Whether it’s a film about vampires, gangster movie shootouts or a slasher flick; blood plays an integral part of the motion picture industry. Pioneers of film making discovered the color red did not photograph well, so to gain a greater contrast, a darker color was needed when showing blood in movies. Dark brown seemed to be the solution and strangely enough chocolate syrup was just the ticket. When color film became the standard in motion pictures the current blood recipe needed to undergo some changes. Early attempts at movie blood were too bright red and cartoon like until makeup legend Dick Smith found the right combination of ingredients to give a truly realistic color and flow to fake blood. Today there are a variety of fake blood types used for film and stage, many still using Smiths original recipe for a foundation.
We now have blood designed for a specific purpose like dumping over an actors head, spraying back drops or made to look as if it’s begun to coagulate. Stage blood also has various solid forms to help create wound effects like burns and scrapes. To help sort things out we will show you some of the bloods available and suggested uses.
Mehron Stage blood is an excellent choice for an all around blood effect, it’s rich deep tones and thicker concentration gives a fresh, realistic look. This blood will run and drip but not too quickly. Also if you blot in onto your skin it stays put holding the freshness for hours.
Thick blood agents like Graftobian blood paste help style a wound having incredible depth or a gnawed look from a predator. Products like this will not run which can be perfect for blood spatter, however they do stay moist so smearing may occur.
Silicone effects like WolfeFX silicone blood, work well for 3 D wounds such as burns, road rash and adding depth to a gash. The pigment can be adjusted by adding more clear silicone to the blood compound to create a pink blistering to the skin. Silicone blood also stays pliable after setting for ease of movement for the actor and one of the best advantages is the blood will not smear even though it looks wet.
Graftobian Magic blood powder can be used as “action blood” as it is invisible until activated by water. Example: an actor with blood powder on the skin comes in contact with a prop knife that is wet appears to have been cut by the knife. This style of blood is very thin and will flow quickly like a fresh cut. I use a similar style of blood powder to create gallons of blood to saturate a set and or actor with blood.
The photo above is an example of a blood powder mix allowing me to dowse the victim and ground with blood, this thinner consistency will run into the cracks of the pavement and soak into clothing; thicker blood would not look as realistic for this application. Thick blood effects were used for the gashes on her face.
*Most of the consumer brand fake blood will clean of the skin easily with soap and water, however use caution as they may stain fabric and other surfaces.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fake blood but do have fun and explore the possibilities.
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