Some directors are very particular about their fake blood (*cough* David Fincher). Others just want something that looks realistic enough without staining the set and wardrobes.
If there will be blood, there will need to be fake blood recipes to guide you.
So, whatever your practical or aesthetic ambitions for your splatter, there’s a DIY fake blood recipe to match them.
For today’s post, we scoured the internet for the best fake blood recipes. And, as an added bonus, we included our own fake blood color spectrum, which includes a solid range of blood color choices from great films.
The better you know your special effects makeup choices, the better prepared you’ll be.
So choose wisely!
How to make fake blood
If you’re a special effects makeup artist, you might have heard of Dick Smith. His expertise in splatter has contributed to the harrowing movie experiences like The Exorcist, Scanners, and Poltergeist III.
His DIY fake blood recipe has basically been a standard since he invented it. Compliments of NoFilmSchool, the fake blood ingredients are:
- (1 qt) Clear corn syrup
- (1 tsp) Methyl paraben
- (2 oz) Powdered red food color
- (5 tsp) Powdered yellow food color
- (2 oz) Kodak Photo-Flo (WARNING: this is poisonous)
- (2 oz) Water
Now, to make it, start by mixing your methyl paraben with part of the corn syrup in a cup.
Get a mixing bowl and pour in the red and yellow food coloring in a big bucket. Then mix in the water.
Once you get the color to your liking (more on this below), you’re ready to use.
But be careful!
Two of these fake blood ingredients are toxic, so apply carefully to your actors (particularly around their mouth, nostrils, and eyes).
How to make edible fake blood
A DIY fake blood recipe from the folks at Tom Savini’s Special Effects School
His fake blood ingredients are simply clear Karo corn syrup as your base, and then red, yellow and green liquid food coloring, which are mixed in until you get the color you’re looking for.
Typically, the most realistic fake blood recipes with a corn starch base will incorporate some green food dye to darken the blood’s appearance on-screen.
Another popular edible fake blood recipe is the classic Kensington Gore recipe -- which includes mint as an optional ingredient for better taste.
How to make fake blood that won’t stain
If you want to learn how to make fake blood for clothes, it’s easy: simply add dish soap to the above recipe.
Additionally, if you’re not getting the consistency you want, dish soap will make the blood more even.If you’re applying your DIY fake blood recipe to an actor’s skin, be sure to ask them whether or not they have sensitive skin, or skin allergies.
On the set of Amityville: The Awakening, Bella Thorne said a sugar-and-detergent fake blood mix (and subsequent scrub-off) gave her skin a nasty flare-up. Avoid this if you can!
How to make fake blood without corn syrup
If you’re averse to the stickiness of a corn syrup-based DIY fake blood recipe, there are alternatives. Such as this one from the YouTube channel VFX Arts.
You will need:
- (16 oz) Powdered sugar
- (1 oz) Red food coloring
- (1 tb) Cocoa powder
- (8 oz) Water
First, blend the water and powdered sugar in a blender. Then, add the food coloring and blend again.
Finally, blend in the cocoa powder and you then you’ve got your less sticky, DIY fake blood recipe!
And now for the fake blood spectrum
As you may have noticed, food coloring is a common fake blood ingredient in all of these recipes.
Every director will have their own demands about how the color of blood should look. Here are a few examples we found.
Spoiler alert: they’re not all shades of red!
‘Blade’ bright red
Directors and special effects makeup artists work together to get just the right color of blood, Blade (1998).
Blade is an ultra-stylized, sci-fi/action superhero film. Its story concerns Blade (Wesley Snipes), a vampire hunter who takes on an underworld of bloodthirsty vampires.
This film is based on a comic book. So the blood had to be vibrant and comic-booky, but not comically fake. It pulls this balance off nicely.
‘Monty Python’ pale red
For comedic films with tongue-in-cheek meta humor, it is often appropriate to intentionally select a color that actually looks fake. Especially if you’re harkening back to the days of Kensington Gore.
‘Fight Club' crimson
Reportedly, David Fincher is very particular about his fake blood. And Fight Club certainly put his taste to the test, being that it’s a darkly comedic film with a ton of violence.
The violence is graphic and visceral, even during slapstick moments. So Fincher and his makeup team went with a dark shade of crimson, which feels as gritty and realistic as the tone.
‘Batman Returns' black-green
If you have a character of supernatural origins, you don’t need the most realistic fake blood. In fact, you can choose any color that relates to the physicality of the character, as long as it fits your tone.
Of the many unsettling things about Tim Burton’s darkly expressionistic superhero sequel Batman Returns was the demise of its villain, The Penguin. Especially that black-green goo-blood dripping from his mouth. Gross.
And this movie had Happy Meal tie-in?
‘Street Trash' purple
Now it’s time to get a little weird. If you have a movie that is as off-the-wall a splatterfest as the obscure 1987 cult film Street Trash, then sky’s the limit.
They went with purple, which is an appropriately nutty choice.
No matter what genre you work in, chances are you’ll interact with fake blood at some point in your filmmaking adventures.
Thankfully, it’s inexpensive, easy to make, and (depending on the recipe) easy to clean up when you’re done with it.
Although it may seem like a small choice, the color of fake blood is crucial for selling the tone and believability of a scene.
As you move through pre-production, it will be important to plan out all of your special makeup effects. Anticipate the number of takes you may need to do, which will inform how much blood you’ll need to make.
And be sure to let us know in the comments below which recipes have worked the best for you!
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