Special Effects Make-Up Training Programs and Course Information

Essential Information

Training for special effects make-up can generally be found at colleges, universities, beauty schools and in specialized schools. Some full degree programs in this field of study are available, but other schools may only offer a course or two within a related program, such as make-up artistry, film studies or theater. Completion of a program may result in a certificate or degree and can lead to a career in special effects make-up design.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in special effects make-up training courses:

  • Make-up application
  • Addressing lighting
  • Character design
  • Facial construction with make-up
  • Tools and materials
  • Airbrush techniques
  • Prosthetics and props
  • Portfolio development

List of Common Program Topics

Cosmetic Make-up Theory

During this section, students gain a basic understanding of general make-up application. They examine what tools and supplies are used and how to apply make-up according to face shape and facial features. Students will also experiment with light and dark colors for shadowing effects and to emphasize or de-emphasize certain areas. They will typically work with a plethora of colors as well to create dramatic effects.

Introduction to Special Effects Make-up

Students are introduced to special effects make-up design, providing them with a basic understanding of this specialized variation of make-up artistry. They explore the tools, instruments and materials used to create bruises, cuts, blood, aging skin and more. Character creation and methods used to visualize an effect are analyzed.

Students start to gain hands-on experience working with wigs, beards and hair as well as mold making and casting. Other common themes at the introductory level include the role and responsibilities of make-up artists, safe use of materials and the history of make-up use in film and theater.

Advanced Special Effects Make-up

Advanced training in special effects further develops students' abilities in areas such as mold making, casting and sculpting. They also gain more practical experience constructing realistic looking simulated graphic violence make-up and applying prosthetics to be blended and colored. They may also be presented with concepts in animatronics, basic airbrush illustration and the various props used to assist effects.

Portfolio and Employment Preparation

During portfolio presentation training, students learn how to put together a professional portfolio that showcases their work. They explore the inner-workings and standards of the entertainment industry, specifically discussing ways that special effects make-up are used to transform visual expression.

Students also work on building their professional skills in order to secure a job. The various places they may find employment will include entertainment design and fabrication companies, special effects labs, prosthetic sculpting and mold making studios, theater companies and television studios.

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