Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beauty is Skin Deep, but it's what I put on Top that's Important.

I was recently visited by the illustrious Brittney-Jade Colangelo, the beauty and brains behind DAY OF THE WOMAN and contributing writer to the Blood Sprayer. Somehow I was lucky enough to have this fetching starlet of stage and computer screen sit down in my make-up chair in the dank dungeon-style basement I should probably never call "my studio". The Una-Bomber would be claustrophobic where I try to work. Seriously, I feel like the plastic surgeon in Tim Burton's BATMAN.

I started brainstorming a look in my head of a certain juxtaposition. I wanted to balance the beauty of BJ's face with a twist of horror and carnage. I also knew I wanted it to be a balanced look, one that wasn't overpowered by one element than the other. They say beauty is skin deep so I decided to play with that and literally cut to the chase.

I wanted this look to be quick and simple but dynamic. I decided on using liquid latex and wanted to rely on my painting skills to impress Ms. Colangelo and my fellow readers by delivering a simple out-of-kit look. Being a theater super-star I wanted to show Brittney Jade and the rest of you what you can accomplish without the need of major prosthetics, facial appliances, or an airbrush kit.

I dabbed two areas of Brittney Jade's face with liquid latex which were allowed to dry. I took some rolled pieces of dried liquid latex and adhered them to the outsides of those areas. This would create the look of sliced skin I was after by creating a distinct line that would appear to be made of skin tissue. I then poked and prodded the layer of latex between these borders to create a ruptured blister look.

I began the arduous task of layering in color. At first I wasn't sure what this would entail. Was she a lizard like alien from V and would it be green? Was she like a T-X from TERMINATOR 3? I joked with BJ and we decided to keep it straight forward after experimenting with some colors and go with a more realistic approach.

I'm a big believer in the Rule of 3 - Use a minimum of 3 colors to blend in your look. One for a base, one for shadow, and one for contrast. I also believe that to sell your effect you have to pay the whole eye. That means if you apply something, it just doesn't go on and then you walk away; you blend it with the surrounding body parts to make the entire look flow. Go down the back, across the neck, around the leg, what ever it takes to make the look seem seamless.

Always remember that each model you work with is unique and different. No two people you work with will ever be the same. Sure you'll run into similar skin tones, body shapes, and what have you, but every one is different in how well they can stay still, how long they'll sit, the curvature of their bodies, the way they sweat, breath, talk, and a bazillion other factors that can eat up the time you need to achieve the look you want. If you want everything the same all the time, work on an assembly line.

After blending in my colors of red, purples, and grays, I added a bit of Fresh Scab. A little bit goes a long way so don't cake it on. I for one can't stand when someone spends so much time & effort on creating a look only to have it coated in too much blood. More blood is great to hear on set, but wait until you hear it called for first.

To give my look a bit of a wet/fresh look I used a very small amount of K-Y Jelly applied to the middle of my borders. It gives it a nice shine. I've tried other off-brands of lubricants, from Wal-Green's to Drug Mart, but K-Y just always seems to work the best for me. Now if I wanted a more NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET look I would not use the K-Y and stipple on black along the edges for a burned/charred appearance.

Having one side done I was able to breeze through the other side of my model's face and match it up from reference simply by looking at the other side. I could have painted up both sides at the same time, but as I was uncertain where I was taking this look I wanted it all to flow organically. Never be afraid to experiment. you won't know what works until you try it.

It's always a matter of taking the time to blend and work with your model. If they're at ease, so will you be and it will always so in your finished product.

It's amazing to witness when an actor/actress begins to accept the change in their appearance and allows it to slip into how they develop their character. Simple actions or emotions suddenly take a dramatic change when you have half your face carved off.

I definitely liked where the look was going. I've come to accept that the way I approach things creatively and the way they end up looking are not always fundamentally aligned, but in this instance what I saw in my head was what I was delivering in reality.

The look seemed balanced on both sides. I really enjoy BJC's everyday make-up for being so simple yet elegant. Eyes and lips like that are made for glamour, but it's always a treat when they encounter something more devious.

Now a while back, a little over 2 years ago, I visited my good friend John Squires of with the legendary Kristy Jett and met the infamous Jesse Bartel. Over the course of the 4 Loko fueled weekend (read about it here) I somehow managed to Sharpie some spiffy website adverts on the chests of my compadres. BJC being left out of said visit, joked that she wanted the same treatment for her site. Well, who could say no to that face?

I used a dark purple and a fine tip brush to free hand out a font that I though would be readable.

I wanted to incorporate the lettering into the look of the make-up and went with trying to make it look like veins or something else underneath BJ's skin. It sounds cheesy, but Day of the Woman is something inside here trying to get out, right? Don't roll your eyes at me. We had initially discussed maybe making it look like the lettering was carved into her, but decided that this was a more interesting variation to play with instead.

I knew my lettering couldn't be elaborate or overly complex, it had to be read and flow with the rest of the look without taking away from it. After feathering out the purple to the edges, I added some black to the center of the letters and then soft sponged the colors down. I made sure to pull away from the letters from the middle and not the other way, otherwise you'd ruin the make-up and your lettering.

With a couple hardware store clip-lights I used to illuminate my corner of the world, it was time to snap some photos. Remember, I never said I was a photographer either.

Overall I was extremely pleased with how everything looked and photographed. BJ was a terrific model and sits like a champ. I really like how her simple yet effectively dynamic make-up was the basis of this look that carried with it the whole creation. I enjoy how my addition was simple, quick, and able to play well with others. Perhaps I subconsciously channeled Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN for the font, but hindsight is always 20/20. I like to think his graphic designers live inside my head, and not the other way around.

Would all of this been easier with silicone appliances and stencils and blah blah blah? Yes. Would it have been as fun? No. I honestly believe that craftsmanship is an essential component of any artistry, and in an industry where many people are being replace by computers, I strive to be a better effects make-up artist than any friggin' machine. Doubt that and that's how Skynet wins...

And for as much fun as it is to make a mess, there's always the chore of cleaning up. Remember when removing liquid latex from the skin that hot water, soap, and patience are your new best friends.

Many thanks to Brittney-Jade Colangelo for the long trek to visit and letting me play with her face. Please be sure to check out her site DAY OF THE WOMAN and tune in again to Awkward Creations as I stop being so lazy and anti-social and hopefully start posting more.

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