Zombie Makeup with Academy Award winner Bill Corso

In the lead up to All Hallow's Eve, learn how to turn your friend into a terrifying creature of the undead from Academy Award Winner Bill Corso.

Oct 20, 2012


If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there are a lot of zombie lovers out there.  With all the zombie movies past and present, TV shows like The Walking Dead, and even the countless zombie comics lining the shelves, the “hunger” for all things zombie is at a fevered pitch.  Well, zombie lovers rejoice!  This week’s lesson is for you: Zombie Makeup with Academy Award winner, Bill Corso.

Pictured above: Get a tour though Bill's makeup station. He guides you through each product the pros use.

Now novices and pros alike can turn anyone into the undead simply by following the techniques learned in this lesson. Yes it will take some practice; all art does.  It’s just that our host for this lesson, Bill Corso, makes it look so smooth and simple that it seems almost like he could do it in his sleep.  He’s that good.  He helps you build your own confidence so much that when the lesson is over, you want to rush out, grab the first person you see, and just start airbrushing them into a mindless flesh-eater.


Bill’s “go with the flow” attitude could not be more necessary or beneficial than it is for the setup of this week’s lesson.  As a continuation, or detour may be the better term, of his previous lesson, Beauty & Age Makeup:  From Script to Screen, Bill has to drastically change directions for his lead actress’s makeup.  In that lesson, he had to age his actress using old age makeup.  He discussed working with a director, listening to notes, and adapting to input.  Well, to say the least, the director (a nice cameo for all you Winston fanatics out there) threw him a curve ball and now instead of aging the actress, the studio wants him to turn her into a zombie.  He discusses having to “roll with the punches” and how, believe it or not, this is not as bizarre of a scenario as you may think.  This kind of thing happens all the time.

Pictured above: The zombie base hue is on, now Bill starts in on veins.

Pictured above: Bill accentuates Tara's natural soft contours to simulate cracked, drying skin.

Pictured above: Bill adds blotchy patches on top of the second layer of base.


Bill continues to layer using all kinds of colors – reds, browns, yellows (yellow is a particularly nice undead color.)  In addition, there is a section on freckling, drawing back in eyebrows covered by an appliance, and even creating dry bloody lips.  Throw in some zombie contact lenses, staining of the teeth, and even a mouthful of blood, and you’ve got yourself one nice zombie.  And yet, she’s still one that you can feel for, since she was a character you once knew.

Pictured above: How best to get your zombie's teeth to show for grundging up? Make her laugh. Tell her everyone will soon die. YUM!

Pictured above: Since this will be a reveal, Bill works Tara's hair over with a subtle hand. She's a pretty, new zombie girl.

Pictured above: Tara gets her lenses on. Spooky time.

As a zombie freak myself, when he gets into the makeup, I’m glued.  It’s his subtlety that is the most striking.  This isn’t a zombie that is going to rely on complete reconstruction and massive rot.  This is a character that we knew, so there’s a sadness there now that she’s undead.  How do you create a sadness for a character and still make her a creepy zombie?  Let Bill show you.  He starts with applying some appliances to the face to subtly stress her sunken or protruding features.  Not too much, just enough.  From there it’s immediately into a lot of airbrush layering, starting from the base up.  Darker colors are used for initial shading and vein work.  Using only this initial color, it’s quite amazing how you can see the undead in the actress already start to burst out.  And it only gets better from here.


Pictured above: Our man Chris is our victim today. He gets prepped for a nice chunk to be 'bitten' right out of him.

Pictures above: With the blended appliance ready to go, Bill creates 'teeth marks' and bloodies them up so Tara doesn't have to work TOO hard.

Pictured above: On take two, Bill adds more fleshy bloody goodness.

Pictured above: You're done for. She's seen you.

All in all, it’s a really fantastic ride, complete with a nice final “bonus” section on creating a neck appliance for a nice big zombie bite.  She gets a big chunk of neck flesh and it’s a fun thing to see.  For all you zombie fanatics, you can really sink your teeth into this lesson.  I know I did.

Enjoy, my fellow undead lovers.  It’s a good one.

Watch the Lesson HERE.

-Jeff Dixon