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.
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Step 1: Materials Needed
Next, assemble your products. I swear by the Skin Illustrator alcohol-activated palettes (I have FX and Fleshtone Light), cream colors by companies such as Ben Nye and Kryolan also work well and are much easier on the wallet. Ask for a “bruise wheel” for all of the colors you’ll need in one handy compact! Also, a variety of sponges is necessary: orange sponges and black sponges are best, but in a pinch you can use a kitchen sponge or even a white makeup sponge that you texturize yourself. I always texturize my sponges’ surfaces by either attacking them with the tips of some sharp pointy scissors or tearing little bits out with my fingernails. You will also need a translucent powder. My favorite is RCMA No-Color Powder but any translucent or sheer flesh-toned loose powder will work.
Step 2: Recent Bruise
For a recently-acquired bruise, begin with by stippling all over the area with some prime red on your texturized sponge. I then added deeper red tones (bruise tone from the Skin Illustrator palette), and finally, some very light blue and purple tones. To blend the colors together, I used a clean texturizing sponge spritzed with alcohol to lightly stipple all over the area. I then powdered with a light layer of RCMA powder to make the bruise to appear to be beneath the skin and not just sitting on top of it.
Step 3: Day-Old Bruise
For the day-old (or several days-old) bruise, I began by stippling a light layer of prime red all over the area, just as before. I then added several heavier layers of deep red, blue, and purple all over the area with my texturizing sponges and then powdered.
Step 4: Bruise Beginning to Heal
This is a bruise that is just beginning to heal. I began with a wash of yellow all over the area with my texturizing sponge, then added a few streaks of a yellowish green. On top of that I stippled some deep red, purple, blue, and reddish-brown tones then powdered.
Step 5: Healing Bruise
This is a bruise that is further along in the healing process. I began with a lighter wash of green and yellowish-green tones than in the previous stage of bruising, and added lighter stipples of reddish-brown, purple, blue, and deep red tones, then powdered. As the bruise continues to heal, the red, purple, and blue tones will dissipate, leaving more and more of the yellow and green tones before disappearing completely.
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