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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How I turned into a zombie

The goal.
 On October 30, 2011, there was the Sapporo Zombie Walk event in Odori Koen park (our big park in the center of Sapporo). I wanted to participate (who wouldn't?).

I have never dressed up as a zombie before, but one of my friends has. He even used to go around giving lectures on this kind of extreme makeup. He said he did not have any tools/stuff to use, so he could not help me this time, though.

The day before the event I was busy with lots of other things and did not have time to do much zombie preparations. I did find time to buy a white t-shirt for 100 yen though.

Finding stuff to use

Mixing blood in the bathroom.
What you need:
  • Face paint, or makeup powder, in large quantities. I used white and black face paint. Some people use red too, to make bruises. I found that using fake blood and then paint on top worked too.
  • Fake blood. Make your own from red food coloring (color), syrup (texture), chocolate syrup (the red is not blood like, so make things better by adding chocolate).
  • Clothes that you are willing to throw away.
Since I worked until 4 A.M. on the 30th (came home at around 6 A.M.), I did not have that much time then either. I set my alarm clock for 11 and managed to get up with very little trouble, and went out looking for white makeup to smear on my face. Toukyuu Hands is the obvious first place to look (and it is relatively close to my home). Indeed they do sell grease paint you can use on your face, but it is expensive and comes in very small packs. I decided to run around some more, even though I was running out of time.

My next stop was Donkihoote (Don Quixote in Japanese), that also sells lots of weird stuff. They had a Halloween corner, but it was even more expensive and even smaller packs... I asked the staff if they had "huge packs" of face paint somewhere too, and was recommended to check on the 4th floor. There they sold tubes of paint that you could also use on skin, and it was fairly cheap. I bought one large tube of white and one of black.

At 5 in the morning on my way home I had stopped by my 24h open super market and bought maple syrup, chocolate syrup, and red food coloring. Once back home with my face paint, I mixed the foodstuffs until it looked like fairly realist blood and then set about turning myself into a zombie.

Applying makeup

The recommendation is to dress in whatever you plan to wear while applying the makeup. Any blood running down your chin will then give natural looking blood stains on your clothes. The first layer of white on my skin I did when more or less naked, though.

First step, adding black and white so you look like a panda.
I did not have much time, so I decided to do something simple. Face and arms were painted white. Eye sockets, mouth and nostrils were then painted black, and some more white were added to clean up the edges. I also painted the roots of my nails black to make them look dirty.

Drooling blood down onto your clothes gives nice patterns.
I then took a handful of blood (it is syrup, so it is not as runny as real blood and you can keep it in your hands for a while) and put it on my forehead/in my hair and let it run down my face. I then sucked a large swallow of blood into my mouth and let it run out of my mouth down my chin and drip down onto the shirt. This gives realistic looking splatter.

Adding blood to the panda look.

I also added some bloody hand prints on the shirt. To get some more red, I dipped a toothbrush in blood and used it to get small drop of blood in spray/splatter patterns on my face and shirt. This also sprayed blood all over the walls in my bathroom, but it comes of with very little effort.

Finally I dug my hand down into a cup of blood, do get my hands and fingers bloody.

That is all there is too it!


Some tips from my experience as a zombie:

Things will be messy.
The process is messy, do it standing in the bathtub or somewhere that is easy to clean.

Blood that is edible is good, you can put it in your mouth and then let it run out. Looks nice while it is happening (bring a bottle with you), and it gives you realistic blood stains on your clothes.

My camera, still with syrup/blood on it (most on the other side though).
Blood on your hands looks great but is annoying when you want to take pictures of other zombies. My camera was covered in blood after 3 minutes, and could not be opened after 10 minutes since everything was stuck in the syrup. Trying to open my door, lock my door, ride the elevator etc. without smearing blood everywhere was also challenging.

The blood looks great more or less forever (this is 12 hours after applying it).
The paint tends to dry up and flake. It is also water soluble, so the lips will lose their color.

The blood stays good forever. The paint will have to be reapplied if you are going to be a zombie for more than a few hours.

All of your clothes will be ruined (they can possibly be washed more or less clean, but the red sticks  fairly well), even those you did not expect to be ruined. Blood will run everywhere (I drooled blood on my jacket, trousers, and shoes) and other zombies will shuffle into you and smear whatnot on you.

Flies like syrup. And the get stuck to syrup. Looks realistic perhaps, but is a bit uncomfortable for you.

You will itch. Boy did my face start itching from time to time, and I did not dare do anything about it since it would ruin the makeup...

Not only will you itch, but eyelashes and hair will get stuck in the syrup, which will make blinking painful sometimes, and difficult to achieve at other times.

Riding the subway with no friends to talk to (to not look like a solitary crazy person) and no one else dressed up for Halloween can be a bit awkward.

People will stare. This can be good, but riding the subway alone was also a bit awkward...

Hot weather is probably better than Hokkaido autumns. It was cold.

Being a zombie is fun, take any chance/excuse you can find.

A good way to meet people, and see famous sightseeing spots like the Sapporo TV tower.

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