Horror Masks & Scary Costume Ideas

Skinless Hand effect

How to make a realistic appearance of a hand having skin removed with little more than latex and asparagus.

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General idea

This technique I used for a zombie biker costume, the concept being the skin had been scraped off in a road accident. Some of the items I used were just because they were what I had to hand (ha.ha.), but there are many subsitutes you could use for both the telephone wires and the asparagus.


Before you start with the makeup you should prepare your 'flesh'. I used asparagus in this version, but any stringy vegetable should work (think green beans), preferably partly cooked so softer but not squishy.
Keeping the fibres of the veg aligned, smear fake blood all over. A clotting blood is ideal, but any homemade should be ok provided it will not dry too stickily (as we will be painting latex over it later). Remove any excess blood and leave the flesh on a plate or paper towel to dry. You can use a hairdryer to speed this up but you don't want to totally dry it out, just enough that it's not 'wet'.

Burnt Zombie Hand
Laying the base

First layer

To begin with you want to stick the 'bones' and 'blood vessels' to your hand. For these I used an old cable from a telephone - it was off-white like bone, and had the bonus feature of containing small red 'artery' wires, and blue 'vein' wires. You can use anything that looks right for these (string would probably work), but is should definitely be flexible or you will lose the use of your hand once they are stuck down, and they will be more liable to come off.
These are an obvious point of failure in the makeup (although we will be securing them further later on), so I used spirit gum to hold them down. If you have none available then a layer of liquid latex underneath and over top will secure them pretty firmly. Lay the 'bones' in line with your fingers and leave some sections of the blood vessels raised off your skin.

Then create a base layer for under the 'flesh'. For any bits that are left uncovered it is best to have a dark layer, which is achieved here with a combination of red and black greasepaint smeared on with a sponge.


Using the 'tissue paper' technique from the basic latex skin page, we are going to apply some skin that overlaps the edges of our base slightly. We are using tissue here to avoid the transparency of the latex (to cover the edges), and also for a bit of added texture. You could also use colored gelatine skin for this.
Prepare a single ply piece of tissue the correct size to cover the wound, teasing the fibres apart at the edge for blending. Paint a layer of latex on the bare skin around the greasepaint, and encroaching slightly onto it, but not covering the main centre of the base that you want visible. Lay the tissue on top and paint latex over the top, again leaving the centre bare. You may want more than one coat of this layer. At this point finish by painting a layer of latex over the whole rest of the hand and fingers.

zombie makeup steps
Skin with flesh layed

When the latex is dry, tear the unlatexed tissue out of the centre, and using a fingernail slightly lift and peel back some of the edge, making sure the base is still fully covered. You should have a hole in the skin ready to lay your flesh in.


We left the flesh off when doing the base as it is damp, and that would interfere with the latex and tissue. You should have pulled up the edges of the 'skin' so that you can slip the flesh under it seamlessly. Now paint a layer of liquid latex over top of the greasepaint and bone layer, and lay your flesh strips on it, leaving the bones uncovered and allowing some blood vessels to poke through.

When the flesh is dry enough, paint liquid latex all over the top to hold in place, and make it look shiny and wet even when it isn't. You may want to use a different brush for this than usual as you will likely get blood mixed in. Rub some blood into the underside of the skin flaps, and drizzle some underneath the raised edges.

zombie hand photo
After makeup


The makeup for this can be fairly heavy, and you may need a fairly dark stipple to conceal the edge of the tissue. Using a stipple sponge with greasepaints, do light amounts of blue and yellow, followed by a fairly heavy stipple of red to give a 'burnt' look. Over this you can stipple some darker colors, black (sparingly) and brown, then using a scraping motion smudge some areas in straight lines in the direction of 'skid'. Using a comb or coarse scourer, add scrapes of blood in the same direction over the top. Clotting blood is ideal for this if you have it.

Finally, with a firm fingertip, rub small holes in the latex on the fingers and rest of the hand for more minor skin burns. In the holes created, smear some red greasepaint with small amounts of black at the edges, and small quantities of fake blood in the larger holes.