Most FX artists know several different formulas for making blood and the majority of these are usually syrup based – corn syrup, golden syrup that sort of thing. It’s cheap to make, is safe for skin and many are also safe for the mouth.
I like to use golden syrup as the consistency is nice – runny without being too thin, it also has the advantage of having a pale golden yellow colour.
I recently landed my first feature film as key make up artist (this is the reason I haven’t posted for awhile) and I needed to make blood. The blood needed to be realistic in colour, safe for the skin/mouth as well as needing to come out of the costumes (the costumes are all original from the second world war).
The budget for make up was low so this was also a factor in my decision to use syrup based blood. I read that Dick Smith liked to use a powdered colour known as a “Lake”, one of the reasons for this is because it is less likely to stain, this peaked my interest and I tracked down a company in the UK who sold the Lake colour, I spoke to Rob McPhee at FastColours who gave me excellent advice and I ordered a sample to try out.
The sample arrived and I proceeded to make the blood, I made several types so that I could test them side-by-side including using washing up liquid as the base instead of syrup, I also used traditional liquid colouring to test the difference. I had also obtained samples of the material that the blood would be on and I proceeded to blob the blood.
The different bloods. Varying brightness’ and opacities, I don’t think the picture truly conveys how disgusting the colour of the blood made from washing up liquid base and liquid food colouring was – it was so bad I didn’t bother to test it on the fabric.
Chart showing layout of blood tests
Blood blobs on fabric samples
Cup’s o’ blood
The samples a couple of hours later, note how the ones made from washing up liquid base have completely sunk into the fabric
The fabric samples after washing at 30, nearly all the blood has come out
One of the experiments I conducted was to blob a little tinted gelatine on the fabric before applying a syrup based blood on top, I did this to see if that could be employed in the event that the blood left stains. It worked OK on the smoother fabrics and peeled off nicely, but on the fabrics with rougher surface texture it left some gelly behind although I didn’t rewash the swatches I think it could potentially come out after a couple of washes but I would strongly advise doing these tests yourself to make sure.
I later re-tested the bloods but left them on the fabric for 2 days and they still came out the material leaving no stains, all in all a nice little learning experiment.
The blood I ended up using was the golden syrup mixed with the Lake, I haven’t given amounts because it’s better to decide by eyeballing it as you go along, start with half a teaspoon per 100mls and go from there :-). This is mouthsafe but always ask if your victim has any food allergies.
I will also be selling small quantities of the Lake, enquiries on price and amount via the Contact page.