Bruises are caused when blunt trauma breaks the capillaries just beneath the skin, flooding the dermis with blood. As the hemoglobin in the blood breaks down and disperses, bruises change color and fade. Today I’m going to be demonstrating how to create bruises across the many stages of healing.
First, ask yourself:
- What caused the bruise?
- Bruises will initially form around the area of impact. Think about the shape of the object that caused the bruise. For example, if your character was struck by the end of a baseball bat, the bruise will be large and shaped somewhat like the end of a baseball bat.
- When was the incident that caused the bruise?
- If you are depicting someone who has just been in a fight, their bruises will be mainly red and blue tones. As the bruise heals, the shape, size, and color of the bruise changes, so be sure to take the time frame into consideration.
- How hard was the impact?
- Bruises from being struck by a vehicle look very different from bruises caused by a fistfight. Also, if the impact was especially hard and on a delicate area directly over a bone, like on the cheekbone or the browbone, skin will often split open from the force of impact. Use references for the specific look you’re going for—just go to Google Images and search “bruises from car crash” (or whatever specific incident you’re trying to recreate) to help keep that air of authenticity.
Also take into consideration the person's skin tone, age, and health, which all impact the way they will bruise.