Make-up by Courtney Mault.

The vampire is the first creature in Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook, and we’ll start with this monster for the same reason Smith did: because it’s a relatively simple makeup job, requiring very little in the way of supplies. That being said, the techniques of applying makeup to create a vampire are among the most essential in character makeup, requiring a careful sense of shading.

Project Steps

Grease your hair back.

If you have hair (if you don’t, you can wear a rubber wig bought for a few dollars at a makeup store). Add some thin blue lines for the effect of pronounced veins.

Give your face a base coat of greasepaint.

Give your face a base coat of greasepaint. Start with white, but add a little bit of another color to make the results unearthly. Gray will do for this, but you might decide to go with green, which, believe it or not, was the actual color of Béla Lugosi’s makeup in the original Dracula. Dab your face with the white greasepaint, and then add dabs of the second color, blending them together with your fingers until your face, neck, and ears are completely covered.

Add shadows.

Use your second color, gray or green, to add shadows. You want to darken your temples and under your cheekbones — the intention here is to give a hollow, cadaverous look. Blend the shadows in with a brush or with your fingertips.

Shadow your eyes.

Shadow your eyes, to give them a sunken, skull-like look. Begin by placing black greasepaint on your upper and lower lids, keeping it very dark around the hollows of your eyes. Blend more the farther away you get from the eyes, and stop where the hollows of your eye sockets end.

Then set the greasepaint. Pat a pale or neutral powder onto your face and neck. Clean off the excess with a cotton ball or powder puff. This will set the greasepaint, so that you don’t need to worry about it smearing, coming off on your clothes (although always use caution with makeup and clothes), or sweating off.

Thicken your eyebrows.

Use your eyebrow pencil to add very small lines, which should look like additional hairs, along the top of your natural eyebrow. Make it as thick as you think looks terrifying, and as shaggy as you like. Additionally, traditional vampire makeup tends toward wickedly arched brows.

Blacken lips and nostrils.

Use your eyebrow pencil to enlarge your nostrils by blackening in and around your nostril openings, and blacken your inner lips with a hard, sharp line. If you have black lipstick, you might also consider giving your vampire black lips.

Add teeth and blood.

Now add the vampire teeth and a trickle of stage blood (or, if you’re feeling especially gruesome, slather your face with stage blood), and dress appropriately. Vampires used to dress in Victorian evening clothes. Nowadays they tend to wear a lot of black leather and latex, so a local fetish shop might be able to help you with your costuming needs.

NOTES: You can buy prosthetic latex pieces to build up the forehead, like the sort seen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Feel free to use these, but put them on beforehand with rubber cement, and use makeup to blend the edges so the prosthetic seems a natural part of your forehead. Additionally, you can make your own vampire teeth out of dental wax — Dick Smith offers a complete guide to making your own special effects teeth in his book.


This project first appeared in Make: Halloween Special Edition.