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Special effects makeup is perhaps the most fun and difficult of theatrical makeup. The phrase special effects is used to describe any theatrical effect that requires nose putty, crepe hair, bald caps, or any other makeup techniques that creates an out of the ordinary addition.

A good special effect project for beginners due to it’s simplicity, is the making of a cut. In order to make the cut you will need the following materials:
baby oil
nose putty
modeling tool (pop sickle sticks can easily serve as a replacement)
translucent powder (baby powder also works well)
paper clip
hardened fake blood
fake liquid blood
paper towels
Any of these materials can be ordered through theatrical makeup companies or bought at Halloween and magic stores.

Your first step in applying a cut is to decide on where you want to put it. Ideally you want to place it somewhere hairless and immobile. For example, don’t place it directly over a wrinkle or crease. Your forearm is a good spot for the time being. If you are applying a cut for a
particular scene in a play, I’m sure you already have a place where you must put it.

If this is your first time working with nose putty, take a moment to examine its texture. Notice the stickiness makes it difficult to work with. Baby oil will solve this irritating problem. Be sure to use the oil sparingly! If you use too much, the putty will no longer stick to your skin. You want to use just enough to allow you to work with the putty.

Use your modeling tool to remove the desired amount of nose putty from it’s container.

A ball that is a centimeter in diameter will create a cut that is approximately one inch long. Apply the baby oil to your finger tips and never directly to the wax. Start by forming an oval with your putty. Next, place the putty to the desired area and begin blending the sides into your skin. If it isn’t sticking, you’ve used too much baby oil and must start again. As you stick the putty down, begin to create a peak that runs length wise from the top to the bottom of your soon to be cut. This is where your actual cutting will occur. The peak should rise just through the center and slightly resemble a mountain. Once your peak is made and putty is blended, you will notice an excess amount of putty that isn’t serving any purpose. Remove this putty as you see it fit.

Next you must add the appropriate color foundation to the wax in order for it to appear to be from your skin. On some occasions the putty may appear to naturally match the skin. In this case, no foundation will be needed. Most of the time the color of the wax will look very odd against the skin and must be lightened. Be sure to avoid damaging the peak when applying the foundation. After the new color is added, apply a coat of powder to insure the color will last.

Now it’s time to form your cut. Decide whether you want a straight cut or a jagged one. Unfold a paper clip, and use it as your cutting tool. Cut right down the peak, and be careful not to cut your actual skin. The cut should extend from one end to the other, and it should be totally
clear of putty. As you cut you will notice a putty build up. Be sure to remove the excess putty as you go along with your cutting.

Once your cut is made, dry blood must be added. Take a tiny piece and roll it into a small snakelike thread. Gently begin to stick this piece into the narrow cut using the paper clip as a helpful tool. Once that is completed, you must add the wet blood. Dab drops inside the cut being very careful not to allow any blood anywhere else on the cut. Once you decide how your character received his cut, you can add the extra stream of blood that runs out of it. For example, if he was cut while walking, the blood would stream down his arm.

You have now completed your special effects cut. Remember it’s a theatrical makeup job that’s meant to be viewed from on a stage. If you examine it up close it will look fake.

Practice perfecting your special effect makeup jobs and perhaps your cut will begin to look real up close as well.