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Archive for September 13th, 2016


Prosthetics – to reuse, or not to reuse?

We had been asked about reusable prosthetics hundreds of times before we created our first silicone appliances. It sounds like an easy enough task to produce something that can be used time and again; there are hundreds of rubbers of all different strengths on the market. The problem was creating something durable, flexible and reusable with invisible edges, which is pretty much the holy grail of prosthetics (in fact finding the holy grail might be easier!)

We used gelatine for our prosthetics from the outset; it’s flexible and recyclable (the overflow material can be melted and used again) which made it economical, but not really reusable. A lot of customers had reused our pieces by not using too much adhesive to apply the prosthetic and not blending the edges, but we never felt comfortable calling them truly reusable.

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

Foam latex was one option, but it presents problems. First off, some people are allergic to latex. Not a huge portion of the population, but as we sell in thousands to people round the world we were bound to come across people who would react badly. On top of that, foam latex is only so reusable. Foam Latex appliances are soft and light which is great, but soft, light prosthetics can tear, and foam latex will eventually dry out and crumble as it’s exposed to daylight.

The only other option was silicone. the problem with that was that in order to get invisible edges, silicone prosthetics are encapsulated, which means a very thin layer of flexible plastic is sprayed into the prosthetic mould before the silicone is poured in. When the prosthetic is applied, alcohol is used to melt the edges of the plastic into the skin, making the join disappear. A fantastic technique, but once again this meant that the piece wasn’t truly reusable – once the edge is melted, its gone forever.

So, against all of our artistic instincts we chose to do the exact opposite of what we would usually strive for; to make prosthetics with a defined edge that wouldn’t be blended away. Tom sculpted beautifully detailed upper and lower face prosthetics to produce a full face zombie effect, and he finished them with a neat, thin edge that was very slightly rounded (almost impossible to see) to avoid tearing.

Reusable Silicone Zombie Brow
The first reusable prosthetic was our zombie brow

Before the application day, we were wondering how we would make the edge disappear. Blood? Dirt? Sweat? We kicked around ideas and decided we would just have to wait until the prosthetics were on our model to see what would work best, and film whatever we did so our customers could get the same effect. However, when the day came around, we simply forgot about it. The edges ‘disappeared’, despite the lack of any blending at all. Sure, if you looked hard for them you can see them, but how many people in zombie prosthetics get examined up close? For the most part our customers would be either at parties, performing at haunted houses or be filmed in the half light of a horror film. It worked, and no one was more surprised than us at just how well it worked.

Silicone Zombie Makeup
The full makeup… spot the seams?

After we had applied the prosthetics (and filmed the process for the video at the bottom of this post) we headed out to a secluded farm house to shoot our ‘movie scene’. Tom brought out all of his best movie making tricks (creating cobwebs on a zombie using nothing but glue and two blocks of wood…? The guy is old-skool cool!) and we fired up the smoke machine for a long night of filming a guy in military costume creeping around a creaking, groaning, dimly lit house before he met his inevitable demise. The highlight of the evening (for most of the crew anyway) was listening to 3 grown men shut in an old, dusty cupboard built into the fabric of the house along with lights and cameras, trying to act and direct in the near dark.

A few months later we released Sil-Blend, a two part paste that can be used to blend the edges of our silicone prosthetics if you really do want to make the seam disappear. By mixing parts A and B in equal amounts, you can add material to the edge of the prosthetic creating a perfect blend – however it permanently adds material to the prosthetic, so you need to give it a little thought before applying.

Sil-Blend Silicone Blending Paste
Sil-Blend was the answer to blending edges on our silicone appliances

You can enjoy the fruits of these struggles in the video below, and if you would like to try some of our reusable silicone prosthetics, you can see the full range on our website – we’ve added werewolves, vampires and lots of other cool pieces – and if you do make sure you show us 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.


How to Go Full Zombie

We had been selling zombie prosthetics for a few years before we put together our first full kit. We liked giving people the ability to mix and match their prosthetics to customise their own looks, but we also wanted to give people the worlds first movie quality ‘zombie in a box’ which would give our customers everything they needed to look like an extra from The Walking Dead in one complete pack.

Zombie Makeup Kit
Kit – prosthetics, adhesive, blender, blood & paint

Tom sculpted zombie brow and mouth prosthetics that would still look great when they overlapped, so users could have some adjustment for different facial sizes, and he also sculpted gruesome looking teeth with a ripped lip into the mouth appliance, because everyone loves that over-the-top look but most people can rarely achieve it on their own. For films and TV, ‘out of the mouth dentures’ are made for a specific actor which not only gives them gnarled teeth but also hides their lips; then prosthetics are sculpted to fit over the top of these dentures, revealing the exposed gum area and giving a terrifying skeletal look.

Walking Dead Zombie
Dentures used on The Walking Dead image © AMC

You can see how this effect would be problematic for the casual makeup artist! Sculpting the teeth right into the prosthetic meant that we could get a similar look, and providing the wearer blacked out their own teeth (easily done using tooth enamel our even just food dye) the effect was very convincing, especially for an ‘out-of-the-box’ zombie… in fact, every time we see the video (which you can watch at the bottom of this post) we forget that the teeth we are seeing is the prosthetic, not the actors teeth!

Zombie Mouth prosthetic
Yep, the teeth are gelatine too!

World War Z was due for release later that year (2013), so for the ‘movie’ portion of our makeup video we decided early on to film a running zombie. Not everyone likes the idea of fast zombies, but we wanted to go with something that felt fresh and up to date, so we decided a high octane zombie chase would be a great way to showcase the zombie kit. One of the advantages of living and working in the Scottish Highlands is that everyone knows everyone, and lots of people have access to things you would never have access to in London. So when we were chatting to a friend in the local pub on Loch Ness and he offered access to a helicopter and pilot for the day, we almost bit his hand off at the shoulder – zombie style!

World War Z Style Trailer
‘Copters & zombie chases, a typical Nimba work day

On the day of the shoot our model, Graham Hay, spent a couple of hours in the makeup chair before we headed over to PDG Helicopters to film our chase scene. Luckily it was a fairly cool day so Graham, in makeup and with a boiler suit over his clothes, and our co-pilot played by Simon Swinton in full flight kit didn’t overheat as we spent hours trying to capture the chase on film. With the shots being filmed from a car driving towards a helicopter with blades spinning while another person hangs out of the window with the camera trying to focus on the action, being part of the shoot felt like being in the movie itself. It was adrenalin pumping, exciting and sometimes scary, and we loved every second of it.

So, here’s the video, including our little movie plus application and paint instructions for the prosthetics. If you’d like to have a go yourself, you can get yours by visiting our Zombie Prosthetics Kit page – we even throw in a free copy of our Ultimate Zombie Makeup Guide DVD which includes the video in full HD – don’t forget to show us your results!

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.