Blister on skin

Ive had a request for somebody to have blistering and bubbling on their skin after having their hand in a fire. Has anybody done this? I presume its not really something to generate in flame?

The literal irony of your question is great… as in “flames actually do generate skin blisters”


I did it. We shot an element and comped it on the arm.

I’ve done similar stuff before. Motion vectors are your friend.

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Did you create an element?

What did you use for the element?

They made a prosthetic and shot it on set in situ and we comped it onto the arm and made it look gnarlier than it really was with colour and paint. I think it was actually several and we did lap dissolves like the old wolfman movies of the 1930’s. It was a while ago. Expectations were different then.

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This is how I would go about it, at least to start: Color correct the area with redness, darkness etc (whatever makes sense based on references you’ve found or that they’ve sent you). Google special effects makeup burns. Steal some textures from something that looks nice, track it on in whatever way makes the most sense and is easiest (could be motion vectors). Make a wet look bump displace however your heart desires and screen that on for some highlights and freshness.

(Pro tip: I do a lot of blood and gore, look up special effects make up versions of gnarly stuff to avoid having to just be in a constant state of grossed out and remove yourself from the full gravity of the awfulness that is awful. The special effects people probably already did that for you)


Thanks for that. How much blood and gore have you done? Have they been for films?

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Ain’t that the case!!

I’ve done this. It’s actually on my reel

Greg Gilpatrick VFX Reel 2020 on Vimeo about the :20 mark

They did most of the makeup practical. We comped in the fire and did a front matte offset to cover up the makeup before fading it back on. I tracked in some color work and a bit of photos of real wounds for added texture. I just used mocha for the tracking.

If you Google burn wounds for reference, be prepared to be horrified by what you find.


Thanks for that

One thing I really learned on that shot is that you’re really at the mercy of how they shoot it - the makeup looked ok but they really didn’t think about how close the lighter needed to be to the wound or how long he would need to be holding to his skin. So we had to have the flame be super long to reach from where he was holding the lighter to reach the burn and the burn happens way too soon because he pulled the lighter away almost immediately.


Perhaps one of the “Gore Textures” from Action VFX might be a good starting point? From there comp with motion vectors or maybe using Mocha’s Powermesh.