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Behind the Makeup - Father Phantom Studios

by Alice Lennon
Behind the Makeup - Father Phantom Studios

If you haven’t already seen the robotic beauty that Birmingham based collective, Father Phantom Studios debuted at IMATs London, where have you been?!

Father Phantom Studios, made up of the super talented Ben and Laura, who specialise in creating SFX makeup and collectables from their studio, in the trendy Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. We were lucky enough to be joined by them and Titanic FX to demo their newest creation. As we are always intrigued to find out more about design and the creation process behind the makeups, we dropped them a few questions. Read all about this stunning creation below!

How long have you been doing makeup?

Ben - I had been playing with fake blood and wax throughout school and especially college.  Makeup and practical effects seemed quite natural to me, but I wanted to know more about the film industry and production. Once I graduated I explored other avenues in the industry working on a few projects in other roles (But always doing make up on the side)  It wasn't until 2013 that I fully dedicated myself to Make-Up, The balls been rolling since! 

Laura -I started playing around with make up while in art school, I literally started by making pieces out of 'play doh' and sticking them to my face to see what it would look like. I then went to complete 2 years of makeup studies. I left France for England soon after, and have now been working in Special effects makeup for the last 5 years.

Father Phantom Studios the makeup armoury

What was your inspiration for the look? 

Ben - We had a few ideas for what we wanted to do. Another idea was a lizard based make up. Influenced by our tin foil hat wearing friends and the conspiracy theory that the government and monarchy are run by giant lizards. That was a fun concept to look into. The other idea of course was simply An Alien with a H R Giger twist. We thought the Alien concept would give us more room to be creative, so we went from there. We wanted something, alien, feminine, Bio Mechanical and elegant. Laura grabbed her sketch book and it grew from there. 

How long did it take you to prep the makeup? Including the casting, sculpting, moulding costume to pre paint? 

Laura - We took the life cast of our model at the end of January and worked on the sculpt on and off from then. Sculpting took a while as it was a pretty big piece. I then dedicated a month on and off to the break down of the sculpt as well as floating and making of the different cores. I dedicated a few days at the end of April to fit the pieces on the new cores and finishing of the extra details . A lot of time from the 1st to the 17th of May was dedicated to casting and painting. We had one test makeup with our model to fit the cowl and test our costume as well as a quick makeup test using blank pieces.

Father phantom studio The Makeup Armoury

How many pieces did the makeup consist of ? 

The makeup consisted of a cowl for the crest and back of the neck, 9 pieces for the face and front of the neck. We also made smaller generic pieces to add around the neck area and 2 hand pieces. We added 1 little piece on each finger too and pre-painted nails. 

 We spoke briefly about the colour choices for the makeup, you told us originally you were thinking about a H.R gigeresqe dark metallic scheme, when and why did you move away from that? 

Ben - This was much thought and energy went into the sculpt and the details, the paint scheme wasn't thought about in great detail. I was initially going to paint it. My plan was to break it down with some loose mottling using neutral and complementing colors. To differentiate the bone from the mechanical parts and those from the organic areas using greys, browns and purples. However, We had a lot of work going on and we made the decision last minute that Laura was to paint the pieces. Laura begun painting the same way I was going to. I would come and see the progress every 4 hours or so and as I seen it come together I would suggest things to Laura and so on. During the progress, it was taking shape but something was missing, So I asked Laura to start using various shades of Purples, those colors really finished it.  The key was to complement the sculpt and not take away from it, Which was actually a challenge. 

The Makeup Armoury Father Phantom Studios

We also briefly discussed how beautiful the design was, in which you said this was something that you wanted to integrate into the design, can you tell us more about the ways this was integrated into the design? 

Ben - Absolutely! While discussing the design I wanted it to be sexy and beautiful. The beauty elements stem from the patterns on the head. Laura managed to sculpt them in such an aesthetic and symmetrical way, The entire form of the head and the patterns had a clean fluid motion to them. It was almost like looking at a beautifully crafted  machine. It's perfection and symmetry made it bizarrely satisfying to look at. But it was how Laura managed to incorporate the curves of the crest and the bones that really made it rather beautiful. For the face, I thought about actresses such as Drew Barryrmore, Mila Kunis and Angelina Joile. I wanted to incorporate some of their 'sexy' features into our character. The Feline eyes, Strong Check bones, Bold chin and jawline and of course a big full rather kissable lips!  

The design itself is a contrast of mechanical tubing, grates and organic aspects, such as bone and spine. Was the contrast a large part of the design?

Ben - Yes, incorporating the organic tissue, bones and mechanical aspects together adds to the 'Alien' one could pick out all these elements individually, but seeing them all together was what made the alien.....alien. There's something very appealing about contrast. We all love to see black and white photos, bright clothes, strong contrasting make up, tiger print...zebra print.....There's a pleasing aesthetic in contrasting boldness, which is what the character was all about. 

The Makeup Armoury Father Phantom Studios

Do you work together on all of the designs? 

Laura - We do ! First of all it's great to be able to discuss ideas and concept. Secondly, I think that by bringing our two worlds and visions together we are able to create more original characters. We have very different aesthetics and we both like different things, by bringing them together we challenge our designs and avoid getting stuck in our individual 'styles'. I love this kind of collaborative work, as it helps me pushing the designs so much further than I would on my own. It opens a world of design possibilities that we might have missed while working separately !


Do you each have favourite parts of the process? 

Laura - Ben's favorite part is probably painting. He is extremely good at seeing how colors would work together, as well as where each shade and tints should go. He is able to bring anything to life, using any materials and paint. 
My favorite part of the process is definitely sculpting. I enjoy it a lot, and I just love working with clay ! I like to try new things with every sculpt, and I really like the fact that there is always so much to learn from each sculpt.

The Makeup Armoury Father Phantom Studios

The whole makeup was finished in a gloss and complimented with a beautiful wash of very fine glitter dust, was this decided after the paintwork was decided? Or was this an aspect you would of included if the colour scheme was different?

Ben - While Laura was blocking the sculpt out, I was thinking of the paint scheme. The first thing that I thought, wasn't necessary the colors but an texture and effect that creates. I wanted her to shimmer like a fish when caught in the light. So I had our colleague Kat, perform some tests and come up with the best concoction that would not only give the effect I wanted but would also work on silicone. The shimmer effect was actually thought of way before the color scheme.  

How long did the application take? 

Laura - It took us around 4 hours and 30 minutes to apply this makeup. We were quite happy with this time considering the high number of pieces we used. 

During the application did you experience any hiccups or problems you hadn’t accounted for? 

Laura - The application went pretty smoothly. We always worked really well together when it comes to applying prosthetics. 
During our test makeup, we made sure to make notes of the order of application and precise placement of the pieces, that helped us a lot during the final application. 

If you had the chance to recreate this look again would their be anything you would change? 

Laura - At first thought I would have said : Try to use the first darker paint scheme we had in mind. But we were actually really happy with the final color result. 
I'd say that if we were to remake it, I'd like to extend the make up to her arms, and maybe lower on the chest too, to have a bit more fun with the mix of machine and organic contrasted look. 

The overall feedback from the makeup was incredible, were you pleased? 

We didn't expect such a great feedback from such a big amount of people, especially because this was our very first demo at IMATS. It was, and still is, a massive surprise! We're really pleased!!!

Top 5 products you couldn’t of created this makeup without -

- NYX Metallic Glitter in Lumi Lite - It complimented the paint so well and gave the make up it's shimmery, tint changing look! 
- Ben Nye Glitter Glue - It proved to be the best adhesive/primer to effectively glue our glitter on. 
- Skin Illustrator Palettes - We used a selection of palettes for the brightest colours and to finish the makeup on the day. 
- Mapqro FX Palette - A favourite that found it's uses in this makeup too. 
- Telesis 8 Adhesive - Kept our pieces in place for the whole day.