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Program Overview

We are very excited to offer Character & Special FX Makeup – a 7-Week Certificate Program and special collaboration with Los Angeles based Special Effects master and global educator Thomas Surprenant.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn the necessary skills to start a career as a special effects makeup artist!

Contact us to set up an appointment or to learn more.

Character & Special FX Makeup – 207 clock hours

Program taught by Emmy winning Special Effects artist Thomas Surprenant and his team of favorite Hollywood film makeup artists.

The Character & Special FX Makeup Certificate Program provides an education specific to those seeking a career in special effects makeup artistry. These skills prepare individuals to provide special effects makeup services for film, television, commercials, photo shoots, and theatrical performances. These specialized techniques also prepare students to be employed working in a special effects lab. Students learn character makeup and appliance fabrication and application techniques to create any transformation required for the creative development of the story written for film, television, or theatrical productions. Special effects makeup is also often used in commercials, music videos, and photo shoots.

A 7 week Daytime schedule is available. The Character & Special FX Makeup Certificate Program combines 10 courses, providing a comprehensive education and preparation for student graduates to explore career options in film, television, commercial, print, and stage. The program includes a special effects makeup photo shoot day with a professional photographer and model.

Classes are a combination of lectures, demos, student application, and photo shoots. Students alternate practicing on each other in order to work with a variety of skin types and coloring, while gaining the experience of working with different subjects. Photos are shot throughout the program in a portrait studio and/or outdoors. A Certificate of Completion is issued upon successful graduation.

Highlights of Program:

  • Certificate of Completion issued upon successful graduation
  • Membership on the private AofM job board (for 18 months after graduation)
  • Discounts from hundreds of pro and major makeup/hair product brands (ongoing after gradation)
  • High resolution pictures from our portrait studio for portfolio building and documentation

Included Courses:

  • Theatre Makeup
  • Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction
  • Out of the Kit FX II
  • Working Special FX
  • Character Aging Makeup
  • Bald Cap Fabrication & Application
  • Lifecasting
  • Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application
  • Career Marketing II
  • Special FX Photo Shoot

Above courses available for individual enrollment. Course descriptions here. Contact us to set up an appointment or learn more.

Kits needed:


Oct 22-Dec Day Schedule


June 10-July 26 Day Schedule
Oct 21-Dec 11 Day Schedule

Application Form

About Thomas E. Surprenant

Thomas Surprenant is a two-time Emmy Award winning special effects makeup artist with over 30 years experience in film, TV and theater. He has worked on many notable TV shows and films including Star Trek, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, X-Men: The Last StandBuffy the Vampire Slayer, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. He is also the creator of specialty product line Thomas Surprenant Creations and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to The Art of Makeup.

Check out Thomas’ Facebook Fan page and IMDB profile.  Incredible body of work!

Course Descriptions

Theatre Makeup 12 clock hours

This course teaches theatrical highlight and contour, juvenile, hero, and old age makeup for the stage. Product knowledge and character design are also covered.

Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction 18 clock hours

This course teaches students how to hand glue hair to the face and body, removal techniques, and dress and construct lace pieces by hand tying hair for a convincing transformation. A combination of methods and types of hair such as human, yak, and crepe hair will be used, using the top products in the film industry. Mr. Surprenant used these techniques on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and many more productions.

Out of the Kit FX II 12 clock hours

These out of the kit effects are special effects that can be created quickly and easily without the use of a makeup lab. These effects can be created in the makeup trailer or on the set without any preparation time. Effects covered in this course include creating a charred burn, disaster victims and broken glass, ice and snow, sunburn, dirt and blood application and removal. Mr. Surprenant used some of these techniques in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Character Aging Makeup 18 clock hours

Realistic ageing makeup techniques are taught in this course with the use of prosthetics and various ageing makeup materials that can be applied to working in film, television or stage productions. Mr. Surprenant won an Emmy Award for his ageing makeup on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Working Special FX 7 clock hours

Working special effects are effects that are often in motion during a scene and requires a technique called blood tubing. It is the responsibility of the makeup artist to rig a system to enable the actor to start bleeding in the middle of a scene. This course teaches this special skill. Mr. Surprenant used this technique on the feature Quarantine.

Bald Cap Fabrication & Application 12 clock hours

This course covers the creation and application of bald caps. Application methods with short hair and long hair will be covered, as well as different materials of bald caps such as latex and vinyl. Painting, hair punching, and application for both theater and film and television are also included. Mr. Surprenant used these techniques on Craig Ferguson, on Ice Cube’s “Natural Born Killaz” music video, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many many more productions.

Lifecasting 12 clock hours

Students will learn how to make a life cast, and take home a plaster form that they can use to sculpt off of over and over again as well as create prosthetics pieces from their molds that they can apply to the face and body. Mr. Surprenant used this technique for countless film and television productions.

Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application 107 clock hours

Creativity is boundless in this course that includes instruction in sculpting, mold making, prosthetic design and fabrication in a variety of mediums including foam latex, pros-aide transfers, and silicone appliances. Application, hand and airbrush painting, removal, and safety is covered. Character design is also included. Mr. Surprenant used these techniques on Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Oscar nominated), Star Trek and countless other film and television productions.

Career Marketing II 2 clock hours

Students will learn marketing techniques, social media trends, resources, best business practices, etiquette, rates, invoicing, and other useful tips to begin a career as a professional special fx makeup artist.

Special FX Photo Shoot 7 clock hours

Students get a chance to use creativity and skills learned in class to create their final character makeup look. They will design and create a unique character makeup. Professional photos are shot in our portrait studio and/or outdoors throughout our location.  Students choose photographs to keep for personal and career building use. Selected image is professionally retouched.


HOURS: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm unless otherwise indicated.
This program is not yet offered on the Weekend/Evening schedule.
Click here for full Schedule in Calendar view


Oct 23-24 Theatre Makeup (10a-5p)
Oct 25-26, 29 Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction (10a-5p)
Oct 30-31 Out of the Kit FX II (10a-5p)
Nov 1-2, 5 Character Aging Makeup (10a-5p)
Nov 6 Working Special FX (10a-6p)
Nov 7 Bald Cap Fabrication & Application (10a-5p)
Nov 8 Bald Cap Fabrication & Application (9:30a-6p)
Nov 9 & 12 Lifecasting (9:30a-6p)
Nov 13-16, 19-20, 26-30, Dec 3-5 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application
Closed Wed-Fri for Thanksgiving
Dec 6 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application (10a-6p)
Dec 7 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application and Career Marketing II (10a-7p)
Dec 9 (Sunday) Special FX Photo Shoot (10a-6p)


Session #1
June 10-11 Theatre Makeup
June 12-14 Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction
June 17-18 Out of the Kit FX II
June 19-21 Character Aging Makeup
June 24 Working Special FX (10a-6p)
June 25-26 Bald Cap Fabrication & Application
June 27-28 Lifecasting (9:30a-5:30p)
July 1-July 26 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application (July 25 10a-6p)
July 25 Career Marketing II
July 26 Special FX Photo Shoot (10a-6p)

Session #2
Oct 21-22 Theatre Makeup
Oct 23-25 Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction
Oct 28-29 Out of the Kit FX II
Oct 30-Nov 1 Character Aging Makeup
Nov 4 Working Special FX (10a-6p)
Nov 5-6 Bald Cap Fabrication & Application
Nov 7-8 Lifecasting
Nov 11-15, 18-22, 25-26, Dec 2-6, 9 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application
Closed Wed-Fri for Thanksgiving
Dec 10 Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application and Career Marketing II (10a-6p)
Dec 11 Special FX Photo Shoot (10a-6p)

Learn all these techniques and more!
* Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application
* Bald Cap Fabrication & Application
* Lifecasting
* Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction
* Working Special FX
* Out of the Kit FX
* Theatre Makeup
* Character Aging Makeup
* Lab experience


Certificate Program Tuition & Fees

Character & Special FX Makeup Tuition $3,895
Lab Materials $500
Character & Special FX Makeup Kit $700

Tuition + Lab Materials + Kit = $5,095
Also interested in The Master Class? The Multimedia Master Makeup Artist 14-week Certificate Program includes both The Master Class and the Character & Special FX Makeup programs

Individual Course Tuition & Fees

Theatre Makeup $275 (+$25 lab fee)
Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction $425 (+$75 lab fee)
Out of the Kit FX II $275 (no lab fee)
Working Special FX $150 (+$25 lab fee)
Character Aging Makeup $425 (+$40 lab fee)
Bald Cap Fabrication & Application $275 (+$25 lab fee)
Lifecasting $275 (+$75 lab fee)
Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application $1,995 (+$250 lab fee)
Additional supplies are necessary and available for purchase upon request. Contact Us to request a list of necessary supplies needed for individual courses or to learn more.

Application Form