What Does a Special Effects Makeup Artist Do?

special effects makeup ACSM

Have you ever used makeup to transform yourself or a friend and found yourself daydreaming about being a special effects makeup artist for a living?

It’s a highly specialised and incredibly creative career – and getting started isn’t as hard as you probably think!

From Avatar to Aliens, Game of Thrones, The Grinch to awesome Halloween makeup, there are very talented people behind the scenes in showbiz creating those iconic looks.

They all started somewhere, right? There’s a good chance that a few years ago today’s special effects (SFX) artists were applying for a makeup course, daydreaming about the same career you are right now.

With dedication and hard work, a career in special effects makeup is far from fantasy.

What is special effects makeup?

In a nutshell, SFX makeup artists create believable characters for movies, theatre productions, parties and performances.

Cinematic makeup artists use similar products to what you have at home, combined with special prosthetics, life cast and costuming, to create out-of-this-world characters or give actors abrasions, wounds and odd features.

All these essential skills are taught at the Australian College of Specialist Makeup. In fact, the range of skills taught in a Diploma of Screen and Media are a strong foundation to launch a career in special effects makeup.

From there, on-the-job training and constant experimentation will transform those skills into a successful career.


How to get started in special effects makeup

Here’s the good news: the makeup industry is growing every year and shows no signs of slowing down.

So how do you break into a special effects makeup career? Here are a few practical tips:

1.    Get a formal qualification

The Diploma of Screen and Media (Makeup) is recognised by the Australian Government as formal qualification on the Australian Qualification Framework.

2.    Practice, practice, practice

Practice makes professionals. Try out new techniques on friends, family members, nieces and nephews – anyone who’ll sit still long enough!

3.    Study the masters (old and new)

There have been some very influential special effects makeup artists in history. Start with the masters who created your favourite characters, and don’t forget to stay up to date with the latest trends.

4.    Get industry experience

Find a mentor at your makeup college to help you get real experience in the industry. Even better, choose a special effects makeup course Perth that offers work placements and recruitment support.

5.    Love what you do!

Ok, admittedly this one is pretty easy. When you spend all day coming up with creative characters and finding new ways to use prosthetics, it’s easy to love your job! There will be long days on movie sets but the thrill of seeing your work come to life is well worth it.


Ready to transform a love of lipstick into a full-fledged SFX makeup career, or just want to learn a little more about the industry?

Check out the Diploma of Screen and Media at ACSM Campus Perth to see how you can become a successful Makeup Artist in Perth.