May 22, 2022

Using Nature As A Reference For SFX Makeup

Using nature as SFX makeup

Special effects (SFX) makeup is challenging. You need to use your creativity and imagination to ensure the results are believable and impactful. Makeup artists draw inspiration from several things when creating looks. They look at both art and science, and many create looks of makeup inspired by nature. 

If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your SFX look, you’re sure to find something in the natural world that works perfectly.

Why Take Inspiration From Nature?

Nature is very versatile, and there are thousands of different colors, textures, patterns, and designs out there. There’s no shortage of options, and if you do your research well, you can quickly come up with a solution. Here are a few reasons why you should consider nature-inspired SFX makeup:


Makeup artists are always concerned about making their work realistic and believable. Mimicking nature is the best way to go about it because if a design exists in nature, it is believable. For example, a character can have glowing, reflective markings on their body because bioluminescence exists in the natural world.

A Large Number of Options

There’s no shortage of design inspiration available in nature. You can choose different textures and looks based on different animals, plants, insects, flowers, fruits, and even rocks or other elements.

For example, you could study animal teeth to figure out what kind of fangs your werewolf character needs. You could also use animal or reptile skin as a reference to create a unique appearance for an alien character. The options are limitless. 


You can look at an animal’s torn and decomposing remains to recreate looks for zombies or injured characters. You can also see real wounds from teeth, claws, and tusks in the animal kingdom and base your SFX wounds on them.

As you can see, there are several benefits of being inspired by nature when it comes to special effects makeup. Looking up weird or unique creatures in nature can help you find reference ideas for your project.

What Should You Keep in Mind?

Experienced SFX makeup artists learn a lot about creating different looks from nature. It’s not just about creating different looks by emulating what exists. It’s about understanding the underlying purpose and having an intention for your design. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when creating your nature-inspired makeup looks. 

Anatomy is Similar

Certain aspects of anatomy are similar and consistent in all natural beings. For example, most creatures have two eyes, one mouth, one nose, and four limbs. There are exceptions to the rule, but this is true in the majority of the creatures on our planet.


Most things in nature are also proportionate and well-balanced. This balance is necessary because they need to be able to survive gravitational and atmospheric forces.

There’s a Logic

Most features, colors, textures, and behaviors have some form of evolutionary logic. For example, poisonous frogs and snakes are often brightly colored to warn predators. Cheetahs have long tails to balance their body while they run at high speeds. When creating any special effects look, you need to understand the purpose behind each feature to ensure it is realistic.

Suitable For the Environment

Most features and traits that occur in nature are a response to the surrounding environment. Cacti are a desert plant, which means they’re designed to retain water. Polar bears have white fur to help them blend into the Arctic environment. When you add special effects traits and characteristics, you need to keep this in mind.

Concluding Thoughts

If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your SFX makeup look, you’re sure to find something in the natural world that you can reference. Keep in mind that there is a design and logic to nature. Then, use your creativity and imagination to let your design come to life. Following this approach will ensure your SFX makeup looks both stunning and believable!

Learn More About LMI

Teaching the art and science of makeup artistry to the next generation of makeup and special effects artists since 2010, the L Makeup Institute offers classes covering all styles of makeup artistry. There are thousands of cosmetology schools, but only a handful of schools like L Makeup Institute that focus exclusively on preparing you to work as a professional makeup artist immediately upon graduating. Discover why LMI is well known in the MUA community as producing talented, well-rounded, and sought-after graduates. We can’t wait to meet you!

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