Aging makeup for film.
April 22, 2008 11:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I age someone for a film? Looking for something relatively cheap/easy. We don't have any proper makeup experience.

Looking for supplies, techniques and tips. Thanks!
posted by es_de_bah to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Highlight the main creases- under the eyes and by the mouth- with a brown eyeliner pencil, and smudge the lines. Then, coat the person's face with liquid latex and have them scrunch up their face as much as possible until it dries. Instant wrinkles! You can also get spray hair coloring that's totally water-soluble. Both of these are gettable at nicer costume shops.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:44 PM on April 22, 2008

Baby powder and hairspray can make fairly convincing gray hair. Be careful, though - if there's wind or someone touches their head, you'll get a big poof of powder in the air.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:02 AM on April 23, 2008

There's a step-by-step guide to creating an aging character using make-up on the V&A theatre collections website. It's for stage so not naturalistic enough for film, but might help you with visualise shading etc.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:27 AM on April 23, 2008

'visualising' - sorry!
posted by freya_lamb at 1:27 AM on April 23, 2008

A light touch of white liquid shoe polish, applied sparingly to the sideburns and temples with an old toothbrush is an easy and inexpensive way to age someone, without worrying about it blowing away such as with baby powder. It is also easily washed off afterwards.
posted by Jade Dragon at 5:18 AM on April 23, 2008

Remember too that posture, clothing, and facial expression have as much to do with "looking old" as wrinkles and gray hair.
posted by Rykey at 6:21 AM on April 23, 2008

This book (if it's the one I'm thinking of - I saw a much older edition), is very complete reference for creating effects with makeup. Note though that stage makeup tends to be more exaggerated than film makeup as the audience is farther away from the actors.

Be sure to practice, practice, practice and take pictures or videos and NOTES of what you're doing when you're practicing so you can reproduce it. I've found that with even some of the cheapest makeup kits, it's very easy to create effective makeup. For example, using the cheap hallowe'en quad color kits (red, green, blue, yellow) and some foam, I can create bruises, black eyes, and goose eggs that will fool most people - but that came with practicing with mixing colors and so on.

Latex for making wrinkles is awesome - it also works well if you stretch the skin as tightly as it will go, hold it, apply the latex, dry it with a hair dryer, then release. If you do this around the eyes, you'll get crows feet. Check for latex allergies first! Better quality latex (for molding and casting) has a low water/ammonia content and has the consistency of pudding, but it might be too thick for this task. Try cheaper liquid latex instead.

Not all make up likes to go on latex. In this picture you can see where the latex ends and the skin starts, and I can assure you that there is the same makeup on both.

You can a warty appearance to the texture of latex skin by mixing in some corn meal.
posted by plinth at 7:24 AM on April 23, 2008

I do makeup on the cheap for friend's student films and I used to do theatre. If you don't have the time to practice liquid latex or don't want to buy it, you can do decent aging just with makeup. Start with a shade paler than their actual skin color.
With brown and/or purply brown pencil along certain lines:
-fine lines around the eyes. have them squish their face up and mark where the creases form
-lines across the forehead, have them squish their face toward their forehead (think Dylan from 90210) and then mark the lines there
-smudge all the lines to make them less obviously makeup

Add age spots with a brown cream or pot makeup and, if you have it, a rough plastic sponge-like thing (comes in a lot of cheap kits). Make sure it doesn't look like a bruise, though.
-a little bit of brown under the eyes to make them look a bit more sunken is good
-a bit of brown under the cheekbones makes the face look a little more gaunt and sunken, which can work depending on if your actor is a larger person. If they're larger, emphasize the jowls more instead

Good luck!
posted by fructose at 7:49 AM on April 23, 2008

That V&A site is good. Liquid latex is also good for extreme wrinkliness, especially if you use a layer of Kleenex.

Method I always used when I had no latex:
Requires: 1 layer foundation, 1 pot highlight [cream makeup a shade or two lighter than the actor's skin], 1 pot shadow [cream makeup a shade or two darker than the actor's skin]

For stage you use very dark shadows and very light highlights. For film, you'll want tones closer to the actor's skin tone. Also, blend blend blend after each step until you can only-just see what you've done.

Your actor should be wearing foundation (but not powder yet). If using grey-spray, this should already be done, but if using a wig, it should not be on yet.

Apply a smear of shadow across the center of the forehead, temple to temple. Blend. ("blending"= smooth out the colour with your fingers so it's uniform and the boundaries aren't sharp.)
Get your actor to raise his/her eyebrows as high as possible and hold that position. Lightly dab highlight onto the wrinkled area.

Tell actor to relax, blend the result. (that is, blur it a bit with your fingers till it looks natural.)

Apply a smear of shadow around the eye socket. The older your character is, the further this shadow should extend-- into the hollows on either side of the nose, across the bride of the nose, and up towards the temple. Shadow under the eye is good for any age. Blend.

Get the actor to squinch up their eyes and hold that position. Lightly dab highlight over the wrinkled area (temples, corners of eyes, under eyes, next to nose.) Tell the actor to relax. Blend.

Make sure there's some highlight directly under the lower eyelid, making the crescent of shadow beneath look deeper. If desired, highlight the cheekbone under the under-eye shadow.

Apply shadow under the cheekbone where you'd normally put blush, extending back to the ear. For stage this part is more pronounced, but for film you'll want to blend it so it barely shows.

Apply a thin smear of shadow along the nasolabial fold (from the nostril to the corner of the mouth.) You really want to be subtle here, so blend blend blend.

Have the actor smile as wide as they can. Dab highlight onto the ridge created. Tell the actor to relax. Blend the result-- again, you want this very subtle.

If desired, apply a thin smear of shadow either side of the chin and blend so it can barely be seen. Tell the actor to turn the corners of his/her mouth down and squinch them. Dab highlight onto the resutling jowl. Tell the actor to relax. Blend.

For a very old character, tell the actor to squinch up their lips in an "I kiss you" sort of way. Dab on highlight, then tell them to relax.

You applied foundation to the neck not just the face, right? Always!
If desired, apply a thin smear of shadow from the point of the jawbone to the V of the collarbone. Blend.

Get the actor to point their chin down towards their chest. Dab highlight onto any neck wrinkles that result. Tell the actor to relax. Blend.

Take a look at the overall face-- in the same lighting he/she'll be working in, if possible. Are you happy? Then powder over everything.

If the character is a woman who wears eyeshadow/blush/lipstick, apply it at this stage.

Age your actor's hands by getting them to hold all their fingers out straight and dabbing highlight over the knuckles and tendons. Then get them to bend their wrist upwards (in the "Stop!" position) and dab highlight onto the wrinkles in the wrists. Blend and powder.

Yay! You have aged someone. Have a big drink; you earned it.

On preview: I prefer cream shadow over pencil because it's subtler: pencil is less easy to blend and looks more like you've just drawn lines on someone's face, which may not be the effect you're going for.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:17 AM on April 23, 2008

The one thing I remember from a video about the making of Forrest Gump was that you can change the perceived age of a man fairly well just by moving his hairline back and forth. Obviously, the other techniques presented here are better, but it's something to keep in mind. A guy won't really look 80 if he has the hairline of a 25-year-old.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2008

Response by poster: lots of awesome answers! thanks. i'm going to start with some pencil + liquid latex stuff but i'll keep milking this for a while and mark some bests after a few science experiments.

thanks ev'body!
posted by es_de_bah at 9:07 PM on April 23, 2008

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