Bringing Out the Death: Crafting Zombies on a Budget

Whether you’re looking to scare the brains out of everyone on Halloween or craft the goriest cosplay at Dragon Con, on Sunday professional makeup artist and film director Rob Fitz shared with attendees in the Westin Chastain F-H some of his creepiest budget-friendly tips for crafting zombie makeup.

For realistic lesions, festering wounds, and decaying flesh, Pros-Aide makeup sells latex-free prosthetic transfers that easily apply in a few steps, similar to putting on a temporary tattoo. If the edges start to curl, take a brush with alcohol and dab around the edges and skin to form a tight bond. Next, be creative with makeup. Highlight and shadow the inside of the gash to show depth. According to Fitz, one of the best things about these transfers is that makeup sticks to it. Finish off the prosthetic with a little seeping blood to amp up the vomit factor.

If your budget doesn’t allow for prosthetic transfers, make your own with tissues. Start by separating the tissue layers to produce a very thin piece. Then, take latex and paint it on the skin densely. Next, press the tissue into the latex, tear away the excess pieces, and paint over the tissue. The latex and tissue produces a thicker skin for a more convincing laceration, bite, rip, or general nastiness.

If your infected patient naturally sweats profusely, you can use the more expensive option of alcohol activated makeup or apply cream makeup and set it with sealing spray. If you’re on an ultra-tight budget, or a woman wearing makeup in Atlanta, seal your makeup with the super-powered Aqua Net. Seriously, “that stuffs like liquid plastic,” Fitz exclaimed. Just be sure your transforming zombie isn’t breathing and doesn’t have their eyes open or eyeballs hanging out.

Zombies are perfectly imperfect. If your typical paintbrush application goes on too uniform, one of Fitz’s favorite application methods is tearing a wedge makeup sponge in half and using the rough edges to stipple the makeup on. Add layers to bring out the detail in busted capillaries and illustrate patient zero’s revolting infection.

One of the most important traits of a convincing zombie is blood! But not all blood is created equal. Blood seeping out of gashes or the mouth needs to be denser and darker. According to Fitz, a bloody good way to achieve this effect is by mixing an ounce of red food color per bottle of corn syrup and then adding a few drops of yellow food color. To fabricate thicker blood, add Fixodent denture powder to your concoction. If the blood is going in the mouth, add chocolate syrup to make it thicker and more opaque. Plus, chocolate syrup enhances the flavor of brains!

Don’t forget to rot the teeth. You’re bringing death to a flesh-eating zombie, not the tooth fairy. Paint makeup onto dry teeth with an alcohol based makeup, such as Skin Illustrator, mixed with Spirit Gum to allow the makeup to stick better.

The final step in generating an infectious zombie is to dispense black food coloring directly into your decaying friend’s mouth and have them swish it around, taking care to coat the teeth and lips. This simple but effective trick generates a black mass of infectious waste inside the mouth that will send little kids and annoying relatives running and screaming.

Author of the article

Not everyone can say they watch television for homework, read novels for inspiration, and are paid to follow what’s trending. For Alicia Pack, it is all part of life as a writer and media enthusiast.  When she isn't lost in the world she is trying to create, you can find her with her nose in a book or catching up on her favorite supernatural shows.  She has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film.  Her nine years of diverse media experience include news writing, copywriting, website content management, social media, promotions, television production, and teaching.