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EIU Students Demonstrate How to Put on Zombie Makeup for Halloween


EIU student Jake Cole models the less scary zombie look designed for children.

Want to look like a zombie from the hit AMC show “Walking Dead” and truly scare your friends for Halloween?  Eastern Illinois University theater students say it’s easy to create the look of a gruesome flesh-eating zombie for the Halloween season.

EIU theater students Miranda Buob and Chela Gurnea said the zombie look will only take about 20 minutes and parents and teenagers can buy all the supplies at a local Halloween store.

Children can get in on the zombie look, too, but the pair of makeup artists suggests a toned-down look for the younger set.

For a child zombie, Buob said parents will need a bruise wheel (essentially a makeup compact with a variety of dark colors), paint brushes, white makeup, sponges and store-brought blood.  For an adult zombie look, would-be makeup artists will also need liquid latex and tissue paper.

To create the child zombie face, Buob said parents should sit their child down in a lighted spot and apply white makeup evenly throughout their face.

After their child’s face has a pasty glow, parents should apply a black color along their high check bone with a sponge or with their finger.

Next, parents should mix browns and reds underneath their child’s eyes with a finger or brush, Buob said. 

“The bruise wheel keeps all the necessary colors in a convenient place,” Buob said. “But you can create the same effect with a collection of separate colors.”

Then, apply a little black makeup under the child’s eyes. As the child begins to look like one of the walking dead, Buob said parents can pick anywhere on the child’s face to add a bloody cut with red makeup and blood to complete the look.

After finishing the red cut, parents will have a zombie child ready to go trick-or-treating with friends or go to a Halloween party, Buob said. 

If parents want to join their children with an even scarier look, there are a couple extra steps for a slightly more gruesome look, said Chela Gurnea.

Gurnea, a makeup student who participated in workshops alongside makeup designers from the show “Walking Dead,” said adults should be careful not to overuse the bloody makeup.

“It might seem counterintuitive, but less makeup actually helps create more of a dramatic effect on the face,” she said.  “The idea is to go for realism and not necessarily gore.”

To start the adult zombie look, Gurnea recommends spreading a lighter color evenly throughout the face and on the lips.

After applying the lighter color, Gurnea said adults should spread a dark brown or purple on their eyelids and underneath their eyes with a brush or sponge. The next step to create a really scary look is to create a festering wound on their face.

First, pick the location of the wound, and apply latex liquid to the spot, she said.  If someone has latex allergy, Gurnea said adults can use Elmer’s School Glue as a substitute.

After applying the liquid, cut a piece of tissue, and then apply a piece of tissue to the spot onto of the glue.

“Repeat this step about eight times,” Gurnea said.

After the tissue and glue has dried, Gurnea recommends using a utensil to spread the tissue apart to open up the wound.  Inside the wound, Gurnea said adults should outline the hole with a dark color to create more depth for their wound.

She then recommends using a brush to place red makeup or blood in the middle to heighten the effect and create a really believable bloody wound.

With an adult subject, you shouldn’t be afraid to get messy with the makeup because wounds should not be perfect, Gurnea said. For adults you can even add hair spray on the wound to help make the wound look more alive. Finally, Gurnea recommends using a paintbrush to create veins on the zombie’s face with black makeup. 

The theatre arts program at Eastern Illinois University offers students like Buob and Gurnea a broad-based curriculum with a wide range of courses from theatre history, dramatic literature, basic acting , stage movement, scene study, costuming and scenic lighting.

Chela Gurnea, an Eastern Illinois University student, places the final touches of the adult zombie look to fellow student, Austin Scavone.



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