Using Nature As A Reference For SFX Makeup

Special Effects 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 they create looks. They look at art, science, and most find inspiration from nature. If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your SFX look, you’re sure to find something in nature 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 easily come up with a solution. Here are a few reasons why you should consider SFX makeup inspired by nature:


  • Believable – Makeup artists are always concerned about making their work realistic and believable. Mimicking nature is the best way to go about it because if it exists in nature, it is believable. For example, a character can have glowing, reflective markings on their body because bioluminescence exits in nature.
  • A Large Number of Options – There’s no shortage of inspiration available in nature. You can choose different textures and looks based on different animals, plants, insects, flowers, fruits, and even rocks or elements. You can study different animal teeth to figure out what kind of fangs your werewolf character needs. You can use animal or reptile skin as a reference to create a unique appearance for an alien character.
  • Realistic – You can look at the torn and decomposing remains of an animal to recreate looks for your zombies or injured characters. You can 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. Even looking up weird creatures in nature can help you find inspiration 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 some logic to your design. Here’s a look at some of the things you need to keep in mind:


  • 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.
  • Proportion – 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.


It is important to remember that there are a design and logic to nature. This approach will ensure your SFX makeup looks stunning and believable.

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