Program Overview

Character & Special FX Makeup – 209 clock hours

Classes taught by top working Hollywood Special Effects artists!

Guest Instructors have included:

  • Thomas E. Surprenant (Emmy winner, Star Trek, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Todd Debreceni (Best Selling FX author of Special Makeup Effects and global FX artist/educator)
  • Michael Key (2x Emmy Winner & IMATS / Make-Up Artist Magazine Founder)
  • Rachael Wagner (Face/Off celebrity and Hollywood FX artist)
  • Michael Peterson (Pirates of the Caribbean, Blade II, Van Helsing)

Please read our blog post for past instructor announcements.

Program Overview

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 12 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
  • Diverse instructor experience from working in-demand character and Hollywood SFX artists.  Instructors have included Thomas E. Surprenant, Todd Debreceni, Michael Key and more (please note – instructor scheduling is subject to change due to working demands and production requirements of our instructors).

Included Courses:

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

Above courses available for individual enrollment.  See each Course description here.

Contact us to set up an appointment or learn more.

Kits needed:

CLASS HOURS: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm unless otherwise indicated.  Due to unforeseen circumstances in the lab and with the creative process, some days may go later.  This program is not yet offered on the Evening schedule.  Schedule subject to change due to instructor availability.

Application Form

Course Descriptions

Theatrical Makeup (Color Theory & Anatomy) 12 clock hours

This course teaches color theory, mixology, facial anatomy, and placement of highlight and contour to recognize facial structure and manipulate and use light as a sculpting tool to create characters for theatre, film, and special effects makeup. Dramatic contrast will be used to illustrate facial structure.  Product knowledge and character design will be reviewed as well as historical and modern influencing and award-winning makeup artists and the films they worked on.

Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction 24 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.

Character Aging Makeup 12 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.

Out of the Kit FX II 15 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.

Working Special FX 9 clock hours

Working special effects are effects that are often in motion during a scene. Sometimes it’s 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 technique.

Bald Cap Fabrication & Application 18 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.

Lifecasting 14 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.

Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application 96 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.

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.


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 for a complete experience? The Multimedia Master Makeup Artist 14-week Certificate Program includes both The Master Class and the Character & Special FX Makeup programs.

Individual SFX Course Tuition & Fees

The Character & Special FX Makeup program is intended as a complete program. Individual courses within the program may be taken individually if space permits and certain prerequisites are met. Space is prioritized for Certificate Program students. Contact us for more info.

Application Form

Learn all these techniques and more!
* Prosthetic Design, Fabrication & Application
* Bald Cap Fabrication & Application
* Lifecasting
* Hair Laying, Dressing & Construction
* Working Special FX (blood tubing and blood gags)
* Out of the Kit FX
* Theatrical Makeup
* Character Aging Makeup
* Lab experience
* Product knowledge and science