For Halloween 2012, my son and I went as Na'vi, the blue cat-like characters from the AMAZING movie, Avatar! It's one of my faves and so of course I had to try this look out. This post will feature both looks. The more simple easy-to-do version and the more advanced look using foam latex and appliances used for film special effects.
I see a lot of videos on YouTube and some tutorials doing Avatar makeup but very few utilize prosthetics and a lot of the simpler looks just look fake (um, paper noses and ears, no). So I decided to try my hand at becoming Na'vi and see how it turned out. My inspiration photo was this stunning still of Neytiri
I knew with my small more centrally set eyes and face structure I wasn't the best candidate, but I really loved this and wanted to give it a go.
Necessary blabber before I post photos and give step-by-step info:
The simpler look is one anyone can do with minimal supplies. This you could very easily do on yourself. I did this on my son prior to starting my own costume, so total time I spent on him was about 45 minutes.
The more advanced look (that didn't turn out perfectly, I did this entire look start to finish in 2 hours prior to a nursing class presentation at 8 am) is not flawless and I would normally use a blending agent (similar to liquid latex) to really blur the edges of the prosthetic, but I didn't have time. So you may see lines between the foam latex. I was okay with that but I wouldn't do that again, so take my advice and use a blurring agent on your appliance. The advanced costume is a more detailed look using a wig, fangs, and contacts and total cost was around $200 to complete the costume.
To get started, you'll need your supplies. This is the list for the advanced look. For the best result, I suggest using more pro-formulated products, not the junk from the Halloween sale at Target. I use brands like Mehron, Graftobian, Ben Nye, and Kryolan.
The prosthetics I bought were:
I bought my ears on Ebay for $14.95 and my prosthetics at FX Warehouse, Inc online.
Fake clear nails and denture adhesive to create faux fangs (this was a fail as they don't last all day or even an hour- I recommend buying fangs like the Scarecrow ones that are popular for vampire looks).
Mehron Aqua Paradise colors- Light Blue (used this the most), Lagoon Blue (the Avatar blue), Dark Blue (stripes), Light Pink (nose, cheeks, fingertips)
Liquid Acrylic paint, Ben Nye colors- White, Black, Dark Blue
Spirit Gum Glue (to glue appliance on) I used Kryolan Prosthetic Adhesive #2
Assorted brushes to paint effects on and black eyeshadow, mascara and pink lipsitck. I used MAC Carbon, L'Oreal Voluminous mascara, and Besame Debutante Pink lipstick.
Warm body to apply SFX on: that thar was me!
An easy link to get your supplies all at once at FX Warehouse is HERE. I just put mine together with what I had. This website is credible and affordable compared to a Halloween shop or SFX artist selling appliances or sculpting one :)
For the more simplified version, here are the supplies you'll need:
Same Mehron Aqua Paradise colors- Light Blue (used this the most), Lagoon Blue (the Avatar blue), Dark Blue (stripes), Light Pink (nose, cheeks, fingertips)
Same Ben Nye Liquid Acrylic paint colors- White, Black, Dark Blue
Talc Powder or I used Coastal Scent's microspheres, same as above.
Another warm body, this one was my interesting and most dapper boy, Josh. You can see by the supply list, it doesn't take much to get a really cool looking Avatar costume fairly cheaply.
Black Eyeshadow and Macara (I used MAC Carbon and L'Oreal Voluminous mascara), Finishing Spray (Model in Bottle, Nyx setting spray Matte finish) and Fangs if you're so inclined.
Let's start with the simpler look- it'll take you about 1-2 hours depending on your speed and level of detail. The goal is to get visible skin that bright Avatar blue. Using the Mehron Aqua Paradise color in Lagoon blue, I took a wide, flat artist's brush and using water as the mixing medium, and applied this in opaque layers (more water = less opaque) onto the skin.
The key to avoiding streaks is to layer after the first has dried. Make sure skin is clean and dry. Regardless of how well you apply, this makeup isn't the skin latex makeup- it will crack slightly and flake as the day wears on. Be prepared for that and use a setting spray (I used Model in Bottle) to try and tone the flaking down. Here's a photo of the arm after 8 hours using the setting spray and layering method. Not too bad! Excuse my horrid makeup pile.
Getting back to business m'dear- After you have the base layer on, use the dark blue and light blue to create body planes and contouring. Generally the rule is to use darker colors on the perimeter and get gradually lighter as you move towards the center. This gives a rounded look and is more realistic. I began this on my son's face and arm below and here it is 3/4 of the way done. It was crazy early and with indoor lights, it looks yellow.
I recommend you put the costume/clothes on before you work and use Saran Wrap or any plastic barrier (I didn't do this, in such a hurry) to prevent the paint from getting on the clothes. A barber's shawl is ideal.
With a flash, the true saturation shows. Here's a closer look at his face. I used the Dark Blue Mehron Aqua Paradise color to the Lagoon Blue around the jawline, hairline, and at fingernails and joints. I also used the Dark Blue to create a more cat-like forehead by darkening the inner browbone and using the light blue to keep the bridge of the nose and central forehead lighter- creating the illusion of feline bone structure.
The stripes I painted using a basic flat/medium sized artist brush and mimicked a zebra pattern, wider at the base and tapering to a curved point. I made the stripes go different directions but anglie inward to make it more realistic. Here it is, almost done!
I visually sculpted a more leonine nose using the Dark Blue to outline and using black eyeshadow as needed to deepen the blue.
To begin, make sure the Dark Blue is heavily saturated with a little water to get a good opaque finish to make a bold line. Using an eyeliner brush, create an hourglass shape starting at the inset of the eyebrow and deepen the curve of the hourglass between the eyes. Then flare out the hourglass to the width of the nose and draw it down. This creates the bridge of your feline nose.
The tip of the nose is outlined in Dark Blue and slightly heart shaped at the top. Fill in with the Light Pink and shade with the Black/Dark Blue by stipping as needed to get the desired contouring and you have yourself a Na'vi nose!
Here's a basic outline for the Avatar nose tip.
Texture the paint to look more like flesh by using the stippling sponge and alternating the Dark and Lagoon Blue. This mottles the paint and is wonderful for layers and skin like texture.
Finish it off with the dark zebra patterned stripes and white/silver dots (I used Ben Nye Liquid Acrylic paint in White) on the face and arms (more on the outside of the arms and back of hands, not the forearm or palms). Go for the gusto by darkening fingertips and adding some pink at joints and nails.
Here he is, thumbs up, we're getting there!
Next up apply the ears. These little play-like costume accessories just slide on over the ears and have a hole so you're not completely covered. I used the Mehron Aqua Paradise paint to go over the ear and blend it slightly, otherwise you have these goofy bright blue ears just sitting there. You can see how I approached this technique below.
Quick tip: Powder the inside of the ears slightly to get rid of that plastic sheen. Or use a spray or two of Nyx's setting spray in the matte finish. It helps after you powder and spray to keep it from looking so plastic. Here's the ear before I toned down the shine.
Use black eyeshadow to rim eyes and apply light mascara to brows and lashes. For males, leave the lips blue and slightly lighten. For females, pink up the lips and cheeks slightly and line the eyes more deeply.
Here's Na'vi Josh, all done!
Blue Steel, ha ha! See the sun came up! As for the hair, Josh just styled it and let it be.
WHEW! Now for the bad mamma jamma- the more complex costume using the appliances. Yahoo!
After Josh was done, I sent him off to school (he was so excited and won the school costume contest- sweet). Then I sat down and got to biznass on my mug.
The night prior I prepped the latex appliances with Sealant to prepare them for color. After that dried, I lightly dusted them using a kabuki with silicone microspheres poweder so they weren't sticky. Once that set (geez, this is work, lol) I painted the base coat of color on the ears and face appliance.
You can see my work station at my table below. Behind the left ear are my sweet owl salt and pepper shakers perched on a leaf. They were being rude and had their backs to the camera, pshaw.
The latex is harder to paint than skin. The layering is heavier and the paint can gum up if too heavy. The trick is to go opaque and slow, letting it dry in between. The ears came a regular flesh tone and so did the face appliance. The paint will also apply lighter on rubber/foam latex, etc than it will on you, so be prepared for that.
Here's the ears getting started. Use pink on the inside and gently blend to the Lagoon Blue and Light Blue with the Dark Blue at the base of the ear and some stripes on the outer portion as well. My painting mantra was light to dark, light to dark and then do stripes :)
I wanted texture so I used a stippling sponge to dab paint on and make it look more 'furry'.
While the appliances dried, the face appliance base paint dried, only having the simple blue color and pink details as shown in the first photo. Before I glued on any prosthetics, I stippled any skin around my eyes that would show underneath the appliance. I used the stippling sponge again (I had like 5 out, lol) and I blended the Lagoon and Light Blue until I got the depth of color I wanted.
Here is when you apply your fangs if you'd like. I liked the Scarecrow more subtle types- they last and look real but don't interfere with your lips or eating too much.
Below, I sculpted these out of clear fake nails and pasted them with denture adhesive. The look was cool and realistic- but they kept sliding off and if you like eating rubber cement, you'll love denture adhesive. It gums up and feels sandy and didn't even glue the teeth on. Fail. BUT they look cool, right? So get your fangs in, your eyes should be dry- so let's glue these appliances on!
Allergy warning: Check for latex allergies before you use any type of special effects. If you swell or get any type of reaction, take everything off. No sense getting sick over a costume. Redness, itching, that sort of thing is a no no.
This is where I look like Odo from Deep Space Nine.
I glued the appliance on with Kryolan Prostetic Adhesive #2, but you can use Spirit Gum/Glue as well. My mistake at this point was not using latex to blur the edges of the appliance after it was on my face. This kinda killed it- I should've done this, but I rushed to get to class, knowing I had 2 people to get ready in 3 hours (and allow 35 minute drive time to campus). So bah, but please do this if you have time. It'll look more real and prevent the foam from lifting/curling as it sets.
So meh, no blurring, but here I am with the ears on as well. I glued them where they would touch my ear on the inside with the adhesive. Using a small brush dap the adhesive on around the edges and try to press and smooth them down. Once dry, these aren't coming off unless you really pull. Once they're set onto your face/ears, here's where the painting detail work begins.
Here's me with my trusty stippling sponge and hand mirror as I get the contouring on my head going.
I wanted to avoid the paint looking flat so after I painted on all the base coat of Lagoon Blue to my face and arms and hands, I stippled the Dark Blue and Light Blue to get density.
I painted the stripes in Dark Blue using less water and a broader, medium sized flat brush. Same technique as the simple look. Here's a closer look at the layering on my arm, almost finished.
Here you can see how the lines don't go into the forearm or palm. I also had the forearm less dark, using the Light Blue to be more natural.
For my fingers, I used darker at the tips and finished it wish some pink. Here are the almost done fingers on my right hand so you can see the contouring of dark to light. The pink came later but really finished it out.
After finishing my arms and finishing up the stripes I did the detail work on the face. I wanted to look done but not necessarily like Neytiri. Almost like someone had magically turned me into Na'vi. I used MAC Carbon and a small angled brush in upright feathery strokes to make 'eyebrows'. I also lined my waterlines with MAC Eye Kohl in Feline and applied 2-4 coats of L'Oreal Voluminous black mascara. I used MAC Pink Swoon blush on my cheeks and Besame Debutante Pink lipstick.
The last thing I did was apply tiny white dots using Ben Nye liquid Acrylic paint. Powder slightly with the Talc or Silicone microspheres to set and then mist gently with a setting spray. You are all done with paint!
The next step is your hair. You'll want long and black and some sort of braid with hair next to your face- My wig is the Ms. 5th Avenue wig which is a mix of dark brunette and black without fringe. I plopped on the hair net after securing my hair in a low, tight bun at the base of my skull. Once that was secure, I slid on the wig and styled it to hide the glue lines on the ears.
Suddenly, I was on Pandora.
|*this photo is edited slightly for contrast and blur- the rest are not|
I didn't do beads or feathers or anything because I was just trying to be me- but Na'vi... not necessarily a native from the film.
Once the wig is done, you should be ready for your eyes. Viva la contacts- here they are, big and yellow!
The contacts are very large, almost scleral and will fit like a circle lens. They were bright yellow and although weren't uncomfortable, my vision was slightly blurry. They also weren't spot on and centered- so I look kinda wonk eyed. I don't know if it was my eyes or the contacts, but alas, there they are.
To get them in, you hold your upper eyelid open with your less dominant hand and then slide the contact (wet) onto your cornea and try to gently affix it onto your eyeball. Once it's on, close your eye to center it on your eye and it might sting and feel awkward. This took me a few tries as I'm not a contact lens wearer- but eventually they were in, much eye watering later.
Here's a closer look at the contacts and the appearance of the latex. It was spongy and foam like and very, very cool. You can see my eye watered off some of the makeup.
Here's a finished look at my hand and arms.
Yeah, so here I am all done- Na'vi me!!
|*edited some to show how it looked with darker eyes (I fixed this but didn't photograph it) and blurred edges. Sigh.|
And no makeup tutorial would be complete without the prerequisite almost body shot in the bathroom- here's me as I looked walking around campus all Avatar'ed out!
After a long day at class, 8 am to 4 pm, I headed home, got my other 2 kids ready (a bat and a zombie) and touched up Josh- and FINALLY we went Trick or Treating. I loved freaking out my neighbors and getting them to guess who I was. The reaction at school was a lot of fun too. I don't think people are used to seeing complete character makeup walking around or meme'ing in the bathroom :)
So after a long night, off goes the appliance!
Hope this was helpful for you to create your own Avatar look! This lasted all day and was a lot of fun. Let me know if you decide to go Na'vi too!
Have a great day,