Walk With The Dead – A Step-By-Step To Zombie Wound Makeup
What would you look like if you were attacked and turned into a zombie?
For some of you it is already known that my sister and I live zombie many days out of the year. The absence of Halloween in July has never stopped us from dawning our worst just for the heck of it. With All Hallows Eve just around the corner, we thought we’d share some a how to guide as well as tips and tricks on zombie wound makeup to help totally mess things up!
Our preferred brand of special effects makeup is Ben Nye which can be purchased online or at your local costume store (Party @ Display and Costume is our choice). For each step we will note the specific product from the Ben Nye line that we use to achieve the ultimate zombie wound. We will also be offering cheap alternatives that, with enough creativity, can look just as awesome as the pricier stuff.
Get ready to get undead with this easy to follow step-by-step tutorial!
Step 1. Foundation
Any good structure starts with a solid foundation. We use Ben Nye’s PC-82 Blue Spirit Color Cake Foundation which gives a soft dead tone where applied (other deathly shades are available). A damp makeup round is needed for application. Make sure to spread the product evenly and coat the skin well. If not spread correctly, you can create lines that can cause the overall appearance to look cheap or rushed.
Budget friendly alternative: Baby Powder. Can be purchased at your local grocery or drug store.
Tip: Make sure surface is clean, dry and without beauty makeup or lotion.
Step 2. Bruising
We find it best to discolor the area in and around the future injury to give a more realistic rotting effect. This also cuts down on that obvious ‘wound outline’ once you have continued coloring (after wound build). This is a good time to bruise other areas of your corpse! We use Ben Nye’s EW-41 Bruise and Abrasions FX Wheel and apply it with a makeup wedge.
Budget friendly alternative: Any zombie make up kit from a retail superstore (i.e. Target or Fred Meyer) OR women’s cosmetic products. See: wife, sister, mother, or girlfriends makeup bag.
Tip: It is best to use a few colors to liven up the look of your bruises. We like reds, yellows, and dark browns. A grey palate works well too!
Step 3. Adhesive
To create tack and affix any wound you need a good adhesive, we use Ben Nye’s Spirit Gum Adhesive. This product comes with its own applicator brush. Drag the brush in the desired shape of your injury. You are basically outlining the circumference of your eventual wound. The adhesive must dry before the next step.
Budget friendly alternative: Elmer’s Glue (seriously), Liquid Latex also works well but isn’t as cost effective as the former.
Tip: Less is more. The more you use the longer it takes to dry. It isn’t necessary to pile up on the adhesive, it’s only going to stick so much.
Step 4. Wax
Now the fun part! From scars and cuts to bullet and bite wounds, we use wax to create these masterpieces because it is flexible and can be molded into anything you can imagine. Our product of choice is Ben Nye’s Nose and Scar Wax (choose color that best matches your complexion).
For any type of wound you will want to remove a dime-sized amount of wax, ball it up, and make it into a snake. We’ve all learned how to do that with Play-Doh right!? For a bullet wound you would make that snake into a doughnut, otherwise you will want to set the wax on the adhesive outline from Step 3 and form the outer edges of the wound. To further attach the wax and blend it, we use a spoon handle or plastic paint knife to press and smooth the exterior.
Budget friendly alternative: Pre-made latex wounds from costume or larger retail stores.
Tip: Pay attention to the natural curves on which you are applying the wax. Unnecessary build up looks unrealistic! Some areas of the body do not have as much underlying tissue that would create such high ridges if torn open.
Step 5. Latex
The flexibility of a wound can be beneficial but also detrimental. You want to make sure that you seal the wound in order to maintain its shape and durability. This is a helpful step for those longer days out shuffling. Ben Nye’s Clear Latex works well as an adhesive and a sealant. Though it is kind of smelly, it dries clear and holds up well. We feel that the best tool to apply latex is a Q-tip, this keeps the product off of your hands and makes for easy cleanup. Cover the entire surface of the wax applied in Step 4 and allow to completely dry before moving on to Step 6.
Budget friendly alternative: See Step 3’s budget friendly alternative.
Tip: Don’t get this stuff in your hair if you want to keep it! I found this out the hard way, solution; partial shaved head.
Step 6. Texture
Open wounds lead deeper into the human body where there are muscles, tendons, tissue and even bone! So, texture people, texture. We have used cotton balls, toilet paper, or even layers of latex. The possibilities are endless and mostly budget friendly. Latex also helps adhere the texture within the wound itself. Allow to completely dry before moving on to Step 7.
Tip: Grains of rice can be used for a sick maggot effect!
Step 7. More Bruising
It truly is all in the details. To create depth to a wound use the bruising kit and a Q-tip or small stiff paintbrush and use darker to lighter colors. Having the inner border of a bite wound or cut outlined in near black creates the illusion of separated skin and deep injury. See photos below for examples.
Tip: Infections usually start at the source and spread outward. Make sure your coloring does the same. The closer to the wound, the darker and more sickly it should look.
Step 8. Blood
Ben Nye has the best blood and it’s edible to boot! Their Stage Blood comes in a wonderful zesty mint flavor and washes out of most any fabric. Who doesn’t love blood! A stippling sponge can be used to create a beaded effect, while applying it with a Q-tip or pouring it allows for more of a drip effect. Don’t use your fingers unless you want to make handprints.
Budget friendly alternative: Cool-Aid (careful, it stains). There are also recipes on line with far too many ingredients, but they work.
Tip: Did you have a hard time covering up some of your wax, cotton, or skin? Blood works as a great filler for these areas.
Step 9. Shuffle
Shuffle like you’ve never shuffled before…moan. This final and perhaps most important step is pretty self-explanatory. You look like the walking dead, so act like ’em!
Tip: Get into character and take it seriously. People love a zombie that plays the part. Just remember, don’t get blood on things that aren’t yours, be respectful of other peoples space, and have fun.
Not to add insult to injury but you’re going to look pretty messed up after following this tutorial!