Depending on the effect we need, we might take a cast of an actor. With the two-part mould there is a gap which you fill up with a gelatine mixture. This forms a prosthetic piece with fine edges that can be blended into their skin. Then a swelling or a cut can be built up on it. It can take hours.
Gelatine has a very similar texture to the skin; you can pull it about, so it is very effective. People even get a bit queasy watching me handle it. For facial injuries we can also pad out from inside their mouths to make their face look more swollen, and simply paint on bruising colours. We've had people with broken noses, when we've cut the top off a baby's dummy and stuck it up their nostrils. There is a hole so they can breathe, and it makes their noses look swollen. For stitches, a piece of protective acetate goes behind a thick prosthetic layer so the needle can't go into the actor's arm.
We might have pumping blood, with tubes running through a prosthetic piece which have to be hidden in hair or clothes. In my college days we used to make blood from coffee and Ribena but it's now made of food colourings, with glycerine to make it sticky. Vomit is made of vegetable soup and, if necessary, a bit of tomato juice.
The best thing that anyone can say to an accident make-up artist is "Urghh! That looks horrible!" I suppose that's the most we can ask for.
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