Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen : Making and Applying Prosthetics book cover
3rd Edition

Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen
Making and Applying Prosthetics

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ISBN 9781138049048
Published August 16, 2018 by Routledge
554 Pages 1103 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

With this new edition of Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen, author Todd Debreceni presents the latest techniques and special effects in what has become an industry "bible." In addition to genre-specific considerations, Debreceni covers the latest gear you will need and details how to maintain your kit, how to take care of the actor's skin, how to airbrush for HD, and much more. With in-depth, step-by-step tutorials, learn how to sculpt and mold your own makeup prosthetics, focusing on human anatomy to create the most realistic effects. This new and expanded edition features updated information on lifecasting, prosthetics made using 3D printing, advanced airbrushing techniques, new artist profiles, and includes updated images and illustrations throughout.

A companion website contains artist profiles that showcase some of the world’s top makeup effects artists, including Steve Wang, Ve Neill, Matthew W. Mungle, Miles Teves, Jordu Schell, and many others. Also included are detailed makeup tutorials led by experts in the field, such as Maddie Singer and Toby Sells.

Table of Contents



A Special Note About the Companion Website


Chapter 1 – The Industry

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Stage vs. Screen
  • Contributions from Medicine
  • The Workspace
  • Safety and Health
  • Professionalism
  • Your Portfolio
  • Your Kit
  • Chapter Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 2 – Anatomy and Design

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Using the Computer
  • Elements of the Design
  • Body Types
  • The Human Body
    • The Skeletal System
    • The Skeleto-Muscular System

  • The Head and Neck
    • The Face

  • The Torso and Upper Limbs
  • The Abdomen and Lower Limbs
  • Surface Anatomy
  • The Eyes, Ears, and Nose
    • The Ears
    • The Mouth

  • The Skin
    • Stretch Marks
    • Age Spots
    • Freckles and Moles
    • Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
    • Birthmarks


    • Hair
    • Scars

  • Symmetry and Proportion
    • Anatomical Planes
    • Facial Ratios and Phi
    • Ratios and Body Proportions

  • Geometric Analysis
  • Distinctions of Gender, Age, and Ancestry
    • Distinctions of Gender
    • Distinctions of Age
    • Facial Aging
    • Distinctions of Ancestry

  • Chapter Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 3 – Lifecasting

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Safety Risks
  • The Materials
    • Alginate
    • Silicone

  • The Lifecasting Process
    • Overview
    • Teeth
    • Face and Neck
    • Casting a Positive
    • Bust: Head and Shoulders
    • Hands, Arms, Legs, Feet, and Ears
    •      Hands and Arms
    •      Legs and Feet
    •      Ears
    • Full Body
    •      Full Body: Prone
    •      Full Body: Standing
    • Tips and Suggestions
    • Lifecasting with Silicone
  • Chapter Summary

Chapter 4 – Sculpting the Makeup

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Materials
  • Preparing the Positive
  • Tools
    • Clay
    • Sulfur Clay
    • WED Clay
    • Oil Clay

  • Reference Photos
  • Teeth
    • Materials

  • Sculpting the Face
    • Blocking the Sculpture
    • Refining the Sculpture

  • Sculpting the Face, Head, and Neck
    • Blocking the Full-Head Sculpture

  • Sculpting Hands
    • Blocking the Hand Sculpture

  • Sculpting the Ears
    • Blocking the Sculpture

  • Chapter Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 5 – Breaking Down the Sculpture

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Tools and Materials
  • Release Agents and Sealers
  • Making the Negative Mold
    • Keys, Flashing, and Cutting Edges
    • Building the Dividing Wall
    • Building a Different Style of Dividing Wall

  • Stone (Gypsum) Molds
  • Other Types of Molds
    • Silicone Rubber Molds
    • Matrix Molds/Jacket Molds
    • Fiberglass Molds
    • Fillers
    • Resin Molds
    • Epoxy Molds
    • Syntactic Dough
    • Urethane Molds

  • Chapter Summary
  • Endnotes

Chapter 6 – Casting the Appliances

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Silicone: Platinum and Tin
  • Coloration
  • Color Theory
  • Materials
  • De-Airing/Degassing Silicone
  • Gel-Filled Silicone Appliances
    • Filling the Mold
    • Injection Filling
    • Hand Filling

  • Removing the Appliance
  • Conforming Molds
  • Foam Latex
    • Quirks
    • Running Foam Latex
    • Prepping the Mold
    • Filling the mold
    • Heat-Curing Foam
    • Removing the Appliance

  • Cold Foam (Urethane)
  • Materials
    • Quirks
    • Prepping the Mold
    • Filling the Mold
    • Removing the Appliance

  • Gelatin and Foamed Gelatin
  •           Materials
    • Quirks
    • Making Foamed Gelatin
    • Filling the Mold
    • Removing the Appliance

  • Dental Acrylic
  •           Materials
    • Filling the Mold and Removing the Appliance

  • Seaming Prosthetic Appliances
    • Seaming and Patching
    • Silicone
    • Foam Latex
    • Gelatin

  • Painting the Appliance
    • Silicone
    • Foam Latex
    • Gelatin and Cold Foam

  • Painting Teeth
  •           Materials
    • Special Effects

  • Chapter Summary

Chapter 7 – Applying and Painting the Prosthetics

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Skin Types
  • Adhesives
  • Application Techniques
  • Attaching the Appliance
    • Materials
    • Conforming Molds
    • Blending the Edges

  • Applying the Makeup
    • Foam Latex
    • Gelatin
    • Cold Foam
    • Silicone

  • Removing the Appliance
    • Materials
    • Removers
    • Technique

  • Skin Care
  • Cleaning and Storing the Appliance
  • Chapter Summary

Chapter 8 – Hair and Wigs

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Types and Varieties of Hair
  • Tools and Materials for Postiche
  • Wigs
    • Weft Wigs
    • Knotted Wigs
    • Hair Attachment
    • Preparation for a Wig
    • How to Put on a Wig
    • How to Put on a Lace Wig

  • Beards, Mustaches, and Eyebrows
    • Laid-On Facial Hair
    • Crepe Wool (Hair)
    • Preparation
    • Application

  • Ventilating (Knotting) Hair
    • Preparation
    • Technique

  • Punching Hair
    • Technique
    • Technique (Eyelashes)

  • Chapter Summary
  • Notes

Chapter 9 – Animatronics

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Technology
    • Mechanical
    • Servos
    • Additional Terminology
    • Motion Control
    • Electronic
    • DMX Controllers
    • Powering the Electronics
    • Structural
    • Surface

  • Operation
  • Chapter Summary
  • Endnotes

Chapter 10 – Other Makeup Effects

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • Resin Eyes
  • Bondo
  • Cap Material
    • Bald Caps
    • Making a Bald Cap
    • Applying a Bald Cap

  • Building up Ears and Nose
  • Tuplast
  • Nose and Scar Wax
    • Materials

  • Rigid Collodion
  • Stencils
  • Tattoos and Character/Creature Textures
  • Airbrush
    • Spatter and Stipple

  • 3D prosthetic Transfers
    • Making 3D Transfers
    • Materials

  • Electrostatic Flocking
  • Wrinkle (Age) Stipple
  • Trauma, Wounds, and Bruises
    • Bruises
    • The Baseball Stitch
    • Nosebleed on Demand
    • Bladder Effects

  • Burns and Blisters
    • Burns
    • Blisters

  • Other Conditions
    • Skin Manifestations
    • Infected veins

  • Skin-Safe Silicone and Gelatin
  • Chapter Summary

Chapter 11 – 3D Printing, Prosthetics and Animatronics

  • Key Points
  • Introduction
  • 3D Printing Glossary
  • A Brief History
  • Uses
    • Who Uses 3D Printing?

  • The Design Process
    • Preparing the Model

  • Technology
    • Guidelines
    • SLA or SLS?

  • Operation
  • Application
  • The Future
  • Chapter Summary
  • Endnotes

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E



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Todd Debreceni is a special makeup effects artist who has worked for Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and TBS, and is the owner of BaPoFX makeup effects. He is a recipient of a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, and has received two Ovation Awards, a True West Award, and a Henry Award for Special Accomplishment in Makeup Effects. Todd has worked in film, television, and theatre around the world for more than 30 years, and his background in orthopedics and reconstructive plastic surgery have made his transition into prosthetic makeup creation a natural evolution. At BaPoFX, Todd specializes in prosthetic makeup design, fabrication, and application. He continues to teach college courses in cinematography, acting, sculpture, makeup design, and visual effects in Denver, CO, which he has done for almost 20 years.


"As an educator and professional makeup artist for over 30 years, I say without reservation, Todd's books are a godsend. The information is cohesive, complete, and presented in a way that is easily absorbed. The information and techniques are there for the newbie and the seasoned professional. Thank you, Mr. Debreceni; your hard work has made us all better at what we do."

Thomas E. Surprenant, Emmy Award-winning Makeup Artist

"When I was learning makeup, a book like this would have been gold in my hands. Everything you could possibly want to know has been put in this incredible, kit essential, book of special makeup effects. It doesn’t get much better than this."

Sara Seidman Vance, Emmy-nominated Makeup Artist; Creator and Instructor of Lighting for Make-Up Artists 101©

"Books about makeup artistry for motion pictures and television written by industry insiders are rare. Todd’s are a treasure. They belong in every serious artist’s library."

Michael Key, Emmy Award-winning Makeup Artist; Publisher of Makeup Artist Magazine, Executive Producer of IMATS

"There are a lot of bad ways to learn how to do special makeup FX with the technology we have these days. Put down the phone and pick up an actual book; Todd’s is the best. It has clear text, and has step-by-step lessons by the top names in the makeup industry. Hands down, there is no better way to learn FX. Each edition is a treasure trove."

Michael Mosher, IATSE Local 706 Journeyman; Author of Bald Caps for HD

"For me, Special Makeup Effects is a book that has helped me find out about new products and techniques from the masters. I also used it to brush up on my life casts. I’m an artist who didn’t go to school to learn the industry; I used books to learn the trade. In today’s world, it is so important to learn from people who know what they are talking about, especially with so many sources of misinformation."

Nix Herrera, Award-winning International Body Painter; Contestant on Season Two of SyFy Channel’s Hit Show Face Off