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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.

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8 Tips for Halloween Prosthetic Makeup

When October 31st comes round, millions of people will be getting ready to get dressed up, go out and have fun. If you’re wearing prosthetics to take your outfit to the next level you are certainly going to stand out in the crowd, but you will also need to take a little extra care to make sure your makeup looks good when it goes on and stays looking good through the evening, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you look your best, based on feedback from our customers over the last 6 years.

1. Buy early and do tests

If you buy a costume, you try it on before the big night, right? If at all possible you should do the same with your prosthetics – but be aware that all prosthetics are not reusable. Our silicone prosthetics are 100% reusable and so they can be fully applied and painted for tests as many times as you like. Our gelatine prosthetics are intended to be used once, although some customers have managed multiple uses by not using too much adhesive and not blending the edges. If you are buying prosthetics that are not reusable you can still do a basic test by just applying adhesive in a few spots to tack it onto your skin for a test run. Trials will give you an idea of how easy or difficult it is to apply your prosthetic and how long it will take, which is good to know as you don’t want to rush your application. If you’re going to all this extra effort, you want to look good!

2. Start Clean

It’s always a good idea to clean both your skin and the back of your prosthetic with 99% alcohol before applying it to make sure you have absolutely clean surfaces to work with. Even if you don’t have cosmetic makeup or moisturiser on your skin, there will always be natural oils that will act as a barrier when you apply your adhesive, and you will have handled the prosthetic a lot before application so those oils could be on there too. You can buy 99% alcohol at most pharmacies and at various places online including Amazon UK and Amazon US. If you are ordering online don’t forget that it could take a little extra shipping time as alcohol is flammable (but completely skin safe) – so no smoking when you work with it!

3. Pre paint as much as you can

It’s far easier to paint colour into wounds before you apply a prosthetic – especially if you’re applying it to yourself. Use a fine brush and take as much time as possible to add details, highlight edges and create shadows; it will look amazing once it’s applied! Even non-wound prosthetics (zombie brows for example) can be pre painted if you like. Add a base tone, veins and spots and then once it’s applied you only have the task of blending your skin to match the prosthetic which can sometimes be a far easier job.

4. Bring extra adhesive

If you’re going out for the night with friends, it’s all to easy to forget about your prosthetic once it’s applied. On a film set, someone in prosthetics will have a crew of makeup artists standing by off camera to monitor and fix any issues as soon as they come up – on a night out you won’t have that luxury. Remember you are going to eat, drink, dance and generally have a good time, and all of that is going to take its toll on your prosthetic as the night wears on so bring a little extra adhesive and a few cotton swabs with you just in case you need to do a quick fix to keep your makeup looking perfect.

5. Take extra care with mouth prosthetics

If you are applying prosthetics around the mouth it’s going to get maximum wear and tear as it’s the most flexible part of the face and the most likely area to pick up moisture. We recommend using our NimbaFix Silicone Adhesive around the mouth (even for gelatine prosthetics) as it gives a little extra bond. And on that note…

6. Bring straws

If you’re going to a Halloween party, it’s safe to say that you’re going to be enjoying a few drinks. If you are wearing prosthetics that are near your mouth, bring a few drinking straws with you to avoid drinking from glasses when you can. You may feel a little odd drinking beer through a straw, but you’re already dressed as a zombie, so who cares?!

7. Removal takes time too

So the night is over, you’ve had a blast and you won first prize at the fancy dress party, and now it’s time to head home. Don’t forget that you still need to remove your prosthetic and more importantly, the glue underneath. Our adhesive remover soaks into the glue and breaks it down so you don’t need to scrub, but it will still take a little time to completely clean large areas. Lots of customers have simply gone to bed with a well powdered face to tackle the job the next morning with remover and a hot shower, which sounds like a good option for those who are going to party hard.

8. Have fun!

The reason you’ve gone to this extra trouble is because you want your Halloween to be extra special, so make sure you enjoy the makeup process as much as possible – it’s all part of the experience! Try rounding up a few friends who all want to wear prosthetics for the evening (our Zombie Walk Party Pack has enough kit for up to 7 people!) and help make each other up to get the best possible effect – watch our videos together to learn as many tips and tricks as possible and apply them all so you look absolutely killer when you step out, and be each others makeup artists for the evening; check in, help with touch ups and prepare for everyone to want to have their photos taken with you all night, because that is going to happen. Just don’t frighten too many kids along the way!

If you are going zombie this Halloween, check out the video below where we show you how to not only apply the prosthetic but also how to distress your clothing for maximum effect.

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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How to make a T-Rex

Way back in 2000, we were working out of a theme park in the south of England. It was a dream job building animatronic dinosaurs; we could build what we wanted, when we wanted, but of course Nimba being Nimba we wanted more, bigger and better.

We suggested to the owner that we leave the theme park and as an independent company, we build a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Full size, animatronic and the most realistic in the world. At first the owner balked at the sheer scale and cost of the project, so we mocked up a model of a smaller concept – a ‘captured t-rex’ where only the head and neck was visible with the ‘body’ hidden inside a vast trailer, but, after seeing a vision of what we wanted to create he simply couldn’t resist the idea of a full size, free standing Tyrannosaur in all its glory at the entrance to his attraction.

Animatronic T-rex
Nimbas largest project to date

Once he agreed, we actually had a mild feeling of dread – how exactly do you make a full size animatronic t-rex in North Devon?

The first task was finding a vast workshop not only big enough to house one t-rex, but three; the sculpt, the mould and the castings. We found an old meat packing factory on the outskirts of Barnstaple and started assembling a crew. We found a fantastic gang of FX newcomers in Andy Colquhoun, Charlie Bluett, Javier Aliaga and Simon Hall (who turned out to be so good that they subsequently went on to work on the likes of Dr. Who and Harry Potter).

For the sculpt, the only sensible choice was polystyrene. The cost of building an armature and sculpting in clay on this scale would have been astronomical, so instead we modified a scale model by Tony McVey, bread sliced it into 5mm thick slabs and used a projector to scale up those slices to full size onto vast pieces of polystyrene. These were then cut out with a hot wire tool, reassembled and supported with scaffolding to produce a rough sculpt at full size.

T-rex sculpt
Reassembled slices made a rough sculpture at full size

Over the next few weeks, the crew used sandpaper and wire brushes to refine this rough shape into a beautiful sculpture. Oil based clay was used on the head to create intricate bumps and scales as we knew this would always be the focal point.

T-rex head sculpt
A lot of work went into detailing the 13ft long head sculpt

With the sculpt complete, it was time to make the mould. The only feasible way to create such huge moulds was to use a spray rubber system to capture the surface detail followed by a spray plastic system to create a shell or ‘mother mould’ to hold the shape. We then handed most of these moulds to a local boat maker to turn out fibre glass castings. The sections we cast in house were the flexible ones; the neck, arms and a section of the tail (which, considering the neck section was a 6ft long tube that needed to be cast in mesh infused silicone, was no easy task!)

t-rex moulds
Just a few of the huge sculpt sections being moulded

While castings were being created, we started on the animatronics. The legs were constructed out of 4 inch box section, the neck was a triangular ‘space frame’. From the start we knew we needed to over-engineer the whole structure as it was so huge we couldn’t risk a breakage that could hurt someone. The hydraulics and pneumatics were driven with systems similar to those used in Jurassic Park; the heart of the hydraulics was a unit the size of two washing machines, but a lot more pricey!

The only way to support such a vast structure standing on two legs at the theme park was to pour a huge, deep, concrete pad into a hole in the ground to balance out the weight of the animatronic above ground. The concrete was reinforced with steel mesh and two heavy steel struts were carefully positioned to stick up out of the concrete to meet with the legs of the t-rex. Because this was the only way of supporting the huge model, it was never fully constructed in the workshop. It was transported to the park in several sections on the back of flat bed lorries (much to the surprise of the motorists who passed our convoy that day).

T-rex base
The support structure being encased in concrete on site

Once on site, there was no way of getting vehicles to the patch of grass that our t-rex was going to live on, so everything had to be carried by hand (well, by many hands) from the entrance of the park to the concrete pad. Using only a single scaffold tower and a pulley, the pieces were attached and welded one by one, building up the animatronic to a height of 16ft at the hips.

Animatronic T-rex
Tom and Andy finalise the power system

While it was wonderful to see the creature coming to life after 8 months, the miserable weather was a constant hindrance. Pouring rain may have set the scene well for a full size Tyrannosaur, but having to weld in puddles is not the best way to work. At one point on closing the door to the control panel, the t-rex suddenly became self aware, woke up, raised its head into the air and jammed it down with full hydraulic force into the nearby scaffold tower which drove a metal pole inside the mouth then out through the muzzle of our shiny new dinosaur. Miraculously the damage was only cosmetic, and half an hour with a little fibre glass fixed the damage and the mend was invisible. Rain and electricity do not mix – who knew?

Despite all of our trials and tribulations, the t-rex we created still entertains crowds to this day. Sometimes you have those projects where, if you fully understood the magnitude of what you were undertaking, you would never have done it – but the sense of achievement you feel when its done is immense and lasts a lifetime. Naivety can be a useful ally at times.

Robots Book
Our T-rex build featuring in the book ‘Robots’ by Daniel Ichbiah

The t-rex has gained attention for Nimba Creations all over the world, appearing in newspapers, magazines, various special effects books and even on the cover of a sci-fi novel. We even showed a photograph of the finished piece to a very young Daniel Radcliffe when we met him on a business trip to Scotland and the second Harry Potter was being filmed nearby, and he loved it. Even wizards are excited to see real dinosaurs.

Meg
Our T-Rex fighting a shark (?) on the cover of the novel ‘Meg’.

It wasn’t the last animatronic we would ever make, but it was certainly the largest and the one we are most proud of to this day. Now we focus on our online shop and the production of thousands of prosthetics, there is no sculpt, no mould, no matter how complex, that phases us. We literally created a monster.

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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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.

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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.