Face Caster

The job of a face caster is to create the plaster mold on which the makeup will be sculpted. This mold is a lifelike replica of the actor's face and is used in the same way the skeleton is used in creature work. A face caster prepares the actor for the casting process and verbally guides him or her through it. One note of caution: please don't try this at home.

Once you have the actor in the chair, you cover the person's hair with a bald cap and mark off where the hair line is. Then things get extremely fun.

Next, you cover the face with a goopy solution called alginate, which hardens into a rubbery solid. Alginate is normally used by orthodontists to cast teeth, and special effects people picked up on it because of its wonderful ability to capture all the details of whatever it's poured over. It's kind of like when your fingerprints end up in a lump of clay.

Once the alginate has completely covered the actor, you cover the alginate with strips of plaster. If you didn't, the alginate would not be able to hold any shape, and it would collapse in on itself, becoming useless. The plaster strips provide a shell for the alginate to rest in.

After the plaster has dried, the entire negative can be removed, carefully, from the actor's head. A quick cleanup of the mold, and you're ready to make the positive. Just pour in some quick-set plaster, and in a few short hours, you've got a head, which, if you've done it right, should look like a bald twin of the actor. Now take your head, called a life cast, over to the sculptor.

From this point, makeup effects follow the same pattern as creature effects, until the makeup is delivered. Then there is one additional job.

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