Ep #33 – Lenses with Cristina Patterson & Bob Smithson

Contact lenses are pretty easy to find nowadays. It wasn’t always so, and the increased use of lenses has meant an increase in opportunities to have problems with eyes caused by them.

Movies have used lenses for a while, and one of the names which lead the way was Greenspoon. I recall watching the credits of The Lost Boys, and the name ‘Morton K. Greenspoon’ etched itself in my head as those bright yellow vampire lenses really did stand out for me as an excellent example of what a lens can do.

Read more on the history of lenses in this report here at Optometry and Vision Science. Click on the link which says ‘Article As PDF’. If no joy get it here. It is surprising how far back it goes, and the name Greenspoon is there! I was thrilled Cristina mentioned him in the podcast.

Cristina gets busy on The Walking Dead. Those milky eyes and bloodshot orbits are a big part of the grim effects workload.

We chatted to Cristina Patterson of Eye Ink FX about eye care and lenses, especially in the light of many people around us who had created characters for Monsterpalooza using lenses. Many conventions will have extensive makeup characters with lenses bought online or in costume stores for not a lot of money. These lenses may be available in stores, but is it wise to buy and use them?

We drill deep and talk about the things that matter with eyecare and lenses, with a mind to the professional makeup artist who may be pressured into supplying and fitting lenses as an afterthought or as a cheap alternative to using a lens tech.

We also chatted to Bob Smithson, a lens tech with many years experience fitting lenses on set and dealing with the front line of lenses on a production.

Bob drops some magic into the eyes of Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl as The Devil for the Tenacious D video ‘The Pick Of Destiny’.

The bottom line is there are risks whenever you put something into the eye, and it pays to know the lenses are from a legal and reputable supplier and that whoever fits them is qualified and insured to do so.

It’s an expensive thing to get wrong!

I’m aware that of course it is beyong most casual budgets to pay to have lenses specially made and fitted, but that doesn’t mean problems you may encounter from ill fitting or bad lenses will be any cheaper for finances or reputations. Of course corners are cut and if you are taking chances with your own eyes then it’s on you. I guess what I am saying is that you must not take that route if working on someone elses eyes. Especially if they can sue you.

Stay Tuned! More to come.

– Stuart & Todd


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Ep #32 – Allan Apone & Brad Look Respect The Craft!

Todd and I had a great morning chatting with Allan A. Apone and Brad Look at MEL headquarters (Makeup Effects Lab) based up in North Hollywood.

MEL now occupies a huge area of workshops and produces effects for shows as well as products used by artists in the industry, including PAX paints, baldcaps and appliances. Starting out as a small lab in 1978, it now boasts some 18000 square feet of facility.

Their website is MEL Products USA and is worth checking out!

Our tour took us from machine shop to foam room, silicone lab and woodshop, all surrounded by a million artefacts from jobs in the past.

We sat and talked about the recent Monsterpalooza weekend, as well as the business of makeup and what really counts. As seasoned makeup artists with many years experience on set, Allan and Brad made this episode of the podcast a gold-loaded listen for makeup artists.

Like Brad says, “If you don’t know highlight and shadow, it doesn’t matter what you are putting on – it won’t look right!“. Despite the noise of competing companies vying for our attention and wallets, this really is the key message. Know your subject, know yourself and above all, respect the craft!

Incidentally, MEL have a podcast called ‘This Week In Makeup‘ which is worth checking out!

Click below to stream or download the file. You can subscribe to our podcast, Battles With Bits Of Rubber on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and pretty much all podcatcher apps or platforms.


If you dig this, please share it with someone you think would like it and throw it up on social media! Email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com and on our facebook page.

Till next time!

-Stuart & Todd

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Ep #31 – Steve Wang

One of the great things about Monsterpalooza, and other makeup FX heavy trade shows is you get to meet the people who make a life around doing the work, and who care enough to help others do it too.

For my money, this chat with sculpting and creature legend Steve Wang was the most potent use of 20 minutes anyone could have. Steve was in high demand, but Todd managed to get him for a short timeslot on the mic and we jumped straight in with the sculpting talk.

I wanted to get a grasp on why ZBrush was still a mystery to me (and many others) and there is some golden wisdom in here which is worth hearing if you have been left blinking at the apparant dearted ship of digital creativity.

If you feel like you are on the dockside, waving sadly at a ship of endless creativity disappearing into the distance and cursing yourself for missing the boarding window, then you need to put that shit down, listen up and dry those tears!

Putting this together and listening to it put me right back there and fired me up, so get stuck in and listen. Steve has such economy of explanation, he doesn’t waste time or fluff around – he gets straight to the point and lands that info sqare in the part of your brain that is ready to go!

Check out Steve’s instagram @stevewangcreaturecreator and alliance studio and elitecreature.com.

Thanks for listening. You can email the show at stuartandtodd@gmail.com, visit the facebook page and join us there.

-Stuart & Todd

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Glasgow Film Festival 2018

Recently, I did a little demo of a vampire makeup application for BBC Arts at the Glasgow Film Festival.

It was a fun afternoon of application demos, and this one was filmed, and we chatted about the nature of the work and motivations behinsthe desire to do it. Often this side of things is skipped over, and it is nice to have the opportunity to talk about the important stuff which is so often overlooked, as hype, Coke cans in the eye and over-the-top hype is far more eyecatching than the nuts and bolts of how the stuff is actually made.

The pic of the final makeup you see me taking in the video.

Check out the video below to see what we did and how it worked out – the brow piece was run from my Evil Brow flat mould, and as always is a pleasure to apply. I love vampire looks, and any chance to create one is always a treat!

Model was Sara Adamson, herself a talented makeup artist and gorefreak like myself, who happens to live in Glasgow, so serendipity prevailed.

See the video here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p066kp62

What was your fave vampire? I was always terrified of Barlow, The Master in the TV movie version of Salems Lot! That stayed with me, I can tell you. Still gives me the heebiejeebies now.

– Stuart

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#30 – Chris Lyons Fangs FX

Chris and Fangs FX is who we call when we need teeth, but there is a lot more to Fangs FX than just …well…fangs!

This is the first of a series of interviews Todd and I did at Monsterpalooza 2018, a three day event in Los Angeles which was busting at the seams with visitors, demos and vendors. It was amazing, and Todd and I applied my Bela Lugosi makeup for the Rick Baker Tribute on the enourmous PPI Premiere Products Inc stand.

We grabbed Chris for a chat outside the venue as it was far quieter than inside, and talked teeth, drill bits in the mouth, loose teeth, missing teeth and how much hiding in plain sight takes place.

Making and fitting teeth requires the use of some pretty serious chemicals and hardware, and putting these things into performers mouths is a serious responsibility as you will hear.

Fangs FX was established in 1984, and has an outstanding list of credits. If you have never heard of Chris or his team, then you will certainly have seen their work. Check out their facebook page and Instagram @fangsfx.

Listen here, stream on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud or wherever you get podcasts – just look for Battles With Bits Of Rubber!

Richard Coyle from BBC TV show ‘Strange’ which maks use of swelling provided by a dental plumper rather than an appliance. Makeup by Jan Sewell.

You know who wearing some makeup by Mark Coulier. Nose wiped out digitally, teeth made grim practically.

Michael Rooker from Guardians of the Galaxy, makeup by David White.

Demo by Mark Coulier, reimagining the Nosferatu style Barlow from Salems Lot.

Makeup demo by Stephen Murphy for PPI. Model Ben Palmer.


A Cure For Wellness featured some neat teeth gags.

Paul Kayes’ teeth for Mutti Voosht in ‘Pan’.

The test makeup with teeth in place for Paul Kayes character Mutti Voosht for Pan, cut ultimately. Makeup by me.

Spencer Wilding wearing a Rick Baker wolfman makeup and some oustanding Fangs FX Dentures.

Tim Vine comedy sketch show wth removable tooth gag.

Naomi Harris in drama series ‘White Teeth’ missing the front four teeth – a worst case scenario for a practical tooth gag if all real teeth are present.

Gags, where something has to happen, move and perform on cue is a tough thing to pull off…

… but even a moving drill bit appearing through teeth live in-camera is another day for Chris and the team. The stuff nightmares are made of!

  • Thanks for checking this out, please feel free to email us at stuartandtodd@gmail.com.
  • Comments here and on our Facebook page – just look for Battles With Bits Of Rubber!
  • Keep on flossing!

– Stuart & Todd


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So, this is my turn at soloing for a brief episode of Battles with Bits of Rubber.

And, depending on responses to my musings, perhaps Stuart and I can extend this into a longer broadcast with tips from you all on how to get rid of unwanted and no longer needed stuff.

As usual, you can get the podcast on iTunes/apple podcasts, Google Play Music, Spotify, Soundcloud….basiclally wherever podcasts are found. Not sure what this podcast nonsense is all about? Email me for help: stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Hi. My name is Todd. And I’m a pack rat.
(Hi, Todd!)

Let’s face it, most of us have too much stuff. Stuff we don’t use, stuff we don’t need, and stuff we don’t even remember getting.

So how do you get rid of it?! I can look around my office, shop and studio and wonder when the crew from Hoarders is arriving. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because at least I’m not navigating through canyons of stacked magazines and newspapers, but… it’s easy to lose sight of my office from certain vantage points because of props, molds and masks… I can be looking for something – and it can even be in plain view – but it will take me a bit to see it amidst everything else. I either need more space, or less stuff. The answer is less stuff.

But how do you part with something you may need later? There’s a psychology to it… maybe even a pathology… I’ve been collecting and adding to bins of doodads and thingamabobs (I swear they even multiply by themselves!) for what seems like eons that I know I’ll find a cool use for someday.

I need help. I’m never going to use that shit. Who do I think I’m kidding? 2018 may be the Year of the Dog for China, but for me it is The Year of the Purge. I started reading a book by Japanese author Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

I haven’t finished it yet, but the gist of it is this: Figure out which items ‘spark joy’ and which don’t. The items that don’t, heave ho! I’m still trying to wrap my head around that, but I confess I am making headway.

Perhaps I need to put in a call to American Pickers. It’s just that I’m in a business that requires stuff, and lots of it. There has to be a way to make do and do well with a leaner inventory and library of stuff. This is my start. Take a listen and let us know what you think.



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I had the great privilege to be asked to teach some masters degree students at Theaterakademie August Everding in Munich, Germany recently.

I had a splendid time!

The three students I worked with all had ambitious, figurative projects which they had been working on for some weeks when I arrived for my five day stint there.

Click below to stream or download the file. You can subscribe to our podcast, Battles With Bits Of Rubber on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and pretty much all podcatcher apps or platforms.

  • Daniel Riedl had made a full size figure leaning out of a bath and was in the final sculpting stages preparing to make ready for moulding.
  • Julian Hutcheson had just moulded his sculpt of a male torso, and in the week we mixed and cast out the silicone in the chosen flesh tone (Moldstar 20 from Smooth-On).
  • Caterina Veronesi had sculpted a scale figure of herself which will be cast in silicone and was also in the final sculpting atges and preparing to make the mould.

Left to right: Stuart, Daniel, Julian & Caterina.

We had a great group chat to discuss how things work there, the education system (It’s a free, government paid education which requires an extensive interview process which is a completely different model to the business-style version most makeup education systems work to) and the expected quality of work such a system produces.

One great project they had was to take classic roman marble sculptures and create realistic portrait busts based on them. This was a great project as it revealed the licence artists took to portray an idealised version of someone who perhaps would really have been a good deal less attractive in reality – the Photoshop of it’s day.

By studying the people depicted, discrepancies between reported ages and health reveal how much the idealised versions deviated from reality.

The original marble bust and lifelike interpretation by Julian Hutcheson.

We also chat about how important beer is, making your own silicone wig blocks, using Monster Clay in a cold environment as well as the re-emerging point of the unavoidable trinity in all creative endeavours:

Dividing up large appliances

Michael Pennington got in touch through our email (stuartandtodd@gmail.com) with a question about how best to know where one should divide up appliance sculpts to break them down into smaller pieces. As Todd points out, much of this is a hangover from foam latex and the shrinkage which was inevitable with that material. Silicone howver has none of these shrinkage issues, so we don’t always need to divide it in the same way.

That said, there are often good reasons to make a large appliance makeup into smaller, more manageable pieces. The most logical place to do this is where the sculpture is at its thinnest, and to try and keep edges in easier to hide areas where possible, such as where there is naturally a crease or shadow.

This was covered in more detail in a post from a while back, ‘Floating Pieces‘ where you will also find a workbook with lots of in-depth information:

‘Cheap Cheap Cheap’ shouldn’t be ‘Shit Shit Shit’

Whenever we do a video tutorial, I can guarantee that someone will want to do it for less money.  This is of course an inevitable occurrence, as it is quite sensible to not spend money you don’t need to. However, there does come a point where substituting can become so obsessive that eventually the end result can just look like a pile of crap.

I do a wax scar, someone wants to make their own wax becasue it’s too expensive. If I had a makeup using good wishes and exhaled air, someone somewhere would want to economise on that somehow.

(I know of people who have made their own wax, but if you don’t put a dollar value on your time or you seriously have a great idea to improve it then fine – but to me wax IS the cheaper and quicker way compared to sculpting, moulding and casting an appliance!)

Whilst it is true that skill will ‘work well with anything’, I can assure you top pro makeup kits do not have packs of cured meats and jam instead of makeup products to use on their screen talent. If mashed banana looks just right for fat, or pus or brains then fantastic.

Just don’t extend that to ‘I’ll never need to buy another makeup product again’.

Good – Quick – CheapPick two because you can’t have all three“.

Once you’ve seen outsanding makeup work done first-hand, then your priorities change. You decide instead of trying to do something as quick and cheap as possible, you would rather try and do something as good as possible. Like that trinity of choices above, pick two and decide which you would rather have in your portfolio.

Make sure that ‘Good’ is one of the options, because in the final picture which lives on, you can’t see cost or time.

Latex is a material that often gets used in colleges because it is cheap and easy to get. Howver, it requires more skill to paint it to appear like real skin than silicone appliances, so there is always a trade off. We would encourage you to get good at using cheap materials on a small scale, and then gradually scale up as you improve.

Beware clickbait and attention grabbing use of foodstuffs – if there was a way of not buying makeup then we can assure you working professionals would be the first in line at the grocery store!

Jam may be fine for a kids Halloween party, but it won’t do you any favours in a working portfolio.

Till next time.

Stuart & Todd


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Podcast Episode: #27 – Stu Musings

Seven hours is a big time difference to deal with when trying to synchronise a podcast with two people.

To help with that, Todd and I figured we’d add some extra single features to help keep the show moving.


Stream or download below, we are also on Spotify, iTunes…wherever you get podcasts!

At Pinewood studios, I was teaching a great class which had me thinking a lot about whatwe teach and why. I seized the moment to share my observations which briefly were:

  1. When and why to premake pieces way in advance versus fabricating something up directly onto the skin.
  2. The difference between knowing about something and mastering it.
  3. Keeping a record of your efforts when trying to solve a problem.
  4. It’s hard to be subtle – heavy handed is way easier to do.
  5. The importance of mixing the correct base tone to your appliance material.
  6. Making V buying fake blood.

Links you may find useful which were mentioned:

Neill Gorton’s Make-up FX 911

Rob Smith – Blood Podcast Part 1

Rob Smith – Blood Podcast Part 2

Maekup – David Stoneman’s FX materials range

Eyeblood (Kryolan)

Questions or comments either on the blog, the facebook page or email us direct stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Until next time,


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Studio Sangeet – open source and open mind

Most people learn techniques and perfect them.

Some people then take those techniques and look at what can be improved.

Sangeet falls into this camp.

He is now pretty well known for creating high quality prosthetic transfers, moulds made which contain the appliances and are used directly in their application.

As far as I can ascertain, this system was developed by Conor O’Sullivan and Rob Trenton and involves making silicone mould inserts which contain the appliances during application, speeding up the process in the chair and allowing multiple appliances to be run from the same sculpt.

Check out the podcast below stream or download it here or get it on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, iHeartRadio…whatever podcatcher app you use we should be there. Just search for Battles with bits of Rubber!

Sangeet has taken this process and developed many techniques and methods to push it even further. The transfer technique involves a lot of moulding and remoulding, and is not for the faint of heart but the results can be fantastic.Check out his website  studiosangeet.com/  and his range of anatomivcally accurate injury appliance flat moulds.

I chatted with Sangeet in his home studio in North London, and we spent four hours talking about moulds, standing on the shoulders of giants, using old-school materials in new ways. We covered a number of topics, including:


Check us out on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/stuartandtodd/ or email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com!

If you dig this, then share it! It would really help us out to grow the podcast.

– Stuart & Todd


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Chris Dombos & 3D Printing

3D printing is having an effect on the way things are made.

This episode talks about what those things are, how it benefits us all and how you can get involved.

Chris Dombos knows a thing or two about 3D printing, and he is also a massive FX nerd so we got on rather well. Having met him first at LA IMATS in Jan 2017 (I discovered he had some of the original Lost Boys moulds), it made sense to catch up when he came over to London recently. Of course, I figured bring the mic and make a podcast out of it. Listen below or subscribe for free in Spotify, iTunes, Apple podcasts, Soundcloud…whatever podcatcher you like to use.

We recorded in a cemetery in London, so there are background noises. The whole gamut of life – cars, sirens, passing people, kids, birds in the sky, aircraft, wind – it’s all there in a place of the dead. It’s all background, our audio is clear and we chatted about a number of great topics which matter to anyone who makes things. This includes:

  • There have been a number of auctions as big FX shops started scaling down! This means that the larger shops have all but disappeared but more smaller operations opening up.
  • Props Store London https://propstore.com/
  • Importance of design and the danger of generic, the process informing the look.
  • Occulus Medium: https://www.oculus.com/medium/
  • Cost of CAD programs – the free and the fortunes.
  • Digital sculpting revealing an artists lack of anatomical understanding, and how an understanding of form is essential to good sculpture regardless of the medium – clay or pixels.
  • Costs of materials v digital process. It exists as a process, will only get better.
  • The increased incidence of joined up thinking, and how digital FX uses a team to create what would have been the job of one person, teams fitting together. For practical FX this wider collaboration is a new thing.

We also mention some great artists. These include:

Software and websites to help include:

Hope you enjoy this episode – It’s exciting and scary at the same time for me.

Check us out on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/stuartandtodd/ or email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com!

– Stuart & Todd

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