Special Effects Makeup Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Special effects makeup is used in theater, television and film to transform actors into characters. Nearly all programs with this particular focus are available through private for-profit schools, which award certificates upon completion.

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How to Select a Special Effects Makeup School

Special effects makeup training is available for film and television or theater production. Because some schools emphasize one mode over the other, individuals may wish to decide what medium they prefer before they choose a school. Most programs result in a certificate. But standalone courses in special effects makeup are also offered at some cosmetology schools.

Individuals who are interested in theatrical makeup can look for a degree program in production technology and design, or they can choose a school that is focused exclusively on special effects makeup. They can also learn to apply special effects makeup through a general theater degree program, but these lessons are usually limited in scope and show up in only one or two classes over a 4-year degree program. They also learn set design, lighting, playwriting and directing, which can help them get ahead in their careers and understand how makeup professionals relate to other creative team members in the production. Graduates receive a bachelor's degree rather than a certificate.

Because it's a competitive field, prospective students should look for a school that offers internship opportunities with local production companies. They may also want to consider attending a school in New York or Southern California, which are the most popular locations for production companies and studios.

Special Effects Makeup Program Overviews

Certificate in Special Effects Makeup

Completion of a special effects makeup program can vary from a short, intensive course to a 1-year program. Courses focus on performance makeup techniques, including those used to simulate a certain age or expression. Students learn to apply prosthetics and other body alteration molds. They also create fake hair, bruises, wounds and skin textures. They learn how these skills vary between film and the stage.

Instructors also teach skin care and color theory, with some classroom time dedicated to traditional makeup applications. There are commonly opportunities for participants to practice on fellow students. Everyone typically needs to purchase their own makeup supplies.

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