You will need:
Water-based Glue, diluted 1 part glue to 1 part water
Face paints – skin tones, white, black, green, red, maroon/brown
Facepaint brushes, various sizes
Tissue / Toilet paper
Tip: Plan, plan, plan! Decide what you want to achieve and have a rough image in your mind of what you’d like the design to look like. Although I quite like the make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach too if you’re feeling confident!
Mix the glue with water to dilute. You may want to have a stronger solution depending on whose face you’re painting. In this instance, I didn’t want to hurt Lily’s skin by peeling off strong bonded glue later!
Rip small pieces of tissue paper and form what will be the edge of the ‘ripped skin’ area. Make sure you douse the tissue well with the adhesive – otherwise it may start to peel off when you’re painting. This area can be quite wide as you can cut into it once dried, depending on what you want it to look like.
Tip: Any water-based glue will do – I had some Mod Podge to hand, so that did the trick!
Continue building a layer of ripped tissue into your chosen ‘ripped face’ area. Ensure you thin out the tissue / taper off towards the skin away from the ripped area, so that the tissue looks less obvious when you start to paint. Not a good look to have a thick line where the tissue ends and the skin is visible!
You may have time to leave this to dry, but we were going for a quick result here! Get out your hairdryer on low heat to dry the tissue quickly if needed. Be careful not to linger in one spot as this may burn the skin – use circular motions and keep moving it across the wet area.
Tip: You may notice at this point that your glue wasn’t strong enough to adhere to the skin, but no problem – just add some more, less diluted, underneath the tissue and re-dry with the hairdryer.
Snip away! Cut into the tissue – but don’t be slicing and dicing any skin! This allows you to create a ‘lip’ that will work wonders with your 3D skin peel effect. Once you’ve snipped into the tissue, gently peel off any tissue not needed (i.e. the other half) and you can also rip parts to get a much more authentic jagged finish.
Tip: Need to peel off some unwanted tissue parts but it hurts like hell? If you’ve used a water-based glue, you can just dampen the tissue with a sponge or cloth and it will be easier to remove.
Get colouring! Choose a face paint that closely matches the subject’s skin tone, and use this to colour in the dried tissue and blend it into the skin, too. You can enhance this blended effect later, but for now you’ll just want to take the edge off that bright-white tissue paper look!
Ewww! You should have an area now which is devoid of skin. Well, that’s what you want it to look like! Tuck your brush under those flaps of tissue with a black / maroon mix and begin to blend that with more red tones in the middle area. This will give a better 3D illusion for your zombie! Keep it quite mottled with your colouring, as remember – this skin has been ripped off, and it’s not going to look flawless, is it?
Tip: if you have enough time, go for a more detailed effect using a bit of biology to aid you, and draw in those facial muscles and bone!
If you’re one of the undead or have just had your face ripped off, it’s unlikely you’ll be looking like a flawless model, so it’s only natural you might have heavy-set eyes and a tired demeanour! Add some black, grey and green tones around the eyes to make them look more sunken and lifeless.
Tip: Coloured contact lenses are amazing! Try some white ones, or maybe a gruesome yellow or blood-red colour for a really undead look.
Blood gets everywhere, so make sure you drizzle some paint along the edges of the ripped skin, and paint a few cracks/rips in there too so it doesn’t look too uniformal.
Tip: Use a paintbrush or toothbrush to get some blood splatter effects. You don’t get your face ripped off without it leaving one hell of a mess!
Get blending – start to use your big sponges to pale the face – with a little green for that rotted look around the edge of the face. Blend the eyes more and start to work the area between skin and tissue to disguise the material.
Zombie Lily got bashed on the head before she had her face ripped off. Dilute some red and maroon face paint and douse on hair, the edge of the forehead and even dripping down ears. It gives a nice finish and matted, blooded hair is very easy to achieve!
I felt we needed a bit more red on the skin – and as I didn’t do a paint splatter, I opted for a large cut/rip. Hold your paintbrush loose and run a red line from the ripped skin across another part of the face. Add a little black and maroon along one edge to give a shadow impression, and a tiny sliver of white on top of the red so it looks ‘glistening’. You can clean up the jagged edge with a bit of your shadowing / white-green tones to get a better blend.
Drip, drip, drip! Let the paint to all the work for you… Water down your red and maroon paints, splodge with a fat brush at the bottom of your ‘ripped’ area and let the paint and gravity do the rest! It will look amazing, trust me.
Did I mention you should probably wear old and/or dark clothes? Erm… well I’ve mentioned that now! Things will get messy, so make sure you don’t mind being covered it blood, glue and grimness! Get a slightly watery dilution of red/maroon paint, paint your zombie hand and imprint yourself! We chose the neck area, as it was a nice finish to the dripping blood. You could have bloody handprints anywhere. Go nuts!
Add some extra details – lines under the eyes, green veins, more cuts, blood splatter, hollowed-out cheeks and all that jazz. It’s your zombie, your rules, right?
And your zombie make-up is complete! Now go and scare the life out of your friends and family this Halloween (or whenever you feel like it!) 🙂
Don’t want to be a zombie anymore? Booooo! Warm water and soap will get rid of all that gunk. If it’s in your hair, just have a bath. Make sure you remove the tissue first though. Otherwise your bathwater will look almost as grim as a brain-eating zombie!