A lot of pictures on this site were hosted on Photobucket before they disabled photo embedding. If you'd like to see pictures for a particular post, please let me know, and I'll prioritize getting those images fixed next!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Curiouser and Curiouser

I found myself with a few hours in the days before Halloween, so I decided to set up the wishing well prop from the film I just finished next to my Haunted Tombstone (a new one that I just put together out the morning of Halloween (I'm telling you, it doesn't get any easier than this!)).  I also hung up the Halloween windsocks from an old friend.  I may not have had time for a full haunt, but at least I could pass out candy.

I'd say we had about 10 trick-or-treaters, but we heard another 20 kids walk right by throughout the night without knocking.  I don't know how normal these numbers are for homes that don't go all out like I used to, but three or four other houses on our street got really into the decorations, and there are plenty of kids who live on the street.  I tried different configurations of porch light, strobe light, sound effects.  Nothing seemed to make a difference.  It felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone: The Halloween No One Knocked.

Incidentally, I need to get rid of this wishing well.  Shoot me an email if you'd like to have it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The End of The End of Forever, part 1: Blisters and Muscles

Whew!  Where to begin?  This past Sunday, we finally wrapped on "The End of Forever," the short film I mentioned a few weeks ago.  It was probably the most intensive and draining project I've done to date.  Sure, I've had haunts that include a lot more, but this was compressed into a few short weeks doing props, sets, costumes, makeup effects, a creature suit, and probably a dozen other things that have since slipped my mind.  I prepped for a couple months for two weekends of shooting.

Like the film I did last fall, I'm going to break this into a few posts.  This first one will focus on the makeup effects for the film.

First was this large torn face an neck, done as a two piece gelatin prosthetic. In the story, one character makes a wish that causes his girlfriend to undergo gruesome changes.   I also had a prosthetic on top of this prosthetic that acted as the skin she tears off to reveal the muscles and bone underneath.

That's our wonderful beauty makeup artist, Jenny Hou doing touch ups.

There was also a tiny prosthetic I called a "starter," which started the tearing sequence.  It was basically just a little flap of skin she could pull down.

Next was this cheek piece.  Originally this was supposed to be the first time her skin peels off, and the larger one would last the rest of the film, but when we did the makeup test, it became clear that this piece would be much better in movement and comfort for multiple scenes and days of shooting.  Though originally cast in a stone mold, I remolded it for the second weekend with silicone so the sometimes tissue thin gelatin appliances could be made more easily.  It was a great experience getting to apply this piece four times, learning and improving my technique with each one.
I would apply and color the prosthetic, and then Jenny would apply beauty makeup on top of it all.  The first photo is my underpainting, and the second is with makeup.

Okay, now the fun stuff.  Not only does her face peel off, but blisters burst on her arms.  I was having trouble figuring out exactly how to do the effect when Steve Johnson put out a video on a technique used at his studio using plastic.

Here's a video of the effect I ended up with.  Note that this was taken while demoing the effect for the crew after the actual shot for the film, so the seam at the beginning is visible, but check it out.  Everyone seemed really excited about how it looked.

Basically, the effect was achieved by hiding a plastic bladder under a pre-slit gelatin cover prosthetic.  I stood behind the actress and just blew air into the tube.

Up next: Building the top of the creepy wishing well.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This Year's Big Project (You Can Help!)

I'm in the process of preparing for a really big thesis film, for which I am designing both the sets and creature effects.  It's called The End of Forever, and it's shaping up to be really cool.  Read on to see how you can help out.

The film (which is directed by a good friend of mine) shoots in the middle of October, so it's full speed ahead (and then some!) now.

I spent this weekend building the creepy wishing well.  I supplemented this picture with the sketch of how it will be when completed with a metal arch and thorny briars growing up it.  I also threw in a little man so you could see the scale-- it's big!
In the evenings, I've been sculpting the makeup appliances for one scene in which a character's skin peels off her face.  Concept art and sculpts-in-progress below.

I'm also making a full creature suit for the monster at the bottom of the wishing well.  Here's a bit of concept art for that. He's going to look almost like he's made out of twisted, gnarled roots with no eyes and a collection of coins and treasure people have thrown down the well.

We already did lifecasts of his head, arms, and torso to start on the creature suit sculpture once some of the other projects are completed.
But I'm also building (with any help I can get) a big set on a soundstage of the bottom of the well.  It's going to look like the walls of the well have eroded away to a mess of reveal dirt and roots and a ground littered with coins from people's wishes.

Here's where you come in.

It would be a huge help if you could donate a couple of bucks to the film.  None of the crew is getting paid (it's a student film, after all), but between the set we need to construct, the makeup effects, and the forest location we need to pay to use, it's not going to be cheap.  So, the producing team put together a Kickstarter page to help get some funding in exchange for some cool shirts and DVDs.

But!  I have a special bonus gift for you all.  If you pledge at least $10 (and email me or comment here to let me know), I will send you the plans to build your own creepy wishing well based on my design.  It's 5 feet wide by about 11 feet tall, so it will certainly make a statement in any haunt (I think it would look great in a cemetery).

Anything you can contribute would be a big help.  Even one dollar is one bottle of craft paint closer to completing the set, you know?

I really want to use this film to show the new generation of filmmakers (hundreds of whom will be at the premiere screening) that practical creature and makeup effects still have a place and can be seriously impressive, even on a relatively small budget.

Please check out the campaign, watch the video (featuring yours truly), and consider sending some spare change our way.  Thanks!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I just wrapped a senior thesis film for which I was charged to design the makeup for an infected, cancerous version of Mr. Hyde.

First I did a few quick sketches of what the makeup could look like, and let the director choose what he liked.

I then took an impression of the actor's face.
If you recognize that hair in the foreground, it's because it belongs to the lovely model of my first old age makeup.  She's now the Aunt Jack to my Uncle Frank (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone?).

I sculpted the makeup on the plaster copy of his head.  This is the sculpt before the finishing touches, which come right before the mold is poured.
And then made molds of both pieces (the side of the face and the nose).

They were cast in gelatin and applied in about two hours on set.  The original plan was to have blood or pus coming out of the broken blisters, but the director and cinematographer liked it without.  I think it turned out pretty well, regardless.  Of course, in the end, the one shot the makeup was needed for turned out to be pretty dark, so you couldn't see much of it anyway.
Oh well.  It was still a great experience.  Listening to people's reactions to seeing him for the first time was worth it, alone.  The actor, Richard Halverson, was very tolerant of the whole process and great to work with, as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Will Your Haunt Have A Haunted Tombstone?

Halloween is coming up fast, but it's not too late to take your graveyard to the next level this year with my easy to set up Haunted Tombstone effects.  Learn more about it and get your own $30 Haunted Tombstone right here!  They're available individually or as a set.  Watch below!

Here's what other Haunters are saying about my original Haunted Tombstone projection effects...

Dave Lowe: "I think you've just created a project that should be enshrined in the Hall of Great Halloween DIYs. Scratch 'Great,' make that the Hall of HISTORIC Halloween DIYs."

Pumpkinrot: "Some really fantastic projection work here. Such a cool idea."

Terra: "WOW! no, make that TRIPLE WOW!  Seriously - that will be the prop of the season. So inventive, creepy and stunning. Phenomenal."

Stolloween: "Simply brilliant."

Mike C.: "Beautiful work, and I'm proud and happy to own it for my own little haunt!"

In Irons: "This is the most awesome effect and very reasonable in price! Some of the other prop companies should take notice!"

DaveintheGrave: "I think you just showed us the prop of the year!  I like this idea even better than Hallowindow."

TK421: "FANTASTIC!! PURE GENIUS!! BRILLIANT!!  Definitely something I want to try."

CLC1905: "I just bought and downloaded it and watched the high def and regular versions and they are both incredible!! This is going to be the pièce de résistance for our haunt this year!"

Jdubya: "The bar is raised another notch!"

See more rave reviews here, here.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reworking the Witch

Well, I guess I spoke too soon.  I had an excellent critique from my sculpting mentor, and I'm now heavily reworking the witch sculpture to try to pull better anatomy and more realistic detail out of her.  This is the very beginning of that.  I'm just finding the shapes at this point.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

W.I.P. (Witch in Progress)

After sitting on my workbench for two years, I think this witch sculpture is about as finished as it'll get.

I believe this is my fourth crack at sculpting a witch.  The plan is to mold her and cast her in foam latex to be a skin for 3-axis skulls, but I may do some latex display masks, if there's interest.  Eventually, I have some bigger plans for this one, though.

I'm rather pleased with the detail on this, so enlarge the pictures for a closer look.

A little taste of what she'll be like with hair and a hat.

Here it is up against the concept sketch done in 2009.  She's sculpted with a closed mouth to allow for better talking.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mad Propped!

Hauntcast - Radio for HauntersChris Baker of Hauntcast has mad-propped my Haunted Tombstone projection effect in this month's episode (#40).  Go pick up a subscription if you don't have one, and have a listen.  I haven't been tuning in for a while, but this was a good episode all around.  Besides, you'll get a few cool details about the creation of the Haunted Tombstone in the "Mad Props for Props" segment (which starts at around 1:40:40).

Don't forget you can purchase all of my Haunted Tombstone projection effect videos here: Haunted Tombstone.

Little by Little

Is it possible to have too many projects going at the same time?
These are the five sculptures currently vying for my attention.  None are particularly close to completion, though some have certainly been around longer than others.  You may even recognize a couple from previous posts (ages ago, it seems).

I tend to have several projects in progress simultaneously, and I'll bounce between them  often, which of course makes each take longer to reach completion.

Oh well.  As the grumpy old toy restoration man in Toy Story 2 said, "you can't rush art."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

New Haunted Tombstones!

Due to the success of the original Haunted Tombstone over the past few weeks, I've made another one. The Haunted Tombstone 2 has a new shape and new effects.  Check out the video below.

But wait, there's more!  I've also put both tombstones into one video, the Haunted Tombstone Set, so you can project them both at the same time.  The timing of each has been reworked so they play off of each other a little in this version.

Both are available for download here.

The Haunted Tombstone 2 ($30) download includes the video loop in HD and standard definition, each in portrait, and landscape (4 files).

The Haunted Tombstone Set ($60) includes an HD and SD video loop.

You can comment below or email me with any questions at ChickenHaunt [at] gmail.com

Like the original Haunted Tombstone, these are simply projected onto a blank tombstone.  Watch the How-To video below, if you missed it before.

For info on all of my Haunted Tombstone projection effects, visit the blog's Haunted Tombstone page.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Haunted Tombstone Projection Effect

After several months of preparation, I'm pleased to announce that the new Mr. Chicken's Haunted Tombstone is now available.

What is it?  The Haunted Tombstone is a very simple projection effect that anyone with access to a video projector -- any video projector -- can do.  You simply project my animated tombstone video onto a blank tombstone that you cut out, so it's sure to be just right for your haunt.

Watch the demo video below to see all the cool, creepy effects, and scroll down a little further for the how-to video.

The Haunted Tombstone video loop is available (in HD and standard definition .mp4 format) for download for $25 via Paypal here.

You can comment below or email me with any questions at ChickenHaunt [at] gmail.com

For info on all of my Haunted Tombstone projection effects, visit the blog's Haunted Tombstone page.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blog Header V2.1

I took another crack at the blog header.
Here's the evolution so far:

Friday, May 25, 2012


Makeup, Halloween... I've been at it for a while.  Here's a shot from 1998 featuring my first, uh, prosthetic makeup.  I'm the witch with the giant hat.  Construction paper nose adhered (not so well) with glue stick.  Age 7.

I believe I did my brother's cat whiskers, too.

Mom's black sweater, Dad's shoes... yeah, this was the coolest thing ever.  

Oh, P.S. I served the trick-or-treaters candy from a dry ice filled cauldron.  Does this count as a first haunt?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Creature Lives!

You may recall the reptile sculpture I posted earlier.  What I didn't mention was that was to be the skin of an animatronic creature for a (very) short film I wrote and directed.  It screened in the theater today and got laughs in all the right places, even with a fairly small audience.

Have a watch (and hopefully a chuckle):

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Just a little peek at a monster movie project coming up next year...

Roughed in creature makeup concept art.  One day I'll learn how to use Photoshop the right way.  In the meantime, this is what you get.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I had two student film projects come up this past week that needed some makeup effects.  One called for a slit throat, and the other needed a strange, infected, fantasy wound.

There's a relatively new technique I've been reading about called 3D Transfers that can be applied really quickly, which makes a big difference on a student film's tight schedule, so I thought I'd give it a try.  You sculpt the appliance, mold it, cast it, and apply it like a temporary tattoo before coloring it.

Here's how they turned out.  Most of the veins are sculpted and painted on here.  I think it's pretty successful, though there are still a few things I'd change, in retrospect.
 Before blood

With blood

 The slit throat appliance came out a little dark, so it took a lot of makeup to get it close to the actress's skin tone.  The main reason it still looks a little funky is that it was so cold at the beach that day that she had goosebumps, which the texture of my appliance didn't match.  I was also asked to put it lower on the throat than it was meant to be.  Oh well.  It was still good practice.

A lot of detail is lost when these transfer appliances dry and shrink, so I'll have to make sure to exaggerate the sculpt more next time.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Monsterpalooza!  Where else can you meet and chat with makeup effects legends Dick Smith and Greg Cannom (pictured with yours truly), as well as Bob Burns, and Andrew Clement (my mentor in the Dick Smith Advanced Professional Makeup Course)?

Here comes the rest of the pictures.  In all honesty, most of the displays weren't that cool, so I didn't take pictures of that stuff.  Of course, I missed a few good shots, too, but this should still give an idea of a few of the highlights.

Fellow haunter Mike Cathcart:

Mike Hill:

Casey Love Designs:

A few miscellaneous cool pieces:

Mickey Rotella:

A couple of movie props:

Andrew Clement/Creative Character Engineering:

Jordu Schell: