Instructables

How to paint foam latex appliances

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Picture of How to paint foam latex appliances
Shock! Horror! It's flat, opaque and looks nothing like skin whatsoever. When compared to its translucent cousins, gelatine and silicone, that foam rubber nose could look like an unwelcome option.

But foam latex does have its advantages. It is durable, absorbs perspiration rather than collecting it in pockets and it doesn't dissolve or melt. Best of all, you can repair, re-glue and re-colour knowing that it's opacity will hide a multitude of sins- that is if it's well painted! This article will cover a simple procedure for colouring a foam appliance on the face.

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! 

 
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Step 1: Get your materials together

Picture of Get your materials together
You will need:
" Pros Aide & remover
" Acrylic paints (I like liquitex, but most brands will work fine)
" Rubber Mask Grease Paint (RMGP)
" Alcohol activated makeup (Skin Illustrator/Stacolor/Kryolan)
" Plastic cups
" IsoPropyl Alcohol
" Cheap bristle brush/chipbrush (12mm/1/2)
" Cotton tipped buds such as Q-Tips
buffybuffybuffy
scry2 years ago
What appliance did you use? this one looks amazing - perfect buffy style vamp!
stuartbray (author)  scry2 years ago
It was one I made for a demo teaching a while back.

-Stuart
scry stuartbray2 years ago
ah bugger thats a shame - tis exactly what i was looking for too lol - typical really :) thanks for letting me know though.
randys422 years ago
Hi all...
I'm using latex over my upper body. I was going to stop the latex under my jawline and use paint on my face which will cover a latex appliance. Is there any way I can apply the latex paint on the appliance? If I can will I be able to re-use the appliance? I need to use it twice and I'll be done with it. If I can do it I can eliminate the slight color difference between the latex and the paint.

On a related note...same costume...I'm wearing tights that are the same color as the latex (teal) but I'd rather have my legs not feel like fabric. I was thinking of covering the fabric with the same latex as on the rest of the body. Would that work? And would the latex affect the elasticity of the fabric to the point that I couldn't remove my foot without tearing the latex?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Randy
stuartbray (author)  randys422 years ago
Hi Randy

You can use latex paint on the appliance if the appliance id latex or foam latex. If you water a little down, you should be able to create a gradual blend rather than a sudden hard edge which will be more obvious. You may be able to reuse the appliance, depending on what you used to apply it.

Most oil based removers actually damage foam latex appliances, especially the ultra thins edge needed to get a flawless blend. You may be able to use alcohol to remove it (careful around the eyes) or use latex as a glue so it peels off later more easily.

I think the latex will restrict the fabric and make it difficult to remove the tights...and go to the bathroom too.  I think either do a test on a piece of spandex/Lycra to see the amount it stops stretch.

Are you planning on applying the latex while you wear the tights???  Latex soaks into the fabric and may take a while to dry so better to do this in advance.  

If you do it beforehand, then you will need to put the tights on a pair of dummy legs (like the kind used in store window displays).  Then if there is a problem with stretch restriction then it will be one of getting them on - not getting them off!  A test on a small stitched tube of spandex or Lycra will take a lot of the guesswork out of this before committing latex to the tights.

-Stuart
Thanks for your reply. I'm using a foam latex appliance and spirit glue to attach it to my face except for the edges which I use latex. If I put latex on the tights, I'd do it while wearing them.

I thought that latex might not work well to cover fabric that was tight on begin with since it shrinks as it dries anyway. The alternative is to live with the teal color of the tights and use paints for the details on the legs.

Matching everything will be hard but if people will be looking more at my upper body anyway so it might be okay to not mess much with the fabric.
I gave it a shot tonight. I found latex to be extremely difficult to use when applying on yourself. You will invariably move a certain way so that latex from one part of the body touches another part and then tears. The bend at the inside of the elbow is a common problem spot.

I'm sure the order in which you do it matters. I did my arms first and that was a mistake. It seems that the best way would be to complete whole sections with all the layers and then apply a fixer to the surface. Then you can move on to the next part and do the same thing. That way the arms won't stick to the side of your body.

So I'm thinking do the torso first to completion. Do one arm to completion, Then the other arm to completion. The question is WHEN should I apply the appliance? Before I do the body or sometime in between doing sections? After applying several layers of latex and using a hair dryer to speed up drying, I started to perspire and the latex just pulled away from the skin in different spots.

I put latex stripes on the tights. That worked out okay, of course the latex did grab a good hold through the fabric and onto my skin. When I removed them they were puckered where the latex was applied but otherwise looked re-usable.

Thanks!
stuartbray (author)  randys422 years ago
Stick the appliance on first, then do the latex.

Latex will stick to itself when dry so you need to talc it to stp this from happening. I usually work on other people so this is not normally an issue, but as you have to move and bend to work, the stuff is sticking. Fetish users often use silicone oil in a spray to stop the latex from sticking and to give it a shine. Silicone oil does not damage the latex like most other oils do.

Stuart
mholbrook12 years ago
Hey this is more of a question than a comment. Since I have purchased foam latex prosthetics from multiple online stores for halloween and no one there will answer me in a timely matter (Weeks) thought id ask u...
My question is... I want the prosthetic to be skin colour, and HATE the feel of grease paints, could I use a foundation for skin tone instead or would this ruin the mask? The prosthetic is quite large, takes up my whole face, and I dont want to paint it, my face, my arms, neck, back etc just to have it look real. Any sugestions would be greatly appreciated!!
stuartbray (author)  mholbrook12 years ago
Hi

I would use PAX paints instead.  Prepaint the appliance before you apply it so that the colour is almost all done prior to application. Paint close to the edge but keep back 5mm (1/4 inch) from the very edge as this may roll and stick to itself.  Powder after PAX paint dries.

Normal makeup or greasepaint will not work on bare foam latex as the oils soak into the latex in a way that they don't on skin and you end up with a visible line where the piece stops on the skin.

Use Pros Aide as a sealer to help stop this from happening.  I would use PAX to join the edge and then use makeup you like over the top as the sealed appliance doesn't soak up oils in the way bare foam does.

Stuart
Do you know of anywhere in the US that sells Alcohol activated makeup that's cheap? That stuff seems expensive!!!
stuartbray (author)  BeerBellyJoe2 years ago
Bearing in mind that the alcohol activated colours are state of the art professional makeup, so they will be the most expensive. In the US it is about half the cost in the UK....It is about $65 versus £100 which is about $150 to us.

Otherwise use PAX and tweak with makeup thinned with alcohol so it can be applied as a liquid rather than as a greasy oil. The cost of Skin Illustrators is worth the durability on set but if that is not where you are using it, then it makes sense to not seek out the most durable (and expensive).

Also, perhaps consider making your own: 
http://fx.wikia.com/wiki/Alcohol_activated_makeup

-Stuart
I have a question. I hope this isn't a dumb one, but it is it possible to paint it with oil based paints?
stuartbray (author)  thedonquixotic3 years ago
Hi

If you oil based artists paints, then no...you need to use water based acrylics. They would not mix with the water based Pros Aide, would take too long to dry, could damage the rubber and are probably not good for skin.

If you mean oil based (crème or 'greaspaint') makeup then yes, but you may find that the oils adsorb into the appliance and not into skin. This means that the appliance edge is made visible by the change in colour.

You should ideally use Rubber Mask Grease Paints (RMGP) which is a castor-oil based makeup with a high percentage of pigment created specifically for colouring foam latex. Most of the colouring should be done with the PAX paint, and tweaked with either RMGP or Skin Illustrator or similar alcohol based colours.

Hope this helps
Stuart
mail@learnprostheticmakeup
Yeah. I do mean artists paints, hahaha. What if I am using mineral gum instead of Pro-Aide though?
stuartbray (author)  thedonquixotic3 years ago
Hi

I would not advise using oils paints. Use acrylic versions instead...they make white acrylic and I'm guessing you are not that pale so you should be able to mix any skin tone using them.

Not sure what mineral gum is...if it is the same as the spirit gum adhesive used traditionally in theatres then no. Spirit gum is not going to last, especially with sweat, and much less irritating that spirit gum too. Plus it is mixed with the acrylics to make the PAX base, so you get a lot out of it.

Pros Aide is cheaper than spirit gum too, usually about £25-£30 for a pint ($35-$45) and will last a long time, and make the PAX too. There are also cloned versions of Pros Aide (Mouldlife make a version called Aquafix) which is about half price. The same quantity of a good spirit gum would likely cost way more than that.

But I would not use oil paints on the appliance or skin.
Stuart
Cool thanks! I will look into that.
Oh yeah, and I am not using the oil paint to blend the prosthetic, just to get it closer to my skin tone. Its a little pale..
Peroxide4 years ago
This is probably the nicest vampire prosthetic I've seen! If you don't mind me asking, what brand is it?
stuartbray (author)  Peroxide4 years ago
I made it, so I guess it's my brand. It's what I do for a living.
Wow, very impressive!
It looks beautiful.

I'm trying to get into sculpting for FX makeup, and boy it's hard.
stuartbray (author)  Peroxide4 years ago
Thanks-It's a simple foam appliance. These days I'd use silicone instead, as it is naturally translucent and photographs very realistically.

If you are interested in makeup effects, it pays to work in all the skill areas (or at least more than one). Sculpting is fun but it's only a small part of creating makeup effects and prosthetics. It is a hard area to break into (name on that isn't) but the more jobs you can do, the more useful you are to an employer.

The other 75% is mould making, casting and painting etc. You will much more likely to get work if you can do more things. Imagine a car mechanic that only repairs red cars-you limit the amount of work you could be available for.

I have some articles you may find interesting on my site

If you are interested in sculpting in general, check out ZBrush, a sculpting software which is great fun.

Regards
Stuart
aborior4 years ago
Was I the only one that thought of Angel or Buffy vampires when they saw this?
stuartbray (author)  aborior4 years ago
Probably not. Since Greg Cannoms makeups in The Lost Boys in 1987, the 'lowered brow look' has been a standard Vampire device. 
rachel4 years ago
Very interesting, I had no idea how this was done. As someone utterly new to this, I'd benefit a lot by some pictures of the materials, the mixes, the tools, and of course if you had someone around to take pictures of you doing the painting. But even so, highly informative.
Wow! From a cute guy to a neantherdal... But how comfortable is it? Can you really do normal expressions with that? :D
stuartbray (author)  an_artist4 years ago
I'm sure Ben will be pleased to hear that.

If the material is thin and soft enough, you can express through it relatively well. There is a little compromise of movement, but it's been used in so many movies successfully for many, many years without too much problem.  Often the performer learns to compensate by over expressing, thus making expression show through.

If the material is too thick and oversized, it can absorb the muscle movement entirely, in which case you'd need to go the animatronic route, such as with Rick Bakers Harry & The Hendersons for example.  In instances like this, it is more a mask than a makeup, although the line separating them starts to blur at this level.

Foam latex was used in Coppolas Dracula, the Nutty Professor remakes and many others. Pretty much anything you add to skin will restrict it in some way. The trick is to make it as thin and soft as possible, and make sure the sculpted folds etc are correctly placed to allow the material to compress correctly.
Sunny1246134 years ago
you look like an albino gorilla
lol

5 stars
scoochmaroo4 years ago
Looks great! I was first introduced to PAX while working for the Blue Man Group. We used it to cover the mouth and nose, as well as the transition from bald cap to skin. It's a great way to ensure continuous coverage even on areas that get a lot of wear!
Wow! that would be so cool to work for the blue man group! they are epic!
amakerguy4 years ago
awesome!
Fashim4 years ago
wow that picture looks like one of my friends XD.
ANTQNUT Fashim4 years ago
LOL
coolo524 years ago
nice
ANTQNUT4 years ago
That is soooo cool!! PS i don't think the pics are that small! :P
stuartbray (author)  ANTQNUT4 years ago
Well, they were. I updated with bigger images.

Thanks for the feedback!!
robomaniac4 years ago
Nice instructrables but yours pictures are very small!
stuartbray (author)  robomaniac4 years ago
Good point, Robo I will update that very soon. Thanks for the nudge!
SinAmos4 years ago
valuable stuff here. Good work.
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