First and foremost, before any makeup or template outline is started the artist needs to decide or figure out how fresh or old the wound is. This one question will make a large difference in the color of blood and skin, the color and amount of bruising, if there is infection or not, and the wound itself. There are many things that play into creating prosthetic makeup and wounds including: research, technique, and makeup.
Before creating a wound, the artist must research what type of wound it is, how it happened, and how old it is. For example if the artist is creating a gunshot wound he/she needs to think about what type of gun and bullet was used; how close the victim was when the incident happened; if the bullet hit something beforehand; what angle and body part the bullet hit the victim; if the bullet passed through the body part; and if the victim lived or not. If this information is not given to the artist by the script or director, then he/she will have to decide on their own. Once this information is figured out, he/she will need to research many different pictures of this type of incident to recreate their own version. Pictures of real accidents help create much more realistic prosthetic wounds because if he/she looks up other prosthetic wounds their recreation would not be based on real accidents it would be based on another artist’s creation. When the artist is finding pictures for different wounds, he/she should save different types of wounds to build up a casualty effects folder to refer to if asked to make something last minute. After this information is clarified the artist should then discuss with the actor if there are any issues with specific makeup types, adhesives, moisturizers, etc. Then he/she needs to work with the costume design and discuss how they will be making the accident happen on their end. If a character is punched and is supposed to have a bloody nose or busted lip the costume design needs to know if they will need multiple items to use newly each night. If there are not multiple clothing items available, then the makeup artist would need to use washable blood, so it does not stain the costume being used. If there are props involved that are going to get blood on them the blood would need to be removable, and the prop team would need to be informed.
Different types of techniques are used when creating prosthetic makeup. Some artists tend to not know when to stop. Too much bruising, blood, scratches, etc. can cause a wound to look unreal. A little eyeshadow or powder for shading, some latex for texture (if needed), and a bit of blood dripples, or redness will create a much more realistic wound. The story, costuming, and props will also play into the accident making this incident look real not makeup alone. Makeup is like any other art in the idea of less is more, and more can always be added if needed. It is much harder to take makeup off if there is too much than to add a bit more blood or coloring if it does not look right under lighting or on camera.
Finally, the artist will need to decide what kind of products he/she is going to use. Again, it all depends on what kind of wound it is, and how long it needs to stay on. If it is only going on stage for one scene it does not need to be incredibly stable, but if someone is shooting a film with many different takes in different weather conditions it must be able to stay on for a long time without many makeup touches because that takes up time. If someone has just been injured badly the artist will want to use a brighter runnier type of blood. If someone is supposed to have a bruise the artist could get a bruise wheel. A bruise wheel usually comes with shades of red, purple, green, and yellow. These colors can all be used to create almost any type of bruise: fresh or old. Many different professional makeup brands have all different makeups needed to create these things. Ben Nye and Mehron are very popular commonly used brands. They stay on different types of skin well and for a longer amounts of time. They are both used by makeup and special effects artists around the world. These brands are also safe to use unless the actor has specific allergies or sensitivities. The artist should check this first with the actor, and test any makeup being used on their skin before applying so much of it in case the actor’s skin reacts.
Now that the research has been done, the techniques have been decided, and the products are picked out the artist is finally ready to put their piece together. If it is the artist’s first time attempting a wound, he/she should practice on themselves to see how it looks. After the master piece is finished, he/she needs to take many pictures of the art work in all angles for reference. In case the same wound needs to be replicated multiple times or again, if he/she is asked to come up with something on the fly.