Special Effects & Make-up Artistry

Intermediate Prosthetics Semester One. Creating the mould and Life Casting.

Our first lesson began on the 24th of September, straight back into it! Just how I like it! Our tutor for this Semester is Martin Hanson, Head of Life casting at Madame Tussauds London. How lucky are we!


The lesson he had planned for us was to create a life cast of our faces. He began with a demonstration of using Alginate and plaster bandage to create a negative of our faces.

Alginate is a form of moulding material that is spread onto a specific area and solidifies within around 10 minutes, it is then gently pulled away from the skin and replicates an exact negative of that area. WARNING. If applying Alginate to the face, ALWAYS leave the nostrils clear so your model can breath.


We started in groups of three, first we applied Vaseline to any facial hair and piercings on our model, this is important because without it, hair and piercings will stick to the Alginate, making removal uncomfortable for the model.

With an Eyeliner pencil, we drew a dotted line around the edges of the face, this is to guide us when applying the Alginate.

The Alginate we used was Mouldlife Life Form Part A and Part B. To cover a face you need three big dollops of each into a bowl and mix vigorously. Once the two parts have been mixed, you only have a limited time to apply so you need to act fast!

This is an old picture but the application looks a little something like this!


Once the Alginate has just nearly set it’s time to start with the plaster bandage.

We use plaster bandage to give extra support for the Alginate. We cut around 4 strips of bandage and folded both ways before dipping it in hot water.

Slide off the excess water and apply to the face, again, keep the nostrils clear and leave to set.

Think of it as having an extreme face mask! That’s what I do and I enjoy it! I’m definitely the first one to have their hand up to be a model!


When the plaster bandage has set, approx 10 minutes, it’s time to remove.

Tip your models head forward and hold some of the weight of the mould. This stuff gets heavy! Ask them to furrow their brow and move their jaw up and down to break the suction. Slowly but surely, the mould should release its self and you will be left with a negative of your models face.


Secure the mould on to a wooden board, or table! Doesn’t really make a difference, aslong as it isn’t a £2000 vintage, designer, bespoke piece of furniture.. :P

Apply a little bit of Vaseline to the edges of the plaster bandage as plaster bonds to it’s self so you need some kind of release agent around the edges!

Begin filling the Alginate with plaster, sorry guys, you’ve got to be patient with this because for a while, it may seem that it’s not latching to the Alginate but it will!

Once half way to the top of your mould, apply two layers of Scrim, now this is a ropey, fabricy material that gives the plaster extra strength.

Apply another layer of plaster, making sure that all the Scrim is covered and then leave to set. Approx 30 minutes.

Once it has set, pry the two parts apart using a blunt tool. May take some elbow grease!

This was my end result, My life cast of my models face.


Creepy right?

The big block on the nose is normal as it remains open through out the process but it is easily chipped away!

So this is all we could fit in one day! I couldn’t wait to start planning my assessment piece!

Please, if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Comment on the relevant post and I will get back to you as soon as possible. :)

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