The Final Project
The witch monster suit project is finally complete, and overall we are happy with the results. Above is a cute little group picture we took to celebrate the completion of this semester long project. Starting back left: Katelyn Arbuckle, Lara Owsianik (Model), Jessie McEwen (Me), Carson Lines, (front left) Catherine Lemire, Michelle Howlett, and Alicia Hodgins. Don’t we all just look like highly professional makeup artists in this photo?
As a final project for my special effects makeup course we were separated into groups and tasked to build a full monster suit from scratch. Together we came up with a concept of a hag/witch who could not have children of her own, so she took to stealing infants from nearby villages and places them in her makeshift womb. Don’t leave your young one’s unattended outside when the sun starts to set or you might just find they’ve gone missing the minute you turn your back!
This design is certainly reminiscent of my Old Hag ceramic series. She even has the same nose! I’ll admit is a bit unsettling to see an illustration I drew for more than a year stand in front of me as a flesh-and-blood monster.
This project, along with everything else I had to do for other classes, has been eating up every moment of my days. On the bright side, I should have lots of content to spread out over the next few weeks. Presently, I am currently in the process of designing another large scale monster suite with another group of students. Pictures and updates will be up soon!
The Application Process
It took about five and a half hours to apply the prosthetic pieces and paint the entire costume. This massively overshot our goal of 3.5 hours, but our model Lara was a very good sport about it! Let this be a lesson to all makeup artists to remember that there is a person under all that latex!
The head is a one piece batman-like cowl and the hair was applied by hand using a type of spirit gum (mainly to cover the giant seam on the back of her head). The hands were also a separate piece, and and slide on easily like gloves with bandages hiding the seams there as well. The nightgown covers the bulk of the suit so our model would not have to sit for additional time to have more appliances glued on. Why add more time and money to the process if you don’t have to? You’d be surprised how many big title movies actually do this!
The back rig, stomach and breasts are all one set that Velcro together under the dress. We needed to keep from squeezing our model’s middle as much as possible, so there is some interesting shoulder strap action happening under there.
Also, one of my group mates managed to get the baby doll voice box to work and he stuck it inside the stomach. So now not only did that thing made weird darth vader breathing noises while I was casting it, but it can continue to make weird noises while our monster walks around. The laugh it makes is also creepy. Who the heck thought that was a good idea for a children’s toy? It sure freaked out a lot of college students when we paraded her through the learning commons!
What I learned
I learned from this experience that I am more well-suited to being a shop rat than an on-set hand. I had a blast spending some quality time in the studio with my bust form and coffee trying to draft a hump form from scratch. I think I spent almost a full week holding up a wire frame to the bust trying to figure out how to get the shapes I wanted, and don’t even get me started on wrapping the layer of foam over top! I have sewn and worked with fabric before, but inch thick foam has a mind of its own, and the extra thickness of material presents its own unique challenges.
Perhaps it was our level of inexperience but my group was tripping over each other trying to get this costume put together before our model passed out from boredom. Give me a nice quiet shop atmosphere any day!
All photo credits for this post go to Jessica Noble. Thank you so much for coming to do our photo shoot!