Happy Halloween from the Straz Center: Now Go Out There and Put a Pencil in your Forehead

Straz Center theater professionals share the gruesome details of great horror makeup with step-by-step instructions for creating our favorite look, “Festering Wound with Pencil.” Happy haunting, arts lovers!

pencil in forehead
Guest blogger Audrey Siegler, Straz Center theater department manager. And that’s our other resident make-up magician, Sarah Berland, in the background!

Makeup is magic. It has the power to transform one’s outside and one’s sense of self. Great makeup can help create a great character. With most makeup designs, you can’t even feel the change. Your view is not obstructed, the weight of paint is practically nothing, but with one glance in the mirror you step out of yourself and become something else. You are no longer you. You are confidence, you are bravery, you are anger, you are power. A face, an arm, a neck can all become a canvas. As the artist, you are free to create not only beautiful and unique art but to transfigure a human being–look and personality.

eye wound collage
Gross, gaping eye wound.

Makeup is fun. It is a rewarding and extremely entertaining outlet for a theatrical artist. I love seeing the reaction on a model’s face after her makeup has been applied. Often there’s a moment of shock, then excitement, then the look of “wow, is that really me?” It’s fun to play and explore creativity especially through makeup, and we hope you can take this quick how-to demo and make a great character any time you want to get ghoulish.


pencil in forehead 2


You can find these online and at most theater supply stores.

  • Spirit Gum
  • Nose and Scar Wax
  • Pencil (cut so that the eraser end of the pencil is 1/3 of the pencil’s length)
  • Various cream colored paints
  • Fake Blood
  • Plastic butter knife or a popsicle stick
  • A paint brush



First, you need to building the wound.

  • Begin by shaping a small ball of Nose and Scar Wax.
  • Apply a thin layer of Spirit Gum to the surface of the skin where you would like to create your stab.
  • Allow the Spirit Gum to sit for about 30 seconds or until tacky.
  • Place the ball of Nose and Scar Wax directly on the tacky Spirit Gum.

apply spirit gum

  • Press the wax onto the skin and using the dull end of the knife and your fingers; begin to shape the wax into a mound on your skin smoothing the edges against your skin.
  • Once you have created your desired mound shape, take the pencil and softly press into the middle of the mound and remove.
  • Apply Spirit Gum to the tip of the pencil that you inserted into the wax.
  • Allow the Spirit Gum to sit for about 30 seconds or until tacky.
  • Insert the tacky side of pencil into the hole in the mound.
  • Using your fingers, shape the wax around the base of the pencil.
  • Once secure you can begin painting as desired.

build wound

Then, you paint it!

  • Begin by gently applying foundation to the wax. Match and blend with your skin.
  • Use lighter colors like yellow and reds around the base of the mound and darker reds and purples at the entry point.
  • Apply blood as desired. Use thicker blood at the entry point and thinner blood to drip down.
PR- Mark before & after collage
Before and after a little Halloween-themed stage makeup!

The cool people at the Patel Conservatory often offer workshops in makeup, acting, voice lessons, dance and more. Check out patelconservatory.org to see upcoming workshops you might like.

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