I’ve just wrapped a film this past Friday that deals with the history of Snipers in the military. Most days we shot in the blazing California heat, recreating settings in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Shooting in 90+ degrees can be a nightmare for a makeup artist when you’re fighting off sweat, dirt and dust, and keeping an HD foundation cover even. But when your job is to ADD dirt, sweat, sunburn, and even blood, it can be a lot of fun. Here’s a few tricks I used to keep dirty makeups “clean”.
1. For SUNBURN, I stippled a thin wash of Prime Red from the Temptu Dura Palette with a foundation brush over the face, neck, ears and hands, careful to avoid the eye area. In the heat, the 99 Alcohol evaporates very quickly, so it helps to move fast.
2. For LIGHT DIRT AND GRIME, I stippled a small bit of Black from the same Dura Palette with a foundation brush, creating clusters and “shadows” of dust or soot in a few places.
3. For HEAVY GRIME, I stippled some Clean Grease mixed with a dab of 99 alcohol around the face, neck, ears, and hands. Unlike the Dura colors, this water soluble pigment will move around and thin out as the body sweats it off, and may have to be refreshed as the day continues. It can also be dabbed with a wet wipe to thin it out.
4. For BLOOD, if needed, I painted some cuts and scrapes with Blood, Dried Blood, and Black colors from the Dura Trauma Palette. This serves as a primer, as gel blood and liquid blood can be applied over these colors. Blood products may sweat off, but your Dura base will remain for continuity, so you’ll know where to refresh your blood.
5. For SWEAT, I dabbed on a bit of DC 200 Fluid, a silicone based oil, around areas like the temple, neck, and cheeks. This barrier will not break down the underlying makeup, can be blotted off easily with a tissue, and can be sprayed with a mist of water for a sweatier effect.
As the actors transformed into battle soiled and sunburned soldiers in the makeup chair, the crew almost always commented on how painful they looked. The subtlety of the look sold the realism. In fact, the crew that forgot sun block often resembled our soldiers by the end of the day. Hopefully these tips will help on set in the hot summer ahead.
–Brian Kinney, Guest Blogger & Makeup FX artist working in Hollywood