Life Casting / SFX Makeup / Stage Makeup

Lifecasting Essentials: A Start Guide for Beginners

Have you ever been intrigued by the art of lifecasting, but felt overwhelmed by where to begin? Or have you heard about it and dont know what it is? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this post, we’re sharing a collection of essential tips and tricks to kick-start your lifecasting journey. The article is great for they that do SFX makeup, prop making, mask making and cosplay.

NOTE – This post will get updated later 🙂

VIDEO – Half Face Life Cast using the silicone product “Mouldlife Life Form”

What is life casting?
Lifecasting is a technique used in the art of creating realistic sculptures or molds by directly casting or reproducing a part of a living human body. It involves making a mold of a body part, usually the face, hands, or other body areas, to create accurate replicas or effects for various purposes, including special effects makeup, prosthetics, art, and more. When casting the whole body the term body casting is sometimes used.

The process of life casting typically involves applying a mold-making material, such as alginate or silicone, directly to the skin. This material captures the contours and details of the body part. Once the mold material sets or cures, it can be carefully removed, leaving behind an impression of the body part. This impression can then be used to create various types of artistic or functional pieces, such as prosthetic limbs, masks, sculptures, and more. Most often, the life cast is filled with plaster to create a copy of the actor’s head that can be used to sculpt prostheses or loose parts.

Lifecasting requires attention to detail, a solid understanding of the materials used, and sometimes additional sculpting or finishing work to achieve the desired outcome. It’s commonly used in the film industry for creating realistic special effects, masks and prosthetics, as well as in art and design fields to create lifelike sculptures and replicas.

What do you use a life cast for?
You make a lifecast to get a copy of an actor or a person’s face, body or body part. This is done so that prostheses, masks or costume parts can be made and fit the actor almost like a glove. Lifecasting is also used to create, for example, realistic artificial body parts, heads or dead bodies.

16 Tips for life casting

1. Choose the Right Materials: When it comes to lifecasting, never use plaster directly on the skin. Use materials specifically designed for lifecasting, such as alginate or silicone. Plaster can cause severe burns and is not suitable for direct skin contact.

2. Inform Your Model: Transparency is key. Make sure your model fully understands the lifecasting process and each step involved. This helps them feel comfortable and prepared.

3. Assistance for Full Head Lifecasting: For full head lifecasting, having two people is advisable. One person can monitor the model’s breathing and ensure that breathing passages like the mouth and nostrils are clear.

4. DIY Poncho: Craft an easy poncho using a trash bag with a hole cut at the bottom, flipped upside down. This makeshift poncho keeps clothing protected during the lifecasting process and makes the cleanup more easy.

5. Consider the Silicone or Alginates’ Working Time: Different alginate have varying working times, influenced by the water temperature used. Be mindful of these factors to manage your workflow effectively. The same apllies to silicone when the components are mixed.

6. Prepping the Area: Simplify cleanup by covering the work area with plastic sheets. Additionally, cover the chair where the model will sit for the lifecasting, ensuring a mess-free process.

7. Hand Signals for Communication: Use agreed hand signals during lifecasting, allowing the model to “communicate” if necessary. This ensures a smooth experience for both the model and the lifecaster.

8. Protect Facial Hair: To prevent discomfort, cover facial hair like eyebrows, beards, and eyelids with petroleum jelly when life casting with alginate. This ensures no hair gets trapped in the lifecast, making the process painless.

9. Consider Material Compatibility: If you’re planning to use silicone for lifecasting, ensure that any accessories, like a bald cap, are made from materials compatible with silicone. Latex materials can interfere with the curing process.

10. Be Prepared and Stay Cool: Planning ahead, staying calm, and maintaining a cool head are crucial. Lifecasting can be a unique experience, so remain composed throughout the process.

11. Glove Material for Silicone Work: When using gloves for lifecasting and working with silicone, opt for vinyl gloves instead of latex. This prevents any unwanted reactions between the glove material and the silicone.

12. Avoid Straws for Breathing: Avoid using straws in the mouth or nose for breathing during lifecasting. This prevents deformation of the nose or mouth area, ensuring a true-to-life cast.

13. Alginate vs. Silicone: Alginates offer a flexible option but might shrink slightly when drying. Silicone yields more durable casts and can be advantageous for multiple busts.

14. Pre-cut Gauze: Pre-cut gauze pieces in various lengths before starting. Smaller pieces are ideal for around the mouth and nose, while larger ones cover other facial areas.

15. Water Temperature Matters: The water temperature used for both gauze and alginate significantly affects the curing time of these materials. Experiment with different temperatures for optimal results.

16. Explore Your Creations: With a lifecast, you have the opportunity to craft intricate noses, faces, and much more. Dive into the creative process and let your imagination flourish.

Need More Tips or Lifecasting Materials?
For further guidance or lifecasting supplies, explore Mouldlife’s website. Mouldlife offers an extensive range of products tailored to lifecasting, special effects, mold making and casting needs.

Embark on your lifecasting adventure armed with these essential tips, and unveil the captivating world of creating lifelike replicas and special effects. Some anecdotes suggest that individuals have actually fallen asleep during the lifecasting process. Comfort and relaxation might lead to unexpected naptime! Happy lifecasting!

Text: Sander Pedersen
Video and pictures: Mouldlife Limited

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