trust me, it was Seriously effective in person.

NEXT TIME: How put those supplies into action.

Happy hauntings.

1 comment:

keith said...

Wow, you had some great info to share, thanks alot. I'm gonna be a zombie for halloween this year but nothing to bloody because of my sons at school but I will ride my motorcycle there which should look funny.
you really put out great and useful tips and tricks and since we love halloween, have a great halloween, thank you, keith