Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zombie School Day 4

Photo #45: Got most of the sculpting done. Ideally it would have been done a week ago, and today would be spent prepping for the shoot and napping to be ready for working Friday 5pm to 5am. But Hollywood doesn’t work that way! I have to finish these sculpts, mold them, make the zombie body skins, buy wigs, build sets, blah, blah blah. Sorry, thinking through the keyboard…
The good news this morning is that Mark ran a perfect foam the first shot (as he always does) and the Marissa Zombie is ready for paint. It’s motivating to have a finished product in your hands. Light at the end of the tunnel!

Photo #46: So I left off last night with Zombie 4’s quick rough. Here she is with some more form to her. The eyeball thing is going to be cool. Or gross. Which is cool.

Photo #47: And here is Zombie #3 finished. I kept this one simple. But I have some crazy ideas for the finish work. I hope I can pull it off. It’s going to be tough to apply 4 full body makeups in the middle of the night (the girls need to be shot as their beautiful selves prior to turning into zombies) alone. So it doesn’t leave much time for experiment or styling. But I dare pretend I’ll have a few moments to try some things. If there are any zombie maker volunteers, that would help a lot! What are you doing tonite, say 3am?

Photo #48: I was supposed to have these all molded by first light so Mark could grab them when he dropped off the foam. Didn’t happen. He gave me one of those raised eyebrow looks and confirmed that this all shoots tomorrow night. Yup. I could tell he wanted to look at his watch, but he was merciful. Regardless, I have to mold these things fast! So I am going to attempt to do 3 molds at the same time. Ready…go!

Photo #49: One last look at the finished Zombie #4 in case I mess these molds up. My gut tells me that Leah is going to hate her makeup, because it is NOT pretty. But I have to admit that it is my favorite out of the four sculpts. Her real face has very defined, Disneyesque qualities that help me create a real character. If you see her, tell her you thought it was cool so she stops hating me! The hanging eyeball is probably going to get old fast when she is dancing…(in a soft voice, “sorry.”)

Photo #50: You may have noticed that Leah Zombie was shiny in that last photo. Since we already went over the basic molding process, I won’t bore you with that again. Instead, I’ll bore you with the details. She is shiny because I sprayed her with an aerosol acrylic coating called Crystal Clear. This toughens up the clay to help endure the molding process, and also creates a barrier to aide in removal. The plaster gets extremely hot as it cures, which melts the clay. Without this barrier, the clay bonds to the plaster. It will still come out, but it’s the difference between hours of scrubbing or peeling it off like an orange peel.

Are you wondering what the Matte Finish is for? Here’s the thing: as helpful as the Crystal Clear is, it also makes applying the splash coat of plaster like mixing water and oil. The plaster just slides off, and it takes forever to build up that ½ inch. But a quick spray of Matte Finish gives the clay surface bite again, and allows the plaster to hold. Since I am unusually talkative today, I’ll also add that you shouldn’t try to take the shortcut of ONLY using the Matte Finish. It is a porous coating, and will actually aide the clay in sticking feverishly to the cured cement. Just FYI.

Photo #51: Finally, something new! There was no way I was going to be able to do full torso sculpts and molds for the 3 dancer zombies, so I am using a failsafe old school technique called “tissue and latex”. Many of your favorite movie zombies were made this way. Even the classic Frankenstein was done in a similar fashion. Here we see the raw liquid latex. Obviously what I am about to do involves only one other ingredient: tissue! In this case, I am using paper towels. They hold up better when wet, and they give a good “chicken skin” texture when dry. I got my latex at

Photo #52: I just talked to Bree, the costumer, and she is going to have a lot of holes in the costumes bearing skin. So to be prepared, I am making generic zombie skin patches. Super easy. Dip random size pieces of paper towel in the latex, and put them on a slick surface like glass or plastic. Wrinkle it up a little and let it dry. I tried to make my wrinkles in different patterns and rhythms, so they will look natural along the various contours of the body.

Photo #53: Alright, now that you are an expert at generic zombie skin, its time for the next level. I have Kerri’s body cast, and I am going to make her a form fitting, custom zombie skin. The technique is the same; I just need to be more conscious of the wrinkle rhythm along her body. I am also going to use cotton balls dipped in latex to create some ribs and a sternum.

Photo #54: Here’s the zombie skin in progress.

Photo #55: I was explaining the delicate art of zombie skinning, and Marissa was like, “Yeah, what ever, dude. Anybody can do that.” And I was like, “No way, cause you have to be totally versed in…”, and then she was half way done with Leah’s zombie skin. And hers was really good. Yeah, well…whatever…

Photo #56: Zombies are cool, but you also need a creepy place for them to do zombie stuff. We will be filming here at the barnyard tomorrow. Scary? It’s terrifying to me! I have to get this place cleared out and looking like a swamp within the next 12 hours! Tomorrow’s photos should be interesting…

Photo #57: So I’m sitting here latexing torsos (There are worse jobs…) and I’m staring at a bunch of old set junk in the corner. And it starts to look like…a new set! It’s a totally random idea, and we are already out of time. But if you haven’t picked up on this by now, I like a challenge…

Photo #58: Zombie skins are done. Here’s a look at what I did with the cotton. Hope you have a good night. I sleep vicariously through you…

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