Introduction: Effective Prosthetics for Your YouTube Videos

About: Untidy, disorganised and a bit silly. I am a photographer, artist, body artist, sculptor, prosthetic maker, model engineer, and general idiot who likes making stuff and messing about. I give hands on workshops…

This Instructable will show you how to make effective prosthetic SFX for your pictures, Halloween or Role Play costumes, or YouTube videos.

The main material is liquid latex, so a few words of warning before we begin.
Please use all normal safety procedures when handling materials and carrying out processes.
Some people have a natural allergy to latex, if they are over 16 years old they will normally be well aware of any such allergy, but please ALWAYS carry out a simple allergy test BEFORE you go playing with this stuff, or sticking it to anyone else!

Also, liquid latex smells like cats piss when it's wet. This is a very small percentage of ammonia that is added to stop the raw latex coagulating in the container. This smell will vanish once the latex cures, but people with very sensitive skin may find it an irritant when being stuck on.
It is advisable to work in a ventilated area.

Please take all precautions necessary.

Step 1:

Latex has been used in the movie industry for well over 100 years. It can be cast, moulded and whatnot and it has amazing tensile and elastic properties.
However, in its natural state it is very heavy, and does not bulk out very easily. Therefore, most movie prosthetics are made from foamed latex and this presents loads of problems for the home movie maker. It needs foaming agents adding and then baking to cure ..... all too much hasstle for me.

In order to use it straight from the bottle, we need to embed stuff in it to bulk it up whilst keeping the weight down. We need to use theatrical grade latex which has a low ammonia content (do an ebay search there's loads of it on there). We also need to keep the final results soft and pliable (it's going on someone's skin after all).
There are many articles on the net about creating wounds and 'zombie skin' by adding oatmeal to the latex etc, these work well but I was looking foe something a little more dramatic.

Materials required:

Theatrical grade liquid latex
Greaseproof or wax paper
Cotton wool balls, pads rolls etc
Sponge rubber pipe lagging or stiff foam rubber
Water based paints (artists acrylic or acrylic ink, watercolour etc.)


Put simply we are going to encase the cotton and sponge in the latex in layers.
Lets begin with a rib cage.
Tape the wax paper down on your bench, draw the basic shape of the rib cage, then paint on three thin layers of liquid latex allowing each to dry in between. The layers are dry enough to work once they go from white liquid to transparent rubber.

Get your cotton wool balls and unroll them, it's easy to find the end and unroll them.
Pull the cotton out into the basic shape, dab a little latex down where the cotton will go then plonk the cotton down and push it into shape.
Coat the upper surface of the cotton with liquid latex, use plenty of latex and a dabbing motion so as not to pull the cotton back up. make sure you get a seal at the edges. Allow this coat to dry, add more cotton and repeat until you have three layers of latex above the cotton.

Step 2: Seal It In.

Add cotton and latex and build up the structure. Shape the cotton with the liquid latex and a brush, you need to end up with the cotton sandwiched between 6 layers of latex, 3 below and 3 above will make a very strong, soft, pliable prosthetic. Remember to feather out the edges to a very thin layer so that it will blend into the skin.

Step 3: Try a Test

Once the basic ribs are dry, you can try a test or go on to the next stages.

Keep the prosthetic on the wax paper until the very last moment. This will help keep it in good condition. You can use Spirit Gum, Pros-Aid or theatrical latex to stick the prosthetic on. I tend to use latex as I find it easier to remove after you have finished.

Use a cut up bath sponge, dip it in the latex and dab on a very thin layer to the skin slightly bigger than the area required. Let it dry.
Peel one edge of the prosthetic CAREFULLY from the wax paper. If it touches itself it will instantly stick together and be ruined.

Stick the edge carefully in place on the skin and then peel away the wax paper stick down as you go. Once it's all stuck down dust over with a large blusher brush dipped in talc.

Here's Tara with an unfinished prosthetic stuck to her chest. the black mark is a test painted area.

Step 4: Other Bulking Materials.

I wanted a tail, so I used foam rubber pipe lagging which is very cheap, reasonably pliable, but stiff enough to carve and shape. I cut the pipe lagging into sections then carved and Dremel sanded them roughly to shape. I added some 'vertebra' looking bits and glued the sections together using a tongue of sponge and regular general purpose glue.

After two days work I had a four foot long tail. That's yours truly in the image.
The tail next needs 6 coats of liquid latex which will seal it and make it incredibly strong.

Step 5: Joining Parts

The tail needs lots of support so here I have attached it to a full back bone. The tail section has already been painted but we'll come to that.

I used general purpose glue to join the tail to the back bone, followed by at least 6 coats of latex on the joint. The latex becomes VERY strong when dry and will hold the tail on without problems.

You can see exactly the same method being used to make the back bone as we did for the rib cage. I have used more of the sponge lagging to help form the vertebrae. You can also see the difference between wet, semi-dry and dry latex.

Step 6: Painting

Because the main constituent of latex is water, we can add water based paint directly to the latex. The paint will become an integral part of the prosthetic this way and will never fade.
The problem is that the latex paint does not blend well at all, so I use a dark 'shadow' colour, then a mid colour, then a highlight colour to the latex itself. Then blend by over painting the finished prosthetic with acrylic artists paints or inks.
When the latex is wet the colour will look too light, but as it dried it will darken back to it's proper colour.

Here the darkest green and the lightest yellow have been added.

Step 7: Finalising the Paint

Here I have used artists inks and acrylics to blend out the final colours including a bit of 'flesh' colour on the edges to help blending.

Once on the skin, use body or face paint, along with foundation and make-up to blend the edges out further.

Step 8: Finshing Off

Here you can see the finished back bone and tail sections joined and painted. There is also an image of another backbone of bony 'fingers' for another costume.

Step 9: A Finished Piece

From a bottle of rubber and some cotton wool and paint to this back piece

Step 10: Find a Willing Victim......

Here's the red piece with a couple of horns, stuck on and photographed for a 'Horny Devil' shoot.
Obviously this needed a load of body paint too but you get the idea.
There are lots of other shots from this shoot that can't be posted here. However, I am over on under the same username if you want to take a look.

Have fun and be safe.