Although an extensive burn makeup can be achieved with prosthetics, there is a great deal which can be done with directly applied effects materials and colour, removing the need to sculpt and make moulds.

This is great if you are doing it for a one-off such as for a low budget movie, a makeup test, building a portfolio or simply to create effective makeups without using a lot of expensive kit. This tutorial covers a simple approach to creating a burn injury using silk, gelatine and colour.

As always, getting the right reference material will always be the most important first step to creating realism.  There are books on burn injuries and wound care, but try the internet for free images. Add words such as 'care of..', 'treatment of..' or 'types of..' before 'burn injury', and you will be more likely to get pictures and articles of the real thing rather than reams of makeup attempts on photo share sites such as flickr-although there are also good images of the real thing there too!

Incidentally, if you like this kind of thing why not check out the free mini ecourse on my site-sign up quick and easy at LearnProstheticMakeup.com! 

Step 1: A note about burns for makeup

From a makeup point of view, burns are a huge area as there are so many variables. Consider the extent of the burn as well as the type, whether clothing was involved, the age of the burn and whether healing has begun, or was complicated by infection.

If the burn is serious enough, might it have been treated surgically with skin grafts-and what would that look like? Also the burn may cause other complications such as shock and swelling, which in turn can affect circulation and offer further opportunity to enhance your makeup design.
There are many different kinds of burn. Exposure to heat is what most people think of but burns can result also from extreme cold, sunlight, chemicals, friction, radiation and scalds from hot liquids.

Here I have chosen to create a thermal burn on the side of the face. What often happens as the tissues of the body are subjected to extreme heat is that it contracts and distorts the undamaged skin around it. If you’ve ever seen a thin piece of meat in a hot pan, you’ll know what I mean. This is an interesting aspect from a makeup point of view, and one which we will use in the design.

Remember that heat rises, and fire loves to climb. Because of this, it is likely that the hair will have been affected along with the eyebrow, going up like a tinder box. I wanted to use this in the makeup, as the absence of hair on one side and the resulting asymmetry will enhance the effect.

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Bio: I create and teach makeup effects and prosthetics for a living. I love The B52's, good sarcasm and boring things like history, science and ... More »
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