Prosthetic makeup

Prosthetic makeup

Prosthetic makeup is the process of using prosthetic sculpting, molding and casting techniques to create advanced cosmetic effects. Prosthetic makeup was revolutionized by Dick Smith in such films as "Little Big Man".


It was later advanced by such people as:
* Niamh Hannon
* Rick Baker ("An American Werewolf in London", "The Nutty Professor", "Planet of the Apes", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas")
* Tom Savini ("Friday the 13th", "Dawn of the Dead", "Creepshow")
* Rob Bottin ("The Howling", "The Thing", "Total Recall")
* Stan Winston ("Terminator", "Interview with the Vampire", "Jurassic Park")
* Gordon Smith ("X-Men")


The process of creating a prosthetic appliance begins with lifecasting, the process of taking a mold of a body part (often the face) to use as a base for sculpting the prosthetic. Lifecast molds are made from prosthetic alginate or more recently, from skin-safe silicone rubber. This initial mold is relatively weak and flexible. A hard mother mold, typically made of plaster or fiberglass bandages is created overtop the initial mold to provide support.

Once a negative mold has been created, it is promptly filled with gypsum cement, most commonly a brand called "Ultracal-30", to make a "positive" mold. The form of the prosthetic is sculpted in clay on top of the positive. The edges of the clay should be made as thin as possible, for the clay is a stand-in for what will eventually be the prosthetic piece. Along the edges of the mold, "keys" or mold points are sculpted or carved into the lifecast, to make sure that the two pieces of the mold will fit together correctly. Once sculpting is completed, a second mold is made. This gives two or more pieces of a mold - a positive of the face, and one or more negative mold pieces of the face with prosthetic sculpted in. All clay is carefully removed and the prosthetic material is cast into the mold cavity. The prosthetic material can be foam latex, gelatin, silicone or other similar materials. The prosthetic is cured within the two part mold - thus creating the beginning of a makeup effect.

One of the hardest parts of prosthetic make-up is keeping the edges as thin as possible. They should be wafer thin so they are easy to blend and cover giving a flawless look.

Notable Examples

*Nina Bott: Stern TV fat makeup ( [ before and after] ; [ makeup process] ).
*Vicki Butler-Henderson: [ Celebrity Swap] .:( [ Vicki's entire head is covered with prosthetics during the makeup application.] )
*Samantha Fox: [ Race Swap] and [ makeup process] .
*Julie Goodyear: [ Age Swap] and [ makeup application] .
*Rebecca Loos: [ Gender Swap] and [ makeup application] .
*Kelly Lynch: [Mr Magoo] ( [ various disguises] , [ the old lady] and [ makeup application] , [ the balding man] ).
*Larissa Meek: [ Average Joe Hawaii] (plus [ makeup application] and [ unmasking] )
*Melinda Messenger: [ Celebrity Swap] . ( [ The makeup application for Melinda] )
*Caroline Palmer: The Sun photoshoots ( [ fat] and [ race swap] ).
*Katie Price (a.k.a. Jordan): [ Jordan Gets Even] and [ makeup application] .
*Linda Robson: [ Celebrity Swap] . ( [ Linda’s makeup application] )
*Melena Scantlin : [ The completed makeup and the reveal scene] and [ the makeup process] .
*Carol Smillie: [ Gender Swap] and [ makeup application] .
*Lea Thompson: A Will Of Their Own; [ Back To The Future Part II and Back To The Future] (including makeup application).
*Tyra Banks - [ ABC News: Tyra Banks Experiences Obesity Through Fat Suit] - to be shown on 4 November 2005
*Shock Rock artists such as Gwar, mushroomhead, Slipknot and Lordi


* cite episode
title = Prosthetic Makeup
series = How It's Made
network = Discovery Channel

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