What is good special FX without a bit of blood? Whether you are into gore or not – you can’t deny that fake blood is at the core of the special FX history and has been for many years. Although methods have adapted throughout time, the prevalence of fake blood in special FX remains as strong as ever before. So, knowing how to spot one from the next can help you go far in creating the most effective and impressive designs.
Believe it or not, not all fake blood is created the same, and some work better than others for certain popular applications. So whether you are new to the industry, or want to brush up on your blood skills – you’re in the right place.
Keep reading for Red Carpet FX’s full guide to fake blood …
What is fake blood?
Thankfully, fake blood has come a long way over the years. But believe it or not back in the day fake blood used in TV and film was created using a range of unexpected ingredients.
We’re all familiar with cult classic movie Psycho? Yep - Alfred Hitchcock opted for chocolate syrup to make the blood used in those famous gory scenes. After all, Psycho was a black and white film – so who would ever know right?
We can safely say that the industry has far outgrown using kitchen staples to create blood and guts. In fact, most fake blood is now created using a few simple ingredients usually consisting of the following:
- Corn syrup
- Food colouring
- Propylene glycol (for that thick and sticky consistency)
- Preservative (to prevent the growth of bacteria)
Why are some fake bloods more expensive than others?
If most fake bloods contain roughly the same ingredients, why do some cost more than others and differ in quality? Branding aside – the simplest answer is that some fake bloods have a higher water content than others. The higher the water content, typically the less ‘realistic’ the fake blood. What may also increase the price is the amount of time is spent on developing the product to be perfect replica of the real thing.
However, depending on the application, runny or thin looking fake blood can be ideal – so if you’re lost as to where to begin picking the right fake blood for the task at hand – stick with us!
What can fake blood be used for?
Whatever your heart desires! From your standard bloodied nose to a dramatic all singing all dancing bloodbath – you really can use fake blood anywhere.
You can create big impact using the right fake blood, but with so many varieties and colours out there it can be pretty daunting! Colours? Surely blood is just red?Actually – you’d be surprised at the number of shades that go into making a realistic fake blood.
Depending on the effect you’re trying to create blood will differ in a number of ways. Blood from a cut finger will be a different colour and consistency to blood from a deep wound, and a nose bleed will require different blood to an aged bloody wound - you get the drift!
You should also consider who is going to be seeing your finished masterpiece. Some brighter reds don’t show under intense lighting in the desired way, which is why so many TV and movie artists opt for darker blood.
What are the different kinds of fake blood out there?
Scab blood does what it says on the tin. Usually a dark, rusty red colour, scab blood is designed to imitate old wounds.
To be as realistic as possible, scab blood is often thick and creates a clotted effect when applied. Although scab blood does not fully set, a good quality one will form an outer layer to imitate a scabbing effect.
We love the Ben Nye Fresh Scab for a premium option, or Clink Street FX’s Drying Scab Paste Blood for a slightly more volume cost effective. (certainly not saying that it is not as good as the Ben Nye alternative).
What applications is scab blood best used for?
As you might have guessed, scab blood is great for creating scabs and aged wounds. Thanks to its thick consistency and dark hue, it also works great as a wound filling for those more gruesome details!
It is super easy to manipulate and shape as long as you do it immediately and don’t let it set, making it easy to use in a range of areas on the body.
Probably one of the most distinctive types of fake blood out there on the market, wound filler is specifically designed to create gruesome and realistic wounds. With a thick gel-like consistency, wound filler is usually a dark red to represent deep wounds.
For added effect you can opt to add some brighter fake blood over a wound to imitate a fresher and more gruesome wound or injury!
We can’t praise the Kryolan Woundfiller Blood Effect Gel enough for its simple application and long-lasting results. You can easily apply the Kryolan fake blood using a spatula, working it carefully into your created wound. (Top tip; give it a really good mix before use)
What applications is wound filler best used for?
Whether you are imitating a cut knee or something bigger and better – wound filler is easy to apply and super realistic! Most artists opt to use wound filler when creating open wounds and scabs – but really you could apply this versatile product almost anywhere.
You will get the best results applying wound filler with a spatula to the opening of your created wound. This will help you create a natural looking wound that will fool even the most eagle-eyed critic.
If you are trying to create a seriously horrifying look, the use of eye or tear blood can be the perfect tool in your arsenal. Available in a range of colours you can implement eye blood to create a one of a kind special FX look that is sure to impress.
Whether you want to cry tears of blood or change the colour of your eyes all together – you can do so using Kyrolan’s Eyeblood.
Safe, easy and super simple to use – this is probably one of the easiest types of artificial blood out there, and it makes a big impact!
What applications is eye blood best used for?
This one if pretty straight forward – eye blood is designed for use in the eyes to create ghoulish and effective special FX. It is never recommended that regular artificial blood is used for the eyes – so if this is a look you want to create ensure you go for specific eye blood to do the job.
Simply apply a couple of drops into each eye blinking out any excess and then you are good to go! Remember to keep your eye blood stored in the fridge once opened and throw away after 1 month.
Perfect for use in theatre, stage blood is the non-drying artificial blood that is up there as one of the most realistic looking out there. With a super smooth and sticky texture, you can get your hands on a number of shades of stage blood to create effective and bloody scenes with ease for both external and internal wounds.
There are a number of great brands out there that do stage blood – for us at Red Carpet FX, we have a number of favourites. For premium high end stage blood, Kryolan offer something perfect for the perfectionist, in a range of shades! You can create both internal and external wounds with their range of light arterial or dark venous artificial stage blood.
If you are looking for something a little more volume for your money, Glynn McKay’s ProBlood is a great alternative! Superb pigmentation to create realistic blood flow and consistency.
What applications is stage blood best used for?
Ideal for the big screen, stage or imitating the simulation of arterial blood - stage blood is runny with realistic consistency and can come in both dark or bright reds making it ideal for a range of fresh looking injuries.
Thick blood or coagulated
When the need calls for long lasting and realistic fake blood, coagulated formulations are ideal. With a thick gel consistency, coagulated blood is perfect for film and stage as it will stay in place for many hours.
Mehron’s coagulated blood is one of our favourites, and a little goes a long way making this a worthy investment for any bussing special FX artist!
What applications is thick or coagulated blood best used for?
Thanks to its super thick and gloopy consistency, coagulated blood is ideal for creating fresh cuts and gashes. You can apply this pretty much anywhere on the body to create instant long-lasting results that are also super realistic!
Use a spatula to easily shape thick blood into any wounds you have created – it is easy to manipulate so you can create realistic texture and effect with ease.
A safe and effective way to create shock and impact on your audience – blood capsules are the realistic and gruesome way to create blood in the mouth.
Usually made with corn syrup, this type of fake blood is put into a soft gelatine capsule so that you can bite down on que and create a mass of blood. Whether you want to create the effect of a fresh injury or internal bleeding, you can do both by choosing the right shade of red for the job.
Ben Nye’s complete blood capsule packs are cruelty free and have a fresh, subtle peppermint flavour, a great choice for premium customers!
What applications are blood capsules best used for?
Here is another simple one – blood capsules are pretty much always designed for use within the mouth. Whether you’re creating the effects for a fight scene or something more gruesome, these are the simplest ad safest way of getting blood to form in the mouth.
Wherever you are in your special FX journey – getting to know the different bloods out there can be overwhelming. With dozens of brands and even more applications to choose from, having a handle on the bloody basics can help – pardon the pun!
We will see you soon with another guide to all things special FX.