At 11 years old, Darryl Parson was fascinated with horror flicks. He spent all summer planning what he would wear on Halloween. Now, at 33, he transforms humans into monsters — and gets paid for it.
Parson, who is technical director at Players Guild Theatre in Canton and creative director of Wicked Weekends at Clay’s Park Resort, agreed to show us how to apply makeup to make some creepy characters. But first a little more about Parson and his fascination for the freaky.
The Canton resident has four children and when one of them gets injured, he asks to examine the wound. Oh sure, he’s compassionate, but the makeup artist views it as a learning opportunity.
Bruises, for instance, change color as they age. Knowing that might come in handy when developing a character who’s been in an accident.
When he was 15, he landed a job at the Cultural Center for the Arts, where Players Guild is located.
“I would have to go into the building to empty the trash. When I did that, I saw what was happening on the stage,” he said. “I would ask them what they were doing, and why.”
It was his destiny, he thought, to either act or work with actors. When he was younger, he played a monster at a haunted house. Later, he managed such attractions.
To advance his career, he moved his family to Arizona to work as the art department coordinator for Arizona Film Studios, and opened the Towns of Terror haunted attraction on the back lot of the studio.
His jobs included everything from production designer to special effects coordinator in movies such as Netherbeast, Incorporated; Pandemic; and Death Factory Bloodletting, a full-blown slasher film.
After the studio closed, he moved back to Ohio and Wicked Weekends opened in 2010. This year, Parson is one of the artists who makes up more than 50 monsters for the event.
“We actually sculpt every one of our characters out of clay onto a bust,” explained Parson. “And then we make a mold of that” to create prosthetics and other makeup effects for each person.
Though Parson uses professional makeup to create characters for shows, he opted for makeup that can be purchased inexpensively from local department or drugstores to illustrate for Beacon Journal readers what they can do at home. Watching Parson create each of our characters in our video at www.ohio.com is highly recommended before trying it yourself.
In each case — the ghost girl, featuring his daughter, Taylor; the dead bride, his real-life wife, Becky; and a zombie, played by his pal Dean Cassidy — he started with basic white cream (use gray for darker skin) as a foundation. The water-based cream makeup costs about $2 a tube.
He pinched off small pieces of a wedge makeup sponge to make a pattern that looks similar to a miniature waffle foam mattress. Applying makeup with a standard edge, he explained, creates straight lines.
Parson maintains that the key to an awesome makeup effect is layering. It’s what makes a character look more realistic.
• Buy a multi-colored makeup palette, from a department or drugstore. Make sure you get a collection that contains purples and greens. And don’t pay too much.
• Using a sponge that has pieces removed, stipple the face with the white foundation rather than painting it white. A solid base makes someone look more like a clown than a ghost. Don’t forget the ears and hairline.
• Make certain the foundation has dried before adding another layer. And when using a cream makeup, soften it a little by working the material so it has a nice flow to it. Stipple, stipple, stipple.
• After applying some purples and greens, use gray eye shadow (about $3) for shadowing around the nose and along the cheekbones. The effect adds a sinister look.
• Spray color on hair. Parson noted that monsters don’t have nice hair, so don’t bother spending all day fixing your mane just to become a gruesome monster.
• Parson went to a secondhand store to buy a dress for Taylor. Look for clothing that is out of style — even items from another era. And stay away from clothes with logos or pictures.
“Whenever you pick out things and piece them together, it has more of a look of something that is an actual character that has been brought into our world,” Parson said.
While applying the makeup to his wife, Parson often whispered things to her: “You always were such a pretty bride. The stuff I get you into, huh, sweetheart?”
• Begin by losing the natural flesh color with the white foundation — again stippling it onto the face.
• To make it look like someone has been burned, as in the case of Parson’s dead bride, apply red makeup where the wound will go.
When creating a burn or wound, keep the lines as irregular as possible. Whenever you use fake blood, for instance, and make a straight line with it, the effect isn’t real.
“Every time that there’s an actual wound or cut… it’s usually pretty messy,” Parson added. “Don’t be afraid to get the blood on your wardrobe.”
• You can use ordinary plastic or bubble wrap (the bubbles popped) to apply makeup too. It gives some added texture.
• Using the plastic, stipple black makeup over the red. Be sure it has an uneven, random look to it. The plastic and black produces the charred look.
• Put some more fake blood on the wound with plastic.
• The wedding dress worn by Becky was purchased at a secondhand store for $7.
“When it comes to wardrobe and costumes, I usually try to pick something that is lighter (colored) … so that you can also stain the costumes,” Parson said. “You can choose any mister bottle and stains such as coffee, tea or a latex acrylic paint that you pick up at the craft store.
“Water the things down and spray the costume. It makes the costume look much older.”
Take a cheese grater to the costume (when no one is wearing it, of course) to make it look even more distressed.
Due to its popularity in many forms of media, the zombie is the most popular character right now, said Parson.
• Start with the base, or foundation. This time, make the stippling choppier-looking.
• Use purple under the eyes for bruising. Because it needs to be dramatic, don’t blend it out.
• To create a more sickly look, use yellow to trace around the purple.
• Apply a little green around the nose and at the top of the eyebrows. Stay away from the mouth area because that’s where the majority of blood will be applied. After all, zombies eat people.
• Using a dark color grease pencil (about $2 for a pack), draw thin veins on the face. Let the pencils wiggle to create the look. With the corner of the makeup sponge, soften the lines.
• Apply black from a grease palette first around the mouth. The black makes the blood look older. Add some drops of red around the face to make it look like the blood splattered when the zombie was munching.
• Dean wore a shirt and jacket, with plenty of blood as an accessory.
Fake blood can be purchased at most any place that carries Halloween costumes. But if you want to make your own, grab some Karo syrup and food coloring.
Mix 16 ounces of the syrup and one ounce of red food coloring and four to five drops of blue food coloring together. Shake it and you’ve got a decent supply of blood.
“It will last a family quite some time,” joked Parson.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.