I was recently getting my Special Effects kit together for a film I will be working on, and I thought that it could be really helpful to share my essentials I make sure to have ready before I go on set. When you are first starting out, it can be hard to know what all you need! Each film will be different, but these are the items that I have with me no matter what. Keep in mind that this kit is specifically for any Special Effects makeup I may be doing–I keep my beauty makeup in a separate (larger) kit and I also keep my gear for blood squibs and rigs separate as well.
These Skin Illustrator palettes by PPI will change your Effects makeup game. These palettes are alcohol based–meaning that they need 99% alcohol to both apply and remove them. Your actors can go swimming, sweat, you name it and this paint will not move. These palettes were used to film Pirates of the Caribbean! They are pricey, but worth it. I am so excited that I own two of them now! The main one I would suggest that everyone have is the On Set FX palette. This one is smaller than the full size version, but it was perfect for me to have in my kit. It has all 10 colors of the full size, and the primary colors are perfect for mixing or using in combination with other palettes. My most-used part of the palette is probably the “Blood Tone” and “Aged Blood” because they are perfect for painting cuts! The Grunge palette is a must-have for doing any “dead” or dirt effects. You can easily use “Dark Brun” and “Soot” to create a messy character. Since these palettes are alcohol based, they are super pigmented but also thin so that the color is buildable. This is why these palettes are ideal for creating realistic veins or dirt because they are not just globs of color on the skin.
One of my favorite things in my kit is my Mehron Bruise Wheel. These are so useful and I find myself reaching for it for a lot of different injury simulations. The wheel conveniently goes in order of the life cycle of a bruise/injury–red (inflammation), brown (darkens), blue (blood vessels rise), green (bruise lightening), yellow (fading). I also always have cream foundation in my kit so that I can start with an even base. Keep in mind that cream makeup is generally for stage or costumes and alcohol based makeup is the standard for film and TV.
I took my Special Effects courses at AEO Studios in Orlando and these classes really solidified my love of effects makeup, I highly recommend for anyone interested in this type of work to go there!! I bought most of my kit at this studio as well, so all of my adhesives and removers have their label.
Spirit Gum is a resin based adhesive which is mostly used to apply any type of hair. It works the best on an area that has no movement because it is not super strong, and it also can become itchy!
Pros-Aide is an extremely strong adhesive used specifically for attaching prosthetics to the skin–this stuff can actually stay on for days!
I included liquid latex in this category because it can be used to apply hair and prosthetics as well. It also can be used to create different skin textures–which is what I like using it for the most! Once you apply the latex to the skin, you can mold it, put cotton on top, add tissue, anything you want before it dries. You can create great effects with this! From rotting flesh to a deep gash, liquid latex is always a go-to! To remove this, simply peel it right off. I also keep a hairdryer with my so that I can make the latex dry down quicker!
The Super-Solv Remover is the best thing to remove Pros-Aide or any glue. It also easily removes the alcohol-based paints from the skin. You want to make sure you have this with you so that you can help the actors get out of their costumes and not be stuck like zombies forever.
First up, I always keep face powders of various colors in my kit to set down any makeup work that I do.
The Mehron 3D Gel is the best tool for creating any kind of burn look. You heat up the tub, and then you can start making it ooze over the skin and you can really mold it into any form you like. Once it dries, you can paint it and make it look very realistic.
The Graftobian Soot Powder is a new addition for me. I wanted something to give more texture to my dirt effects on top of just the paint, and I thought this would be perfect. Now, I will have a paint base to make someone dirty, and then I can spatter them with this actual soot powder to make it even more believable.
Kryolan Collodion is used to make scabs. You paint a little of this clear liquid on the skin, and it dries very quickly. It starts to shrivel up and pull the skin together–add some paint and it looks exactly like a nasty scab.
Mehron Modeling Wax/Putty is one of my most used items. I use this to make cuts and gashes because it is so easy to mold. You just heat it up between your fingers and start pressing it to your skin. I use toothpicks to carve out the cut I want and then I just smooth out the edges. You can also use this to make changes to someones face or add other wounds. To remove the wax, you just peel it off.
Blood is an important part of Special Effects makeup, and a very fun part at that! My Mehron Coagulated Blood Gel is what I use to create any scabbing or clotting effects. It is a really good darker blood color, so you can tell it isn’t “fresh” blood and it is the perfect thickness as well. The Magic Blood Powder is something I just like to play with in general. I keep the mini in my kit just in case! It’s really cool because you sprinkle the powder onto the skin, and then you could take a fake knife, wet the blade, and as soon as water touches the powder, the powder turns into dripping blood. It definitely makes for a nice gag or live-action skit effect!
These are just a few extra things I like to have with me just in case! You never know when you will ned fake vomit. I find it much easier to have this tub on hand than to have to sit and mix random things together until it looks like puke. The silver tube is my Kryolan Tear Stick which is basically menthol that you rub under someones eyes to instantly make them tear up. You might have an emotional scene where the actor needs a little assistance! As for the coffee, you can pretty much always use a caffeine boost…just kidding! I like to use coffee grounds mixed with water to create sweaty/dirty effects on clothes. Rub some coffee under the arm pits and wah-lah, you now have fantastic pit stains.
In addition to all of the things I mentioned above, I always keep the following in my kit as well:
- An assortment of brushes (natural and synthetic hair)
- 99% alcohol
- Makeup sponges
- Makeup wipes
- Cotton balls
- spray bottle filled with water
- Toothbrush (I use this to create spatter effects with blood and dirt by flicking the bristles)
These are all of the items that I keep in my Special Effects kit at all times! Depending on the film, I may add more if I know that the characters need something else, but I believe that this is a very good starting base for anyone looking to build their kit.
Also be sure to check out my IMDB page to keep up with my latest film projects! http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9487781/?ref_=nv_sr_1