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Painting Elf Ears Tutorial

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We all have different skintones, and sometimes it's hard to find prosthetic ears that match. I typically buy unpainted elf ears and these range in colour from generic beige to grey.

This tutorial can also be used for painting your ears crazy colours like blue, grey, pink etc. Just follow the tips for midtones, highlights and shadows.

The reason why you can't start right off the bat with your regular make-up is because it can degrade the latex.** What I'm showing you is a way to protect your ears from being destroyed! That is mainly what the Castor Oil is for. Fancy theatrical make-up sites will tell you that Rubber Mask Grease (RMG) is like THE BEST THING TO USE for painting latex but I had one hell of a time trying to find it. Plus it's pricey.

The Castor Oil method + regular theatrical make-up is a good win-win way to go. Since you can use the make-up on your regular skin as well (hence guaranteeing a match! woot!). RMG is not recommended for skin.

**having said that I have successfully used straight Krylon Aquacolour and experienced zero latex degradation, and I suspect most waterbased make-ups can be painted on naked latex as well. I have not used regular make-up like covergirl/mac/etc on latex ears

AM I A MAKE-UP PRO? NO
This has proven to work for me which is why I'm sharing it. You have something different that works for you? that's fabulous.
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I predict I will get questions on how to apply elf ears, so until I make my own tutorial on that topic, I will direct you to a nifty instructable!

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deviantwin15's avatar
Wonderful tutorial, I have one question, can I buy castor oil from a apothecary and use it and ordinary make up to paint my ears? :)
NanaTheFurret's avatar
Ahh thank you for making this! I recently bought some ears for a cosplay and the paint I bought didn't match my skin like I thought it would and I wasn't sure how I was supposed to use foundation or creme makeup as a substitute for paint.
AmberBox's avatar
Thanks for your tips. Seems like one must paint ears every time it is used..do you know of a permanent solution? And for the castor oil/makeup method, does it rub off too easily onto wig, hands etc...when it is worn? And is cleanup just soap n water? :)
I put on the castor oil, and then I used Make Up forever foundation, and it's been perfect so far. Just to give you some feedback I guess. Thanks for the tutorial!
RavenVonHerring's avatar
This is marvelous! I've been looking for a good tutorial on painting elf ears for a while now and there really aren't many out there that look realistic in the end. This was a great help to me. Thank you!~ :iconnyuuplz:
Zelda49's avatar
Freaken awsome! I have a question, where did you buy the make-up and the oil.
vickybunnyangel's avatar
Hi Zelda! I got the make-up at a local theatrical make-up store. I totally forgot the name now but it WASN'T Malabar's if you are familiar with Toronto costume shops. I think it was Candy's theatrical or something like that.
Zelda49's avatar
Awsome! Thanks so much!
Ino-Fletcher's avatar
Thanks for this! I'm being Mido from Zelda and I bought unpainted ears (Due money constrains) and I was at a loss as to what to do.

Although, could you use a different oil (Olive or vegetable oil for example) or would it not work the same?
vickybunnyangel's avatar
hmm I don't know about olive or vegetable oil...Most of the make-up places specify Castor Oil, so it's probably a special thing. I'm not sure if the other oils will break down the latex or not
tarorae's avatar
Thanks for the tips! I'll be painting my first pair soon, so this is very helpful. Is it possible to temporarily attach things like fur with, say a water soluble glue and remove it later to switch between two costumes with the same pair of ears, or would that damage the latex, do you think?
vickybunnyangel's avatar
Yup! I know spirit gum works (the same thing you'd use to stick the ears on you anyways) well for attaching things, and spirit gum remover gets rid of the residue easily. I'd also try eyelash glue. Not sure about water soluable glue, but I imagine it should be ok?
tarorae's avatar
ah, eyelash glue! That's a great idea! Thanks for the tip!
Kukuzilla's avatar
Great tutorial! ^.^ This is pretty much exactly what I did with my troll ears. ;)

My partner and I are selling Aradani ears at the next couple conventions and we have to paint them aaaallll, it's crazy! >.<
vickybunnyangel's avatar
Thanks! I feel your pain man...any good ideas on making the fit of the Aradani ears smaller? The ones I bought kind of don't fit me >.>
Kukuzilla's avatar
Hmm, maybe if you cut them a bit? Adding an ear cuff seems to help too.
vickybunnyangel's avatar
mb I should take a picture of it...but I think I'm thinking of is there a way to "dart" ears? :P
Kukuzilla's avatar
I don't see why not. Maybe cut a dart in the back of it and when you glue them on make sure those edges meet.
vickybunnyangel's avatar
well I know what I will be experimenting with soon :P
Marie-Ange-the-Celt's avatar
Awsome !

I wish I would have done this 6 years ago when doing my dorw :o
vickybunnyangel's avatar
ooooo do a drow again please!
Marie-Ange-the-Celt's avatar
I do a drow at least once a year, now more often on Halloween but not all the time...

But we gave ourselves for Halloween a Japanese theme, and I did more clothes for Arhuaniel (my drow :p) but I didn't get the pictures yet :( I'm waiting for them :p

I changed my wig, now have getas (but received them the day after Halloween -_-) ordered a fan fit for a drow, and sewn a kimono for her... not sure I nailed it perfectly but it is my ... second kimono only.... :p And the first one was rather whatever :p

You've seen my old pictures of Arhuaniel?
vickybunnyangel's avatar
yup! I've seen pics of Arhuaniel in your gallery before :D

Is it something you would wear to a convention?
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