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Archive for September, 2016

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6 Tips for Creating the Perfect Zombie

Thanks to shows like The Walking Dead and World War Z, zombies are hugely popular these days, particularly Halloween comes around. If you want to be a truly convincing walker, here are our top tips to perfect your look.

1. Clothing

Tearing and dirtying clothes is a great way to complete your zombie, but make sure the wear and tear is authentic. Don’t cut your clothes with scissors – rip them. Cuts will look too obvious and unrealistic. Also consider which areas would wear out first, such as around the neckline, cuffs and hems. Use sandpaper to make holes in clothes to suggest your zombie clothes have worn away over time, and use paints and polishes to stain clothing rather than using real dirt and mud which will dry out and fall off. Watch the video below to see how we distressed a medical gown to go with our hospital zombie prosthetic.

2. Blood

It’s tempting to cover your zombie in buckets of blood for extra gore factor, but don’t go too crazy. Think about where your zombie would have blood and why; has he been biting other people? If so put a little blood around the mouth. If your zombie has wounds, add blood but not too much – let your makeup show through. Try using different tones such as standard Special FX blood, Zombie Blood and blood coloured paint, and use spattering, dripping and hand prints for extra realism.

Ripped Face prosthetic
Use fake blood sparingly

3. Prosthetics

If you want to go full zombie, prosthetics are a must. We stock several zombie brows including a standard gelatine prosthetic, a One Eyed Zombie Brow with a withered eye socket and a reusable Silicone Zombie Brow. If you have smaller features and are worried that a full brow may be too large for you, try our Silicone Zombie Mini Kit which includes cheek bone and nose ridge appliances that can be placed to fit your face exactly. Zombie Mouth Prosthetics are a great addition for a comprehensive zombie makeup, just be sure to bring some drinking straws with you to the Halloween party to avoid loosening your appliances on your big night out! Watch the video below to see a complete application and painting guide.

4. Hair

If you’ve gone to all the trouble of wearing down clothes and applying prosthetics, don’t forget to dress your hair, and do not just back comb it with hairspray – you are trying to look like the undead, not an extra from a 1980s music video! Your hair should look lank and dirty, so use lots of hair gel (or hair conditioner) and add Fullers Earth (clay powder) to make it look like you’ve just clawed your way out of the ground. Coloured hair sprays are also available but choose carefully and don’t overdo it.

Silicone Zombie Prosthetic
Make sure your hair matches your look

5. Eyes

The only safe way to use contact lenses is to get high quality lenses from a supplier like 9mm who will ask you for dimensions to ensure that your lenses fit your eyes correctly. There have been a lot of horror stories in recent years from people who used cheap lenses for fancy dress parties and severely damaged their eyes.

Zombie Contact Lenses
9mm stock a range of superb zombie contact lenses

7. Teeth

It’s no use making your face look decayed if your teeth look perfect when you open your mouth. You can add black food dye to mouth wash to darken them down which looks great as it pools between your teeth and makes them look like they are rotting from the edges, but this effect will wear off over time. For a longer lasting solution, use tooth enamels and choose yellows and browns to make your teeth look putrid.

Watch our zombie makeup application video below for extra tips and techniques, and don’t forget to show us photos of your finished walker!

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your latest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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Getting Creative with Gelatine Prosthetics

If you are going for an extreme look for your party, film shoot or cosplay, prosthetics can give a lot of exciting options. But have you ever thought about creating a completely unique look to your own specifications? With gelatine prosthetics, it can be easier than you think to mix and match and come up with your own look from off the shelf prosthetics.

Decide on a look before you start

Gelatine prosthetics
With a little effort you can create completely new looks from off the shelf prosthetics

Have a think on the look you are going for before you shop. It’s tempting to get stuck in and design as you go, but you could run into problems like running out of materials, prosthetics that don’t go well together or overloading one area with too many appliances. Decide on the look you want to end up with and backward-engineer the process from there.

Select your prosthetics carefully

In our example we have used our Animal Attack, Swollen Eye, Shredded Nose Tip and Ripped face prosthetics. We selected these pieces to create one cohesive look that would use the whole left side of the face for a really gross torn face effect.

FX Prosthetics
Select your appliances carefully and make sure you have enough to cover the area your design calls for

Make sure you have all the materials and tools you need

As you are making up your look from your imagination, you need to make sure you have your kit complete and ready to go before you start. Do you need extra gelatine for blending between prosthetics? Will your design require an excess of adhesive? You will definitely need a good sharp pair of small scissors for cutting your prosthetics to fit and we also recommend using Toms Sculpting Tool, soaked in hot water for manipulating the gelatine to create the shapes that fit your design.

Cutting Prosthetics
Gelatine prosthetics can be cut with small sharp scissors

Keep the gelatine that you cut away

If you trim your prosthetics to help them fit together, keep the off-cuts. They can be melted down and used to create blends that look like flesh or sinew to help transition from one prosthetic to another. We stock 200g units of gelatine if you want to create larger built up wound areas and Bald Head Gelatine for creating areas of the head where the hair is missing (a disturbing effect).

Blending Gelatine
Use gelatine off-cuts to create blended areas

Make small changes as you go

As you go through the makeup process, you will want to make small adjustments as the look develops. Be methodical, take a step back and review what you are doing regularly.

Trim Prosthetic
Make small adjustments as you go

Keep your paint job uniform

You’ve gone to the trouble to cut and blend your prosthetics for a cohesive look, so make sure you do the same with your paint job. Don’t paint the appliances individually; paint everything at the same time using the same tones, colours and levels of blood throughout the makeup to reinforce the look.

Prosthetic Painting
Keep your look unified with a solid paint job

Watch the 3 minute video below to watch this mash-up come to life, and get creative with your own looks – have fun! Don’t forget to show us photos of your finished work, we love to see the wide range of looks our customers get with our products!

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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6 Tips for Using Gelatine To Make Prosthetics

Gelatine is a versatile material – it’s flexible, soft and recyclable. To get the best out of your prosthetics, there are a few things to know to make sure you don’t end up with brittle or fragile appliances.

Gelatine Prosthetics
Gelatine is the most versatile material for casting prosthetics

1. Don’t boil it

Although you need to get the gelatine hot to melt it, never boil it. Boiling will affect the structure of your gelatine and when it’s set, it will become sticky and unusable. If you are using a microwave, warm the gelatine a little at a time, checking and stirring regularly. If you are using a saucepan, keep the heat low and stir at regular intervals.

2. Don’t chill it

It’s not just boiling that will ruin the integrity of gelatine – chilling cast appliances will adversely effect it too. Although appliances are best stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight, the fridge it not the place for them. Chilling gelatine prosthetics will make them brittle and likely to break or tear when handled.

Damaged Prosthetic
Chilling your prosthetic in a fridge can leave it brittle

3. Be careful when melting it

Pay the utmost attention when melting gelatine. Hot gelatine sticks like glue, if it gets on your skin it can cause serious burns. Use heatproof gloves when handling it and never leave melting gelatine unattended. If you are leaving excess gelatine to cool, make sure it is in a stable container away from the edge of your table or counter and if possible, cover it.

4. Make sure the temperature is right for pouring

Gelatine needs to be hot to make sure your prosthetics are cast properly. As gelatine cools, it thickens, and pouring cool gelatine into a mould will result in air bubbles and poor castings. Get the gelatine to a fluid consistency and pour it into your mould right away. To test it, dip in a metal spoon and allow some gelatine to pour off it. If it pours in a thin, fluid line it’s ready for your mould.

5. Keep it clean

One of the best things about gelatine is that that is can be reused. Any overflow from casting prosthetics (and any bad castings) can be melted and used again which is great, but you can pick up debris such as hair and grit as you use it. Have a good metal sieve to hand (not plastic – it will melt!) and pour your gelatine through it to remove foreign objects.

Metal Sieve
Use a metal sieve to remove debris from your gelatine

6. Don’t reheat it too many times

Although it can be reused, don’t reheat your gelatine too many times. Eventually, it will break down and become brittle and you will end up with unusable castings. If your gelatine is beginning to go darker or turn amber in colour, its been overheated or used too many times. We would only recommend re-heating gelatine 3 or 4 times – after that, move on to a new batch.

We sell gelatine in 1kg, 400g and 200g units, and it’s the same recipe that we use to cast all of the prosthetics that you see in our shop. Watch the video below to see the best way to apply your gelatine prosthetics.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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9 Things You Can Add To Your Prosthetics To Give Them An Edge

Prosthetics can instantly change the way you look entirely, whether you are transforming into a character like a vampire, werewolf or zombie or just applying gory wounds. There are a few things you can add to take your look to the next level, add extra gross factor or just make the effect more convincing.

1. Blood

It’s an obvious addition if you are applying wound prosthetics, but also consider using blood in other areas. A little blood in the hairline or coming from the nose, mouth or near the eyes (not in the eye itself) can give a disturbing effect. Remember that there are different types of blood for different looks; as well as our standard Special FX Blood, we also stock Zombie Blood which is darker in colour and suggests that the fluid is old or infected. Our makeup palette also has a dried blood colour which is great for creating blood effects that won’t smear or run. Try mixing different styles of blood to give more depth to your makeup and don’t use too much – theres no point going to all the trouble of applying a prosthetic then covering it in buckets of the red stuff. Keep it subtle, less is more.

Torn Face Prosthetic
Try using different types of blood to give your makeup more depth

2. Dust

If you’re creating a crusty zombie, add dust and grit to the hair, clothes and even to the skin to suggest a feeling of age. It’s a creepy effect that makes it look as if the walker has been rattling around old derelict buildings for years. Fullers Earth is a type of finely ground clay that is ideal for this; add a little water here and there and it will create lumps that will cling to the hair and clothes and make your zombie look especially grimy.

Dusty Zombie
We added dust and cobwebs to our zombie to make him look like part of the furniture

3. Dirt

Adding mud to your makeup and costume is an easy way to dirty down clothes to get that old, worn look, and you can also use a range of household products to get the same effect that won’t dry out and fall off with wear (see the video below for tips on how to age your clothes). Adding dirt to wound prosthetics suggests that the something happened in the real world; if you’re trying to simulate an accident outdoors chances are those wounds wouldn’t be clean.

4. Hair Gel

As well as adding gel to the hair to make it look lank and greasy, you can also add a little to your prosthetics to make them look especially nasty. Try putting a little hair gel in wound prosthetics (preferably yellow in colour) – it will add moisture and will give the impression of body fluids and will really make your application stand out.

5. Leaves

If you are creating a zombie or someone who has been beaten or wounded outdoors, stick a few scraps of leaves into the blood and onto the skin so it looks like your model has been lying in the dirt. Dried herbs also work well as miscellaneous debris that would stick to the skin.

6. Glass

If you are applying wounds to an actor that are supposed to be the result of a car crash or a bar fight, adding fake glass is a great way to give an extra dimension to your makeup. Sili-Glass is a clear silicone rubber that looks like glass but is completely safe – ideal for using in prosthetics. Never use real glass.

7. Shrapnel

There are many objects that can be added to wound appliances to make them look particularly gruesome. Fake knives, scissors and screwdrivers are al favourites, but also consider smaller objects that can suggest that the wound truly penetrates the skin. Scraps of wood and blunt metal work well and our Shrapnel Wound Prosthetic is specifically designed for the addition of a small piece of debris.

shrapnel wound prosthetic
Adding a little shrapnel can bring a lot to your effect

8. Tattoos

If you are trying to make a wound on an arm or leg look convincing, consider adding a tattoo that starts on the skin and flows over into the wound area. You can buy good quality fake tattoos online and you can also create your own using alcohol activated paint. If your model already has a tattoo why not try incorporating it into the makeup; apply the prosthetic on the tattoo and use a makeup palette to paint the tattoo back in over the appliance. Its a great way of fooling the brain into thinking that the wound must be real.

9. Hair

Applying hair to werewolf prosthetics take your application to another level. Crepe hair can be bought cheaply online and is very versatile as it can also be used for adding eyebrows back onto prosthetics that obscure them (zombie brows for example, although people are used to eyebrow-free zombies). Buy slightly different tones of hair and mix them together – maybe even a few white strands too – to get a more natural look. See the video below to watch our werewolf prosthetic transformation complete with crepe hair.

If you are using a prosthetic that covers the eye entirely like a swollen eye appliance, you can cut individual hairs from false eyelashes to glue them into place and make a far more convincing look.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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5 Kick Ass Halloween Decorations We Need This Year

Halloween is a fantastic excuse to decorate your house with all manner of weird and wonderful things. When else can you get away with hanging skeletons in your living room or planting gravestones in your front garden? Here are the top 5 decorations that beat plastic bats, spiders and cobwebs hands down.

Halloween Advent Calendar

We’ve seen variations on the Halloween Advent Calendar and there are certainly cheaper versions out there, but how can you resist this awesome work of art? This handmade haunted house is even illuminated to make sure it still makes an impact even in the dark, and we absolutely love it.

Halloween Advent Calendar
The Halloween Advent Calendar is a work of art

Available on Halloween Advent House

Laser Cut Foam Pumpkins

Carved pumpkins are a staple of Halloween decorating, and although they can be fun to make it can be time consuming, messy and of course, they will rot. These foam pumpkins save all the hassle and are reusable, and the laser cut design is pin sharp. The only drawback is that you won’t have any pumpkin left over for pie.

Foam Pumpkin
The laser cut foam pumpkin is a great alternative to the real thing

Available from purpleinkgraphics

Head in a Jar

This is a DIY project, not too difficult but a great effect – put your own head in a jar! Using one photograph and an old fashioned style jar, you can really freak people out at your party. Find out how to make your own on Instructables.

Halloween Head in a Jar
The head in a jar is very simple but extremely creepy

Halloween Projections

If you want to add and an extra dimension to your house at Halloween, these brilliant projections are a must have. All you need is the DVD and a TV (or even better, a projector) to make ghostly apparitions appear out of the blue.

Floating Candles

Whether you are dressing up your house for Halloween or having a Harry Potter themed dinner, these floating candles are going to look fantastic at your party (just don’t get them near any paper decorations!)

Floating Candles
These floating candles are the perfect finishing touch to a haunted house

Available from Made In Design

If you are looking for an extra gruesome Halloween prop you can also check out our Zombie Head Model Kit, and take a look through our selection of prosthetics to make sure your look is just as amazing as your haunted house this Halloween. www.nimbacreations.com

Zombie Head Model Kit
Our Zombie Head Model Kit is gruesome, but effective

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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Nimba Creations Online Shop – a Brief History

Although Nimba Creations website has been around since 2000, it hasn’t always been an online shop. Back when going online meant unplugging your phone and plugging in your external modem then waiting while your PC made a series of bleeping sounds before waiting for AltaVista to load, our website was intended to be nothing more than a basic online portfolio to accompany the hard copies we sent out to potential clients. We even had to put our website onto CDs for some people – not everyone had an internet connection and our photo-heavy pages would take a long time to load for those who did.

Nimba Creations 2000
This is where Nimba Creations online presence started

Being the picky, OCD types that we are we spent hours creating bright, bold graphics, scanning photos and slides (yup, slides) and uploading them to our website, all the time racking up a huge phone bill. The website was fairly advanced for the time, it served as our calling card and got us lots of much needed work on films, TV shows and at themed attractions.

When we started construction on our full size T-Rex (which you can read about here) we decided to update the website as we went through the process. We guessed that people would be interested to follow us on the journey of building something so unique, and it would be a nice way for us to journal our progress. We were blogging before blogs existed.

Animatronic T-rex
Nimbas largest project to date

While we guessed that it would be popular, we could never have predicted the volume of traffic that would start flowing through our website. We had constant crashes and bandwidth issues  and we were receiving a continual stream of emails from more potential clients, newspapers and interested members of the public. It was fantastic to get instant feedback on a project we were still working on morning, noon and night.

After the T-Rex was complete we started documenting all of our projects on our website, from a severed Mayan head for National Geographic to a Bigfoot bust that, in one way or another, secured work for us on Peter Jacksons King Kong in New Zealand. The more projects we did, the more we posted, the more people visited our website and the more projects came in. It was a nice cycle that we had going, but we wanted to be able to offer something more to the thousands of people visiting our site, not just the few who had large scale projects in the works.

In 2005, we decided to open a small online shop. The most obvious thing to offer was basic FX materials so people could have a go at small projects themselves; life casts, plaster, clay and prosthetic adhesive were all in our first range of products. As we were selling prosthetic adhesive, we thought we should produce some small latex prosthetic wounds – just enough for people to have a go at minor applications in their own homes. We created a single flat plate plaster mould comprising of 5 wounds, the largest of which was a cut wrist prosthetic.

Nimba Creations Online Shop
One of the first incarnations of our shop/portfolio site

With the shop ticking over and creating enough profit to make it worthwhile endeavour, we carried on with the core of our business – custom props and prosthetics for films, TV and attractions. Tom was offered a job that was too good to turn down at one of the biggest FX facilities in the UK, Artem based London, working as a full time special effects supervisor on lots of high profile projects. It would have made sense to close the online shop there and then, but instead it was kept going as a side project, the range was added to occasionally (now with gelatine prosthetics rather than latex) and the site was constantly developed, re-designed and added to to keep it looking fresh.

Miami Dolphins Robot
An 8 metre tall robot for the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, a project Tom supervised at Artem

Then came the call of the Scottish Highlands. A gorgeous place with awe-inspiring scenery, always visited on holiday but never staying more than 2 weeks. Anyone who has visited the Highlands will know it has a very special draw; rich in cultural and mythological history, if you’ve been once you need to go back. After all, the Loch Ness Monster hasn’t been found and there are lots more fine whiskies to try. The problem is, if you’re a special effects artist it’s not really the place to be. London, yes; Los Angeles, yes; Inverness? No. So with heart ruling head, Nimba moved north of the border in 2009 and we had to double down on our efforts building our online shop and have a wild stab at that most elusive of dreams, living in the place you love and doing work you are passionate about while being your own boss. It sounds like a crazy thing to say now as we had slightly more chance of finding the Loch Ness Monster, but you only live once.

As it turned out, our move couldn’t have been timed better as the first ever comic convention in the Highlands, Hi-Ex, was being staged in Inverness that year. We booked a table at the event, brought along armfuls of our products and found an enthusiastic local, Graham Hay, to apply makeups to as live demos for each of the two days of the show. We filmed the demos on a single camera mounted on a tripod so we could edit them into tutorial videos later and upload them to our new YouTube channel.

Zombie Makeup Application Video
Our first ever video, crudely filmed but it did the trick

If memory serves us correctly, we didn’t even make enough sales that weekend to cover the cost of the table. We were new to conventions and ill-prepared, no posters or nice graphics, just a table full of prosthetics and glue. But we did have the videos. They were cut down into more watchable films, Tom did narration to explain the process and once uploaded, they started clocking up views straight away. We were pleasantly surprised and we noticed an upturn in our online sales. Then Halloween came around.

That October was a month of solid work. That isn’t an exaggeration, there was nothing but work that month. In order to meet demand, it had to be done in shifts; while someone was working, the other was sleeping. One person woke up, the other went to bed. The only outdoor activity was dropping bags of parcels at the post office. For an entire month. When it was over we were slightly shell shocked, but we also realised that we had managed to build a new business for ourselves while we lived in one of the most beautiful places on earth, doing creative work that we loved.

Tom Applies a Prosthetic
Our most recent product and application video

We have not taken our foot off the accelerator for one moment since then, we have developed new, bigger, better prosthetics, expanded our range of materials, developed our own makeup palettes, recorded more sophisticated tutorial videos, produced our own DVDs been guests at trade shows in the UK, USA and Ireland, and now our products at even stocked by Amazon.

It’s been roughly 5 years since we switched our site over from being a portfolio with a shop attached to a shop with a portfolio attached, and it’s been fantasic, exhilarating hard work and we are even more excited about the products we have coming up in the future. Watch this space.

This is our latest video ad for our online shop; our prosthetics and tutorial films have improved a lot over the years, and we wanted a spectacular short video that screamed ‘Scottish Highlands’ to reflect the new Nimba Creations and bring our story full circle. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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10 Essential Makeup Kit Items You Can Buy in a Supermarket

A makeup kit is essential for any artist who is going to be applying lots of prosthetics with a professional finish. Our Complete Makeup Kit includes everything you need to apply prosthetics and includes over 30 appliances plus an instructional DVD making it an economical purchase, and there are off-the-shelf items that you can buy in your local supermarket to build up your stock of consumables and build out your own personalised kit.

Makeup Kit
If you’re going to apply a lot of prosthetics, you need a well stocked kit

1. Tweezers

There are a lot of different styles of tweezers available, and you’ll find many types in the cosmetics department of the supermarket. Standard tweezers are great for lifting the edges of prosthetics to allow you to get glue underneath, and blunt ended tweezers are great for working around the eyes where to don’t want to wield sharp objects. Angled tweezers are great for getting into difficult areas, for example around the nose. As you do more applications you will get a feel for the type you need to add based on the way you work.

Angled tweezers are ideal for lifting prosthetic edges in difficult areas
Angled tweezers are ideal for lifting prosthetic edges in difficult areas

2. Tissues / kitchen roll

There’s no avoiding it, applying prosthetics is a messy process. With adhesives, paints and glues being used during the makeup session, you are going to need to clean your hands often and sometimes you may need to protect your models clothes during the application. Have both tissues and kitchen roll close to hand, because you don’t want to have to stop in the middle of a paint job and go hunting for something to wipe down your hands while the makeup is setting. Also have some adhesive remover nearby as you will get glue on your fingers at some point and it will need to be cleaned away so it doesn’t interfere with your work.

3. Cotton swabs

You are going to go through a lot of cotton swabs. They can be used to apply adhesive to both your prosthetic and the skin and they are disposable, unlike a brush. They can also be used to blend the edges of gelatine prosthetics, apply blood to wounds and generally do anything that you don’t want to use your fingers for because it would be too messy or don’t want to use a brush for because it would render it useless after the first application. Standard swabs are available in any supermarket and you can also find larger single ended swabs online that can be handy to have in your kit.

Cotton Swabs
Think of cotton swabs as disposable makeup brushes

4. Sponges

There are an awful lot of makeup sponges out there, some are cheap and some are strangely expensive. Some makeup artists will say they can’t do without their ‘special’ makeup sponge, but generally speaking any sponge or foam you can buy in the supermarket will do the job just fine. The cheapest option is to buy basic washing up sponges, pull away the green scouring portion and cut the sponge section into triangles with scissors. You can use sponge to apply adhesive, paint and blood, so make sure you cut up more than you think you’ll need before you start so you can throw away used pieces as soon as they become to sticky or clogged and regularly reach for a fresh piece.

Makeup Sponge
A few minutes with scissors and you will have a good supply of disposable makeup sponges

5. Breath mints

This may seem like a strange one, but if you’re planning on applying prosthetics to someones face, you’ll soon realise why it’s courteous to use a mint before you start (or at least your model will). You are going to be spending hours very close to someone elses face, and they don’t need to smell what you had for lunch while you do it. Stick a tube of mints in your kit and be kind to your model.

6. Disposable cups

The easiest way to handle adhesive, blender, remover and alcohol during an application is to pour each liquid into a cup before you start. You will find lots of different sizes in the supermarket from pint cups to shot glasses, and usually the smaller the size the better; you won’t be going through gallons of liquid and you need to be able to dip your sponge or cotton swab into the cup easily. White plastic 200ml cups are the standard and therefore the most economical, and they can be cut down easily with scissors to create smaller ‘dishes’ which are easier to use and less likely to get knocked over. Write on the cups with a marker pen so you don’t get your materials mixed up – mistaking adhesive for makeup sealer isn’t an error you want to make!

7. Talcum Powder

Talc can be a very useful product to have around during an application. It can be used to help map out where your prosthetics will go so you know where to put adhesive on the skin (see the video below), and it can also be used to help set cream makeup and knock down shine. There are more expensive powders available, but regular old talcum powder is a must-have for your kit and will come in handy again and again. Buy a good quality powder as cheaper products can be gritty, and make sure you and your model aren’t breathing it in excessively.

8. Hair clips / combs

Unless your model has very short hair, it’s easy for it to get in the way while applying a prosthetic. Combing it back and clipping it out of the way will avoid getting their hair caught up in the application – no one wants prosthetic adhesive in their hair! You may also want to apply gels, wax or hair colouring sprays after your application is complete so you’ll need a comb handy to draw it through the hair evenly. After use, make sure you clean your comb and use a mild disinfectant to make sure it’s ready for the next use.

9. Hair gel

If your model has unruly hair, just combing it back and clipping it may not be enough. Apply some hair gel, comb it back and give it a few minutes to set before you start applying your prosthetics – just make sure you don’t get any on the skin where your prosthetics are going to be placed as it will stop your adhesive from working. Gel is also a quick and easy way to get a dank, bedraggled look, especially good for zombie makeups.

Another fantastic use for hair gel is to add it to cuts and wound prosthetics to add moisture or ‘goop’. If you are applying a prosthetic that looks diseased or rotten, adding a little yellow hair gel can give a truly disgusting look!

10. Disposable razors

One of the biggest problems in getting prosthetics to stick cleanly to the skin is hair, and the worst offender is mens stubble. It’s short and spikey and will hold the prosthetic off the skin no matter how much adhesive you use. So many times we have had men come to our workshop and even though they know they are going to have prosthetics applied, there is still a hint of stubble that is going to make the process impossible. We keep a stock of disposable razors and shaving cream so we can send them off to the bathroom to get cleaned up before we start, and if you want to get good applications you should keep a stock too. Just make sure they don’t nick themselves, or cleaning the skin with alcohol is going to be a very unpleasant…

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Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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5 Biggest Problems When Wearing Prosthetics (and How to Combat Them)

Wearing prosthetic makeup is a great way to enhance any costume for Halloween, fancy dress parties and cosplay at conventions, but there are a few issues it’s worth thinking about in advance to make sure you keep looking your best after you have gone the extra mile with your look.

Tom Applies a Prosthetic

1. Heat

No matter what material your prosthetic is made of, heat can cause problems. Glues that were sturdy at normal temperatures can soften and become less effective and allow your appliance to slip or begin to peel away from your skin.

Combat it: Keep as cool as possible for as long as possible. If you’re filming, prioritise your actor and keep them cool in the shade with fans, cold drinks and ice packs anywhere that prosthetics aren’t applied. If you are on a night out in a hot environment take regular breaks in the fresh air and again, have iced drinks to keep your core temperature lower.

Sweat

2. Sweat

Sometimes sweat is a result of heat, but some people simply sweat more than others, even in cooler conditions. If you or your model is someone who is prone to sweating, you need to address this well in advance of applying your prosthetics

Combat it: First of all, make sure the skin is as clean and as free of hair as possible. Clean the skin well with 99% alcohol (you should do this anyway) and use Sweat Stop before applying the adhesive to try and reduce the amount of sweat that is going to build up under your appliance. You can buy 99% alcohol in pharmacies and also from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

3. Moisture

No matter what the conditions, moisture will always build up around the nose and mouth. Drinking, eating and even just breathing will create damp conditions which can cause havoc with your application if you haven’t prepared for it.

Combat it: If prosthetics are anywhere near the mouth, always have your model use straws to drink, and if possible avoid hot drinks altogether. Hot drinks will give off steam which will add to the problem. Cold drinks with ice consumed through a straw will always be the best option. In addition, use NimbaFix Silicone Adhesive (even on gelatine prosthetics) around the nose and mouth for any applications that are going to be worn for a long time. It has a little extra bond and should stand up better to moisture issues.

An consume iced drinks to keep cool and always use a straw to avoid moisture building up on your prosthetic
Consume iced drinks to keep cool and always use a straw to avoid moisture building up on your prosthetic

4. Scratching

Guaranteed, the second you get into prosthetics you are going to get an itch – usually smack bang in the middle of your application. Scratching that irritating itch can not only affect your paint job, but if you dig your nail into the edge of a prosthetic you can ruin the seamless effect you’ve worked so hard to create.

Combat it: Once again, clean skin will be your best friend. A good wipe with 99% alcohol before application will reduce the chance of possible irritations that will get an itch going. Also have a supply of  talc and a powder puff or soft tissue to hand – if you get an itch, carefully place a heavily powdered sponge or tissue and manipulate it gently. You should be able to eradicate the feeling of the itch and leave nothing behind but excess powder. Most importantly, never apply any makeup to skin that has an underlying medical problem that means the skin is already irritated, scratched or overly sensitive in any way.

5. Long days

If you’re filming someone in prosthetics or attending a convention in makeup, chances are it’s going to be a long day. As time goes on the natural oils that your skin produces will build up and eventually, adhesives will begin to lose their grip.

Combat it: Being prepared is the key. Assume that a long day is going to affect your makeup and make sure you have extra adhesive, cotton buds and brushes to hand. For extra security also bring 99% alcohol so if you need to you can completely clean an area of the skin and the back of the prosthetic to apply more glue for a fresh bond.

SFX Materials
Always keep prosthetic adhesive, cotton swabs and a powder puff on hand for quick fixes

Check out our YouTube Channel for extra tips and tricks on applying prosthetics, and watch our video below for a basic overview on the process.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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Michael Sheens Airlock – Creating a Space Capsule

In 2007, Nimba Creations was hired to build a small set piece for a short film with an actor called Michael Sheen. At the time we didn’t know the name but in recent years we have seen him in iconic roles playing Tony Blair and Kenneth Williams (although we prefer to think of him as Liz Lemons ‘future husband’ in 30 Rock or the guy who dates Sarah Silverman).

Michael Sheen in Airlock
Michael Sheen starred in the 2007 short

Although the set piece was small, it was still a huge challenge; we had to recreate the inside of a space capsule from the 1970s on a shoestring budget. We brought in an old friend and set designer Lee Taylor to help with construction, found a model of the Gemini space capsule to use as reference and started building the structure from plywood and 1″ x 2″ inch planks of pine.

The biggest hurdle was the most obvious – how do you replicate millions of dollars worth of space exploration vehicle on a short film budget and time frame? The only choice was to go old skool and build as we went along – there simply wasn’t the time for excessive planning or pre visualisation models to be made.

Airlock Short Film
A still from Airlock (or How to Say Goodbye in Space)

The overall structure was by far the most tricky, as the whole set had to be conical shaped made with tapering triangles of wood which would, in theory, come to a point at the actors feet. Not easy with no plans or measurements. We started by placing two chairs where the actors would sit, close enough together that the space felt claustrophobic but far enough apart to give them room to move and play out the script. We then built from the chairs outwards, constructing a centre console and dashboard at sizes and distances that felt comfortable but close enough to the actors to demonstrate the confined space, a little like building a race car around a driver.

Space Capsule Set Piece
The set piece had to fit the actors like a glove

As we started to build the set piece out, we needed to bear in mind one very important element – lighting. The cockpit roof, dashboard and every switch and key we added would need to be illuminated if it was going to be convincing as a solid space craft. Once again, time wasn’t on our side; if it was, we would have wired a series of LED lights throughout the set assigning one to each switch in the set. As it was, we had to go for the quicker option of having large lights outside the set and leaving apertures where we wanted that light to shine through, creating hundreds of light points from a single bulb. To make sure the lights weren’t all the same tone, we added coloured gels behind different clusters of holes in the set so some appeared white while others appeared red, orange and green.

Capsule set
Switches and lights were needed throughout the craft

The set piece was completed in a very short period of time and a lorry was sent for collection on the morning of the shoot. However when it arrived, we discovered that it didn’t fit. As small as the inside of a space capsule is, it turned out it was still too large to fit on the back of a truck. Thankfully, we had designed the set with ‘flying’ sections of removable wall so that cameras could film the actors inside the set (although all we see in the film are two small porthole sized windows as a view to the outside world). When these sections were taken away the set just about fit on the lorry with around 3 inches of clearance to spare.

When the set arrived at the studio in London later that day, we could finally relax. The hard work was done and the fruits of our labour arrived on time and intact. The film that was shot was the poignant true life story of Major Adam Banton and Major Carl Ackland who died on a space mission in 1976. Watch the 15 movie below and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Ackland and Banton
The dedication to the men the film was based on

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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Ripped Face Prosthetic; Inspriation & Execution

Our Ripped Face Prosthetic was one of the one of the most comprehensive we had made for our shop in 2010. Not a large piece and not difficult to apply, but we decided that the detail and depth of this piece needed to be much more advanced than any appliances we had made before.

Ripped Face prosthetic
Our Ripped Face Prosthetic is now made in both single use and reusable materials

It started as a dream. Yes, an actual dream. In this dream, Tom was applying a new prosthetic but during the application the progress couldn’t be seen; Tom ‘had his back to the camera’ the whole time obscuring the view (he has since developed more professional habits both in real life and the dream realm). When he stepped away, the look that was revealed was a sort of one sided joker prosthetic, not healed and far more jagged.

Tom started on the sculpt for the piece the next day and once he had it roughed out in clay, the concept developed into something far more complex – he added different layers of fat and muscle tissue as well as ripped skin, but it was when he added teeth to the edge around the mouth that the design really came together.

Ripped Face Prosthetic Sculpt
The sculpt for the Ripped Face Prosthetic took around 3 days

Sculpt done, mould made, and the first casting was applied to our ever-ready zombie model, Graham Hay. This was back in the days before we had a dedicated prosthetics workshop, so the application was done in Toms conservatory where there was plenty of daylight to ensure that the paint job looked right – painting prosthetics under certain artificial lights can result in too much yellow, red or green being added which looks fine indoors but once the model steps outside for photos, it looks all wrong. We decided to film the process, which turned out to be a wise choice.

Ripped Face Prosthetic Video
Our Ripped Face Prosthetic application video would become of our most popular uploads

The application video was one of our first so there was no music, but it was the first time we decided to take the camera off the tripod to get close up shots of the application. We wanted to film it so anyone watching would feel like they were in the room with Tom, looking over his shoulder as he worked. The video was edited and uploaded to our YouTube channel, and we watched the views rise daily.

After a few days video views exploded. People around the world had picked it up and shared it; we were getting so many comments, emails and orders it became difficult to keep track, and our photos began appearing all over the internet including in SFX magazines list of ‘Top 30 Walking Dead Inspired Products We Want to Own’. It even appeared on the Steelbook edition of Dead Island Riptide as the focal point for their lead zombie.

Dead Island Riptide
The prosthetic featured on the cover of Dead Island Riptide

To date, the video has had in excess of 2.3 million views and the prosthetic has sold in its thousands to every corner of the globe. We’ve created dozens more zombie prosthetics for the online shop since then, but this still remains one of our favourites and a favourite with our customers. Check out the video below; if you’d like to have a go at applying this prosthetic yourself, you can buy it here – and if you do, don’t forget to show us photos of your application!

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.