Oct 5, 2015 | By Alec

Judging by the box office success alone, Avengers: Age of Ultron was a hugely successful movie. However, the critics and fans were also very pleased with the performances of its stars, and particularly new character Vision. Portrayed by actor Paul Bettany, also responsible for the voice of A.I. assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. in previous movies featuring Iron Man, many referred to the character and the actor’s performance as a true highlight of the movie. However, his fantastic look also contributed a lot the complete picture, and in a recent interview prosthetics supervisor Nik Williams and make up boss Jeremy Woodhead revealed that much of that look was achieved with the help of 3D printed facial prosthetics.

As everyone who has watched the movie will have noticed, there was a lot more about Vision than just a bald red skull. The character is a mixture of a robot and organic components, and a look like that is usually achieved through a terrible make-up ordeal that will require actors to sit still for multiple hours on end. Nik Williams, who previously worked on Frankenstein, remembered how terrible Robert De Niro’s challenge was. ‘I think it took eight hours to put the makeup on, and three hours to get it off, for the full body. You start work at 2 in the morning and you finish at 10, and then of course you can't work the next day. The idea is to make it as quick as possible in the chair, but, make sure it's good as well. It has to work,’ he says in an interview.

To spare both the actor and the make-up department, Woodhead and Williams therefore set out to find a solution that fits everyone – while achieving a look that suits a high budget movie like this. The duo had about five months to complete the makeup plan, with the original idea being to make a full-body costume. ‘ That was something we were originally doing, but it was decided that wasn't the look we were after. So, we ended up with the costume in the movie,’ Williams says.

In the end, they opted for a muscle suit being worn underneath the costume, with most of the effort going into the face and arms. The face, in particular, is challenging, because that is what’s being used to do most of the acting. This meant finding a middle ground between the robotic features and the human face of the actor. ‘We originally tested facial prosthetics as well, but Paul has delicate features, so any prosthetics on top would take away from them, so we just ended up with a prosthetic forehead, back-of-head and neck, leaving the face free, which I painted to match the prosthetic. I also put on the tracking markers so the visual effects people could add digital sculpting to those areas in post-production,’ Woodhead says.

This makeup solution went through a lot of stages, in which 3D scanning and 3D printing were key. ‘In order to make the lines absolutely perfect, as though he was born from a computer, we actually ‘sculpted’ the make-up in 3D over a cyber-scan of Paul’s head and printed out in clear plastic. Normally you would get a cast of Paul’s head and sculpt the make-up in clay or plasticine over the top of it, but this look lent itself perfectly to a 3-D design and print,’ Woodhead says. This remarkable 3D print was subsequently used to make a mold for a resin cap that could be skintight and glued onto the actor’s head.

Images credit: Makeupmag

The result was a remarkable look that doesn’t look like a helmet, but like a layer of skin. As Woodhead explains, these were subsequently under-painted. ‘[This gave] translucency to them, as well as really embedding the color in them, so that involved trying out new materials until we found a clear silicone in the States that we could under-paint to have that effect,’ he says. And the result is stunning. According to Williams, this remarkable result could not have been achieved without 3D printing technology. ‘To be honest, I don't think you could have done the makeup nearly as well, any other way. To be able to print it so the lines all correspond on the inside and outside, I don't even know how you'd go about doing that, if you didn't do it on a computer,’ he says.

But perhaps more important than the look, this approach also meant that Bettany’s makeup could be completed in just two-hours. First, the pair painted the actor’s head each morning, to get a good base coat of the color. The big resin cap was subsequently glued all over the head and face. ‘I will admit the pressure was on at the time,’ Woodhead concludes. ‘because there were millions of people around the world who all had a vested interest in the character, so the responsibility was huge, but the fans seem happy, the critics were happy and Paul was happy, so we appear to have got away with it!’ And as the film and the character of Vision were such a hit with the audience, we will doubtlessly see it again in the near future.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications





Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive