The cat is out of the bag: makeup tricks on Animals the film

   The cat is out of the bag! Here are some of the makeup tricks I used to create Jude and Bobbe’s look in the film Animals!


One of my most memorable films I have worked on thus far is Animals the film. Directed by Collin Schiffli, written by David Dastmalchian. Some of you may already know this, but for those who are just now following our pages, I was the department head of makeup on this film. Funny story is that this was actually my first feature film I had ever worked on in my career at that time. I had a lot of experience on photo shoots, commercials, and short films but never on a feature film. You can imagine how much pressure it was for me to department head my first feature film with no experience on something of this sort. But my, oh my, it was the best experience of my life!

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out their facebook page to see if and when it is playing in your hometown. Otherwise, you can see it on VOD.

I thought it would be fun to share with everyone what I used to create these looks. So enjoy, and let me know your thoughts. Before I begin, I’ll give a short synopsis of the film for those who have yet to see it:

Animals is a love story about two heroin addicts living in Chicago. They live in their car right outside of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Jude is a long time heroin user, and very erratic when he uses. Bobbe suffers from OCD and only sticks herself in one specific spot every time she gets high. They con and steal their way to getting drug money and eventually one of them becomes hospitalized, forcing them both to detox. What happens after the detox is for you to find out!

Before we started filming in Chicago, myself, David and Collin had done a few test makeups to make sure we used the right type of makeup to create realistic track marks. David Dastmalchian is a recovering addict himself, so his guidance was extremely helpful in how I created the marks to look. We originally tried basic bruising marks, with a tiny dot in the center. 2nd trial, we tried small prosthetic pieces but they didn’t look quite right. The last test, was the winner.

Animals photo

For Jude’s track marks:

Jude’s character was more erratic when shooting up. I had to take this into consideration for placement and creating track marks that were all over the place and completely irregular.

I used Tinsley Transfer Tattoo FX “zits.” After I applied these to the designated areas, I took a q-tip with 99% alcohol and mad the circular dots more irregular. After that, I would take a kleenex with a tiny bit of alcohol and gently go over the entire piece to take away any shine that the tattoo left. Lastly, I took an orange stipple sponge with the Ben Nye bruise wheel, overlapping between the red and purple and a tiny bit of yellow.

(**amount of red, purple, or yellow always was determined by where the bruise was, how long it had been there, and if the track mark was infected)

Judes infected tooth:

This was fun! And actually took the least amount of time to do. I used PPI’s Skin Illustrator with 99% alcohol as the activator. I mixed the colors between black, yellow, and brown.

Jude’s face makeup:

Dave is very sensitive to sun, so I always made sure to use a Neutrogena moisturizer of SPF 70+ before any and all applications. If we were shooting outdoors during the day, I had an umbrella on standby at all times as well as re-applying SPF through out the day. For his foundation, I used a mix of Stila Stay All Day Beauty Balm and a Graftobian foundation (Not sure of foundation name). I always applied one layer of Keihl’s peppermint chapstick for men.  I never used concealer since these two characters were supposed to look like they lived out of their car, but the early days when Jude and Bobbe were healthier, instead of using a concealer, I  would go over their under-eyes with whatever foundation I used for them. If they were supposed to look more presentable for certain situations (the church scene, or the train station scene), then I made sure to do one extra swipe of foundation under their eyes.

When Jude was sick, I used the Ben Nye Death wheel. I paled out his skin completely with the two lightest colors on the wheel, and used a lavendar color underneath his eyes, cheek bones, and collar bones to make him look sunken in and unhealthy.

Bobbe’s track mark

Bobbe only had one track mark. In the movie, she has signs of OCD, so there was only one track mark for her. At the beginning of the film, she had just one irriated red bump and as the movie progresses, it gets more and more irritated. Nothing crazy, though. Dave made sure we made it as realistic as possible, but enough that the camera would pick it up.

For the bump, I used a small amount of 3rd degree silicone to create a tiny bump. You can’t see it in the film, but I poked a very small hole in the bump for where the needle would enter. Once the bump was set, I went over the silicone bump with Skin Illustrator using a mix of different reds and purples. At the times when her track mark was more irritated, I added more depth and redness around the bump with some slight vein irritation.

Bobbe’s makeup

We wanted to convey that Bobbe cared more about her appearance than Jude. So when doing her makeup, I went a little heavier than Jude’s, but still left some areas that seemed like she hadn’t slept. I used Stila Stay All Day BB cream, 2 layers of mascara, Burt’s Bees tinted chapstick, and a tiny bit of a rosy-blush. For her hair, we colored her roots about 3 shades lighter than her ends to enhance a distinct new-growth line. This would suggest that it had been a while since Bobbe had her hair done, but that at some point in she actually took decent care of her appearance.

When Bobbe is sick, I used very little of her same BB cream, using no chapstick at all. Some days, I added a little bit of foundation over her lips to make it look more sickly. I had a red lip liner that was a perfect red to create un-even skin and irritation. I always dotted the red lip liner on and around her nose, her cheeks, and inner eye lids to make it look like she had either been crying, or that she was very sick. Of course, glycerin was used to make them both look extremely sweaty, paired with Evian spray.

We shot this film in about 25 days, and I will never ever forget this experience. Not only because it was my first feature film, but because of how magical the entire experience was working with the cast and crew. Watch the film and tell me what you think! (I’m patiently waiting for the next film Collin and Dave put together ha!)

These are the other talented crew members a part of this film:

Director: Collin Schiffli
Writer: David Dastmalchian
Composer: Ian Hultquist
Director of Photography: Larkin Donley

Editor: Amanda Griffin
Production Designer: Caity Birmingham
Art Director: Evelyn Leigh
Costume Designer: Kelsey Ettman
Makeup Dept. Head: Amber Talarico
Makeup assistant: Justine Losoya
Production Manager: Ben Krueger
Sound mixer: Rob Davis
First AC: Erin Hughs
Key Grip: Jake Simmons
Best Boy: Shane Martin Smith
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy! If you haven’t already, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram @whatit_takesfilm and share with your friends!


Amber Talarico


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