Make a zombie – Part 1

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Zombie makeup tutorial using silicone rubber

This video will show from beginning to end, with an in-depth look at every step, how to make a convingcing, realistic zombie makeup, monster, scarred, or any other kind of face needed for a movie? The tutorial will have two parts. This first part will show the creation of the zombie mask itself, while the second part will show the CGI stuff that will make this effect really work.

Zombies have been popular elements in movies for a long time. There are slow zombies like the walkers in The Walking Dead, fast zombies like the neurotic zombies in 28 Days Later, and some of them are quite intelligent like the zombies of iZombie. But all of them have one thing in common. Their face give the average person a hear attack, thereby greatly reducing the duration of the zombie apocalypse. 🙂 No surprise considering they are undead, and so usually look like several days old corpses.

This was the look we were looking for with the tutorial. For this reason it was important that the sickly scarred face show not only rot and blood but also holes that show the skull beneath the skin. This makes them look really unnatural and scary.

This first video will show the necessary work in 6 main steps. The description will list every information about the used materials, and at the very end we will list them again, along with where you can buy them yourself.

First step

Creating a copy of the actor’s/actress’ face. We can create and exact copy of the model’s face using liquid rubber. This is imporant, because we will design the zombie mask on this copy. Later we will use it again when pouring the mask to ensure the mask fits perfectly on the face.

body-double release creamface-casting mold with body doubleface moldingstrong gypsumrubber mold face

To make sure the rubber does not get stuck on the model’s face we spead some Body Double® Release Cream on it. It is an excellent skin friendly material, much like Body Double® Silicone Rubber, the rubber we used for making the copy. After the rubber dried (this only takes a few minutes) we put gypsum on it.

This makes the rubber more rigid and prevents it from deforming. We also put gauze slices in the gypsum to make it stronger. It won’t break and will be easier to work with.

Second step

We pour more gypsum into the rubber mold. It is important to use a harder type of gypsum because softer ones break easily. As you can see in the video, we used yellow dental gypsum.

making gypsum headgypsum head makingmolded gypsum face statue

After the gypsum face is poured you can correct any flaws with a knife, and voila. You have a staute of the actor’s/actress’ face.

Third step

Designing the zombie mask. This step basically consists of creating a mask mold out to modelling clay on the gypsum face. There are no rules. Especially for zombie masks.

designing the zombie maskmodelling clay on the gypsum facezombie mask making with clay

A good advice is to make the layer of clay as thin as possible to preserve the shape of the face. As you can see in the video that we pressed the clay often with the rubber used for the statue molding. This helped us transfer the natural texture of the face easily unto the clay. This makes the mask realistic and lifelike.

Fourth step

Pouring the mask mold. In most cases a layer of rubber goes unto the clay and gypsum face followed by gypsum to make it rigid. Now we went straight to the gypsum layer. We did it because we only need a mask for half a face and that half face had no parts beding backwards that could prevent the two gypsum layers from separating.

vaseline releasestrong gypsum moldgypsum zombie face model


If the face model has parts that bend backwards, the upper layer of gypsum can go under it. In this case it is better to use rubber first. You can definitely pull that off. It is also imporant to use some sort of form separating material on the clay and the face before pouring the gypsum or rubber, to prevent the two layers from sticking together. We used simple vaseline.

Our method has two advantages.
The first is that you need less materials and time to do it. The second is that the two gypsum layers are strong enough to not be distorted when we press them together. This can occur with rubber.

Fifth step

It is very important to spread form separator on the two layers before pouring the rubber or it will stick them together so hard, you will never ever be able to take it off. We used vaseline again. For pouring the mask we used Dragon Skin®, a truly fantastic material. We can’t recommend it enough.

dragon skin moldingmolding zombie maskdragon-skin zombie mask

It is very easy to work with and the finished mask feels completely like human skin to the touch. It is also easy to paint on. As you can see in the video we used Silc Pig® as paint and even a little gave it a lot of colour.

Sixth step

Putting on the mask. Before masking the mask, wash it and dry it to clean the mold separator.

There is a great, skin friendly rubber glue that was made explicitly to glue masks and scars unto human skin. It’s called Skin Tite®. What makes it a very good adhesive is that it moves together with the skin, lets the mask stretch and so makes wearing it feel perfectly natural.

zombie mask gluingzombie mask paintingzombie mask making tutorial

We painted the mask when it was on the model’s face, but if you want to do that before putting the mask on, you can. We painted the mask Psycho Paint® with Silc Pig®.

And to finish it some face powder, and talcum powder to make the sparkling of the mask more natural and for its tones to fit better with the model’s complexion.

All done. We can roll the camera.

Here is the list of the used materials:

– Body Double® Release Cream
– Body Double® Silicone Rubber
– Gypsum
– Vaseline
– Dragon Skin® Silicone Rubber
– Silc Pig®
– Psycho Paint®
– Skin Tite®

You can buy all of them on the Smooth On site.

Here is the Make a Zombie Part 2 with After Effects.

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If anything we wrote was confusing, just write a comment and we will be happy to answer your questions. But if you could understand everything and just simply like what we are doing, we appreciate that kind of feedback as well. 🙂

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