Category: Gore Makeup

Judge: Nathan Johnson

Note from Nathan:

I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to all who entered our Halloween makeup contest. I can say with certainty that these are among the best entries we have ever had. It was impossibly hard for the voters and the team at QC to narrow it down to a top 5. The winner was selected entirely by using the criteria that was listed at the outset of the competition. Remember, for the purpose of this contest, story is just as important as application. I would like to say it was too difficult for me to choose the winner on my own and I had to enlist the help of the team at QC. What some made up for in application, others made up for in story or other criteria, and all of those elements had equal weight in this contest.

Here’s what Nathan was looking for:

  • Realism: Does the make up look realistic? Whether you make a woodland fairy who was smashed on a car windshield, or a demon who lost an epic battle against the powers of good, you want to make sure that the characters and their wounds and gore read as realistic.
  • Combination of skills: Major points will be given to those who go out of their way use a great combination of skills. Yes, anyone one can do a black eye, but how much more fascinating is it to have that black eye be combined with an piece of metal impaled through the chest of a killer clown?! Challenge yourself to use the full arsenal of your skills, beauty and FX, to create something really amazing.
  • Difficulty and skill of application: If you can artfully pull off more difficult and complex techniques, you are more likely to get higher points. So practice getting perfectly smooth edges on your prosthetics and making sure the coloration of all the wounds are realistic. Also, if you create a very complex character like a killer clown who has been injured, or a zombie whose flesh is tearing away, or a nymph who barely survived an attack by a werewolf, you’ll get far more points than someone who does a black eye and a cut on the cheek.
  • Originality: Be sure to create your character from your imagination. Every year, many people recycle the good old favorites that have been made popular by YouTube and Instagram (e.g. the skin peeling away to reveal the cyborg below, the person who was wounded in a fire, etc.). I am not suggesting you don’t use burns or a cyborg reveal, but what if the cyborg is under an elf or a wooden marionette? What if the one who survived the burn is a fairy who escaped a forest fire? Use your imagination.
  • The story: I want to read a few lines that tell the tale of your character. Not what you did, but who it is, what happened, etc. Include your in the “description” box in the entry form below.
  • Final look: This comes down to clear photography, use of props, costumes, and setting. Bring it to life baby!

Gore Scoring:

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Charley Arnold Makeup Artist

Artist: Charley Arnold

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 10/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 52/60

Comments: This is a stunning image. It is made even more impactful by the fact that you know the story before you even read the description. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, the photography, model, artistry, and art direction all align to tell a powerful tale. The prosthetic use is lovely, the edges may not be perfectly blended, but the use of blood helps them to fade into the skin.

If I were to make two recommendations, they would be about the size of the wound and the use of blood. The holes in the back seem a bit too large for an area around a sawn off wing. I think the image might be a bit more powerful and realistic if the holes ended quite a bit closer to the “bone” of the wing and were a bit asymmetrical. Because the holes are so big, there would need to be far more blood running down the back, versus just being smeared to hide the prosthetic edges. To take your work a step further, I recommend practicing flawless edges for your prosthetics, even if they are self-made. Blood and bruising are tools to enhance a look, not to hide minor application weaknesses. I do want to commend you on the use of color. Your care with highlight and shadow in the wound gives it a beautiful dimension. As I said above, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I would have appreciated a bit more story. Who cut off her wings and why? The quote is good, but the story is lacking. Excellent work.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Elena Maraniello Makeup Artist

Artist: Elena Maraniello

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 51/60

Comments: This is a beautiful example of storytelling through imagery. Before I even read your description, it was clear to me that these were demon twins and that you were a filmmaker. But the rest of the story is lacking. Who are these demon twins? Where did they come from? What do they want? Even answering one of those questions would have satisfied the request for your characters’ story.

The makeup is really quite excellent. I appreciate the small details– the holes where the twine pierces the lip are perfect on the photo-right model. You created depth and incredible realism. If I were to offer some suggestions, I would say the bruising/darkness below the eye could be a bit closer to the eye. When you start to put color everywhere or pull it down too far, you can detract from the image. In this case, because there is a lighter area above the half moon of darkness, it makes it look a bit like a dark circle that was placed too low. Additionally, the edges of the cross on the forehead could be a touch smoother. If you used “Third Degree” makeup, it looks a bit like it might have dried before you could really perfect the edges. Again, the photo-right model has smoother edges than the photo-left model. These are just small micro-adjustments on a beautiful application.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Jeimaliz Troche Makeup Artist

Artist: Jeimaliz Troche

  • Realism: 9/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 8/10
  • Total: 50/60

Comments: For a first go, you have done some very compelling and graphic work. The roasted flesh peeling away from the arm is disgusting and in many places quite realistic. You would benefit a bit from the use of black. If someone was burned so bad that their flesh was literally hanging off, some of it would most certainly be charred.

There would also be a good amount of soot and smoke residue on the fingers and surrounding skin. The third and fourth degree burns are quite wonderful, I would just work a bit on the second and third degree. Instead of just putting a wash of maroon over the pinky edge of the hand (and on the fingers), use a gentler wash of red with a few blisters (maybe even some that have popped. This can easily be done with “third degree” silicone and latex). Then by letting the red fade gradually, you’ll have all the varying levels of a burn, and it will enhance the realism. The burn on the pinky itself is magnificent. This is beautiful work, and with a little bit more finesse, some picture quality, and a story, it could have been the winner. I cannot wait to see what you create for the next contest.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Tamikah Rivette Makeup Artist

Artist: Tamikah Rivette

  • Realism: 7/10
  • Combination of Skills: 8/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 10/10
  • Story: 10/10
  • Final Look: 9/10
  • Total: 52/60

Comments: When it comes to originality, no one has you beat. You are also the only one who truly committed to a story. I want you to know how much I appreciate that. The complexion, the detailed work below and above the eye, the flesh tone eyelashes, and the freckles are absolute perfection. I am also crazy about the textured forehead. I’m not just speaking of the use of twine (for the veins?), but rather the texture of the head itself.

I wish some of this uneven texture, as well as the veins, reappeared elsewhere– perhaps on the shoulders, lower jaw, or chest. I can only find two minor things to point out. First, the area below and around the ear looks like it is peeling away, as do some of the veins. Secondly, a part of me would have appreciated it if there was a touch less blood. Sometimes when you create a very powerful image, a touch of editing will make it even more thrilling. A tiny trickle of blood running from her ear can be far more powerful than a bath of it. I learned from the QC team that you submitted this entry for the other category, and they rightly moved you to gore based on the amount of blood. I think this could have worked in either category, had you been a bit more restrained with your use of blood. Remember, our job as artists is to enhance a character, and allow its story to be told. When one is too aggressive on one element, it can overwhelm and detract from the rest of the look.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Halie Holley Makeup Artist

Artist: Halie Holley

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 10/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 9/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 53/60

Comments: There is an old saying “the devil is in the details”, and I think you really took that to heart here. There are a lot to love here, but I think my favorite part of the makeup is the bite on the shoulder. It has depth, it is graphic, and in my imagination, it is likely where she first got bit causing her zombie transformation! I really love the texture and details on the face.

The scaled effect of the skin is innovative. You have completely distorted the features using a combination of techniques. And very impressively, all the edges are invisible. Yes, some may be hidden by the hair, but in the mask of the face, the application is flawless and that is where it matters the most. The rotting nose is glorious. The one thing that confuses me is why has the mouth sealed itself shut? Perhaps if you told me a bit of a story… for example, she was doused in battery acid by someone trying to escape her clutch, etc. Also, consider the blood. If someone has gone so far as to rot, they would most likely not have any relatively fresh blood below the eye. Blood flow is a sign of life or recent death. You could argue that that blood is from biting and consuming her victims, but I would counter by pointing out that her mouth is melted shut. The flawless application, diverse use of techniques, and the overall professionalism send this look to the top. For higher points, next time use your story to explain the application choices. Very impressive work. Beautiful image. Congratulations.


Thank you again to all who entered. It was a delight to see your beautiful work.

– Nathan

Congratulations Halie for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Makeup Contest with your creative pop-art zombie look!

Halie wins a Ben Nye’s “Primary Creme Palette”, an Esum’s “Pro Palettes & Spatula”, a set of 5 latex prosthetics, two Graftobian creme foundations, liquid and gel blood, and a stipple sponge.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone and once again, congratulations Halie for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Contest, Gore category!

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