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As any special effects makeup artist or horror enthusiast knows, getting your fake blood just right is everything. The right color and consistency is a huge deal if you want your work to achieve its desired effect. There is definitely no one perfect blood that can be used for every occasion and you may need to have many different types of fake blood in your sfx makeup kit to get just the right look. You could go purchase a slew of different store bought fake bloods or you can also try making some fake blood of your own.
It’s definitely great to have a couple of store bought bottles of blood at your disposable but sometimes you might be looking to get a really specific color or thickness. Mixing your own blood is pretty simple and if you know all the different ingredients you can use you can easily customize your own products. There is always going to be some trial and error when you’re getting a feel for mixing your blood but once you get the hang of it you can make your blood as bright, as dark, as washable, or as delicious and edible as you’d like.
Different Kinds of Blood
Blood looks very different depending on how fresh or old it is and whether it’s coming from a vein or artery. Fake blood can also look different on the materials you’re applying it to, be it real skin, silicone, latex, or fabric. Stage or photography lighting can make a huge difference in how your blood is going to come across as well.
Then you’ll also need to consider your audience. Are you going for realism or do you just want a bright and shocking scarlet color to spray over your entire set? Not every makeup is meant to look realistic and there’s definitely a time and place for over the top colors.
Arterial blood is the highly oxygenated blood that is being sent from your heart to supply oxygen to the rest of your body. This blood is bright red and usually has a much more shocking appearance. Venous blood is depleted of oxygen and is being sent back to your heart and lungs to reoxygenate. This blood is a much darker red, sometimes even with an almost purplish hue, and has a more grim appearance.
Fresh blood has a somewhat wet and runny consistency, that being especially true for arterial blood. Once the blood has left your body it begins to thicken, oxidize, and take on a rusty brownish red color. Depending on the age of the blood it can become quite thick and coagulated or may even begin to form a crusty scab. Consider the age of your blood and where it’s coming from when mixing up your own batches of blood.
Household Products You Can Use as Fake Blood Ingredients
There are some popular, standard recipes you can follow to make your own fake blood. If you want to get straight into following one of these step by step guides, skip down to the YouTube tutorials below. However, if you’re more interested in experimenting with your own recipes, try some of these super cheap ingredients that you probably already have lying around your home. These are hardly the only products you can use to make fake blood but they’re a great place to start. Look around your house and your kitchen and come up with your own ingredients to try.
The main thing to remember when mixing your custom batches of blood is that you’re going for consistency, color, and texture. Only add what you need to in order to get those elements exactly how you want them. Start with your main base, like corn syrup, and add your thickening and coloring agents as needed. You don’t need any one specific ingredient from the items listed below, so mix and match until you find the perfect combination.
A vast majority of the fake blood recipes you’ll come across will probably have light corn syrup as their main ingredient. It’s thick, it’s oozy, it’s clear, and it’s edible. Because of its ridiculously thick consistency and lack of color it makes an excellent base to work from for almost any type of blood you want to make. You can get the blood tone just right by adding food coloring or other ingredients and the corn syrup will have no effect on your desired shade. Try dark corn syrup as well if you’re creating a darker venous blood.
Chocolate syrup is a great addition to any blood recipe to make the blood both darker and more viscous. Chocolate syrup will also help add some opacity to your blood so it doesn’t look watery and translucent. For something a little less dark you can also use maple syrup.
Corn syrup alone can often be a little too translucent or too runny, but adding just a little cornstarch will go a long way in thickening it up and making it more opaque. You can add any type of powdered ingredient to your blood you’d like but cornstarch is a wonderfully inexpensive option. It’s also stark white so it won’t affect your coloring.
Cocoa powder is another incredibly popular addition to fake blood because it not only thickens the blood up but it also provides a delightfully dark tone to your blood. This can be helpful when you’re going for a dark venous blood with a thicker consistency and a deep opacity.
Other Thickening Powders
If you don’t have cornstarch or cocoa powder, don’t worry. Baking soda, flour, powdered sugar, and baby powder can all be used to thicken up your blood. Flour is very absorbant while baby powder is a fine, smooth type of powder. These different textures will give you varying end results, which is great if you’re trying to experiment with consistency. You can also try coarser flour, like whole wheat, if you’re attempting a grainier texture for your blood. You can use these powders with corn syrup and food coloring but if you’re going for a thinner or different type of consistency with your blood, try using only water in place of the syrup.
Food coloring isn’t the only way to get your blood to the perfect shade but it’s definitely one of the easiest. You can go with just red food coloring but if you want a darker, more venous shade, you’ll need a few drops of blue as well. A typical ratio you can start with is about five drops of red to every one drop of blue, and then simply customize your tone from there. Of course, if you’re making alien, monster, or cyborg blood, your color ratios could be just about anything. Food coloring can be found in liquids, powders, or gels and any of these will work to tint your blood.
If you thicken your blood up way too much you can simply add a little water to the mix. In fact, you may not even need any powdered thickener depending on what you’ll be using your blood for. With water, corn syrup, and food coloring you can mix up a nice, runny blood that can be sprayed out of a spray bottle or filled into a rubber balloon to be punctured at a later time. Runny blood is great for sprays and splatters, especially when you’re going for an over-the-top type of effect.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Instead of water you can also use fruit punch, cranberry juice, beet juice, or pomegranate juice to add that nice red pigment to your blood. As with food colouring, these juices could stain your clothing, so be mindful of what you’ll be using your blood on. Doing a rag test with your blood is a great way to see how badly it will stain fabric.
Other Thickening Liquids and Pastes
Ketchup, tomato paste, and peanut butter can all be used to thicken up your blood as well as adjust the hue. Peanut butter is an excellent addition to help make your blood thick, sticky, and stay in place after application. You can even use crunchy peanut butter to give your blood more of a coagulated look. These can be used with or without the addition of corn syrup, depending on the consistency you’re going for.
Most DIY fake blood recipes use edible ingredients from the kitchen, which is usually pretty convenient because all of your mixtures are going to be mouth safe and edible. Of course, if the blood isn’t going in anyone’s mouth you can always use hair gel to get a thick, sticky texture with your blood. Hair gel makes an excellent base for scab blood or any blood you want to be really thick and sticky.
As with hair gel, as long as your blood doesn’t need to be mouth-safe, white glue can also be used to create a thick, sticky texture. White glue, such as Elmer’s, will eventually dry up if it has been sitting out too long, which might be exactly what you need from your blood. It can help you to achieve a drippy, liquidy look but won’t stay wet and runny all night.
You can add different textures to your blood using a ton of different common household products. Use coffee grinds in your blood to achieve a gravel filled road rash texture. They also work to make your blood a little more chunky, coagulated, scabbed over, or crusty looking, depending on how much you use and how coarse the grind is.
Corn flakes are a popular choice for making bloodied, coagulated scabs. The corn flakes absorb the blood, making them soft and soggy, just like a nice, juicy scab. The more you add, the thicker and more coagulated your blood will be. The thin, roundish shape of corn flakes make them perfect for scabs, but try other cereals to create different textures. Rice krispies and oatmeal, for example, can be used in a pinch for little bits of brain matter.
Dried Onion Flakes
Dried onion flakes are another great addition for scabs, debris, tiny chunks of brain, or bits of flesh. These flakes definitely hydrate well in your blood mixture and create an excellent texture but keep in mind they might give your blood a bit of a pungent aroma.
Toilet paper and tissue paper are an excellent way to add strips or chunks of flesh to your blood. You can use tiny shreds and mix them into your whole batch to give the appearance of clotted blood or you can soak long sections of toilet paper, bunch it up, and create the illusion of bloody guts and mangled flesh.
You can get empty gelatin capsules pretty cheaply online or at your local drug store. Fill these up with your fake blood and use them for blood thirsty vampires, savage werewolves, or dying gunshot wound victims. If you’re using any of your blood mixtures in your mouth, make sure you’ve only used edible ingredients in your recipe.
Many of the ingredients used to make DIY fake blood have a pretty high potential to stain your clothes. To make washable fake blood, pigment your mixture with washable paints instead of food coloring. As with food coloring, you can go heavy on the red paint but add a couple drops of blue to make it darker and more venous if needed. Keep in mind that your blood will no longer be mouth safe if using paint instead of food coloring.
Dish Soap and Laundry Detergent
You can also add dish soap or laundry detergent to your blood to help keep it washable. Again, your blood will not be mouth safe, but it will definitely be much more safe for those white clothes and light colored costumes. Use clear soaps and detergents so they won’t affect your blood tones in the final product. When using soap you should be aware that mixing too much water into the concoction could create foam or bubbles, and your blood may also be a little on the slippery side. If you’re still using food coloring and other additives that could stain, test your blood on an old rag and if it doesn’t wash out completely, add a little more soap to your mixture.
Video Tutorials on How to Make Fake Blood
It can be incredibly helpful to know what ingredients make for the best fake blood recipes, giving you a headstart on creating your own concoctions, but if you want to just skip the trial and error then check out some of these excellent fake blood recipes. Even if you want to customize your own colors and consistencies, these tutorials make for a great base to build from.
The Greatest Blood Recipes
For the greatest blood recipes, as well as a graphic history lesson in the evolution of fake blood in film, check out RocketJump Film School’s tutorial on how to make the best fake bloods. They’ve loaded their workspace up with some basic ingredients to play around with, testing out many different colors and textures. They cover edible blood, washable blood, and they recreate Dick Smith’s classic blood recipe, making a horribly bloody mess the whole time.
Fake Blood Recipe for Film
For film quality fake blood, check out this interview by Insider with Pam Elliott of Special Effects Unlimited Inc. She walks us through how their studio whips up their movie quality batches of blood and then she treats us to a gory display of blood sprays, splashes, and splatters.
Blood Gel Recipe
This tutorial uses hair gel and food coloring powder to make a super easy dark red blood gel. They use a wine red shade of food coloring powder but you can also use liquid food coloring. If you don’t have a wine shade you can use both red and blue coloring to get that nice, deep red. This blood gel will dry up after sitting out for awhile, making it perfect for scab blood or for any blood you want to stay in place and not drip or move.
Edible Scab Blood Recipe
This scab blood is much thicker and more textured than what you’ll get with the blood gel recipe. The recipe uses cocoa powder, cornstarch, corn syrup, water, food coloring, unflavored gelatin, and corn flakes. The end result is a clumpy, gooey ball with an endless potential for gore. It’s ultra thick, making it perfect for scabs or fleshy wounds. It’s also edible, so your werewolf and zombie characters can feel free to chow down on it.
There are many edible blood recipes, and you could drink any one of them, but they’re often loaded with corn syrup and will taste incredibly thick and sugary. If your actor needs to drink a good deal of blood and you want to mix up something a little more palatable, this recipe will give you a tasty blood beverage that is also deliciously dark and thick. The recipe uses sugar, water, starch, plum juice, blueberries, raspberry extract, white vinegar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and food coloring. Ferrous sulfate pills are added as an optional addition to make the blood taste more metallic, like real blood, but they aren’t required if you’re going for appearance only.
Washable Fake Blood Recipe
Using light corn syrup, red and blue food coloring, and dish soap, this tutorial shows you how to make washable fake blood and also demonstrates with a wash test. Be sure to test your fake blood on a rag to make sure it washes out before you splash and splatter it all over your clothes or costumes. If it doesn’t wash out, simply add more dish soap to your mixture.
How to Make Your Own Fake Blood Capsules
You can fill up your own blood capsules with homemade blood. This tutorial makes fake blood with corn syrup and red and black food coloring then simply pours it into the empty capsules. You can use this recipe or you can fill the capsules with any of your own concoctions, just be sure that all the ingredients you’ve used are edible.
What is the Best Fake Blood to Buy?
You can make all of your own fake blood and never buy another bottle again but sometimes people just find it easier to have a couple of their favorite brands on hand, even when they often make their own. There are many incredible brands that make great professional fake blood products, such as Mehron Dark Venous Squirt Blood, Graftobian Stage Blood, and Ben Nye Fresh Scab Blood.
It depends on what kind of blood look you’re going for but check out the ones above as they are some of the best fake bloods on the market. You will probably find some options suitable for your kit if you decide that you don’t want to make fake blood every single time you need it.