PICTURE SPECIAL: How googling horrible injuries is all in a day’s work for one woman

PUBLISHED: 10:05 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:18 13 February 2013

As well as injuries, Kate also does special effects make-up

As well as injuries, Kate also does special effects make-up


A lot of Kate Griffith’s portfolio is enough to make you feel sick.

That isn’t to say it isn’t good – far from it. The gag-inducing photos are really good, almost too good to be fake.

For these burns and slit throats are all just paint and prosthetics, made to look like real and horrific injuries.

And to achieve that level of realism, says the make-up artist, requires knowing what the real thing looks like.

“I do a lot of research, googling different injuries. There’s also a lot of artists online who show their work. And if anyone cuts their finger or something I’m the first in there to see what it looks like.”

The fake injuries are so lifelike that she often works with St John Ambulance and Kent Fire and Rescue to make up emergency victims in training exercises who are then rescued and treated.

“First aid is a really good one because it is so visual. I can show the differences between the different burns, from first degree to third degree, so first aiders know what to look for,” she explains.

Kate has been working in special effects make-up since 1997 when she did a year-long course at West Kent College.

“I was looking for something interesting to do on the side of my job as a speech and language assistant. I saw the theatrical make-up course and it was right up my street. I got hooked on it and it took over my life,” she says.

She continued her day job while working evenings and weekends to build her portfolio until in 2006 she bit the bullet and went full-time.

Beyond the casualty scenarios, Kate tours schools in Kent teaching the tricks of her craft, and Northfleet School for Girls is on her list.

It is the blood and gore techniques that, unsurprisingly, appeal the most to her gore-loving students.

But she also fits in other special effects make-up, such as ageing workshops where seven-year-olds suddenly gain 50 years, and history lessons are enhanced with some tips on period character make-up.

She is now offering personalised one-to-one tuition to help students wanting to follow career in special effects make-up.

“Nowadays it’s very difficult to get into the industry and pupils applying for courses need to build up their portfolio.”

It is an industry that has longevity, she says, as despite the increase of digital special effects, there is always going to be a need for prosthetics – as can be seen in films like The Hobbit.

“CGI is really expensive but special effects make-up is absolutely booming. I was in London yesterday for an event by a make-up artist magazine who have really promoted this side of the industry. But it is also changing all the time because of technology. Things are becoming more and more lifelike.”

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