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5 Techniques for Painting Prosthetics

If you’re trying to get a realistic finish to your prosthetic makeup, you need to do more than just applying solid colours with a basic brush. Even monster makeups require an artistic touch to make them convincing, and these are some great techniques to make your paint job look professional.

1. Sponging

If you need to cover a large area (for example adding basic flesh tone) then using a sponge is the way to go. You don’t need to use expensive makeup sponges, in fact we would advise against it; if you are going for coverage you can use any sponge you can find in the supermarket cut into triangles (just remove the scourer first!) so you have lots of cheap foam that you can dispose of once it starts to become clogged or dirty. You can see a full list of helpful things you can buy locally in our 10 Essential Makeup Kit Items you can buy in a Supermarket post.


2. Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a fantastic skill to master and comes in very handy for adding depth to your prosthetics. This technique allows you to highlight the edges of torn skin or texture in wounds and muscles quickly and easily. Just load your brush or sponge thoroughly with the desired colour, then remove the excess by dabbing it on tissue, paper or just the back of your hand. Then, lightly draw your brush or sponge over raised texture on your prosthetic, and colour will only be left on the high points.


3. Spatter

‘Spattering’ is a great way of adding texture to your prosthetic makeup to stop your colouring looking flat and unrealistic. Get a thin wash of very liquid paint on a half inch thick brush and flick the colour onto the skin and appliance from around 8 inches away. The if the paint is wet enough, the spots and marks the paint leaves should be random – use a few different colours for a really in depth look.


3a. More Spatter!

To get smaller, tighter spots on spatter (more like an airbrush) cut down your half inch brush so it’s more stubbly, a little more like a toothbrush. Dip this into your colour then draw your finger across it to create a spray of paint that will leave a huge array of small spots on your prosthetic – great for creating detailed texture. Also good for general coverage to build up layers of paint subtly.


4. Thin Paint for subtle details

By their nature, the paints in makeup palettes are strong in colour and contain a lot of pigment. By using a greater ratio of alcohol to paint, you can decrease the vibrancy of the tone and create a lot of very subtle effects that will really bring your makeup to life. Veins, for example, suggest something under the skin and gives your paint job real depth, but adding them in a heavy handed way with solid colour will have the opposite effect; nice thin paint will create a far better look for liver spots and blemishes too.


5. Colour Washes

Skin tone is a subtle thing. You should never use a single colour to build up flesh tone, you need to bring it to life by adding thinner washes of colour in reds, greens, yellows and blues. You can also use washes to create shadows; if you have a highly detailed area of texture, run a thin wash of dark paint in and let it settle in the deeper areas. If you combine this with the dry brushing technique to amplify highlights, you should be able to create a stunning 3D effect.


We stock a complete set of 10 makeup brushes as well as an alcohol activated paint palette and a Wound Colours Palette which are ideal for any of these techniques. You can watch a full makeup process in the video below, and you can see more tips on our YouTube Channel.

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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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