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Freshman Olivia Engle does Special Effects Makeup in her Free Time and for FHN’s Drama Club


Credit to Juliet Borgschulte

Freshman Olivia Engle portrays her special effects makeup on a hand. Engle has been practicing for a little over two years. Each full look takes about an hour depending on what needs to be done.

By Sophie Carite

She draws a single thin black line down the side of her face with eyeliner stolen from her mom. With the same nearly-broken eyeliner pencil, freshman Olivia Engle will darken her eyes, sharpen her cheek bones and draw teeth in her first attempt to create a skeleton.

“I’ve always liked horror movies,” Engle said. “I was always interested in how they got the characters to looks so scary, which got me thinking about if I could do that kind of makeup.”   

Three years ago when Engle started out doing special effects makeup, she found normal things around the house to use as substitutes for actual special effects products: strawberry jelly for fake blood, glue for professional liquid latex and regular makeup for the body paints she uses now.

“After I finally got a real special effects kit for Christmas one year, I had no idea what to do with most of the stuff,” Engle said. “It took a lot of practice. I had to learn pretty much all of it on my own.”

Engle started to practice and slowly began to improve and figure out her own style after watching YouTube tutorials. She also watched horror movies and shows that use special effects, like “The Walking Dead.” Having these as examples and learning tools motivated Engle to come up with her own looks and draw inspiration not only from other people’s work but from her own life as well.

“When I’m in the mood to do special effects I just look around the room to come up with ideas,” Engle said. “Like one time I saw a button on a pillow and decided to put a needle through my friend’s face and give her button eyes, kind of like in the movie ‘Coraline.’”

Family and friends have been very supportive of Engle’s hobby. Her long time friend, freshman Mallory Cline,  has let Engle practice different techniques and looks on her both when she was just starting out and now.

“I’ve seen her improve a lot,” Cline said. “In the beginning she was good, but it’s just getting better and better. She can add more details in looks and try new things.”

Engle is a member of Drama Club and has worked on the costume and makeup crew. Stage makeup at FHN typically consists of foundation and some basic contouring on the nose, just to make sure actors aren’t washed out by spotlights. However, special effects can also be used on stage to make a person appear much older or younger depending on the role, to help develop a character by adding scars or by adding cuts, bruises and horror-themed looks when required.

“I’ve been looking forward to getting to do makeup for plays or haunted houses and other people for a long time,” Engle said.

Though the club has had students that can do special effects before her, club sponsor Kim Sulzner was excited about having Engle do makeup for Drama Club. Sulzner is also considering having Engle come into her technical theater classes later in the year to help teach the special effects makeup unit.

“For somebody coming in as a freshman and being able to do it and do it well, is really impressive,” Sulzner said.

With hopes that in the future she’ll be able to do special effects professionally, Engle is going to enjoy her time in high school. She plans to continue to improve over the next four years with lots of practice and continual participation in Drama Club.                                                                                                                                           

“I really love doing special effects,” Engle said. “It takes a lot of time and practice, but I think it’s worth it.”