Battles With Bits of Rubber

This podcast is a joint venture with Stuart Bray and Todd Debreceni. It's all about the making of stuff for makeup effects and prosthetics. Todd is author of 'Special Makeup Effects For Stage And Screen', what many consider to be the modern makeup FX bible. Stuart Bray is a working makeup FX artist with many years experienc. Credits include 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Dr Who' and more recently 'Game of Thrones'. If you have any FX questions you would like to see made into a featured blog post, then get in touch:
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Now displaying: 2019
Dec 18, 2019

In this episode, I got to chat with Matthew Mungle & visit his jail cell!

Matthew and his company, WM Creations have been responsible for makeup effects on scores of shows and racked up a lot of awards and nominations in the process - for a deep dive into that, check out Matthews IMDb profile.

The actual real-life holding cell in the studio, now decked out with suitably spooky decorations and effects! So much fun.

Todd and I also wax lyrical about the joys of epoxy and plaster, silicones we like for flat moulds and release agents for Pros-Aide transfers. We both like a firmer silicone as there is naturally some pressure that goes on when pressing a scraper over the back of the mould - so a soft silicone mould will compress too much and underfill if you are not careful!

One of the sculpting areas in Matthews studio.

Matthew talked at length about the process of taking a script, breaking it down and assigning it into a series of tasks - details which you don't often hear people talk about. He always wanted to do his own thing, and so he learned how to please a crew and producers before being a freelancer - getting the priorities right:

  • Learning how to delegate and let things go whilst still controlling quality.
  • How a job gets from words on a page to a series of jobs, and then pieces of rubber on a set.
  • How a TV show is like a train that leaves the station that doesn't stop until it gets to the end of the line.
  • Deciding what will be practical or visual fx.
  • Will an effect be suitable for the target audience to keep director, producer and network happy.
  • Discussing the effect with the appropriate crew like DOP and what to prep for.

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  • The video tutorial I mentioned on Freeform Sculpt and Freeform Air is here. (It was a squirrel - not a duck as I mentioned).
  • WM Creations have a range of FX materials such as Soft Sealer, Old Age Stipple and Alcohol Colours, and are available from good retailers such as BITY in the US and The Makeup Armoury in the UK.

There are endless rows of lifecasts all over the studio - talk about reference material!

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider letting everyone know - tell a friend, share this episode on the socials and leave a comment or review on iTunes if you feel moved to do so!

You can email us directly at

Till next time

-Stuart & Todd

Click to visit the Blog Post Episode to go with this episode.

Dec 12, 2019

In this episode, Neill Morrill joins me in the workshop as we hit up Todd in Colorado and chat about our collaborated efforts on the makeup we did for The Prosthetics Event 2019.

Neil is originally from the UK but moved to Toronto in the early 2000s and has worked on a number of high profile shows over the years such as 300, The Strain, Suicide Squad, Hereditary, It, Shazam! and the What We Do In The Shadows series.

It was an absolute joy working with Neil on our homage to Rick Bakers' 'Reverend Brown' makeup on Arsenio Hall from 1988 classic Coming To America.

Neil had the idea when chatting to our makeup sponsor Sian Richards when bouncing ideas around. The upcoming sequel recently finished shooting, and so Neil picked that as a good contender as a challenge for us to do - separated as we are by 3, 500 miles of Atlantic ocean.

British Rapper and DJ Normski agreed to be our victim, and so we set about hatching the plan. Obviously distance like that adds tricky elements to a physical process such as sculpting and moulding pieces, so we worked out a share of labour which was as follows.

Some video was shot and we will edit together the whole thing as a complete tutorial in more detail, so check the blog post for an abridged version of the first part of the process:

Thanks for checking in!

-Stuart & Todd

Email the show direct at

Nov 18, 2019

In this episode, Todd and Stu talk about our week making moulds with epoxy, dropping sculpts and moulage effects for first responder training.

Earlier in 2019, Stu got to sit and chat with some fine folks at IMATS London and a chat with makeup designer Kate Benton kicks off the first of these finally edited up after a crazy industry year.

This is the sculpt I was detailing and then dropped. Doh!

As you may know, this podcast is a side hustle for us which has been on the backburner for a while as the industry rocked the makeup case hard.

Now as things ease up, the Prosthetics Event is almost upon us and a season of podcast editing is happening and winding down for the end of the year. Deep joy!

Find out more about Kate on her website:

The Heidi Klum Halloween makeups we mentioned can be seen here:

Check out the amazing artistry of Mike Marino and Prosthetic Rennaisance (Proren) here: and on Insta @prorenfx

We sure appreciate your ears and attention. If you would like to help support us, then please share this episode with someone who you think would get something out of it.

Get in touch at to ask fx related questions and to suggest your ideas for a future episode. OK, back to the workshop for us.

Speak soon.

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 10, 2019

Starting Education In Makeup Effects & Prosthetics

This episode is prompted by seeing a few questions on forums about how best to learn about makeup FX and prosthetics. Where to go and what to learn?

Depending on what you want to be able to do, let's also draw a distinction between a makeup artist who sometimes will apply a prosthetic v someone who specialises in creating and applying more complex pieces.

Some people want to exist in the workshop only and have no interest in being on set all day. It takes all types but understands there is a profession which specialises in making and one in makeup, they don't always cross over, and you don't need to be able to do everything.


There are some great colleges out there with tutors doing sterling work. There are also some not so great. We think that is worth mentioning and discussing.

In this episode, I mention some institutions off the top of my head which I reckon do a great job, and I have had the privilege of visiting many more and speaking with the students there.

In the podcast recording, I didn't supply an exhaustive list, and to those which I neglected to mention I apologise. The result of memory oversight. I have been overwhelmed recently by the kindness and generosity of the tutors who make huge efforts to deliver good education.

Thank you for what you do.

There are a few different paths to go down if looking to get schooling. Nowadays it essentially boils down to three main categories of training. Education systems vary across the world, but the essence of these categories remain the same.

1. Academic or ‘certified’ qualification level
(usually longer term)

2. Private courses & tuition
(usually short term)

3. Self-taught through books, DVD’s and online sources
(usually long term & ongoing)

The link to the blog post about training and apprentices we mentioned is here.

That free digital sculpting programme is called Sculptris and is available here:

The link to the blog post about training and apprentices we mentioned is here.

That free digital sculpting programme is called Sculptris and is available here:

Rick Bakers book, Metamorphosis is out now in good bookstores!


Sep 10, 2019

Jordu Schell has been pushing clay around for a while and knows a thing or two about sculpting.

Creating concepts for characters and creatures, masks, makeups and beautifully crafted designs, he also teaches his craft all over the world and has recently released the first of a series of downloadable books The Professional Creature Design Handbook.

In this podcast we chat about:

  • The headspace of sculpting
  • The frustration of failing and why it matters
  • Using nature as inspiration and reference
  • The pitfalls of copying styles
    (Aping the style without understanding the deeper truth behind it)
  • Teaching and learning styles around the world

The other sculptors mentioned are:

The book Todd mentioned was by Uldis Zarins and Sandis Kondrats Anatomy For Sculptors:

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Thanks for listening

Stuart & Todd

Aug 15, 2019

It’s been a while since Todd & I have podcasted, so apologies for the slow return to form.

It’s been a brutal few months, mainly as I have been on the new Netflix/BBC version of Dracula which has kept my hands red and my days long and busy. 

Naturally, NDA’s prevent me from divulging what’s what but rest assured, fans of the Hammer style will enjoy the perfect casting of Danish actor Claes Bang in the lead role.

Dave and Lou Elsey ran the Prosthetics department, and the small crew we had was kept busy. Makeup dept head Marcus Whitney and his crew did some amazing work and as it has been penned by the Sherlock team of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, you can be sure of some exciting storylines. Totally stoked to have been involved!  


In this podcast, we chatted outside in Todd’s back yard about our endeavours over the previous couple of days, making ears. We had used epoxy and as I have used so much polyester resin with fibreglass over the years, talk fell mainly to comparing the two materials and the pros and cons of each.

We covered:

  • Polyester resin v Epoxy.
  • Block moulds v Shell moulds.
  • Mould closure - Bolted v strap/weight. Discussing the position of a clamp (centre for small mould) or multiple if larger moulds. Designing moulds to have flat, parallel clamping faces or indentations to retain straps so they don’t slide off. Blocks also to keep strap pulling taught.
  • Size of moulds, what determines the best mould material and type?
  • Moulds built to withstand the forces of repeated opening, closing, clamping etc.
  • Why ‘Derry Girls’ may be the best thing on TV.
  • Laying fibreglass over harsh angles and air bubbles.
  • Heat issues on mould halves getting hot, can damage plastiline sculpt as well as warp.
  • Keeping a logbook/record of size of item moulded, amounts of resin/cat used, temp and humidity, how much was left over/waste.
  • Polyester resin used in construction so old school plasterers would use the fibreglass and so would know the material and make moulds with it, but not necessarily from prosthetic sympathy.
  • Collapsible cores v flared out cores and why you’d go there.
  • Plaster Gypsum in US v UK resin/marine industry.

Below is a picture demonstrating one of the main issues I have with fibreglassing over keys. The raised bumps create a sharp angle which can cause air bubbles in certain moulding materials, such as epoxy an the glass matting that is often used.

One lazy way I have started using nowadays is to fill the deepest recesses with a paste made up of a little of the laminating resin with either industrial talc or, Polyfibres/Urefil, a lightweight particulate which is used for just such a purpose.

Picture below or on blog page

Rest assured the next podcast is coming up soon. We have a few in the can and I am editing again this week! As soon as I can, I’ll upload the finished item. Keep at it!


Apr 23, 2019

"Paul walked into a Lifeboat station on his 17th birthday and never left, initially volunteering at Poole and now at Tower Lifeboat in London. So far he has been a Search and Rescue Volunteer with the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and HM Coastguard for 31 years."

So reads the write-up for the honours listing of Pauls OBE, a high honour of recognition for sterling work which he continues to do within maritime medicine and emergency response.

Training those who deal with emergency and pre-hospital medicine is no mean feat, and making sure casualty makeup used in training medical personnel is both accurate and hard wearing is a key part of that. It was because of this shared interest that Paul and Stuart crossed paths, and led to this episode of the podcast.

Casualty simulation is often an avenue makeup artists will get involved in as they can obviously add a great deal of realism to training scenarios with good makeup. Anyone who has done a first-aid at work course will no doubt be familiar with a biro mark or lip pencil line as a substitute wound.

Pauls experience teaching casualty simulation revealed to him how a lack of correct reference, appropriate anatomical awareness and poor technique meant sometimes makeup being done was not helping the simulation!

This can be both from an aesthetic point of view (it doesn't actually look very good or realistic) and from a medical diagnostic point of view if a 'bruise' looks more like a burn and then is treated as such.

He set about to change that with the training he does with his company Saviour Medical.

We are used to seeing wounds portrayed on TV and they are often overdone for dramatic effect and not realistic, with big blood sprays etc. There is a difference between the drama of a compelling story requiring larger than life effects and correct representation of real trauma.

Realistic Medical Moulage for simulation purposes

This podcast episode hopes to deal directly with that, focussing on what is important with some real insight into how best to approach. Paul made a brief list of key elements which we cover in depth in the podcast, such as:

Correct Wound: - Looks accurate – often less is more - Bleeds the right amount - Skin tones accurate - Right location, need for some surface anatomy knowledge - Right materials used – must survive contact with the responder – no wax or tissue paper

Actor Compliance: - Pre brief the simulation – care of any sensitive issues - Pre brief wound location and ascertain actor is ok with that – we all have bits of us we don’t like! - Pre-brief if trauma 'cut downs' to nearly nude / underwear - Need to gain consent for the treatment interventions - Explain symptoms that should be displayed and progression of symptoms based upon correct or incorrect interventions - Supply safe word to actor and treatment team - Freshly shaved where appropriate - Bring old clothes and a spare set to go home!

Scene: - Supply appropriate props (inhalers etc) - Dress scene to make the mechanism of injury realistic - Ascertain real impact on actor (hot / cold / wet etc)

The Black Knight Always Triumphs. Even though his wounds may bleed a little too much.

We mention a few books, and the ones I really like are The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration by Richard Barnnett and Special Effects Guide Of Real Human Wounds and Injuries by Benito Garcia.

We also mention a previous episode of our podcast where real carcasses of pigs (supplied by a butcher) were shot with different guns, allowing Todd to make casts of the resulting damage - many of which he then used to make appliances with accurate trauma effect!

Listen here to find out more on the episode 'Shooting Guns At Meat'.

As ever, we are so grateful to you for listening and giving us your time. If you enjoy this podcast then please mention and link it in your favourite social media platform.

It really helps us grow the podcast, secure guests and bring you bigger and better shows.



Looks like there will be some podcast action at London IMATS 2019, so come and say hi! Maybe handing out some swag too!

I'll bring some audio gear and record some bits there, and those fine folks at Makeup Artist Magazine have given us a PROMO CODE to get a DISCOUNT on show tickets. When prompted at paytime, simply use the coupon code Bray to get £20 off a ticket!

Till next time!

-Stuart & Todd

Feb 27, 2019

In this podcast we talk about art, what it means to be an artist, why we do it, and the challenges we face in trying to make a living doing this.

This was mostly brought about because of the fantastic conversation I had with my first ever boss when I started working in effects in 1994.

Pauline and business partner, Nik Williams run Animated Extras, an effects company specialising in prosthetics, animatronics, puppets, creature suits, fake bodies and many animals from elephants, bats, name it. In their own words...

"From singing sloths to the putrefying corpses of Hollywood A-listers, Animated Extras have been creating all kinds of weird and wonderful things for the Film, TV, and advertising industry since 1986."

Pauline was the first person I ever saw take a lump of clay and make it look like a real person when she made a fake head of Michael Gambon for the film 'Mary Reilly'.

It was to me complete and total magic, and it was an absolute delight and honour to sit with her and talk frankly about the task of sculpting. We recorded this interview at Animated Extras workshop in Shepperton Studios.

Things we cover in the chat include:

  • Finite existence
  • Having a brief set by industry v personal jobs
  • Working in bronze
  • Scans v sculpt and the life looks fake but feels real etc.
  • Types of sculpting and sculptors
  • Get the feel early rather than struggle on with wrong and try and make it right.
  • Watching different sculptors work when you run a company.
  • Photography




The Three Sisters Pauline sculpted in Monster Clay before being cast in bronze. (Pauline hated plastilines before, so this was a significant development)

Todd and I get stuck into some deep dives about art, and how it's a joy to have a craft but also a largely unappreciated career path. It doesn't save lives or risk that of the artist by putting them in harm's way.

It often serves the artist more than the community around it, and may be seen as a selfish, luxury position and an unnecessary way to spend a life.

See what you think and maybe drop us a line at with your thoughts and experiences about that.

I mention a great podcast I listened to by Seth Godin, (the podcast is called 'Akimbo and this was from series 2, episode 9 called 'Distribution and cultural destiny') and in it he talks about how the distribution of media changed the media it distributed.

From cinemas, to TV, to Home Vidoe, DVD and now streaming, each new development has reduced costs and democratised the medium. Such access means more making and consumption, but often this can also mean a watering down of quality.

Is that a fair trade off or an inevitable side effect? See what you think, I'd reccommend it.

Seth is a very influential thinker and I listen to almost everything he puts out. Listen here


Lastly, here is the letter to Agnes De Mille Todd mentioned.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is ever pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
-Martha Graham


We'd appreciate it if you'd share this podcast with friends or colleagues who you think would get a kick out of it.

Thank you for sticking with us!

-Stuart & Todd

Jan 23, 2019

Richard Redlefsen is someone I saw for the first time a few years back at the UMAE where he was applying his demo makeup on the PPI stand.

What was of note for me was how particular and precise everything was. Care was taken at every turn, and it struck me that the amount of effort that takes must come from a deep well.

So it was a great pleasure to sit and chat with the man himself, and I could ask if he thought of this about himself and if we could pick apart where that comes from. As you'll hear, Richard had a career as a dancer before he embarked on makeup, and his training was thorough. I think that experience and also working for a makeup brand such as Lancôme meant his work doesn't start and stop with bits of rubber!

Follow Richard on his Instagram to see just how versatile this chap is.

Check out a brief selection of the range Richard covers.

A Devil mask sculpt completed recently for Immortal Masks.


Claudia Alta (Lady 'Bird' Johnson) wrap-around prosthetic sculpt ready to mould.


Zombie makeup on Eva Minaeva for TUSH magazine.


Phantom makeup from Monsterpalooza 2016.


A 1920s beauty makeup on Sarah Sokolovic from the NBC show Timeless. Sarah plays Grace Humiston (the first female Special Assistant United States Attorney). Makeup was usually done by Peter DeOliveira, and Richard filled in on this day. It's quite a responsibility to fill in seamlessly on a show with established looks.


Another beauty makeup on Bianca Lopez from NBC show Timeless. Makeup by Richard Redlefsen. Debbie Zoller makeup dept head.

We are on the lookout for your stories of people wanted way too much of something for a whole lot of nothing.

We chat about a Facebook post which got a lot of people's back up, as a freelancer or anyone with a creative spark, you may have been approached to do something which gradually expands into a lot of somethings, and payment is strangely far from the table.

Email us with your stories, screenshots or anything regarding that. We'd love to do a post focussing on that and read some of the best ones out, and formulate an appropriate response to arm you if you find yourself in that position of feeling bad for wanting fair compensation.

Email us direct at

Facebook page at Battles With Bits Of Rubber

If you enjoy this, PLEASE help us grow by telling someone about us and posting on social media!

We had a lovely message from Charlotte Annice Spruch who mentioned the formula for finding your worth from a few episodes back on a Facebook group. Cheers Charlotte!

That kind of sharing is what helps us grow, and we get heard by the people who would be glad to find us!

Till next time!

- Stuart & Todd