After studying sculpting, I’m about to embark on my first attempt at doing a lifecast.
WHOA is me!
I don’t know why this scares the crap outta me, but it does. I keep having visions of the stuff hardening while I’m trying to clear an area for my poor subject to breathe, killing them in the process.
Or ripping off all their facial hair, eyebrows and all.
Making someone a bald face AND killing them? I couldn’t live with myself.
So, before I bought anything or did anything I did a bunch of research, as I always do, and I’m sharing what I found with you.
I hope this helps me to not kill my poor, unsuspecting model…which is likely to be my husband. Wouldn’t want to kill him.
Except for when he snores. (Kidding.)
What is a Lifecast?
According to the lifecasting Wiki, a lifecast is a 3 dimensional, exact replica of a human body part made from using molds and casts.
The detail in a lifecast is so realistic that you can see everything from fine hairs to pores.
My first visual of someone getting a lifecast was when I was a kid. It was this video of Michael Jackson getting a lifecast done for the prosthetics used in Thriller. (Scroll to 2:33 to skip to that particular part.)
I wanted to be clear about all the technical jargon being thrown at me, so I jotted down these definitions:
- Negative Mold – what you get after you remove the lifecasting material from your model
- Positive Mold – the actual replica of the lifecsated body part
- Molding – the process of creating the negative mold
- Casting – the process of pouring plaster inside the mold in order to get your lifecast
What materials are used in a Lifecast?
The two parts to creating a lifecast are molding and casting. The materials used for each part are different. Here’s what I learned.
Alginate –This material starts out as a sticky, liquid substance and hardens into a firm, rubbery mold within 3 minutes.
Dentist offices use alginate to get teeth impressions.
Plaster Bandages – These are the same as what is used when you get a cast on a limb. They create a hard shell to hold the negative mold, keeping the alginate from breaking.
Plaster – When you mix plaster powder with water you get wet plaster, and it’s the same material that’s on plaster bandages.
Plaster is used to fill the negative mold and ultimately gives you your final lifecast.
Different types include:
- Plaster of Paris
- Casting plaster
Why do I need to know how to do a Lifecast?
The best answer I found to this question is this: For the most comfortable fitting mask or prosthetic, you’ll need to create a lifecast.
Honestly, I haven’t seen one makeup effects artist who didn’t do some type of lifecasting. It’s one of those skills you just have to have, just like painting, sculpting and drawing. There’s really no getting around it.
There’s certainly no shortage of videos on how to create a lifecast. I’ve lost count on how many I’ve watched.
Here are some of my favorites:
KlairedelysArt – This YouTuber has a wonderful array of tutorials, and if you’ve never seen them I definitely recommend them all. This lifecasting tutorial is super, and, in my opinion, has everything you need to know about the process.
Sylak.com – This written tutorial has some alternative techniques and materials you may find useful.
DIY Lifecast Epic Fail – This short, 3 minute video shows a DIYer’s attempt at doing a lifecast on himself. He shows you everything he did wrong. After watching Klairedelys’ casting video I think I can see where he went wrong. Can you?
Know of any other great tips on creating a lifecast? Any good sites or videos? Leave them in the comments, will ya?
Thanks to these sites I was able to create this post: