How to Get Gruesome for Halloween: Zombie Movie Make Up Techniques

Marilisa Sachteleben
Yahoo Contributor Network

Halloween 2010 promises zombie mania. With the 1968 cult classic "Night of the Living Dead" having received a 3D face-lift in 2006 and Michael Jackson's 1982 music video "Thriller" scoring post-humous attention, costume creators are thinking zombie. Thinking of going zombie? Here's a DIY zombified make-up guide. This is straight from theater make-up central, your one-stop guide to ghoul-ing like the pros. I'm going to teach you some of the old ways of creating effects with theater make-up.

Your movie make up kit should include these tools:

- Red (also called carmine) lipstick, greasepaint or cream blusher. And by red, I mean blood-red. If need be, assemble several shades of red make up to get that ultimate gore fest color. And think darker rather than lighter. Most cosmetics go on lighter when applied to skin than they actually look in the package.

- Black eyebrow pencil and liquid eye liner (you can get away with one or the other, but I like both for different uses).

- Blue eyebrow pencil

- Blue eye shadow

- Green or white base coat make-up: This shade is more difficult to find in cosmetics aisle; try the Halloween make up section) This idea variety is spray-on 'liquid' make-up.

- White stick make-up

- Luminous, glow-in-the-dark make up (also found in the actual Halloween make up section)

- Spirit gum

- Dry oatmeal

- Black Jack gum or black jelly beans

- Loose cotton baton or cotton balls

- Skin-Tite silicone adhesive and On-Skin appliance builder


- Elmer's School Glue

- Loose face powder and powder puff

- Hypo-allergenic baby wipes

- Q-tips cotton swabs


Sketch out what you want your finished zombie or monster face to look like. Map out your scars, prosthetics, etc. Do you want a hanging eyeball? Missing teeth? Hanging jaw? Get it down on paper first.

To make your scars, you can use the uber expensive Skin-Tite and On-Skin products or you can create scars the old way, with Elmer's School Glue. Elmer's sticks to skin, can be molded in weird shapes and is non-toxic. You can also use spirit gum, which is the old school stuff used to stick on fake hair and scars. To make your scars with glue, stretch the skin on your face tight and paint a layer of Elmer's glue on your skin. As the glue dries, allow you skin to return to its natural shape. You'll have some great wrinkles and scars already in place. Apply a layer of white make-up and highlight the scars and wrinkles with eye liner or eyebrow pencil. You can skip the glue and draw on the wrinkles also. Use the eyebrow pencil to outline the natural skin wrinkle between the eyebrows, along the forehead, in the corners of the nose and mouth and in the neck. Don't forget the crows feet in the outer corners of the eyes.

For scaly or 'damaged' skin, old theater make up artists used oatmeal and so can you. While the Elmer's glue is drying, press oatmeal into the glue. When the glue dries, cover the oatmeal with white face make up. The oatmeal will create bumpy monster skin. You can also mold scars and damaged flesh in the glue and 'embed' objects in the glue as it dries.

For dead dried out zombie skin, affix thin layers of cotton baton to the spirit gum or glue. Spray the cotton with green or white base coat make-up.

To make drawn on scars, follow this pattern. Make the center of the scar bright red. Outline that with purple and outline that with black. You can make the scar an 'open wound' or drying wound, and you can make it as large as you want. For an 'open wound', create a flesh-like effect by mix oatmeal or cotton with red make-up and affix with spirit gum when dry. You can also apply a layer of oatmeal or cotton to skin and spray or apply red make-up over the surface.

To create rotted teeth, stick pieces of gum over some of your teeth. You can also lick the jelly bean and 'paint' your teeth with the black candy surface.

Lips should be painted blue or black.

If you make a mistake, place a wet baby wipe over a finger nail and carefully clean away the mistake. Be very careful, especially if it's on a top layer of make-up. This kind of make up smears easily. When you are finished 'puff' loose white face paint over made up areas. The powder layer 'sets' the make-up. You can also set with hair spray, but keep well away from face or skin.

*Note: This was written by an Associated Content contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own movie articles.