Cut & Torn | SFX Tutorial | Spooky Sundays


Halloween time is almost here, Nerdship. All of the craft stores and big box stores have started displaying their costume wares. For some of us, Halloween is our favorite time of year. It’s like Christmas but with less presents and more weirdness. Perfect, right?!  Whether you like to go trick-or-treating with the kids, stock up on sfx supplies for the rest of the year, or embrace your inner creature of the night, Halloween is awesome.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, every Sunday from now until Halloween we are going to be bringing you a new tutorial. We’ve got tutorials ranging from scary to cute to fandom inspired so if you would like to see more awesomeness click the subscribe button in the side bar or go ahead and follow us on the various socials.

For starters we are going to jump right on into the gory side of things with a tutorial on how to give the illusion of a deep cut that’s been torn a bit.


Pretty awesome… and gross… huh?!? Good news is it’s not too difficult to achieve. So let’s get started!




  • Spirit Gum (and remover, for later)
  • Liquid Latex, preferably flesh-toned
  • Scar / Nose wax
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Cream Face Paints: dark purple, yellow, flesh-toned, dark red, and dark brown / black
  • Foam Makeup Sponges – either rectangles or triangles
  • Craft art brushes, ones you don’t mind getting messed up
  • Makeup wipes / paper towels
  • Eyeliner pencils: white/cream, black or dark brown
  • Matte Eye shadows: deep brown, deep maroon, black, off-white, and red
  • Translucent setting powder
  • Sculpting tools, optional but helpful
  • Fake Blood
  • Vaseline
  • 2 small dishes: one for the latex and one for the rubbing alcohol
  • Makeup sealant spray – if you are wanting to wear this out for the evening.


Now we get to the fun stuff. Before you go any further please do the following steps:

  1. Makes ABSOLUTELY sure that the place where you decide to do this sfx makeup is completely clean and devoid of hair. Latex / spirit gum and hair do not mix. Think ripping off a band-aid times a thousand. It is no bueno.
  2. Don’t forget to moisturize your skin. Applying a light lotion (I recommend any kind of deep moisturizers that are fragrance free) will help protect your skin and help make cleanup a lot easier. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for a few years. 
  3. If you are planning on doing several sfx looks with spirit gum and latex it’s always best to have a bottle of mineral spirits and/or baby oil around.


Once you gather everything you’re going to need for this tutorial you are going to have to roughly sketch out the area where you’d like the huge gaping wound to be. It can be on your face, arms, legs… wherever. For the purposes of this tutorial and to make things a little easier on myself (having to shoot the pictures and do the tutorial) I decided to create the wound on my forearm.

Grab your white / cream-colored eyeliner pencil and sketch out where you’d like the torn skin to be. Just remember, the bigger the area, the more spirit gum and scar wax you’ll use.


Next step will get a little messy. Use a sculpting too to dig out some scar wax – I used about a pecan sized glob of it. Divide your wax in half and soften by working it with your hands lightly. Don’t go kneading it or anything drastic otherwise it will get ridiculously soft and stick to your hands. 

Roll each ball into a snake as long as you need to cover the outsides of your wound. If it helps, measure it against the lines you’ve drawn.


Cue the spirit gum. This stuff is a bit finicky to work with, but if you work in sections it will be just fine. Once you have your scar wax to the right length you’re going to take a small brush (preferably one you don’t care if it gets messed up or not) and dip it into your spirit gum. Then paint along the outside of one side of the wound.  You’ll want to paint about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch area around your wound so that the wax has plenty of contact area with the glue. Give it a minute or two to become tacky then go ahead and apply one snake of scar wax.

Hold it down for a minute and then quickly work to roughly smooth out the outside edge of the scar wax. I started smoothing everything out with my rounded sculpting tool and then finished off with my finger. The key to making a believable cut is to seamlessly blend the line of the scar wax into where your skin is.  Repeat with the other side. cuttorn_sfxtutorial_NerdsAndNomsense-4

With the other side of the wax that wasn’t blended out, you’ll want to pinch it to make it thinner and more flesh-like. I pinched the ends of my wax so it became so thin that it would tear a little. Remember, your skin is only a few millimeters thick and doesn’t tear on a straight line. The more frayed you can make it, the better it will look. The key to any convincing sfx is patience. It’s better to take your time and get it right then to rush and make a mistake.

After you’ve blended your wax and thinned out the edges along the inside of your wound it’s time to coat everything in a thin layer of spirit gum. This will help seal the scar wax and help keep its shape a little better as well as keeping it secured in position. Let it dry completely before continuing on to the next step.


If you’re wearing this out for a night of mischief, you’ll want it to stay as long as possible without falling off or going anywhere – so this is where we coat it with liquid latex. Note: MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT ALLERGIC TO LATEX.  I am moderately allergic so I have to lay down a barrier of spirit gum before I apply the latex, otherwise I’ll get all red and spotty. It’s not fun and really puts a damper on my halloweening.

Anyways-  use a cheap foundation brush (I use an E.L.F. foundation brush. It’s a dollar, so I don’t get bent out of shape when I use it with latex) and paint on a good layer all around the wound. You will also want to paint the insides of the scar wax.

Grab one of your makeup sponges and dab the edges to help blend them into your natural skin texture. I like to rotate the sponge as I dab that way it looks more natural, and that way there isn’t a pattern with the stamping. Using your sponge to stipple will give you a very realistic skin texture if you’re light-handed. If it starts to dry it will start to stick to the sponge… this is when you stop otherwise you could start to ruin things. If you would like to create more little tears and sores, go ahead and start picking at the latex, pulling it away from your skin and ripping it a bit.

I blended out the latex to just below my wrist and elbow. My goal is more of a necrotic wound rather than a fresh one, aka lots of texture. If you are going for more of a fresh wound, don’t spread the latex about so much.


If your latex is a bit too dark for your natural skin tone, like it is on me, you’ll need to correct that before you go any further. I’m using some alcohol with a flesh toned cream paint to help lighten up the dried latex. If I was thinking about it before hand I would have mixed my white latex with my flesh-colored latex to get something closer to this shade.

To save on brushes or more sponges I cut the area that had latex off of my sponge and used the remaining part of the sponge to apply the cream. I didn’t bother with coating the fringes of the wound since I was going to end up using other colors.


We’ll have to modify our other makeup sponge before we proceed to the next step. You’ll want to take your sponge in one hand and then pick at it with the other so it becomes malformed and dimpled.

Since I’m using 3 different colors I pocked it on 3 sides.

You may ask yourself why we’re doing this and the answer is simple. It’s the best/easiest way to make the broken capillary effect when you’re doing any sort of bruising or wound.


Now that we’ve got that taken care of you’ll want to start with the bruising around the wound. We have all had a bruise at some point or another in our lives so think back on what it looked like. It’s always darkest around the impact point and then fades out / turns a gross yellow-ish – green color before it heals completely.

So, with that in mind, the main area you’ll want to concentrate the dark purple around is the area closest to your wound. Rotate the sponge as you apply it, again so you don’t create a pattern with your sponge. Bruises don’t form patterns, silly.

If you want to create other areas of bruising, go ahead. If you’re going for more of a zombie or gangrene look you’ll want to spread the bruising around a larger area.

To create the bruising, drop a few drops of alcohol in your cream paint then lightly dab your sponge onto the paint. The key to creating a realistic bruise is building up the color. By using the alcohol you can create a translucent effect that makes it look like the paint is actually slightly under the skin rather than sitting opaque on top of it. Don’t worry, most cream based paints will not get messed up if you use alcohol – and it’s a lot cheaper to do it this way then to go buy one of the Skin Illustrator palettes… (although if any of you would like to send me one, I’d gladly accept it and make more tutorials… *wink wink*)


Now we are going to work on the outer edges of the purple area and start fanning out the bruise with the yellow cream paint. Just use the same technique and follow it along the edges.


It’s starting to look pretty gross now isn’t it? Excellent! To help pull both colors together you’re going to take the reddish-maroon color to use as a blending color between the yellow and purple. Be very light when you’re building up this color otherwise it will look out-of-place.

If you do end up going a little overboard with it, go back with the previous two colors and add a little more to help everything mesh together. Again, take your time – it’s not a race. Once you practice doing bruises a few times you can go all Speedy Gonzales and whip them out in no time.


Time to set the cream paints with powder. This is a very important step, so don’t skip it. Why? Cream paints take forever to dry and have a tendency to budge and slip around if you are wearing them without something to seal them. They’re great for effects but to keep them looking awesome, setting them is key.

Grab some translucent powder. If you don’t have any you can substitute it with a light dusting of baby powder but be aware that the baby powder has a tendency to lighten up everything as well as create a haloed effect or glow if it’s photographed with a flash.

To set the paint, sprinkle on your powder lightly all over the areas you used with the cream paint. Then taking a fluffy-ish brush or air can lightly dust off the excess.


Good job! Now we can focus on the inside of the wound.

Grab your dark brown or black eyeliner and trace along the inside of the wound where the scar wax meets your skin. You’ll want to fill in as much of the cracks along the base of where they meet as you can. This will help create more dimension and make it look as if your skin is actually wounded.

After you’ve traced everything, you will want to start to draw little lines in towards the center of your wound. Again, this will add dimension and the appearance of a bit of muscle structure.


Time to break out the red cream paint, a small detail brush and your rubbing alcohol.

Follow along the insides of your wound with the red paint (up the sides of the skin and along the base) and then continue to fade out into the center like you did with your eyeliner. After you have a base color set, mix the red with your dark brown or black cream shadow (and alcohol) and continue to create some dimension by going around the inside edges and draw striations, like muscle tissue, on the inside of the wound.


Oh my… I think I have cut my self… /faints. 

Now this next part is optional but if you would like to amp up the look by creating the illusion of showing off some tendons then check out this step.

We’re going to draw some fake tendons in our little wound. To do so, start out by doing some research as to what kind of ‘guts’ lay underneath the area of skin you’re working on. I followed the tendons I could feel in my arm and just went from there.

To draw the tendons, take your off-white or white eye pencil and roughly sketch out where they should go. Don’t freak out if the white turns pink as you’re sketching, just wipe off the tip with a paper towel, re-sharpen your pencil and continue.

Once you have the basic shape how you’d like it to look, grab your white cream paint, alcohol, and brush and lightly build up the coverage until you like it.


It looks pretty unrealistic at this point, but it’s the base for creating this specific illusion. Next you want to go back in with your red, black, and dark brown cream paints and fill in the remaining areas.

You will also want to emphasize some separation from the tendons and the rest of your ‘arm guts.’ This is when we start to shade. Load up your brush with alcohol and swirl it around the dark brown cream paint. Lightly trace along the sides of the tendon so that they start to stand out. You will also want to darken up the areas where your fake tendons go back under the skin.


After you’ve done that it should start to look a little like this. Now it’s time to bring in the powders to set everything.

I lightly dusted the inside of the wound with my Ben Nye translucent powder and then followed up by shading with some more corresponding matte eyeshadow. If you’re curious, I was using the BH Cosmetics 28 Neutral Palette (which is an excellent palette for every day makeup – and has almost all of the colors of the Urban Decay naked palettes for a tenth of the price).

You can continue to add dimension to your wound by shading more around the sides of the wound. Like we did with the bruise makeup, when you’re working with shading you’ll always want to build up your color rather than slather a ton of product on.


I lightly traced over the center parts of the tendons again to create the illusion that they were further out of the wound. It’s up to you if you’d like to do that last bit or not. I will say that once you start adding fake blood, any type of detail that you work on underneath the blood will fade and not be as noticeable.

Once you get everything shaded to your liking, grab your makeup setting spray and give it a good spritzing. This is especially important if you’re going to be wearing this out to a party. Sweaty dance parties can spell doom for sfx makeup if you don’t set it properly. I’d recommend either Urban Decay’s All Night Setting Spray or Mehron’s Barrier Spray.

Let it dry completely.

Now comes the best part of all, adding the fake blood.

cuttorn_sfxtutorial_NerdsAndNomsense-19 cuttorn_sfxtutorial_NerdsAndNomsense-20

Like everything else we’ve done inside the wound, start along the edges and fill in as needed. I will say that I was kicking my self in the rear for not picking up some GOOD fake blood. Instead I was stuck using this bright red, run-of-the-mill theatrical blood. It’s not realistic and is super annoying because it will dye your skin if you don’t have any sort of barrier. Keep that in mind if you decide to go with the cheaper brands of fake blood – they stain EVERYTHING.

Like the cherry on an ice cream sundae your masterpiece is complete! Now go gross out your friends  or your in-laws!

Keep scrolling for some more detail shots of this sfx makeup. I love how the fake blood really tied everything together, don’t you?






As always, if you have any questions or would like some clarification on any of these steps please don’t hesitate to give us a shout out in the comments below. We always like to hear from you guys – even if it is just to share what amazing thing you had for dinner.

What sorts of Halloween / sfx tutorials would you like to see next? Next week we’ve got a Gaiman-inspired tutorial headed your way. If you’d like more clues, go ahead and follow us on our Instagram (@nerdsandnomsense).

If you get a chance to recreate this look or use this tutorial for one of your Halloween looks, please share it with us. We love seeing all the awesome things you come up with, Nerdship!


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