In this instructable I will explain to you how I made a zombie costume based loosely on the ones from World War Z. The most complicated part of this project was making the prosthetic for the face of my zombie costume. I chose to make the facial proscetic out of encapsulated silicone, but you could much more easily and cheaply make it out of gelatin. If you do chose to use gelatin, you can ignore step 2.
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Step 1: Sculpting
Before you start sculpting, you'll need a life cast of your (or your subject's) face. I'm not going to go into detail on that here, because its such a complicated topic. If you need to learn how to make a life cast I'd recommend checking out BITY mold supply's youtube channel.
One more thing before I get started about the actual sculpting, for this prosthetic sculpt I decided that I wanted to float off the sculpture and mold it on a smaller core that didn't include the whole face; although it would probably just have been easier to start the sculpture on the modified core. Because I did want to float the sculpt off though, before starting, I coated the plaster life cast with two layers of alcote separator. (if you're using gelatin, you don't need to do any of this)
Now to get started on the actual sculpture... I began by slowly building up the shape of the cheekbones with a bunch of little noodles of clay, making sure to do both sides evenly and symmetrically. Then I worked my way around the brow ridge doing the same thing. The whole time, I had a reference image of a skull close at hand so I could try to mimic the shapes of a skull under the zombie's skin. once I was somewhat pleased with the overall shape, I started trying to smooth out the clay and get it to a point where there weren't any unwanted lumps or divots left in it (also trying to smooth the edges down as much as I could). I did so by brushing over it a few times with a cut down chip brush and some 99% isopropyl alcohol, making sure to follow the forms of the sculpture when brushing, in order to start giving the sculpture a little bit of texture as well. Next, I used a very small loop tool to carve in some of the finer details (some of the more prominent wrinkles and veins). After that, I powdered the sculpture with baby powder and started texturing. I did so be laying a thin sheet of clear plastic (such as part of a ziplock bag or a few layers of plastic wrap) and used a sculpting tool with a small rounded tip, to press in the shapes on the pores, one by one (this took quite a while).
After finishing the pores, I moved onto the smaller wrinkles and details. For the majority of the smaller wrinkles I just used a small wire take tool, keeping in mind the directions that actual wrinkles would go in and trying to follow them. For some of the more specific/intricate wrinkles, I used a sculpting tool with a small pointed tip and drew them in individually.
Step 2: Floating Off and Resculpting
If you plan on making your prosthetic out of gelatin (which is what I recommend), this step is not necessary; You can just move straight onto molding.
If you are going to make your prosthetic out of encapsulated silicone, then this step is more important, but can still be avoided by starting the sculpture on a pre-modified core. Meaning that instead of a full cast of the face, you would use one with unnecessary parts (the chin and top of the forehead in this case) removed, and that has a flat bottom all the way around (this is important for later). If like me, you choose to start your sculpture on a full face cast and float it off and deal with the modified core after, then you are going to need to do exactly that.
Floating off the sculpture if a pretty simple procedure. Because I had coated the face-cast with Alcote before starting to sculpt, it was very easy to "float if off" and put it onto a modified casting of my face (If you don't coat the face-cast with Alcote beforehand though, floating off the sculpt is impossible). I started by filling a sink with enough room temperature water to completely submerge the face-cast, then gently placed the face with the sculpture into the water and left it for a few hours so the plaster could become completely permeated with water and reactivate the Alcote.
While the sculpt was in the water, I had some time to make the modified core that I would put it on. The way I made it was to make pieces of foam core that blocked off the chin and forehead in the mold of my face that I have. Then backed the foam core up with some WED clay to keep in I'm place, and I coated the exposed parts of the foam core with vaseline so that the plaster wouldn't stick to it. Then I started with the Plaster, specifically I used a type called Ultra-Cal 30 which is much stronger and just generally better than regular plaster. I'm not going to go into much detail here about how to cast the plaster core, because the steps are pretty much the same as the steps of making the mold (which I cover in the next step)
The last picture in this step shows the back/inside of the modified core. As you can see, it is hollow and only around 3/4ths on an inch thick. You can also see that there is a handle in the back, this is important for getting it out of the mold later on.
I made it after I had already done the rest of the casting work, so there was already a consistent layer of burlap-reinforced Ultra-Cal 30 all the way around. I started by cutting 3 or 4 jumbo popsicle sticks to a length that fit with snugly into what I had already made, then I mixed up a small cup of the UltraCal-30. First I put a layer of it between each popsicle stick, then I put them back into the rest of the core and coated them and the two spots that were in contact with the sides with plenty on Ultra-Cal. Then I cut a few thin strips of burlap, soaked them in the Ultra-Cal, and covered the popsicle sticks with them (especially at the joints). While the plaster dried I kept smoothing it out with my hand and adding more onto so make it smooth.
Once the plaster was all dry, I drained the sink that the face-cast with the sculpt on it was in, then took out the face-cast and carefully used a thin metal spatula-like tool to lift the sculpt off and gently place it onto the modified core. Next, I used a rounded metal tool to smooth the edges of the clay down against the clay and carefully re-did the texture on the edges and a few damaged areas.
Step 3: Preparing for Molding
This is probably the simplest step, it's basically just making a thin layer of clay covering everything more than about an 8th of an inch from the actual sculpt. I used the same clay that I used for the sculpt (Chevant NSP), for the first 1/2-3/4 inch, then I used WED clay to cover the rest of the exposed plaster. For the actual edge of the clay (right by the edge of the sculpt) I used a thin pointed sculpting tool to cut it at a 90 degree angle from the plaster. Finally, I used a Q-tip to carefully put a thin layer of vaseline on the exposed plaster around the edge, sealing it in.
Step 4: Molding
First I cut a few strips of wed clay about 1/2 and inch thick and 1 inch wide, then layed it around the base of the modified core and smoothed the edges of the clay against it. Then, it was time to start with the plaster.
I started by mixed a slightly runny batch of Ultra-Cal 30 and brushed it into all of the detail very gently (as to avoid damaging the texture of the sculpture). After about 45 minutes, I mixed a second batch and saturated some pieces of burlap in it, then (after brushing a bit of fresh Ultra-Cal onto the sculpt) I put the saturated pieces of burlap onto the zombie face in an even layer coating the whole thing. For the third and final layer, I mixed another batch of the Ultra-Cal (this time a little bit thicker than usual) and coated the whole thing with it, trying to make it as smooth as I could. Just before this layer set, I lumped a bunch of the Ultra-Cal onto the center and pressed a piece of plexiglass onto it, to make a flat spot that will make the casting of the prosthetic much easier. Then I had to wait a couple of hours for the plaster to completely dry. Once it was dry, I opened the mold by just pulling really hard on the handle in the back of the core until the mold opened. Lastly, I needed to carefully use popsicle sticks and a toothbrush to remove any remaining bits of clay from the mold.
Here's a video of me making a similar mold to the one described here, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-UqAD-mtiI&feature=youtu.be
Step 5: Casting
First I'll explain how you'd cast the prosthetic in gelatin, then how I actually casted it in encapsulated silicone.
Casting the prosthetic in gelatin:
First you need to seal the mold, so that the gelatin doesn't stick to it. I usually do this by brushing a layer of vaseline over the entire surface of the inside of the mold, as well as the outside of the core, then spraying everything with a later of Epoxy Parfilm. Then you melt you prosthetic gelatin in a a microwave in short increments of time, being careful not to let it boil. then once it is fully liquid, you just pour it into the mold, close the mold, use a mold strap/banding stap to close it as tightly as possible.
Casting the prosthetic in encapsulated silicone:
Life with the gelatin, you need you seal the plaster to avoid having the silicone or encapsulating plastic stick to it. Then you need to brush on a layer of whatever brand of encapsulating plastic you prefer (I used super baldies) thinned down about 4 to 1 with whatever solvent is meant to be used for it (99 percent isopropyl alcohol for super baldiez onto both halves of the mold. Then once it's dry, you do another layer and let It dry. Then you do the same thing a few more times. Once you've built up a decently thick layer of Cap plastic on both halves of the mold, it's time to start mixing silicone. I used PlatSil gel-25, deadened with 100% deadener, so I mixed 35 grams of part A, 35 grams of part B, 35 grams of deadener, light tan colored silicone pigment, and some red flocking together. then once it was thoroughly mixed, I poured it into the negative half of thee mold and very carefully set the positive into it. Then I used a mold strap to close the mold as tightly as possible, hoping to get paper thin edges.
Step 6: Applying
Because I made a silicone prosthetic, I used a silicone adhesive called "Telesis" to adhere the prosthetic to my face, if I were using a gelatin prosthetic, all I would do differently would be using Pros-Aide to glue it on instead. Either way, both adhesives work roughly the same way, you put some on both surfaces, then let it dry and push the surfaces together.
Before gluing the prosthetic on, I had to glue down my eyebrows, to keep them out of the ways. I started gluing the prosthetic down on the center of my forehead, then slowly worked my way around the rest of the prosthetic (being especially careful around the edges). Once everything was glued down, I used a Q-tip with some 99% isopropyl alcohol to blend the edges of the prosthetic. Then it was time top paint...
I painted this makeup with Skin Illustrator alcohol activated makeup. The first color I used was called "sand" and It was a light and kinda gross looking skin tone, then I did multiple washes and laters of splattering with a multitude of different colors, for all the deeper areas (such as around the eyes, or under the cheekbones) I did washes of browns and purples to create depth. I also used a very fine tipped brush to paint on individual veins.
Step 7: Other Little Things:
Teeth- For most of the time wearing the makeup, I used Mouth FX to make my mouth look gross.
Wrinkly zombie skin- I did it as an experiment by putting deadened plastic gel 25 directly onto my skin and putting a sheet of dried super baldies onto, then pushing it around to create lots of gross wrinkles. I wouldn't recommend this, it didn't't stay on very well and was hard to do.
Gross Hair- To make my hair look gross, I put a bunch of conditioner it it while it was dry, this made it look all greasy and gross. Then I added some baby powder to make it look even nastier.
Zombie clothes: For clothes, I started with an old button down shirt and a jacket. and to make them look gross, poured coffee and black tea on them, sprayed them with fake blood, rubbed coffee grounds on them, attacked them with sandpaper, and ripped holes in them.
Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2019