Orc SFX Makeup – Dark Avenger 3
The Magic Brush team love SFX Makeup Jobs. We had the pleasure of creating custom sculpted prosthetics for the Commercial of South Korean role playing mobile game; Dark Avenger 3. Everything happened pretty quickly and it’s all still a bit of a blur. We were given the task of sculpting, molding, running and applying 7 orc make ups for the advertising video of Dark Avenger 3. This entire process including filming was squeezed into just 2 short weeks, with many late nights, early mornings and excessive coffee drinking; sure enough it all came together with the hard work of our fantastic team. Part of why we love being SFX Makeup artists is the ability to problem solve and think on our feet, this project was definitely one that challenged these skills.
We were given the makeup looks by the Director and Production Manager. The Director provided us with reference photos, videos and animations for how he wanted the final commercial to look. We created some photo boards around the various makeup looks we were needing to re-create for our team of behind the scenes artists and SFX Makeup artists to follow. Directors will have an idea in their head of how they want the final SFX Makeup to look, and it’s our job to work with them to get the best possible results using the most suitable products and taking time, final desired outcome and budget into consideration.
In our case, time was not on our side, with only 2 days to create and deliver the test Makeup and less than a week & a half to deliver the final Prosthetics; it was a pretty mammoth task. We decided to use one ‘Orc sculpt’ and mold for all the characters. Although this is not generally how a custom makeup would be done, with the time and budget we had, it was our only option. We were also hoping the different face shapes of each actor would change the look of each character, making them unique enough and the fact that they would be performing fast-paced fight scenes would help. If we had more time, we could have looked into sculpting and making muscle suits too, but we would have needed access to body cast each actor beforehand. We were also told last minute that the makeup had to be fully waterproof and had to be applied on Stunt performers. Based on the Orc SFX Makeup images provided, there were a few materials we could have delivered the final prosthetics. We have listed the options below as well as pros and cons for each.
- Foam Latex – we could have achieved a great outcome, however not enough time to do a foam run and bake out the molds in 2 days for test makeup. We would have seen ‘second skin’ issues as well as not had time to bake enough prosthetics/ foam runs for each of the orc makeups using one mold.
- Encapsulated Silicone – not enough time, not cost-effective enough and we could have run into some problems with the silicone curing time / issues.
- Gelatin – could have worked with time and budget. Due to the fact that this SFX Makeup was going to be applied to stunt performers, be waterproof and needed to last all day and on-location, the gelatin could have melted.
- Liquid Latex – seemed to be our best option with time, budget and using one mold for our prosthetic production.
SFX Makeup – Sculpting Process
With an idea of what our Orcs SFX Makeup Sculpts needed to look like we were able to get to work straight away on sculpting an Orc face onto a bust. We used a generic face to sculpt our prosthetics onto as we didn’t have time to get access to any of the actors nor life cast their faces in time for the test makeup. Any kind of adjustments or ‘surgery’ would have to be done on the day to fit the SFX Makeup onto each actor’s face.
If you’re interested in doing your own life cast to suit your actor’s face, here’s a link to our life casting process & time-lapse.
TIP: Pick your materials wisely. In this case we used WED clay as it is softer than others such as NSP meaning we could work alot faster. WED clay is also a water based clay so the refining can be done with water which makes the process a lot quicker. Do not let WED clay dry out or it will crack.
- Lay down a basic shape and highlight any defining features of the character you are about to create. For us this included; strong cheek bones, widened the jaw line, and a more pronounced brow. Pulling the brows towards the nose created an angry, threatening look.
- Once the basic shape was down we took turns at adding details and skin texture.
- We only had around 5-6 hours for the sculpture, to ensure the rest of the prosthetic makeup production ran on-time with the 2 day deadline.
TIP: Having more than one set of eyes and hands taking turns working on the sculpture meant that different perspectives from each artist could be incorporated into our SFX Makeup design. Every artist will use different techniques and perhaps see things another artist has missed. This also meant we could have more than one task going at once and just swap around making for lighter work and to achieve our 5-6 hour sculpting deadline.
- Once we were happy with how the sculpture was looking, skin textures need to be added. The best way to let the WED clay dry out a little and use glad wrap over the clay.
- Make sure all your edges fade out nice and thin. Make sure your skin textures are sculpted out to the very end of the prosthetic piece so they will blend back into the skin easily when applied.
TIP: Using clear plastic food wrapping over your sculpture, means that the clay isn’t going to push up and make small walls on either side of your lines that you are trying to create. Use your water to break down the edges and get them super thin, also for smoothing out softer areas and ALWAYS use real life reference photos.
Running the Liquid Latex Face Prosthetic
- Thanks to our many helpers and behind the scenes artists, the mold is clean and ready to be dabbed with a thick layer of latex all over, and more latex into the deeper points of the mold.
- We used a fan on medium speed, directed at the mold to speed up the drying process.
- Once the first layer dried, more latex was added to the deep points in the mold, one side at a time to prevent all the latex from pooling in the center of the face.
- Once dried, baby powdered and pulled out of the mold, we were ready to bring in our dashing model for a test makeup run.
SFX Makeup – Test Make Up
Here is where we can see our sculpt come alive! It was highly recommended to our client that we do a test makeup prior to the final makeup application to work out any application issues we might face on the day. It was also a great way for the Director (who was not in New Zealand at the time) to see the makeup prior to application day and advise improvements to be made.
Changes to the prosthetic pieces would be challenging, unless we were to re-sculpt and mold the makeup. The client was made aware of this and also the more client feedback and changes that were to be made would affect the cost of the final makeup due to the additional materials and time it would take.
We have outlined a step by step instruction list of our liquid latex SFX Makeup application. We have included a few tips, along with the end result and lastly our feedback from the Director.
TIP: To ensure that our face prosthetic will fit numerous different sized faces we ripped the prosthetic into 4 separate applications (chin, cheeks and jaw on each side, and the nose and forehead). We could have sculpted the makeup into 4x different pieces but we wanted to see if we could get away with applying one big prosthetic piece where possible (meaning less blending edges). This was a way for us to see if we could cheat some of the application time. Due to the fact that each person’s face proportions are so different, we decided it was not the best course of action and we could rectify thinner edges where required in our foam latex application. We had to add more pre-production time for pre-painting into our quote to also deliver the makeup ready in a shorter time-frame of 3-4 hours on the morning of. We booked 1x PRO Makeup Artist and 1x Assistant per Orc Makeup to ensure our application was achieved in this time-frame.
Here are step by step instructions that we handed out to all our Makeup Artists and their Assistants
SFX Makeup – Application Tools
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Pros-aid / Pro-tac
- Acrylic Red Paint
- Cabo Sil
- Cotton Pads
- Paper Towels
- Baby Oil
- Baby Wipes
- Gloves + Baby Oil Removal Packs
- Plastic cups
- Airbrush + Comp
- Hair Kit/Pins
- SFX Kit
- Acrylic / Pax
- Dummy heads for prosthetic’s
- Wigs and wig stands
SFX Makeup Application – And so it begins!
With any SFX Makeup Application where a multitude of products are going onto the skin, always check with your Actor for allergies or sensitive skin issues. Sensitives could be towards latex, pros-aid or Isopropyl Alcohol. Patch tests can always be done behind the ear or more commonly the inside of the elbow or wrist if your actor is unsure.
TEST ORC SFX Makeup
- Prep actor: Clean face, hair out of the way and a run through of the procedure/ check for skin allergies
- Ensure Actor has shaved the morning of so there is no stubble. Stubble would make application and removal more difficult.
- Cape to protect the clients clothes
- Spirit gum eyebrows
- Size and prep prosthetic & rip edges to fit and suit each Actor’s face
TIP: Ripped edges blend better than straight or cut edges.
TIP: Pros-aid is a contact adhesive, meaning it sticks best to itself. It must be completely dry on both the piece and the skin for it to stick. Have your hair drier and assistant handy to help speed up the process.
- Pros-aid under eyes and eye bag pieces. Apply eye bag pieces (This was done first in case the nose piece over lapped the eye bag pieces due to face sizing)
- Pros aid forehead and forehead piece. Apply forehead piece.
- Pros-aid nose and nose part of the nose/forehead piece. Apply nose.
- Pros-aid cheeks and jaw. Apply cheeks and jaw.
- Pros-aid chin. Apply chin.
- Work all edges ripping off rough bits with a pair of tweezers and stippling pros aid around all edges.
- Baby powder edges.
TIP: Putting baby powder around your edges takes away the tackiness of pros-aid and will also outline any obvious edges that might need bondo or a bit more work.
- Apply bondo where necessary (dry with hair drier)
- Mix 60% pros aid and 40% acrylic paint to make PAX paint. We used PAX paint so the paint could be waterproof. Our stunt performers were going to be performing under Film Effects Rain.
- Stipple PAX with a ripped-edge sponge over entire face and neck
- Grease paint around eyes/eyelids (We used black Mehron starblend). Powder eyes to set (black)
- Grease paint lip area same colour as the face. Set with black powder.
- Fit/style wig.
- TBC Teeth and Lenses – Client to advise
- Assistants to help with touch ups + removal
Test makeups will always be an important part of the process as it allows for clear communication on what the Director is looking for. It also allows for changes and improvements to be made prior to application day.
With the completion of our first born orc we were able to make a few self evaluations along with feed back from the Director.
Feedback and Tips
- We decided to pre-paint all prosthetics (except the edges) prior to application day. By prepainting our prosthetic’s we are able to get so much more details into our orc SFX Makeups while also cutting down the application time. This allowed for more time to blend our edges into the actor’s skin and focus on secure wig application.
Feedback from the Director: vary of colors of Orcs, much darker than the red we had originally used. The lightest and brighest Orc was meant to be the main Orc, while the others were to be tonally darker and deeper in colouring.
TIP: Using a cut chip brush and flicking various colours (Reds, Blues,Greens) give the undertones of the skin whether it is natural skin colour or not. It also allows for a translucent skin layered effect.
With a bit more Orc SFX Makeup research for final application day, we decided some of the Orcs would look bad-ass with some piercings. We purchased some silver and bronze rings and punched them into parts of the prosthetics we saw fit. (eyebrows, nose, cheeks) We super glued the rings into place so they would hold through the fight and rain effects scenes.
Wigs were a huge part of the feedback from the Director, at short notice we had to use the wigs we had at hand at the time.
At this stage it was requested that all the body where skin was showing was to be painted with waterproof makeup to withstand the ‘fake rain’ and ‘fight scene’, so the plan here was to use PAX paint also.
Teeth and lenses! After the test make up was finished we sourced FX teeth and animal look contact lenses to further enhance the look and uniqueness of each Orc Makeup. With all the Orc SFX Makeup starting with the same mold, we felt it was up to paint job and accessories to create variation. We bought 7 different sets of teeth and pre painted them, adding gross looking rotting colours (yellows and browns).
SFX Makeup – Application Day and On-Set
For the final makeup application we were lucky to get our hands on some proper lace front wigs all in different styles to give each Orc its own personality.
Our Actor’s arrived on-set with beards on application day and were unable to shave due to continuity constraints on other shows. This threw a bit of a spanner in the works but we were able to overcome it by trimming back some of the prosthetics and blending the beard and hair-line with some crepe wool and Yak hair.
Due to time restraints, we used a black grease paint on the body and powdered to give some form of water resistance instead of the PAX paint. Grease paint allowed for a much faster application and a much less extensive rub down at the end of the day. This was the best option as PAX would make removal a lot harder. Not to mention our actor’s arms were not shaved as requested.
Due to on-set issues with our makeup trailer not arriving to the set on time (due to a location change during the day in the middle of no-where; Woodhill Forest, nor access to boiling water to soften friendly plastic for the teeth, the director decided we proceed without the lenses or teeth.
TIP: Lenses can be a tricky business, a lens technician is recommended to be on hand to help with putting in and taking out lenses on set. However it is easiest if the actor can put them in him/herself.
Check out our time lapse of the test orc make up to see the process first hand and to compare our improvements to the end results.
Test Makeup Video Below –
Some PRO Make-up shots from Application Day.
Photos by Paul Menezes at Deamscope Media