Crypticon Makeup Contest

The OCD part of my brain doesn’t want me to write this blog post because it’s out of chronological order and happened BEFORE the previous post about Game of Thrones.  But, I’ll got ahead and write about it anyway because it was a very hectic ordeal and I was really proud of how it turned out.

It all started when a film friend of mine, Kai Winikka, informed me about a makeup contest held by Kansas City Crypticon.  For those of you who don’t know Crypticon is a Horror Convention held each year.

The main rule of the contest were that you had to be finished in TWO HOURS.  For those who have worked with me, especially doing any kind of special effect or body painting, I can be a perfectionist and so I usually take a little longer to finish a makeup look than others.  It’s something I’ve been trying to improve on with each new project.  But this would have been the largest project I’ve ever attempted in such a short amount of time.  It would require quite a lot of prep work.

I was lucky that I found out about the contest over a month in advance.  That gave me a lot of time to come up with an idea and make the needed prosthetic.

I’m not really sure how to describe my design process.  It’s like when you have a thought that runs away with you….or when you look up something on wikipedia and next thing you know it’s been two hours and you’re learning everything about fancy beaver skinned hats and the increased popularity of silk top hats in the 1800’s but you can’t remember how you ended up on there.  That’s how a lot of my design process goes.  I’ll start by doing a lot of research and just looking at pictures of bugs or monsters and various things that tend to freak me out.  Then i’ll just sit in my bed and let my mind wander as I fall asleep.

I remember seeing a wonderful picture of bodypaint that someone had done.  She had turned her mouth into an eye.  It was very creepy looking.  Drawing eyes is actually something i’m pretty good at.  Many tests and pages of homework had eye balls drawn all over them, as I practiced, to the distress of my teachers.  So I started thinking about a creature that was blind but had eyes on her knees.  Then I started thinking what if she had lots of eyes all over her body.

I also drew quite a lot of inspiration from this video called scary beautiful.

It’s a lovely short film that makes you think about that line between the beautiful and the grotesque.  I really wanted to touch on that.  I wanted to make a character who was both stunning and horrifying.  Through these thoughts a character began to emerge.  I did have to scale my original idea back a little.  I would have loved to have the shoes in the video and have the character seeing through her knees with eyes all over her body, but I cut it down to just the eyes on the chest due to time…..and the fact that I had no idea where to get shoes like that.   The mouth on the torso was added after I finished designing the face.

One of the inspirational pictures.

One of the inspirational pictures.

A still from Scary Beautiful

A still from Scary Beautiful

An EYE I had done back when I worked at the Haunted Houses

An EYE I had done back when I worked at the Haunted Houses

So now I had a character.  Now to actually make it a reality.  My good friend Eva Melinda, agreed to be my model.  We started out taking a life cast of her face.  It went pretty smoothly.  I get a little better at it each time.  There were relatively little bubbles left in the alginate.  Also, I didn’t suffocate Eva to death, so bonus.   I didn’t have quite enough liquid stone to put in the mold right away, and it ended up a little too runny.  That meant that the alginate began to dry and shrink before the stone set.  It changed the mold a little, but not enough that it mattered very much so I didn’t have to re do it.

Now, I’m on a pretty tight budget.  There were lots of things I would have liked to have done but can’t because of the little amount of disposable income afforded to me (Almost everything I made went into savings for my move to New Zealand).  But no worries, Allison Chase McGuyver of Makeup is on the case.  Instead of buying stuff to make realistic looking teeth, I took some hardening clay and molded the teeth out of that.  Then I painted the teeth with layers of fingernail polish to give them a glossy look.  I just happened to stumble across a nice off white transparent color that looked very realistic over the first coat of white.

I was able to get an AMAZING deal on some great Chavant NPS MEdium clay on ebay.  Normally pretty expensive but I got it at a steal.  Using the right materials makes all the difference. I was pretty excited with how the sculpt turned out and was planning to do an additional forehead piece if everything went well with the mouth……………..which it did not.

The mold mid sculpt Unfinished mold

Ok, so the part about using the right materials……..that’s important.   Basically what happened to me is that I didn’t do the mold right and it stuck.   I ended up breaking off some detail of the sculpt when the mold was removed as well as part of the bust.  Then, when I put the silicone in, it stuck again!  This time it was even worse.  I had to break the mold to get it to release.  Had the silicone not come out right, or ripped in the process I would have had to start all over.

I got pretty lucky.  Most of the prosthetic was ok.  The great thing about the material that I used was that I could mix up more silicone and mold it on to the piece to recreate anything that was lost.  I had to take some very sharp tiny scissors and add the holes for the teeth that were lost.  By the time I was done it ended up looking exactly like the original sculpt, minus some of the texture.  The main issue I would have to solve was getting the seams thin enough.  It would just mean adding more silicone when I applied the piece…which would work but it would take more time to get right.

THE DAY OF THE CONTEST finally approached.  Oh man.  I get nervous before shoots a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as that day.  One of the judges was Tom Savini.  He’s a very famous makeup artist and has been a judge on Face Off.  Any bad seam, or terrible airbrush job would not go unnoticed.

The team met up at my apartment to do all the pre work.  The amazing Amie Kankelfitz did the bob hairstyle on Eva.  Poor Eva.  She’s always such a trooper when I do weird makeup things to her.  She had to wear blurry contact lenses that restricted her vision during the entire day.  She also had to have her hair teased and pulled quite a lot to get that great shape.

We got to the location and had some time to look around.  I wanted to put fake nails on Eva, but when I was putting them on the entire bottle of super glue spilled on me…ruining my favorite dress!  Not a good omen…….

Luckily for me when I start working I get too focused to feel anything like nerves……..or notice anything going on around me…..Good thing my mom there to keep giving me time updates or I would have completely lost track.   Surprisingly, the time thing turned out to not be as big of deal.  The prosthetic went on really well and without problems.  I’m also really thankful for all the time I spent working for Edge of Hell.  All the airbrush practice and learning to make monsters quickly really came in handy.  I was able to get the face and base color on in under an hour.  Also, HOORAY FOR STENCILS!   I found a great one that added a wonderful texture very quickly.

With the face done sooner than expected I had plenty of time to focus on the body painting.  I may be very new to prosthetics, but I’m pretty confident in my abilities as a body painter.  I really hoped that having both special effects AND body paint would help me gain points.  I was really proud of how the eyes and mouth came out.  I think having the face added a lot of humor to the piece.

Even more than the body paint work, I was incredibly proud that I finished with TIME TO SPARE!  That is a major accomplishment for me.

When they lined up all the contest entries I was excited to get to see the other work.  There were some really amazing entries.   When they announced me as the winner I was elated.  I couldn’t have done it without the support of the people who believed in me and who have encouraged me over the years.  Credit also goes to the amazing Eva Melinda, who brought life to the makeup and pushed it further.  Also, thanks to Kansas City Crypticon, US TOY, and the Stan Winston School of Character Arts who all supplied prizes and sponsored the contest.

After the contest came even more fun!  We all went out into public and got to watch Eva freak out pedestrians.  We went to dinner at Beer Kitchen down in Westport.  It was great fun.  We also lucked out, when the photographer Cody James agreed to do a very last min photo shoot of the work.  He did a great job bringing out the horror and making the makeup look even scarier.

Thanks again to everyone involved!

Tom Savini taking a picture of my work. The judges and usout on the town!


Photography: Cody James Model: Eva Melinda Hair: Amie Renee's

Photography: Cody James
Model: Eva Melinda
Hair: Amie Renee’s








Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes!

I’m a gigantic fan of Game of Thrones.  To those of you who are unfamiliar with this show/books  GET FAMILIAR!  It is the MOST AWESOME show ever on television ever!

Our Game of Thrones inspired shoot was focused on Daenerys and her dragons.  We went with a scene from Clash of Kings featuring her in the RED WASTE.  I was lucky enough to find a model who was not only right for the part but had short blonde hair as well.   For those who have read the book, all of her hair is burned off and is quite short during her trek through the desert.  I liked the idea of being able to have pictures of her with a long wig for the TV show buffs, and short hair for those of us who read the book and like those little details.

The day started off early.  9am call time.  We drove out to Independence where our photographer, Julie O’Neil, has her studio.  Julie was awesome and supplied us with endless episodes of GAME OF THRONES to watch during the very long painting process.  Each dragon took between 1 and 1.5 hours.  Our lovely model, Chelsea Leaver, was lucky when I painted Drogon.  He was located on her shoulder so she got to sit down.  She was not so lucky with the other two, which required her to stand very still during the entire process.  What a trouper though!

On to the makeup and wig!  I went with a very light coat of makeup for her face.  Chelsea has insane bone structure and eyes and very little makeup was needed to have her stand out.  I had a lot of fun with the wig!  We used a cheap platinum mermaid wig.  It worked out well because we needed it to look really messy.  Any time I had to hide the wig’s netting I could just pull out loose strands.   I don’t normally style hair so I was really proud of how well it turned out.  I used a youtube tutorial.  This girl is amazing and has tutorials from several Game of Thrones styles:

A very talented friend of mine custom made a dothraki costume for us.  It needed to cover less skin that Daenerys’s usual costume from the show, so that it wouldn’t cover up the painted dragons.  The costume we received from Christy Artzer of Plaza Weavers Alterations, was absolutely perfect for the shoot.

After the costume, wig and makeup was all done, Chelsea looked a bit too much like a Disney princess.   The only solution?  Cover her with dirt and ash!   There is this excellent stuff from Ben Nye called Prarie dust.  It worked out great and was really fun to apply.  We effectively made Chelsea look as if she’d been stranded in the desert without a bath for days.

We found a great location with lots of rocks and dirt.  The weather, which had been a lovely 80 degrees all week decided to spike to a horrid 95 plus humidity, just for us!  I think it actually rose during our shoot, but I didn’t have a thermometer with me.  Perhaps Mother Nature wanted our desert shoot to be as accurate as possible.  Everyone involved was able to push through the heat and get some great shots.   Afterwards we all went out for some well deserved ice cream!

One of my favorite shoots so far.  Can’t wait for the pictures to finish being edited so that I can post them for you!  Here are some links of those involved



My Facebook:

Sketching our cute little curled up dragon.

Sketching our cute little curled up dragon.

Dragon number 3 almost complete!

This is me with my green paint all over my face.  Earlier i touched my eye and got black/purple all over it.  It looked like i'd been punched in the face.

This is me with my green paint all over my face. Earlier i touched my eye and got black/purple all over it. It looked like i’d been punched in the face.

Here's Chelsea with all her lovely dirt!

Here’s Chelsea with all her lovely dirt!