Battered and Bruised

January 28th, 2014

January 28th, 2014

Women's Aid used famous faces to highlight domestic violence by creating some very authentic bruises, here on Honor Blackman

Women’s Aid used famous faces to highlight domestic violence by creating some very authentic bruises, here on Honor Blackman

Bruises are big business. While not every job will be requiring the use of prosthetics and fantastical make-up creations, the ability to create realistic mottled and multi-coloured contusions will be a skill to draw on for almost any project.  Whether you’re looking to invest in some new kit, or want to know if there are any new offerings to try, Warpaint has rounded up a selection of some of the best bruiser kits around.

Anna Friel for Women's Aid

Anna Friel for Women’s Aid

Bruises on BBC's Casualty

Bruises on BBC’s Casualty

 The best way to achieve a great, realistic bruise is of course to use a variety of colours and shades.  This means that a professional palette is often a good choice, with as assortment of colours at your disposal for only one cost.

Some make-up palettes are better catered for bruise-creation than others, such as the Bluebird Triage Palette, which has a specific ‘Bruise’ shade, along with seven other colours, including reds, purples and a green to create a truly multi-hued look.  The colours are intense, so use a light hand, but they’re also strong enough to cover tattoos should they need to, and are alcohol activated.  This perfect package is one of the more expensive options, however, setting you back £84.


If you work on a lot of supernatural jobs, a strong contender would be the Toby Sells ‘Infected’ Palette, retailing at £67.95 for 10 colours.  With the colours chosen by SFX make-up expert Toby Sells himself (who has worked on projects such as The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead and Zombieland), this palette contains some unusual “off” colours which can be used to create some truly unhealthy-looking, damaged skin, using shades such as ‘Inflamed Derma’ and ‘Broken Capillary.’


On the flip-side, Kristyan Mallett (Les Misérables, Harry Potter, Holby City) has helped to create a palette aimed for more realistic make-up effects.  The Skin Illustrator On Set Signature Series Kristyan Mallett Palette costs £45 and has a selection of 12 colours.  It should be noted that the size of the palette cells are slightly smaller than some other palettes, and as such is better to be used with brushes than sponges.  The palette also boasts a ‘Bruise’ shade, along with other reds and neutrals to blend with.


The classic Skin Illustrator FX Palette is a staple in many artists’ kit. Initially developed to showcase the specially developed ‘Blood Tone’, the ‘Bruise Tone’ and variety of other highly-pigmented colours are the building blocks of many excellent creations.  Skin Illustrator assures that “The pigment content is much higher than any other palette available so the colours go farther and last longer.”  The formulas are also long-lasting, waterproof and alcohol activated.  The palette of 10 colours costs £83.75.


A similar offering to the Skin Illustrator FX Palette comes from Reel Creations.  Their Colour Wheel Palette also offers 10 long-lasting, waterproof colours for £57.50.  However the colours are less specific (e.g. ‘Brown’, ‘Deep Red’) and more mixing may be required to achieve the right look, which may be off-putting for some.


Ben Nye has a couple of products which are perfectly suited to creating gruesome contusions.  With two colour options available, the Ben Nye ‘Bruise Wheel’ or ‘Cut and Bruise Wheel’ offer unbeatable value for money by delivering four intensely pigmented crème formulas in one handy wheel, for only £9.50.  Alternatively, if you prefer a more multi-tasking product, the Ben Nye Ultimate F/X Palette holds a huge 18 colours, including a dedicated ‘Bruise’ tone, as well as a variety of colours to simulate other cuts, abrasions and injuries.  It’s also great value for money, at £64.95, although like the Kristyan Mallett palette the cells are on the smaller side.


For those who like to experiment with textures and more innovative products, there are a few other items which might be worth a try to conjure contusions.  The Skin Illustrator Glazing Gels are an excellent way to build up layers of colour, while their formula makes them extremely versatile – they are water-based and somewhat transparent, and are formulated to work extremely well for HD film and TV.  There is also a great colour range, including four ‘Bruise’ shades and a ‘Black & Blue’ option.  At £13.50 for 1oz, they provide an excellent alternative to the more dense palette formulas.

A similar option is the Glynn Mckay Bruise Gels, which come in a variety of colours and cost just £6.50.  They’re much more strongly pigmented that the Skin Illustrator gels, so dab lightly!

glyn mckay

The third gel offering comes from Make-Up International Make Bruise Simulation Gels.  With five colour options, depending on the age of the bruise, these transparent gels can be layered up on both skin and other prosthetic materials.  Costing £5.75 for 20ml, they’re good for artists who may be on a more limited budget.


Finally, the Principality Bruise Powder can be used to create a simple yet effective bruise effect.  Using cosmetic-grade pigments, the powder is simply shaken onto either skin or silicone and rubbed in to create the bruise.  Simply removed with soap and water, it costs £8.50 for 5g of product.




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By Deborah Murtha

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