Make-up Magic in Games

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Throughout the history of cinema, special effects and make-up artists have been bringing our favorite movies and characters to life.  In Alien, the xenomorph had insane detail, and you believed that the alien was actually bursting from a chest.  They turn Johnny Depp from a creepy Willy Wonka to a believable, rum-drinking pirate.  They help us believe that Kate Beckinsale tears apart Lichen, and that the busted lip and bloody nose that Kirk has really are bleeding.  Special effects and make-up artists make ideas reality, and they deliver visual dessert for movie-goers.

With more and more reliance on CGI (computer-generated imagery) in movies like Avatar, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and every disaster movie, environment and creatures are left to computers.  Making Arnold a damaged Terminator would've been credited to a special effects and make-up team.  Now, the Terminator would be computer-generated.  However, we still need those artists to deliver meticulous detail to make our favorite human characters come to life. 

That's why it's great to see a show like Face Off, from Syfy.  The artists on this show can turn Alice in Wonderland into Steam Punk and Little Red Riding Hood into a post-apocalyptic, Gatling gun-wielding, werewolf killer (my favorite part of the first season).  Because that's what special effects make-up artists do; they turn imagination into reality.

la noire

How does this cross over into video games, though?  In video games, everything is computer-generated.  The people that work on these games must be well-versed in special effects make-up, though.  In a game like L.A. Noire, all of the character's faces are motion-scanned.  With such amazing detail when it comes to emotion and movement, it's up to artists to make sure that the faces look real.  The skin and make-up (if they wear make-up) has to look authentic since the game goes for extreme character realism. 

So special effects make-up artists do exist in the gaming world, just not in the most traditional way that we are used to.  Where they would've had to create the xenomorph from Alien out of materials, chemicals, and make-up, they now do the same thing with mouse clicks and virtual brush strokes.  They still need to know how to blend colors and textures to get the effect they are going for. 

bioshock splicer concept art

The same goes when creating characters from an idea.  If you had the idea for a Splicer in BioShock, you would have to draw on the inspirations for that character design, put together the costume, and basically create everything about how the characters look.  Then, add in the textures and coloring for the character, and you have exactly what special effects make-up artists do for movies. 

So the magic of special effects and make-up design is alive and well in video games, probably one of the last places that people would expect it.  As long as there are creative characters to be made, there will be special effects make-up artists bringing them to life.

If you are interested in watching Face Off, you are in luck! The new second season premieres January 11th at 10/9c only on Syfy.  Have your mind blown with the amazing characters and costumes they create on a weekly basis.

GameZone and Syfy are teaming up to find the most talented FACE OFF artists on the web!  Use your artistic abilities to recreate any photo on any website using our easy-to-use web app and get a chance to win the GRAND PRIZE copy of The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides DVD and Star Trek DVD.  Check out the competition here!

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Lance Liebl Gamer, Disney enthusiast, opinionated sports fan, movie buff, and a father of two. You can follow Lance on Twitter @Lance_GZ.
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