Flashback: Gory Ghoul Makeup

Costumes, Cosplay, and Props Home

Zombies and ghouls are all the rage this Halloween, and adding some macabre makeup to just about any getup will immediately zombie-fy it. I have a friend who is a forest ranger, and he’s going as the zombie ranger, by just donning his work uniform and adding some gory makeup and some dismembered limbs coming out of his backpack. Maybe I’ll just have to be the zombie backcountry snowboarder. This week’s flashback is another excerpt from Make: Halloween Special Edition, a 2006 collaboration between the editors of CRAFT and MAKE, our sister publication. Courtney Mault and Max Sparber, experts in horror makeup, wrote an entire Macabre Makeup DIY section for the issue, incorporating simple, kitchen-inspired techniques from master makeup pioneer Dick Smith. I say kitchen-inspired because Smith used Karo corn syrup, unflavored gelatin, and bread crumbs to create many a gruesome look. For this DIY, get out the bread crumbs and get gory!
Macabre Makeup: The Ghoul
By Courtney Mault and Max Sparber

The corpse-eating ghoul is where your kitchen supplies come in handy, because this is a piece of makeup that requires bread crumbs. And if you do a full-face coat of liquid latex, when you’re done, you’ll have a particularly weird-looking mask that you can reuse.


Liquid latex
Bread crumbs
Black and gray greasepaint
Red acrylic paint


Step 1: Add dark greasepaint around the eyes, forehead, and cheeks to get a sunken, hollow look.
Then continue to paint the rest of the face and neck with a skeletal outline. This will give the effect of translucent skin decaying off the bone.
Step 2: Paint the face with a coat of liquid latex, and sprinkle bread crumbs onto the latex. They will stick. Allow layer to dry.
Caution: Be very careful not to cover hair with liquid latex, such as your eyebrows, hairline, or mustache (should you have one), as it will be almost impossible to remove the liquid latex without tearing your hair out. Repeat. Add layers to bulk up areas of your face that you want to stand out, such as your brow, your lips, your chin, or your cheekbones.
Note: If you use more or heavier bread crumbs, the face will look bubbled and filled with pustules (in which case, adding reddish acrylic paint to the latex will give the ghoul a horribly diseased look). Finer or fewer breadcrumbs will make the ghoul look leathery and pockmarked.
Step 3: Apply makeup. When the whole thing has dried, apply greasepaint as you would to any other monster. The ghouls look especially good if you use a stipple sponge to give them a weird, rough texture.
Now go dig up some graves and eat the dead!
About the Authors:
Courtney Mault is a Minnesotan who’s been a horror makeup hobbyist for years, and has provided makeup for several indie and student films. Max Sparber is a blogger, playwright, and journalist from Minneapolis.

25 thoughts on “Flashback: Gory Ghoul Makeup

  1. Sheila says:

    I guess the zombies are literally taking over right? There are so many movies now about it, and so its a perfect holloween costume…love the photos above. http://www.licetokill.com is great too. I especially like the red that looks like thick ketchup on his face…
    gross…exactly what they wanted.

  2. Liz says:

    What did you use to make your eyes red? What’s safe to use?

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    love the che guevara shirt :P

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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