Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There's always room for Gelatin

From last week we cast and applied our hand sculpts in liquid latex. This week we used the same mold with a different material, Gelatin, with very different results.

First we prepped our hand cast, which is my base mold, by drilling a hole through the center where it aligned with mold I had previously used. It's very important to line it up and mark with a pencil as this hole should line up directly over the center of your sculpt. This hole will act as the injection point.

With a much smaller drill bit, I drilled three release holes into my cast mold. These serve as the release holes so you piece doesn't suction together. The mold and the hand piece are coated in a release agent. In this instance, we used PAM cooking spray.

Here Carl preps the molds for injection. With gelatin, a little bit goes a long way. This is cosmetic gelatin, not jell-o, so be sure you're purchasing the correct supplies. It has to be heated to a melted degree, but this is easy with a microwave and a microwave safe bowl. You can use a double-boiler method like you would with chocolate if you don't have a microwave handy. Keep a very close eye on this, burnt gelatin stinks like no other and wastes material. Undercooked and it won't properly flow within your mold. Be mindful of the material in this state as it can and will burn if mishandled.

You can use an injection syringe found at Compleat Sculptor or check your local hardware stores, medical supply stores, and bakery stores to find what will work for you. If you're in the New York City area or not, Compleat Sculptor has the inventory and know-how for all your mold-making and prop fabrication. Be sure you obtain a syringe that can within stand the heat of liquid gelatin. A clear one is ideal as you can see how much material you have and what you have left after injecting your mold. As you squeeze in your material, check on the underside of your mold to see the gelatin poke through your release holes, which also serve to let you know when the mold is full.

Here's my mold, taped together to prevent any shifting of material. Using clear tape lets you see exactly when it becomes filled. Simply poke a hole through at your injection point and fire away. We sped up the process of waiting for the gelatin to cool by simply sticking them into the refrigerator. Allow about 15-20 minutes to properly cure. A helpful tip is to leave a bit out at room temperature. When it's effectively cured, you'll be positive those in the ice box are ready for you.

When pulling the mold apart, use a pair of scissors to snip the piece of your injection hole that may not separate. These excess pieces will be further trimmed away, but you want to ensure a proper separation of your mold and material.
This crude illustration of mine illustrates how your mold edges should look. The material should smooth out to the edges, rather than being plopped down like a wad of pizza dough.

The peel is the same as latex, brushing with powder as you gently pull. Exercise caution as gelatin is a bit more susceptible to tearing than latex.
This illustration shows the excess areas of material to be trimmed. When powdering and rolling the prosthetic be careful of the pieces of material from your release holes that may not want to separate. Simply use scissors to snip them away.

Here's the pulled piece. It's a tad bit smaller than my latex one from previously, but then I did paint on latex past the edges. Take the moment to trim the excess pieces of each side from your injection hole and release holes. Add a touch of powder to these spots and you're ready for application.

Application is a dab of ProsAide on the back of the hand, and a bit on the under side of your prosthetic and around the edges. Your edges can be blended after being glued down with a paint brush and warm water. This helps smooth and dissolve the edges to a feathering unrivaled to latex.

Due to the translucent nature of the gelatin, the paint up was really a breeze. I usually spend half my time trying to match my skin tone, but here it shined through and some simple brush ups around the edges blended the effect to the rest of my hand.

Not all molds were probably meant for this material. Here, Erin, who did the fabulous scratches that Becky liked so much, showed what a trooper and artist she was. Having some trouble with the injection of her mold, she salvaged the pieces to create an extremely gnarly set of puncture wounds. This was very interesting to see the same piece used in an entirely new way.

Jacqueline's puncture wound/bullet hole gets better every time. Kinda makes you wanna flip here wrist and see what's protruding from the other side.

Here's my scarification all painted up. I really like the sense of swelling and raised tissue.

I used a flat edge of a sponge and some red paint to streak a line about 2 centimeters away from the edges. I then smudged away from the cut, and blended out into my normal skin. This created a sense of redness that I think really shines through.

The last key ingredient in any successful special effect: BLOOD. I decided to apply a bit less than last time, but blended it out as well to give it a look of "holy hell, this just happened, stop the bleeding" smear.
And there you have it, another successful pull and application from the same mold. I really enjoyed working with the gelatin, it had more of a flesh like property to it and led to a more convincing believability with the effect. It is a bit more work and preparation, but if you have the time to plan it out, I feel it'll deliver every time.

Clean up is the same as latex; simply peel away and wipe with Bond Off and a baby wipe. The gelatin tends to "chunk" away rather than peeling off in one piece like latex, so take your time if you want to save that as a souvenir.


  1. Oh man, great post! Brings me back to my days of reading Dick Smith and Tom Savini books about special makeup effects. Keep posting these!

  2. The gelatin definitely worked better for your satanic scar. But that's the great thing about molds, you can use them for a variety of materials, depending on what you have available and what you have time for.

    P.S. We did some face casting about a week ago or so. Maybe I'll post some pictures, but it turned out pretty well. I got to apply it, as well as be the subject...and that was quite the trip, but a necessary experience I think.