Pages Navigation Menu


Gory SFX Recipes – by Terri Pinnell and Conor McMahon

Resources_PrePro_132 Bloody HeadSFX makeup artists, Terri Pinnell and Conor McMahon share some of their favourite recipes for creating fake blood, zombie flesh, brains and blood spray.

Fake Blood Recipe

by Terri Pinnell

Corn syrup and red food colouring works well as blood. If it’s for the hair you could also use hair gel and red food colouring as it’s much easier to remove.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating your own Zombie

by Terri Pinnell

Terri applying makeup at a Filmbase event

Terri applying makeup at a Filmbase event

1. Clean up

First, cleanse your model’s skin.

2. Pale Face

Apply a cream-based make-up that can be easily picked up. You need a light colour to pale down the skin tone and take the healthy look away. (Don’t forget to include the lips!)

3. Skeletal

Add a darker shade under the cheek bone and to the temples to give the face a gaunt look.

4. Dark looks

You can use either a grey or brown colour under the eyes and on the lid, depending on the zombie look you’re going for. To make your zombie really stand out, contact lenses are great. You can pick them up for around €15 or sometimes less if you order in bulk. However, be aware that if the actors have never worn them before it can be very challenging to get them in and can sometimes take up to 40 minutes. It’s often better to let the actor put them in themselves.

5. Liquid skin

To create torn skin you can use liquid latex – it’s pretty cheap and very effective. Dab the liquid latex onto a sponge and then onto the skin. Let this dry and then powder over. The more you repeat this step the thicker the torn skin will look when it’s finished. Be careful of facial hair because it will take the hair with it when you try to remove it. You can also use a product called ‘Ben Nye Bond-Off’ to help take it off. Pour some of this onto a cotton bud and gently run it over the latex. There are lots of other products that can be used to create wounds like face putty and silicone.

6. Bloody good

You can’t make a zombie unless you have lots of fake blood. Pour this into your wounds. You can also mix the blood with tissue and put that into the wounds. This gives you a really good ‘bloody flesh’ look.

That’s the basics for making a zombie. The fun thing about special effects make-up is you can use your imagination and create almost anything.

Recipe for Brains

by Conor McMahon

Ingredients: Golden Syrup, red food colouring, blackcurrant jam, breadcrumbs.

– Heat up a bowl of Golden Syrup in a microwave for about a minute. This should make the syrup turn liquidy. Add some water if needed.

– Add the food colouring.

– Tear up a few slices of bread into small pieces and mix it in.

– Add a few spoonfuls of blackcurrant jam.

Now all you need is a victim!

Blood Spray Effect

by Conor McMahon

Conor in the kitchen

Conor in the kitchen

1. The Old Method
I used to use a shampoo bottle, food colouring mixed with water and a length of tube. Get a few meters of cable in a hardware store and pull the wires out of the centre of it. (Don’t use your teeth for this!) Simply stick the tube into the hole in the top of the shampoo bottle, making sure it’s stuck in tightly with no gaps. Then stick the tube to the actor, up his jumper, or anywhere that’s hidden from camera. And… spray away!

2. The Hi-Tech Method
You can also buy a compressed air spray that’s used for gardening. These are very cheap and you’ll find them in Woodie’s or most hardware stores. I’ve always found food colouring and water is the best option for blood with this method as it doesn’t block the pipes. The compressed air will create a much faster spray of blood.

3. The Really Hi-Tech Method
Recently I’ve experimented with creating blood spray effects using green screen. I bought two A1 sheets of green card in Eason’s, stuck them together and put them at the sink. I recorded myself spraying up some blood from below using a shampoo bottle and then brought the shot into my computer. You can use a program like After Effects, Shake or even Final Cut Pro to remove the green. When you have your blood isolated you can place it into the shot. You may have to track the blood frame by frame to match it to the place it’s spraying from, but what’s a few hours work, for a wonderful shot?

This article first appeared in Issue 132 of Film Ireland Magazine.