As you probably know, the makeup application is only the final step in a very long process, from the design element, sculpting, moulding, prepaint, costume... etc. etc. It takes a long old time to create a character makeup. So we asked the overly talented Ruth Parry if she would be kind enough to tell us more about her Draenai Warrior.
We have been lucky enough to have Ruth demo for us a few times now and she never fails to impress with her intricate looks and comprehensive preparation. Enjoy a behind the scenes peek into Ruth's makeup below!
And don't forget to follow Ruth and Amber (who created the INSANE costume) on Instagram to stay updated with all their latest projects. @Ruthparrymua @theforgottenimp
What was your inspiration for the look?
When I originally attempted this makeup, I collaborated with a different model who was very much into cosplay and World of Warcraft and it was her who suggested that we try to recreate one of the characters from that world. The Draenei character was most visually appealing to me and seemed to offer the most opportunity to create something sculpturally interesting. The male and female Draenei have slightly different looks and so to create a more visually appealing piece, I attempted to combine the looks of both.
You seem to like creating female characters, is there a reason behind this?
I think it’s a combination of things; early on in my career I used to do quite a lot of straight makeup and hair, however I pretty much stopped doing this when I began to focus more on the prosthetic side of things. I still enjoy doing beauty makeup and therefore try to incorporate some aspect of it into my prosthetic makeups and I feel that this is a little easier to do with a female character.
I also like to use the same model for my makeups. I found my current model, Beth, a few years ago; I didn’t deliberately set out to find a female, but don’t recall having any male volunteers at the time! Beth is literally a dream to work with! She’s very accommodating and easy going and is a real pleasure to work with. Using the same model is also financially much cheaper for me as I don’t have to continue life casting new people, which is an expensive process. The makeups themselves already cost a lot for me to produce, so by using the same model’s life cast, I can keep costs down a little. Beth also lives near to me which is convenient and helps to reduce costs when I arrange test makeup days, costume fittings, contact lens fittings etc.
I know that this isn’t the first time you’ve created his character, do you often go back to characters you’ve created and try and redevelop them?
No, this is the first time, but probably not the last!! I’m highly critical of my own work and will spend time studying pictures of my sculpture and makeup applications, trying to pick out the flaws within it and to gain an understanding of what would work better, or what improvements could be made. I had a lot less experience when I created the first Draenei makeup and always wondered whether I could improve upon it sculpturally or execute the entire process better.
If you had the chance to recreate this look again would there be anything you would change?
Yes! Looking at pictures of the makeup, I wondered whether it might be nice to forgo the hair/wig and to create something more sculpturally interesting on the back of the head, however this might deviate too much from the original character design, so I’m not sure if this is something that I would do … On Amber’s part, I know that she would assemble certain elements of the armour in a different way and use different forms of strapping to attach it all together. She had also planned for the crystals on the suit to light up, but unfortunately ran out of time.
When you were applying the horns you were using something that looked like a sheet of alginate to support the front of the models head, what was that?
I ran 2 versions of the forehead appliance; one was a firm piece run in Key 22, that I offered up to the forehead, to check the placement of the horns was correct before I stuck the skull cap down. As the forehead appliance overlapped onto the horns, it was important that the positioning of the skull cap was exact.
How many pieces did the makeup consist of?
If we include the horns, it was 9 pieces in total; the horns, 2 ear tips, the forehead/nose appliance, the back of head, 2 cheeks, the chin and neck. I tend to do the application of my makeups by myself and find it much more manageable to break the sculpt down into smaller pieces, so that I’m not having to juggle and worry about stretching a larger silicone piece.
How long did it take you to prep the makeup? Including the casting, sculpting, moulding costume to pre paint?
I had to start work on the makeup months in advance as I knew that I had a busy work schedule coming up and would have a very limited amount of time at home to spend on it. I originally sculpted it back in October when I had a week or two off from work and then didn’t have the opportunity to start moulding it until January this year. I’ve been in and out of Northern Ireland for most of this year and have had to do all my moulding, silicone running and pre-painting during my weekends home or when I’ve had a week or two off, so its hard to say exactly how long the entire process took…
I know that Amber was also busy with her own client work and like me, was trying to fit the prep work in in between jobs. It took her about 1-2 months to fabricate the costume from EVA foam, to create the resin crystals/finger armour, the fabric cape, digistilts and to seal/texture/paint the whole thing. In addition, it took another fortnight for her and her partner Adam, to build the sword and programme the digital led lights.
Your lovely cos playing friend Amber designed and created the costume, how much input did you have into the costume design?
There are lots of reference pictures online of the Draenei character, so we both had a good idea of how the armour should look, but I was more than happy to hand the entire project over to Amber and give her complete creative control over that side of things. Amber and I work well together as a team and she’s an incredibly talented artist, so I had complete faith that she would be able to create something amazing! What she did produce far exceeded any expectations that I had and totally blew me away!! The costume was incredible and knocked the socks off my makeup!!
Our favourite part of the costume (apart from the giant sword) were those hooves! Can you tell us more about how they worked?
I’ll have to hand you over to Amber to answer that one as she was entirely responsible for that side of things … the hooves for the costume were two parts. The first was a digistilt made from wood, metal, plastic and tarp straps. The second was a resin hoof which was sculpted around the stilt base. This was moulded in silicone and roto cast in a tough lightweight fast cast resin. It was then attached with expanding prop foam. They were then finished by painting and adding faux fur. The armour then sat over the stilts.
How long did the application take?
Minus set up, toilet breaks, lunch etc, it probably took around 4 hours. On top of that, I also had to apply the wig. The costume assembly took around half an hour.
During the application did you experience any hiccups or problems you hadn’t accounted for?
During the test makeup, the horns were the first thing to be applied, so Beth was wearing the skull cap/horns for most of the day. As the forehead appliance overlapped onto them, I was unable to make the horns detachable, so as time went on, the weight became quite uncomfortable for her, despite me trying to make the whole thing as light weight as possible. To remedy the problem at IMATS, I reorganised the order in which I applied the pieces so that she was wearing the horns for a shorter space of time. I also bought a reclining chair with a head rest, which gave support to her head and made the application a lot more comfortable.
On Amber’s part, I know that she found the sword itself and the electronics within it to be somehwat problematic, as she had had to teach herself over a fortnight how to wire and program the lighting within it. She also had difficulty with some of the Velcro attachments within the costume, which unfortunately turned out not to be strong enough, but she made it work!
The overall feedback from the makeup was incredible, were you pleased?
As I mentioned earlier, I am probably my own worst critique and tend to focus on the flaws within my work, rather than celebrate what’s good about it! There are aspects of the entire process that I wished I’d done better, but I try not to get too hung up on these things and high five myself for having the stones to get up there to do the demo, as I’m a shy individual and don’t find these types of things easy! I think overall Amber was pleased with how things went, as although she’s been making props/SFX for over six years, this was the first full suit of armour that she’d built.
Top 5 products you couldn’t of created this makeup without –
Emmy Award-winning makeup artist, monster maker, mad scientist and now author, Steve Johnson is renowned for his contribution to the SFX industry throughout the years. His recent book, Rubberhead: Sex, Drugs, and Special FX was published in 2017 and chronicles his legendary career in film and TV. Johnson’s company, XFX, did make-up effects for more than 200 films, countless TV shows, commercials and music videos. His film credits include The Abyss, Ghostbusters, Bicentennial Man, Species and Spider-Man 2. Steve was kind enough to answer a few burning questions we had for him about the upcoming release of the second instalment of the Rubberhead Books.
If you haven’t already seen the robotic beauty that Birmingham based collective, Father Phantom Studios debuted at IMATs London, where have you been?!
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!