Neill Gorton’s Beginners’ Advice
If you’re interested in the world of prosthetics and makeup FX, the first question is: do you want to learn as the first steps towards a career, or learn for fun?
This matters because what you do next and how you approach your learning is different depending on which path you go down. Let’s look at each and why…
As a hobby: people who do makeup FX and prosthetics as a hobby will use their skills to create cosplay costumes or for Halloween events and parties. It’s all for your own pleasure and you create the things you want to create in the way you want to create them. This means the subject matter tends to involve more visually impactful creations such as blood and gore FX or re-creations of famous characters. There’s a lot more out-of-the-kit type makeup involved and most people will work off their kitchen table using easily available materials.
As a career: the key difference in doing makeup FX and prosthetics as a career is you work to someone else’s brief and to meet the needs of your employer or a client. Rarely will you be required to reproduce an already famous character, and blood and gore FX make up only a very small portion of the work you would be expected to do. It tends to involve far less time actually doing makeup and far more time in workshops making moulds and executing processes that are more akin to fine art.
So how does this affect you when you’re starting out and seeking ways to learn? The most obvious first steps are to learn from free online resources such as YouTube. Some tutorials are very good and some are very, VERY bad. If you’re looking to learn however, this is still a great way to start – see the next section, ‘Is YouTube a good place to learn?’ – and the way these tutorials usually show someone applying makeup to themselves is the way you’re most likely to start learning. I know my first makeups were done on myself while looking in a mirror.