If you saw my recent list of special effects makeup ideas for beginners, you may recall the gelatin blister technique that I included, and it's been swirling around my head ever since I posted that list.
I kept thinking how awesome those little gelatin blisters would be for a gross, infected face full of puss-filled sores I decided I needed to just try some kind makeup that oozed sickness and disease.
Making the Fake Blisters
My first step was to make the gelatin blisters. I didn’t want to try dripping round droplets on my face with hot gelatin because first, I figured it would just run down my face in a line and second, I didn’t want to burn my face off with hot gelatin. This is a diseased makeup, not burn scars.
I made a DIY batch of FX gelatin, (there's a tutorial for this in the SFX makeup ideas for beginners article), and added a drop of yellow food colouring and few drops of liquid foundation. Using a spoon, I dropped small dots on to some parchment paper and when they were cool I was easily able to peel them off.
How to Make the DIY FX Gelatin:
You can create your own FX gelatin with 1 tbsp of gelatin powder (such as Knox, usually found in the baking aisle of any grocery store), 1 tbsp on glycerin (usually found in the pharmacy aisle), and half a tbsp of water. Just mix the gelatin and glycerin together, mix the water in, then add any colouring you want at this point. Heat in the microwave in short 5-7 second bursts. Don’t let it boil, but heat it until all the gelatin is dissolved.
The gelatin can be reheated and reused as needed. Be careful, it gets VERY HOT!
Mapping Out the Fake Blisters
I then outlined the areas on my face where the blisters would go with a white eyeliner pencil. I didn’t expect that I would glue the dots right over these marks, but I wanted to get an idea of what kind of symmetry I would see with my placement.
Too many times I have just jumped in and started gluing things on my face to later realize that the end result is just a wacky mess of prosthetics glued all willy nilly. I’ve learned my lesson, for now.
Creating a Base with the Bruise Wheel
I dabbed some yellow from my Mehron bruise wheel all around where my blisters would be, going quite a bit further out than where I planned to glue the gelatin. I went back in with some light red from the bruise wheel and stippled it more to the center of where the little infected outcroppings would be. I added some Mehron blue under my eyes so I could get that sunken in, deathly ill look.
Adding a Touch of Death to the Eyes
I added a little black and red eyeshadow to my eyelids as well but it ended up looking too Sickness Chic for what I was going for and later ended up wiping some off. I wanted my eyes dark and sunken in, but also naked and raw. I wasn’t going for a late night “carrying my shoes in one hand and some to-go tacos in the other” kind of look.
I also added a little of the bruise wheel red around my nose as well as a tiny dab of black eyeshadow just under the nostrils.
Gluing on the Fake Blisters
I finally glued the blisters to the spots I had mapped out with the white eyeliner pencil. This was definitely the part I was most excited for. I tried to place a few big blisters in each outcropping, surrounded by a couple little ones to give each area a more natural look.
When I was done, I looked like I just had some weird dots glued to my face and started questioning how this whole thing was going to look.
Outlining the Blisters
My next step was to outline each blister in red to make it look irritated. This step made the blisters look much more natural. I used the dark red from my Mehron bruise wheel with a very thin brush. I probably could have just used regular face paint or a red lip liner for this but my bruise wheel was already handy so I just stuck with it.
The lines were pretty thick and dark so I used a slightly bigger brush to go around each one again and blend it out a little bit. As an afterthought, I also painted a thin layer of liquid latex over my lips to give them a chapped look.
Oiling Up the Hair
Obviously you can’t be all sick, sweaty, and almost dying with fluffy, overly dry hair. Thanks to constant bleaching, it’s very difficult to get my hair lank and oily looking. I sprayed a ton of leave in conditioner in my hair and then added some moroccan rub in oil. I got my hair looking more sweat drenched and my frazzled ends certainly loved all that extra moisture.
Creating Some Veins
I was going to leave my makeup alone but after looking at it a bit I realized it was still too “clean” and my skin was a bit too clear. Using the dark red from my bruise wheel and a thin brush, I drew some very thin, squiggly lines leading away from the blisters to create veins. I added a few with the blue as well so I could get some different shades of infected blood going on.
Things I Learned
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this makeup. This blister technique was really fun and they turned out pretty cool. One glaring mistake I didn’t notice until later was a small white circle on my forehead that I didn’t put a blister over and didn’t wipe off. I tend to bypass the step where I look over everything I’ve done and inspect for any mistakes.
I also didn’t really love how the veins on my forehead turned out and I even wiped them off a few times and redid them. I also would have added a darker red to the spots where the blisters would be before applying them. I felt like my skin underneath those spots didn’t look irritated enough. But aside from the little things I’d like to fix, I absolutely loved doing this makeup and I can’t wait to try something else just as gross and icky.