Getting an accredited education in makeup artistry is both expensive and time-consuming. So choosing the right school or training program is a top priority if you’re ready to commit.
For aspiring artists who want a comprehensive learning experience in special effects makeup, it can be difficult to know which schools take it seriously. While compiling research for this article, we came across a number of schools and training centers boasting SFX makeup courses that were sadly overshadowed by other course offerings under the film and television umbrella.
Best SFX Beginner Makeup Kits
We made it our mission to find the very best special effects makeup schools with a history of successful SFX alumni. If you’re ready to advance or kickstart your career in special effects makeup, these are the top schools to consider in the United States.
(Please note: this article is not sponsored and Camera Ready Cosmetics does not have any affiliation with the schools or program listed below.)
MUD (Make-up Designory)
Tuition (812-hour program, LA): $24,076
Tuition (812-hour program, NYC): $24,412.04
The Make-Up Designory has two special effects makeup courses within their Make-up Artistry Program: Character Make-up Artistry and Lab Techniques. The school has two locations for this program - Los Angeles and New York City.
The Character Make-up Artistry course focuses on character development, with an emphasis on the fundamental elements of prosthetic application and special make-up effects. The Lab Techniques course is designed to provide instruction in the lab and formulation techniques that are required to create contemporary film and television make-up effects.
Famous alumni include pro makeup artists Angel Radefeld-Wright (Ray Donovan and La La Land) and Paul Thompson, among others, and many of the school’s graduates have competed on Syfy’s Face Off.
E.I. School of Professional Makeup
Tuition (12-month program): $17,600
Founded in 1966 in the heart of Hollywood, California, E.I. continues to be an innovative voice in the makeup industry offering an extensive hands-on education in all areas of makeup including beauty, corrective, theatrical/live performance, high fashion photographic, television, film and special effects makeup.
You’ll learn all the ins and outs of beauty and corrective makeup, theatrical and fantasy makeup, high fashion and editorial makeup, television and HD makeup, prosthetics and HDTV and film makeup. Upon graduation, you’ll be well-versed and ready for a job on set of any production.
E.I. is one of the very few makeup schools accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges). Alumni include Emmy-nominated artists Ken Diaz (Westworld), Richard Redlefsen (Twin Peaks) and Kathleen Karriden (The Voice).
Cinema Makeup School
Tuition (4-week program): $5,390
This four-week class teaches the creation and application of multi-piece prosthetics, blood tubing, life-casting, teeth application, and airbrush techniques. All students have the opportunity to design and build a full face and neck application, complete with a set of teeth. Students also learn to create multi-piece molds and learn about advanced special effects lab techniques, materials, and processes.
Cinema Makeup School also offers a 26-week Film and Television degree program for those interested in broadening their skills more. The cost for the full degree program is $15,420.
Famous makeup artist Ve Neill was appointed Director of Education at the school in 2016. Neill has won three Oscars and two Emmy awards (not counting countless nominations) and has won a list of other awards for her creative work on set.
As a tireless advocate for the art of makeup, Ve incorporates a broad range of knowledge into the curriculum of the school’s makeup programs.
Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program
Tuition (2-year program): $40,465
Thousands of students from all over the world have enrolled in Tom Savini’s SFX makeup program and the Douglas Education Center located in Monessen, Pennsylvania. Created by legendary film makeup artist, Tom Savini, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of special effects makeup artistry in this two-year program.
Savini’s work has helped raise the bar for modern-day horror films. His contributions on Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, Monkey Shines and Creepshow have left a lasting impact on the industry.
Graduates have gone on to work at employers such as Saturday Night Live and Universal Studios and many former students have competed (and won) on Syfy’s Face Off.
Vancouver Film School
Tuition (12-month program): $35,448
Learn the fundamentals of beauty and special effects makeup, as well as color theory and facial anatomy in this 12-month program. Vancouver Film School teaches how to create molds and three-dimensional prosthetics, apply and paint foam latex appliances and masks, master ventilated hairpieces and human hair lace-front wigs, and so much more.
In just one year, you’ll graduate with a diploma in Makeup Design for Film and Television, a comprehensive portfolio, access to the VFS alumni directory and job board, and industry connections that will help guide your career.
VFS Alumni have worked on sets such as Deadpool, Transformers, The Walking Dead, Jumanji, Star Wars and the list goes on. Pro makeup artists who attended this world-renowned school include Jenni Macdonald (The Revenant, Fargo) and Tory Reed (True Blood, The Human Centipede 3).
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About Camera Ready Cosmetics
Camera Ready Cosmetics was founded in 2003 by pro makeup artist Mary Erickson. An industry veteran for more than 30 years, Mary knows quality and value and understands what an artist needs. Mary is the buyer for Camera Ready Cosmetics and chooses only what she would use on set.
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