How to Do Your Own FX Makeup for Costumes and Short Films

October 7, 2022 Carlos

How to Do Your Own FX Makeup for Costumes and Short Films

Prosthetic makeup, also known as special effects or SFX makeup, is a type of special effects makeup used to create the appearance of injuries, disfigurements, or other abnormal features on a person’s face or body.


The difference between SFX and VFX is that Prosthetic makeup (SFX) is used to physically create an effect, while visual effects (VFX) are applied in post-production through digital means.


Prosthetic makeup artists use various techniques to create special effects, including molding and casting, painting and airbrushing, sculpting, and hair work. They often work with foam latex, gelatine prosthetics, human hair wigs, and synthetic hair pieces.


It is most commonly used in film and television to create different looks for characters. Still, it can also be used for personal amusement or to create exciting looks for social media.


SFX makeup applied to face of talent, including scar and bruise

The Benefits of Prosthetic Makeup over Visual Effects

In recent years, there has been a shift from practical effects like prosthetic makeup in favor of VFX. VFX is often much cheaper and easier to create when working with large productions than practical effects. However, there are still many filmmakers who prefer practical effects over CGI. Or who often combine SF and VFX for more realistic visuals in film.


One of the main benefits of practical effects is that they are tangible and can be interacted with on set. This helps to create a more believable and realistic experience for both the actors and the audience.


SFX makeup can also be used to simulate shadows and light in a way that is not possible with CGI. This can help to create a more three-dimensional look on screen.


Additionally, SFX makeup is often less time-consuming and expensive than CGI on a smaller scale. For example, if a character needs to have a small scar on their face, it would be much cheaper and easier to apply a piece of prosthetic makeup than to create that same effect with CGI.

How Prosthetic Makeup Is Applied

In recent years, SFX makeup has also become more accessible to the general public. Today, you can buy a ready-made SFX makeup kit that can be easily applied at home. 


The most common method for applying prosthetics is using spirit gum, a type of adhesive that allows the prosthetic to be securely attached to the skin without causing any irritation. Liquid latex and silicone are other types of adhesives used to create fake wounds like wounds, burns, and scars.


Once the spirit gum has been applied to the skin and allowed to dry for a few minutes, the prosthetic needs to be placed on top and pressed firmly.


After being firmly attached, any excess spirit gum can then be removed with a solvent such as Pros-Aide remover.


Wide shot of talent with sf makeup on face

How to Create Amazing Special Effects with Prosthetic Makeup

SFX makeup is a great way to create realistic scars for Halloween, plays, or just for fun. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a natural scar with makeup. This process is simple and can be done in just a few steps!


You will need the following:

– Prosthetic makeup

– Spirit gum

– Makeup brushes

– Cotton swabs

– Foundation

– Setting powder

– Ben Nye Final Seal

– Fake blood (optional)


Step One: Apply the Prosthetic Makeup

Start by applying the prosthetic makeup to your skin. You can use spirit gum to attach the prosthetic or another type of adhesive (we used a silicone compound!). Once the prosthetic is in place, press it firmly and allow the adhesive to dry for a few minutes.


Step Two: Blend the Edges

Once the prosthetic is firmly in place, you must blend the edges with your natural skin tone. This can be done using a makeup brush and some foundation to create a seamless blend. You can also use a setting powder to match skin tones if you want extra realism.


Step Three: Add Fake Blood (Optional)

If you want to add some extra gore, you can use fake blood to create a realistic scar. Apply the fake blood to the spot and allow it to dry. You can also use unique FX makeup to create a more realistic wound.


There you have it; now you’re ready for Halloween! These are just a few simple steps to create amazing special effects with SFX makeup.

Check out the videos below for a visual walkthrough for bruise makeup, scar makeup, and infection wound makeup!

How to create a realistic bruise

How to create a realistic gash

How to create a realistic infection


If you’re interested in trying out prosthetic makeup for yourself, there are many brands that sell ready-made prosthetics that can be easily applied at home. Whether you’re looking to create an iconic movie character makeup for Halloween or just want to experiment with different looks for personal video shoots, prosthetic makeup is a great option!