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Face Off 4.7-4.8: Werewolves and Sea Monsters

Last week on Face Off, the eight remaining contestants were paired up to create sci-fi werewolves. They had to use moons of other planets as a jumping off point for an original werewolf design.

faceoff4.07conflict Face Off 4.7 4.8: Werewolves and Sea Monsters

All I know is that Autumn wasn’t the one who kept chopping off sculpts and walking away without saying anything

I’m all for carving a story arc out of the footage you have on a reality show, but it has to be a believable story. This episode was “let’s blame Autumn for every problem because she’s a negative, depressed bully.” Nothing on the show up to this point has suggested that at all. Just having one of the weaker contestants of the season who never spoke up before suddenly say “she was mean to me” doesn’t mean that Autumn bulldozed over anyone.

Here’s what I saw from the footage presented. Autumn came up with a great concept and Eric Z. agreed to it. She started on a face sculpt, cut in rough forms, and Eric Z. insisted he take over the face sculpt. He hacked off all over her work instead of collaborating. She insisted on going back in and taking over her original role. Meanwhile, instead of continuing with Autumn added to his back sculpt, he started that all over again, too. Eric Z. put the team behind by refusing to collaborate or even communicate and the resulting look was unfinished. He refused to assert himself and verbalize any concerns until he threw her under the bus at judging.

The challenge was underwhelming as a whole because the only team to actually make a sci-fi werewolf was Autumn & Eric Z. and Autumn got sent home because of her…attitude? She was as blind-sided as I was. This is what she sculpted (since Eric Z. just kept erasing the concept they agreed on and she carried the team). It’s a werewolf with a rock core to fight the gravity of Jupiter.

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Anthony & Eric F. were also in the bottom and their design was a mess. Their werewolf had an extra set of arms on the back and wings. The facial appliance was messed up beyond belief and the edges could be seen from the judges table clear across the room. Because neither of them acted like a two-year-old at judging, they were safe.

faceoff4.07anthonyericf Face Off 4.7 4.8: Werewolves and Sea Monsters

House & Meagan did sci-fi by putting neon pants and a space helmet on their Martian werewolf. This was a top look. The face sculpt looks like what Autumn wanted to do before Eric Z. kept ripping the clay off the form.

faceoff4.07housemeagan Face Off 4.7 4.8: Werewolves and Sea Monsters

Kris & Wayne won the challenge with a blue werewolf straight out of a Looney Tunes short. It looked like a rubber monster suit but the judges liked it. They really liked the back sculpt, so Kris was named the winner of the challenge.

faceoff4.07kriswayne Face Off 4.7 4.8: Werewolves and Sea Monsters

I haven’t disagreed this much with a decision on this show since they allowed Sam in Season 1 into the finale and then eliminated her before they actually deliberated on the finalists. This was just a bizarre and disappointing challenge with a terrible edit. If they wanted to eliminate a contestant because they never cared for her work, they should have said it. Autumn landed in the bottom more than the top and didn’t always finish her designs. That does not mean they had to fabricate drama to get rid of a middling contestant on the show.

85th Annual Academy Awards Live Blog

It’s finally here! The biggest film awards show in America goes off live in just under 90 minutes and I will be bringing you the action live. You can also follow on my Twitter feed if you prefer, as I can’t help but interact on such a popular night for geeks like me.

How it works is that you can just stay on this page and it will update live in front of you. The new posts will appear on top and I’ll do my best to snatch images off the TV with my camera phone as necessary. Who are you rooting for? Share your thoughts throughout the night and I’ll chime in as well.

See you at 8:30 EST.

The Oscars are over, the prizes have been handed out, and the live blog is complete. If you’re catching up the day after, start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Thanks for following along to everyone who checked in last night.

Face Off 4.6: Creepy Crawlies

This week on Face Off, the nine remaining makeup artists were presented with an interesting challenge. McKenzie Westmore instructed the designers to choose a beautiful, abstract image to inspire the color scheme and texture of their next Spotlight Challenge. Once the screens were assigned, McKenzie revealed the real challenge. The photos zoomed out at a rapid pace until nine colorful insects were revealed. Each contestant had to incorporate the colors and texture from the original photograph into a full body insect-inspired makeup design.

faceoff4.06foundation Face Off 4.6: Creepy CrawliesBut first, the contestants had a fun Foundation Challenge. They had to reinvent fairy tale characters. It was a very short segment on the show, but the contestants clearly had a lot of fun with it. Eric F. won for a disfigured Red Riding Hood and picked up a big prize in a large Makeup Forever kit and immunity for the week.

The Spotlight Challenge excited most of the contestants and resulted in a lot of strong looks. I can only assume the scores were so close that the judges couldn’t choose a third top look from the clear top six.

The top looks for the challenge were Kris and Wayne.

Kris had to create a butterfly and went big. He crafted massive wings to make the model’s head look proportional to the body. When the anatomy books failed to show the detail on the butterfly’s thorax, Kris took the patterns from the macro photo of the head and sculpted an elaborate labyrinth of ridges over the body. It was a very literal design (sans thorax) but a striking design.

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Wayne had to create a firefly. He took a more abstract approach than Kris, crafting representational wings as a cape in the back. He used color blocking to define the shape of the insect and even created a glowing tail. The huge glossy eyes were very expressive with the movement in the face. The placement of the nostrils over the model’s eyes was the perfect choice.

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Unfortunately for Wayne, he didn’t actually complete the challenge because he left his reference photo in the workshop before he painted the makeup at last looks. Kris won by default and the judges made that very clear. I would like to applaud Ve Neill for finally getting her way and convincing the judges to reward a contestant who met the challenge rules over a far more innovative design that didn’t conform to the challenge. She’s made that case a few times before and this was the first time it stuck.

The bottom looks were Alam, Anthony, and Meagan. They all wound up there because of bad time management.

Alam had to create a grasshopper. She tried to tackle way too much by herself. She ran silicone appliances for translucency, crafted wings, legs, and tail out of foam and fabric, and costumed the creature with nontraditional materials. The whole thing was a mess on the stage because it wasn’t finished. The concept was great, but the execution wasn’t there.

faceoff4.06alam Face Off 4.6: Creepy Crawlies

Anthony had to create an army ant. He was immobilized by the challenge. Nothing was particularly inspiring and he wasn’t satisfied with anything he sculpted. He went super literal as a last resort and failed to complete his makeup. The biggest issue was uncovered foam antennae right smack in the middle of the face.

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Meagan had to create a moth. Her design was great. The sculpt looked really good. She even went risky with an accurate look showing the moth in its true hair-covered form. She just really screwed up the paint job. It looked like she shot paint balls at the model and threw her on the stage. It was a big shame since a better paint job could have given her the win.

faceoff4.06meagan Face Off 4.6: Creepy Crawlies

Ultimately, it was Alam’s inability to explain her design that sent her home. I wonder how much was creative confusion and how much was a matter of translation. She did not performed well when talking to the judges the entire season and I can’t tell if it was nerves or genuine misunderstanding. Either way, her look was the least polished on the runway and had major technical flaws in application–rough edges, too much paint on silicone appliances, and unfinished foam accessories.

So what did you think? Like the images? Check out all the SyFy Face Off Galleries. Share all your thoughts below.

Face Off 4.5: They Might Be Giants

Last season, when Face Off tried to integrate film promotion into the show, the challenges suffered. Remember when Nicole went home for her Alice in Wonderland meets Resident Evil virus makeup? She wound up winning the competition anyway and soaring on challenges that provided a fair creative outlet, not an hour of promotion for an upcoming film.

Last night, Face Off stepped up the production promotion challenges big time. The 10 remaining contestants had to create multi-headed giants that Jack the Giant Killer might have slain when he climbed the beanstalk. Bryan Singer, the director of the upcoming Jack the Giant Killer, was the guest judge.

faceoff4.05giantchallenge Face Off 4.5: They Might Be GiantsEverything about this challenge was a great creative exercise. The teams had to figure out realistic integration of multiple heads into a single makeup and make the creature look colossal. 6’4″ and up models helped, but these makeup artists actually had the skills to make them look towering. All of the concepts were strong and beautifully sculpted. The bottom teams came down to application and aesthetics.

The top looks were Anthony & Autumn, Eric F. & Kris, and House & Wayne.

Anthony & Autumn proved to be a strong collaboration with their twisted giant concept. Their creature consumed its victims, forcing their heads to break through the surface and guide what you would assume is the head of the operation. Each of the three heads was sculpted with a great eye for detail and a distinct personality. The paint and styling were really beautifully executed, as well.

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Eric F. & Kris created the largest makeup in the history of the show. Their giant was a towering 10 foot tall beast with two heads. The model’s head was attached to the body of a human battling the blinded giant. His body was the legs and lower torso of the massive creature towering over him. The whole thing was a brilliant concept to trick the eye into thinking the giant was even bigger than it was.

faceoff4.05ericfkris Face Off 4.5: They Might Be Giants

House & Wayne took the more obvious route to create an interactive two headed giant. The beast only had one arm. The second arm was replaced with a head that could be manipulated as a puppet by the model. The expressiveness of the second head was really impressive. I wasn’t blown away by the paint job. I think it actually took away from the impact of the really strong collaborative sculpt. This duo worked on every part of the sculpt together rather than delegate tasks. It was a risk that really paid off.

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The winner of the challenge was Eric F. who finally got recognized for what I can only assume is a pro haunter’s ingenuity. I know House works haunts but haven’t heard confirmation of Eric F. doing the same.

The bottom looks were Alam & Eric Z. and Jenna & Meagan.

Alam & Eric Z. wound up on the bottom purely for aesthetic reasons. I loved their concept but the judges weren’t having it. They created a giant who tortured his victims by implanting their heads in the base of his feet. That was supposed to be their punishment for misdeeds, forced to tread the earth forever with a voice but no way to stop the punishment. The judges thought the sculpt looked cartoonish; I thought it was brilliant and can’t wait to see what Alam and Eric Z. come up with in the coming weeks. They both have a very wacky aesthetic that I love.

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Jenna & Meagan suffered from time management issues. Jenna was actually able to sculpt well enough with her bad hand to create a decent cast this week. The team just did not click at all. They fought over how to mold, sculpt, cast, and paint–every decision was a battle. If they found common ground, they could have produced a great makeup. Instead, their two heads stacked on top of each other concept became a half-finished, falling apart mess with a slap dash story used to sell the incomplete makeup.

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Ultimately, Jenna was sent home. The judges even acknowledged that it was because of her hands. They know from the first week how strong she really is–both of her looks wound up in the top and she sculpted like a madwoman–but she physically was not in the place to compete this season. It’s very sad to see someone go home for this kind of thing. It was also the only fair decision. Meagan hasn’t produced anything particularly strong yet, but at least she’s capable of keeping up with the challenges.

So what did you think of the giant challenge? Photos came straight from SyFy in the Face Off galleries.

Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

This week on Face Off, the 11 remaining makeup artists were actually shown doing two challenges again. I have to wonder if they even make them do Foundation Challenges in each episode shooting cycle anymore. Other shows occasionally cut these challenges when they don’t have an impact on the overall narrative, but Face Off is cutting them more often than not the past two seasons.

faceoff4.04beards Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice StickThe Foundation Challenge was a funny one. Inspired by mustache and beard competitions, the contestants had to lay a full beards on their models. The twist? They would create original bearded ladies using hair, makeup, and wardrobe. The winner was Eric Z. for applying the most realistic beard, though a few of the fantasy designs received strong praise. Eric Z. earned immunity for the Spotlight Challenge.

The Spotlight Challenge might be the best so far in the history of Face Off. The contestants returned to the workroom and found an elaborate display of candy. MacKenzie Westmore informed them they had to create candy/creature or human hybrids using actual candy. They were supposed to take inspiration from the ironic punishments of Willy Wonka and reflect how consuming too much candy would transform their character.

There are so many ways the artists could go with this challenge. They weren’t required to go after a certain aesthetic. They just had to reflect the candy they chose in their designs. Some candy is sweet and some candy is sour. Not every hybrid creature is a total monstrosity and not every contestant on this show is a blood and guts special effects makeup artist.

The top looks were Alam, House, and Kris.

Alam created a living doll in the stereotypical anime style. She used a variety of rainbow-hued candy to create an original wig and costume. Her facial sculpt gave her doll a tiny upturned nose, high cheekbones, and pointy little chin that looked like a cartoon come to life. The beauty makeup was very well done, especially the the large manga eyes painted over the top half of the face.

faceoff4.04alam Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

House went in the opposite direction completely. His character was a deranged young woman with an extra large sweet tooth. Make that sweet teeth. He sculpted a flexible mouth of rotting candy in the stomach of the model. The candy was all over the place in this design, most notably with gummy hair and rolled up sour candy strip eyes.

faceoff4.04house Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

Kris, out of all the contestants, took the challenge to heart. He actually sculpted with the candy pieces, giving him plenty of places to glue down actual candy in the design once the appliances were cured. His design was not the most striking by any stretch of the imagination. He was simply the contestant who really got into the inclusion of candy in the prosthetics and he did it very well.

faceoff4.04kris Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

The winner of the challenge was Kris. The judges loved how much candy he incorporated into the design and how polished the overall look was. Oh, so now actually having clean edges and a solid concept is enough to win on Face Off? Where was that kind of judging when Sam from Season 2 routinely had the best finishing of any contestant in the competition and couldn’t even get into the top 3 on a challenge?

The bottom three looks for the candy challenge were Alex, Autumn, and Jenna.

Alex’s biggest problem was concept. She created a blood-thirsty pageant queen who ate too much rock candy. What eating too much rock candy has to do with child pageants, let alone stabbing people with scissors, is a mystery. Then the judges walked up to her design and saw that the facial prosthetics weren’t actually glued down properly. They could literally stick their fingers under the bottom flap of her prosthetics.

faceoff4.04alex Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

Autumn’s biggest problem was her sculpt and she knew it. Her concept was cool, a man turned into a gummy bear, but her execution was really off. No matter what she did, she could not get the bear nose right. The end result looked like a cartoon cat with really rough edges. I think if she settled on the sculpt sooner, she would have had the time to worry more about polish on the hand and feet prosthetics.

faceoff4.04autumn Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

Jenna’s biggest problem was herself. Her hand is still bothering her a lot and she didn’t have the sensitivity of touch to actually bring her sculpture alive. She could have saved it with the paint job, but she couldn’t actually regulate the pressure on her airbrush because of her hand. She couldn’t even properly glue down the prosthetic on the face, which slid and then buckled before the judges did their closer look.

faceoff4.04jenna Face Off 4.4: Sweet and Twisted Like a Licorice Stick

Ultimately, Alex was sent home for not knowing how to work with silicone prosthetics. The judges seemed shocked when she admitted that she did not know she had to seal the edge of a silicone prosthetic to get it to stay on. The wacky concept didn’t help.

How about this for a twist? Face Off has a new web series to go with season 4. The first four eliminated contestants competed in a Foundation Challenge for the chance to earn a spot on Season 5. The winner moved on to compete with the next batch of eliminated contestants. The losers actually went home (or into sequester, but they ain’t getting on Season 5 without a fight). You can watch the episode here. It’s really well done.

Like the images? Check out the SyFy Face Off galleries for all the great shots from the episode.

So what did you think? I loved the challenge and think the contestants, overall, did a great job with it.

Face Off 4.3: Frosty

On the newest episode of Face Off, the remaining 12 makeup artists were partnered up to bring mythical demons to life. We finally got a look at how the script changes–mid-challenge alterations to the original task–work. They’re a good twist on the format. Instead of creating accurate representations of the demons, the artists have to create accurate versions of the demons in ice forms. Hell froze over and these monstrous beings are cold and angry.

faceoff4.03demonworkroom Face Off 4.3: FrostyThe challenge was a solid one, though I wish they got their facts straight about these demons. They’re mythological creatures, but that doesn’t mean that SyFy gets to fabricate whole new stories about them. There was no excuse for choosing one particular demon that they couldn’t even get the right name of. If I had been in the workroom, I would have called them out on it, especially since the form of the name would have clued me into general styles I could incorporate into a design. I would have been pissed to find out they meant another figure with limited information available rather than a much more expansive character that would stand out in the challenge.

The top looks for the challenge were Alam & Anthony and Eric F. & Wayne.

Alam & Anthony probably had the hardest challenge, taking on a non-demon figure in Demus. Demus, more commonly Durga, is the warrior form of the Supreme Goddess in Hinduism. Her appearance is strange but she is not a dark spirit like the other creatures in the challenge.

Alam & Anthony reflected this perfectly. Their Demus was a beautiful and intimidating figure. They abandoned the many arms of the goddess, giving her an elaborate series of horns and blue skin. The styling is really what sold the look, with an ice blue sari, elaborate gold jewelry, and a bindi.

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Eric F. & Wayne had a more traditional demon concept to work with. Chort is the being of total evil in Slavic mythology. He has all the tropes of the traditional devil–horn, hooves, claws, and tail–plus the face of a pig.

Eric F. & Wayne landed in the top because of their execution of a very difficult sculpt. They created a large head with a deep, cavernous mouth the model Could see out of. I wasn’t crazy about the styling or the actual look of the face, but it was an effective representation of a very twisted demonic figure.

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Alam & Anthony’s Demus was declared the winner, with Anthony taking the victory (two in a row) for his face sculpt over Alam’s styling, paint job, and feet sculpt.

The bottom two looks were Alexandra & Autumn and Jenna & Katie.

Alexandra & Autumn had the iconic Pazuzu. Pazuzu, best known for his appearance in The Exorcist though best loved for his appearance as the Professor’s pet in Futurama, is an Assyrian and Babylonian demon. He brings famine and locusts as a grotesque blend of scorpion, lion, dog, eagle, leathery wings, serpent, and human.

I actually liked Alexandra & Autumn’s design and execution, so it’s a bit of a struggle to relay why they were in the bottom two. What it seemed like was that there were five very strong looks and the show couldn’t just have the losing team on the bottom. The judges dinged them for the construction of the wings and not adapting their very flexible design to specific cold weather concepts.

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Jenna & Katie had Eurynome, which I assume was supposed to be Eurynomos. Euroynomos is part of the ancient Greek mythology lost to time. He is either a minor spirit, the embodiment of rotting corpses in the underworld, or one whose texts have been lost. He might even be a construct of a much later painter exploring Greek mythology. Eurynome is actually a divine figure in Greeky mythology, an Oceanid worshiped in the form of mermaid. Knowing that SyFy couldn’t even get the name right, it’s no wonder that Jenna & Kate struggled so much with the research they were provided.

Jenna & Katie had to rely on staples of creating demons at Halloween events, including arm extensions and a ripped up face. It just didn’t work. Jenna struggled to complete her sculpt because of a medical condition–a benign tumor in her hand is pinching a nerve–and Katie did a very poor job at building out the arm extensions. If they ditched the arms, they might have skirted by as the overall effect was really good. That demon looked like it was rotting and that’s really all they had to go on.

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Ultimately, Jenna & Katie had the bottom look and Katie was sent home for the arm extensions. It was the right choice even if it blind-sided Katie. Jenna has been on top already and consistently put out good work. Katie has consistently been in the bottom of the challenges and barely got through last week on the superhero challenge.

Like the images in this post? They come from SyFy’s Face Off galleries. Check them out.

Face Off 4.2: Could-Be Heroes

This week on Face Off, the 13 remaining makeup artists were challenged to design original superheroes for the DC universe. The winner’s original character will be included in an upcoming issue of Justice League Dark. The contestants also had the opportunity to work on their initial designs with actual DC comic artists.

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Sketching with DC artists should have clued the contestants into the real criteria for the challenge.

The DC issue is a key component of the challenge. Many of the contestants missed the mark because their superhero creations weren’t appropriate for the DC universe. Most of the safe contestants designed Marvel-style heroes, which really have a different aesthetic. The winner was the only well-executed makeup that could fit into a DC comic without much alteration. The loser also would have fit into the DC universe, but there were major technical problems that gave the judges no other choice on the elimination.

The top looks for the superhero challenge were Anthony, Eric F., and House.

Anthony’s hero was The Infernal Core, a crackling character filled with the power of the Earth’s core. He looked DC, but only by chance. The big leathery tunic and dark aesthetic work. The tunic was only included because he couldn’t get his chest and back prosthetics molded in time. This might be the first time in the history of the show that an improvised solution was far better than the original design. Comics are all about unique silhouettes and The Core stands out from most of the DC characters at this time.

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Eric F.’s hero was Dick Gritty, a techno-throwback noir detective with visible but contained organs. This cyborg concept was very well executed given the time constraints of this show and featured visible working lungs. The clear plastic covering the lungs and exposed brain read very well. It was a bit dark, like a Dark Horse horror title, but it still read superhero.

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House’s hero was Robot Girl, an anime-styled cyborg fighter. The styling was very Tank Girl meets low-budget monster movie and it looked great onstage. It was off-mark for this challenge solely because of the anime aesthetic. The backstory, the sci-fi elements, even the styling choices were all anime. The judges warmed up to the design close-up when they realized the head was not bloodied but actually showed off exposed musculature and wires in the body.

faceoff4.02house Face Off 4.2: Could Be Heroes

Anthony was named the winner because he had the only DC-styled hero in the top group. Autumn probably had the most superhero looking creation on the stage, but it was straight up Marvel, down to the cut of the costume. Alam’s design was great, but her back prosthetic wouldn’t stick and her quick paint job covering for the mistake didn’t hold.

The bottom three looks were Katie, Meagan, and Michael.

Katie’s hero was ReVolt, a punk rock vigilante who could shoot electricity. The concept was cool. She just had poor execution on everything. Her facial prosthetics for scars and injuries distorted the face like a bad Halloween mask and the mask she made for the costume was way too floppy to look right. A sewn fabric hood would have had the same effect without looking like a rubber dog treat.

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Meagan’s hero was Freedom Fighter, a man with armor constructed from the remains of the Twin Towers. Poor subject matter aside, the execution was terrible. The facial prosthetic was really uneven and she used duct tape to fasten her prosthetics. The saving grace here was a really cool collar piece that showed where the rest of the design should have gone.

faceoff4.02meagan Face Off 4.2: Could Be Heroes

Michael’s hero was Elijah: Bringer of Plagues, a mythical hero who could absorb and shoot out disease. It felt very DC to me. It was just really poorly executed. Michael struggled in the work room to create the signature plague mask of his character and barely put any makeup on his model. That’s bad. This is a makeup competition. How do you do a design without real makeup work on it? The character was screaming for some disgusting face and body paint but only a few random squirts of green could be seen.

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Michael was sent home for not doing makeup on a makeup reality show. Simple as that. It’s just really odd that SyFy has used this makeup for weeks to tease the show and it’s the worst in the challenge.

Thoughts on the episode? Share them below.

Face Off 4.1: Of Kings and Queens

SyFy’s best series Face Off (well, best among their current line-up) is back with a slightly modified format that raises the quality of the show in the best way possible. Host MacKenzie Westmore’s father, Academy Award-winning makeup artist and Star Trek creature designer Michael Westmore, is now the permanent mentor for the contestants. The father/daughter team tour the studio and offer actual advice to the contestants.

faceoff4.01westmores Face Off 4.1: Of Kings and QueensIn previous seasons, Ve Neill, Glen Hetrick, and Neville Page would visit and check on the contestants. They couldn’t really offer advice because that would be favoring one contestant over another. Now, Michael Westmore and even MacKenzie herself can offer advice and suggest changes/techniques to fix the makeup before the judges see it because they’re only there to support the contestants. It’s a great change that resulted in the best execution for a first challenge so far on the show.

This season, 14 contestants are playing for a guest lecture series at Make Up Ever Academies in New York and Paris, a 2013 Fiat 500, and $100000. They’ll compete in two challenges a week–a Foundation Challenge to win an advantage or smaller prize and a Spotlight Challenge to design a full body makeup–until, presumably, they crown the winner at a live season finale.

The Foundation Challenge this week got rid of the environmental elements that failed miserably last year (but worked great in season 1 and 2) and instead gave the contestants crowns for inspiration. Each artist chose a unique crown to design a Queen makeup around with wardrobe, wigs, and identical makeup kits provided. They had to show their personal style and approach to makeup as well as create a design that fit with the crown they chose.

The winner of the Foundation Challenge was Anthony. He created an alien queen with a prefab bunny nose prosthetic that looked good enough to film. Other standouts included the wild horror makeup of Eric F.’s Queen of Lost Souls and Jenna’s warrior queen that was all about strength and beauty.

The Spotlight Challenge picked up right where the contestants left off: kings. Specifically, high fantasy goblin kings. The contestants were randomly split into seven teams and each had to chose an environment from an ancient fantasy map for inspiration. Each team had to design a king and a crown that matched the environment they chose.

The top three teams in the Spotlight Challenge were Anthony & Megan, Eric F. & Jenna, and Eric Z. & Autumn.

Anthony & Megan created a Mountain king who actually looked like rock. Michael Westmore stressed how important the accuracy of the rock formations would be to the success of the makeup and the team took it to heart. This really looked like the rocks were slowly overtaking the old king, with only the slightest hint of humanity left in the softer left side of his face. This was a really well-executed makeup from conception to fabrication.

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Eric F. & Jenna went to horror town again for their Desert King. The team sculpted their design so fast that they actually had their main molds poured, cured, and separated before the end of the first day. That meant they had the entire second day to work on fabrication and extra touches, like sheets of raw flesh to cover any exposed body with. The fast work and careful execution paid off big time with a powerful makeup that read great up close and at a distance.

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Eric Z. & Autumn had the most trouble in the studio but pulled off a really cool look for their Jungle King. They created a living Tiki with natural wood detailing for musculature on the arms. The paint job on the wood was really strong and their fabricated costume elevated the concept enough to be noticed.

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Ultimately, the judges were so blown away by the level of detail in Anthony & Megan’s painting and sculpture that their Mountain King was declared the winner. Anthony was given the challenge win–making him 2/2 this season already–for his sculpture work.

The bottom two teams were Michael & Troy and Wayne & Alex.

Michael & Troy didn’t do anything particularly wrong with their Volcano King. They just did nothing right. They fabricated a costume that completely covered up their chest sculpture–Ve stressed many times it was the best part of their makeup–and created a cartoonish crown that was completely at odds with the actual applied makeup. There was no concept beyond streaking lava on the model and it showed.

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Wayne & Alex screwed up their time management on their Swamp King. Michael Westmore said they would easily win if they got the paint job right; they didn’t even paint it. Their concept was a gator king and they sent out a gray scaly blob with armor that looked like washboards. A better paint job would have distracted the judges from the mishmash of bayou cliches going on in the armor.

faceoff4.01waynealex Face Off 4.1: Of Kings and Queens

The judges decided that Troy was responsible for the single worst element of the Volcano King, the face sculpt, and he was sent home. I can’t disagree with the judges on this one. I honestly would have loved to see them critique all the contestants since I thought Alam & Kristian’s Forrest King and (especially) House & Katie’s Arctic King were very strong, as well. If this episode is an indication of the talent level this season, I do not envy the judges having to send someone home each week.

Did you catch the season premiere? What did you think? Sound off with your thoughts below. And let’s give it up for SyFy bringing back their excellent photo galleries to showcase the designs and contestants in the best way possible. You can check them all out here.

Face Off: 3.11-3.12: Winner!

I have to give a lot of credit to SyFy. The live Face Off finale last night was one of the better reality TV reveal episodes I’ve seen. McKenzie Westmore got to show off her great personality that makes the contestants like her so much. The judges (sans Ve, who had to work on the second Hunger Games film, proving she still does application work) got to show off a more casual side and even the contestants who didn’t last long were given the chance to shine. SyFy is fast becoming one of the top networks for original reality TV programming and they’re doing it without sacrificing their genre focus.

The final three contestants were given another live performance challenge as their final task. They had to create a good elemental witch and a wicked demon (allegedly Halloween themed, but the judges hated the Halloween-looking demons) that could survive a high energy stunt show in front of a live audience. They had three days and the help of the eliminated contestants.

The eliminated contestants part was interesting. Alana and C.C. weren’t chosen. I understand why these two would be left behind. Alana was burned out and needed a lot of help in the early part of the season. C.C. struggled with big prosthetics. However, it became clear with the difficulty level of the challenge that if Joe didn’t quit in the first episode, each finalist would have had three assistants.

The quantity of work weighed down on the contestants and each finalist struggled to create two cohesive, innovative, and well-polished looks for the finale.

Laura teamed up with Rod and Tommy to create an earth witch and demon. Her concept was a witch clearly of the earth and a demon from another world. The witch was sharp and brittle, inspired by the bark of the birch tree and filled with natural elements. The demon enemy was unnatural–flabby, misshapen, and toxic looking. I thought it was a great pairing, but the judges hated how the demon looked nothing like the witch. Laura locked onto the Halloween theme of the challenge and was knocked down a bit for choosing not to make an earth demon.

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Nicole chose to work with Roy and Sara. Conceptually, Nicole wanted her water witch and demon to look like they came from the same world. Her witch was beautifully styled with natural elements like sea shells and clearly read as a good (rather than evil) character. Her demon was a little less successful because of a blocky sculpt, but the rigid angles in the face and body immediately put him at odds with the witch. It was a very cohesive look, but not the most imaginative design in the contest. Her character choices were predictable and perhaps too reminiscent of the pirate challenge earlier this season.

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Derek worked with Eric and Jason on a fire theme. He chose to design his characters to look good from the stage. His witch looked the most dynamic from a distance. The neon flames and molten lava exterior really popped during the stunt show. Once the camera zoomed in, the paint job was a bit too heavy-handed (very streaky and filled with over-sized clumps of unvarying color) to read as well as the other designs. His pale, almost translucent, demon was shocking. I just don’t see how it was connected at all to the witch. The judges praised his demon design after dumping on Laura for not making a demon that matched her witch, so something was edited out that explained the response.

faceoff0311derek Face Off: 3.11 3.12: Winner!

On the live finale, Nicole was declared the winner of season 3. She earned it. The edit really showed her off well on the final challenge and the judges praised her the most. The designs looked great together and Nicole had a fantastic redemption arc on the show. The Tuesday night episode was also the most watched episode of the season, so people who otherwise never saw the show judged the winner on a challenge Nicole nailed.

Nicole was a strong competitor from the start and probably shouldn’t have been eliminated in the Alice/Resident Evil challenge. She had a very distinctive style and it took the judges longer than expected to realize that. Her technical execution was only topped by Laura, but Laura often toned down her vision to allow for a perfect application. And when Nicole had a working airbrush, no one could touch her paint work.

faceoff0312nicolewinner Face Off: 3.11 3.12: Winner!

Patrick Tatopoulos said something very telling at the live finale. He was shocked that Nicole was eliminated before the redemption challenge. In two challenges (first episode had a Foundation and Spotlight challenge), he was so blown away by her vision and quality of execution that he was sure she would be a contender for the win. With Patrick at the judges’ table the whole season, she might not have been eliminated at all.

What did you think of Season 3? I thought the best moment on the live finale was McKenzie Westmore realizing the show was a success when the season 4 teaser premiered. No one expected this wacky little SyFy show to get past season one and now it’s one of the network’s most successful–with critics and viewership–shows. Sound off with your thoughts below.

Face Off 3.10: Aah! Real Monsters

This week on Face Off, the final four contestants were inspired by the TV series Grimm. Yes, more cross promotion from the SyFy makeup series. I can accept it when it works this well.

The contestants were instructed to search the woods for four crime scenes that could have appeared on Grimm. Their challenge was to create an original creature design imagining what monstrosity could have committed the murder.

By chance, the final four were all makeup artists comfortable with creature design. Laura and Nicole have offbeat dark aesthetics. Roy is one of the many contestants throughout the history of the show involved in the haunted house industry. And Derek always did his best work on the challenges that let him go dark and twisted.

The winner of the challenge was Laura. She created a multifaceted hybrid that easily could have failed: human, spider, bee, beetle. Aside from beautiful execution, Laura won because she managed to account for every detail in her crime scene. Her victim was covered in web (spider), poisoned (bee sting), and shoved against the base of a tree (a beetle rolling its food). It was an ambitious design that succeeded because Laura embraced the insanity of the challenge.

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Derek did his best makeup in weeks with a human/raptor hybrid. His color choices looked real. That made the whole makeup come alive even with a cartoonish claw popping out of one shoe. The design was otherwise subtle–feathers instead of claws at the elbows, slightly modified facial features to go past human.

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Nicole and Roy had the bottom two looks and both came down to execution problems.

Nicole went full werewolf inspired by fur left behind at the crime scene. Her silhouette was great; it was the minor details that fell short. The prosthetic ears were actually attached to the hair, not the body, and the breasts on her lady werewolf began beneath the rib cage. The color choices were very good and she fully embraced the challenged.

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Roy went with a snake hybrid that missed the mark. The styling choices were off. His character was a biker chick, so he dressed her head to toe in black leather. He also clearly wanted it to read female and slapped on a red wig that looked like plastic. Worst of all, he actually had the hair go through the cheeks of the design, as if any snake has ever had hollow slits in the middle of their face before.

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The elimination could have gone either way. Nicole took shortcuts that cheapened her design and Roy made some bad design choices. Ultimately, the judges were more excited by Nicole’s potential because she hasn’t relied on fabrication to elevate her designs since returning to the contest.

Next week is the two part season finale. On Tuesday night, the final three compete in the biggest makeup challenge of the season. On Wednesday night, the results are revealed live after the audience vote is accounted for.

Who will win Face Off Season 3? Sound off with your thoughts and predictions below.

Face Off 3.6-9: Monsters and Sci-Fi

So, about those recaps. I missed watching 3.6 when it first aired and just fell behind. Here’s an accelerated recap of four weeks of competition to catch up going into the finale.

3.6: Bizarre Cross-Promotion

This challenge was a combination of a skill test and promoting a video game. Dishonored is the new big video game title that actually received rave reviews. I’m going to get to start playing it in a few days, myself. The contestants were challenged to create an original character inspired by the four archetypes in the universe: Thug, Aristocrat, Weeper, City Walk. They also had to exaggerate the body proportions, the skill test of the challenge.

The judges chose Derek as their winner for an oversized Thug. It’s a solid makeup that meets the challenge. It feels like the Thug as demonstrated in the portfolio material, only really big. My reservation comes from how similar the design is to his highly criticized superhero sidekick the week before.

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I would have given the victory to Laura for her Weeper. She took the game’s mythology into consideration for her design. The exaggeration comes from taking the noble healer and turning him into a Weeper. The elongated face looks like it’s crying off the skull. Very haunting design.

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The judges decided that it was Tommy’s time to go. His Thug didn’t actually meet the exaggeration hurdle of the challenge. What he did create, a city worker with extensive injuries, didn’t read Thug, either. It also wasn’t finished well at all. No arguments here over this elimination.

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This challenge was a much better cross-promotion challenge than the bizarre Alice/Resident Evil monstrosity that came before. It made sense and actually tested something new on the contestants.

3.7: Kids!

The Foundation Challenge this week was great. Every previously eliminated contestant, except Joe who quit, was invited back to do an original Day of the Dead-themed makeup. Nicole entered the contest again and C.C. got to show off why she was on the show at all. Frankly, I thought she did the best job, but understand why Nicole’s prosthetic makeup got her back in.

The Spotlight Challenge involved children. Young artists were brought in to share their original monsters with the contestants. The contestants had to bring the monsters to life with makeup. These challenges on other shows usually point out who is an awful, child-hating monster. Thankfully, everyone behaved like a human being.

Laura finally took home her first win for a monster that belongs on a Halloween episode of Sesame Street. It is so hard to make a full body suit makeup not look like a bad costume. Laura succeeded because she stayed true to the child’s imagination while, once again, insisting on perfect execution.

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The judges decided it was time to let Rod go. I actually felt bad for him. The makeup wasn’t bad. It’s just that he got paired with a child whose design forced him to do an exaggerated head again. Ve Neill told him two weeks before that all his face sculpts were starting to look the same. The noses and large skulls are identical. His child wanted a large-headed monster and Rod was eliminated for doing the same style of sculpt again. Tough break.

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I would have sent home Alana. The makeup was well-executed, but it didn’t look very good. Her design choices were poor and unflattering. I love Alana’s aesthetic, but this was not the challenge to dive head first into her offbeat style.

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You can tell when artists are having fun. These artists loved working with kids and creating bizarre monsters. Their joy made this a great challenge. It might even be my favorite challenge since Season 1′s Zombie challenge.

3.8: Who?

This is the first time I can remember Face Off doing back to back challenges so similar in tone. We’re stuck in a whimsy cycle and I like it. This challenge required the contestants to create an original human hybrid creature inspired by Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book.

Nicole racks up her first victory by continuing her trend of actually showing off her aesthetic. It’s shocking to think that a contestant eliminated for not having direction can pull off a look this cohesive after being out of the contest for a few weeks. Her Bumble Tub hybrid looks like it walked off the pages of Dr. Seuss.

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Alana was sent home for not finding inspiration in Dr. Seuss. There’s just no design there. I think she got burned out weeks ago and was just coasting on aesthetic. When her style didn’t match the challenge, she was sent home. It’s no reflection of her ability. She just didn’t thrive in the contest environment.

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I wanted to love a Dr. Seuss challenge. I didn’t. I think the contestants were a little burned out on whimsy. Had this been further removed from the kids challenge, we might have seen stronger designs from the never eliminated contestants.

3.9: Terminator Challenge

Sure, SyFy didn’t call this The Terminator challenge, but that’s what it was. Gale Ann Hurd, the original screenwriter and now a fantastic producer, judged cyborgs created from parts scavenged in a junkyard. All but one of the contestants loved the challenge and really stepped up from the Dr. Seuss challenge.

The winner, for a second week in a row, was Nicole. Her lady cyborg design was revolutionary. There was no doubting that this was a woman/machine hybrid. The character was beautiful, menacing, and very original. I love the metal implants under the face.

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Roy’s design also deserves recognition for being so wild. He created a zombie cyborg character. Not only did he, once again, show off his amazing fabrication skills, he got to show off a flawless zombie makeup that read under a huge costume piece. The judges have a newfound respect for his makeup abilities. This is the time to be remembered for overall excellence.

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Sarah was eliminated for not knowing about cyborgs. The judges said that. She did not have the references to pull from to actually create a cyborg. She’s a big space sci-fi fan, not a high tech sci-fi fan, and her makeup looked like she threw everything at her model and hoped something worked. Nothing did.

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And that’s where we are today. Four contestants are left battling it out for a spot on the viewer-decided finale episode: Derek, Laura, Nicole, and Roy. Who will rise to the challenge and who will stumble right before the finish line?

The show was renewed for a fourth season last week. I’m excited. How about you? Share your thoughts below.

Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Last week on Face Off, the remaining contestants were given an odd challenge. Did you know Resident Evil 5: Retribution came out last week? Surprise. The film cut a deal with SyFy to promote the film on this show.

Zombie makeup isn’t new to the show. Neither is designing makeup for a specific film or director. Mashing together two completely unrelated properties just to promote a film is. No wonder the “Make a zombie inspired by Alice in Wonderland if they were infected with the Resident Evil virus” challenge was such a mess.

The top looks came from Laura, Roy, and Derek. Laura created a very expressive Mad Hatter. He elicited sympathy while sharing the dark humor of the Resident Evil films. The intestines around his neck were a tape measure because he retained some memory of his previous life. The character was ultimately too empathetic and feels more like a Romero zombie–a beautifully executed and fully realized Romero zombie.

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Roy did the Queen of Hearts and she looked like a Resident Evil villain. Bingo. I think the skin was a little plastic looking, to be honest, but the design was perfect for the challenge. The crown of flesh on her head has that instant recognition factor like Nemesis, Tyrant, or the knock-off Pyramid Head in the fourth film.

faceoff0304roy Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Derek did the Cheshire Cat and made Ve Neill recoil from its appearance. Not because it was too gross; Ve loves gore makeup. No, Ve hated the initial sight of the character because Derek made a bright purple Cheshire Cat (magenta, she called it). The infection concept was genius and Derek’s execution brought him to the top.

faceoff0304derek Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Roy pulled out win by playing straight to the Resident Evil series. Laura, once again, lost after being praised for design, creativity, and execution. At least she’s on the top for a fourth challenge in a row.

The bottom three were Tommy, Nicole, and Rod. Tommy landed on the bottom for doing a totally random makeup that had nothing to do with the challenge. Sure, you can see a white rabbit in his design; it just doesn’t read White Rabbit, Resident Evil, or zombie. The fake fur hid all his detail work and the wardrobe choices–flannel shirt and work boots–were inexplicable.

faceoff0304tommy Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Nicole had the misfortune of a major equipment failure while finishing her Alice. Her airbrush broke during Last Looks (the final hour before the judging). She hand painted her sculpt, but the color went on too thick and she would up with a charcoal gray Alice. Her concept was fantastic and the level of difficulty in her prosthetics and accessories easily would have put her on top with better paint.

faceoff0304nicole Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Rod did a gender swap/old age makeup for his vampiric Queen of Hearts. Not only was it completely unrelated to the challenge, it was poorly executed. Rod was lucky to be in the bottom with much worse work. He might have gone home if Nicole’s airbrush didn’t break.

faceoff0304rod Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Ultimately, Nicole’s equipment led to her elimination. This was the first really shocking elimination to me as I thought the other two bottom looks were considerably worse. Maybe Nicole’s makeup read worse in person than it did on the screen? I know that happened in season one when finalist Sam didn’t finish her Little Mermaid makeup. It popped on screen but even Sam knew she couldn’t win with the execution problems.

This week, the remaining makeup artists were paired off to create superhero teams inspired by vehicles. This was a cool challenge that forced the contestants to consider story and setting in their designs. Every team had a strong concept that could become real comic heroes. The storytelling through makeup alone was the struggle of the challenge.

The top team was Alana & Roy. Technically, Laura & Tommy were on top, as well, but only because (surprise!) Laura did the best makeup of the day.

Alana & Roy created an antihero story. Alana’s character Fire is a daughter of Satan. She travels to earth with Roy’s imp character Chaos to explore the mortal world. The team worked well together, creating a cohesive concept even when the makeups were radically different. Alana was given the victory for doing the lion’s share of the sculpting, fabricating, and painting work for the team. Took long enough for her to win for her consistently strong and inventive designs.

faceoff0305alanaroy Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Laura & Tommy had a great concept and 50% execution. Laura’s superhero is a genetically engineered super soldier who only knows how to fight. The startling green and gray vixen looked like she stepped right out of a comic book. Tommy’s sidekick is the lover of the super soldier, a demolition expert who lost his arm breaking his love out of a government facility. The texture of his prosthetic was compared to hamburger, which would be great if he sculpted a zombie run over by a car.

faceoff0305lauratommy Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Derek & Sarah went the 1940s/WWII super soldier route with their superhero duo. Sarah sculpted a scarred vixen with a missing eye and no mercy while Derek sculpted Ron Perlman in Sin City. The team failed to really connect their hero team to their vehicle. They also did strange things like design an eye patch with no clue as to how it would stay on. Derek’s makeup was literally falling apart under the weight of the silicone prosthetic.

faceoff0305dereksarah Face Off 3.4 & 3.5: Alice and Axels

Jason & Rod really did a poor job on the challenge. Admitting that superheroes are not your forte does not give you permission to not design superheroes. Conceptually, they were strong. The psychic link between a feeble super-genius and a young strongman was great. There was just nothing to suggest it in the makeup. Where is the enlarged brain on the genius? The exaggerated veins and ripped apart flesh of the chest-bursting strongman? The linking system that actually fits the characters in a believable way? Staging to suggest the story?

This team failed miserably because they weren’t happy with the theme. Is it that hard to try? Slap a small eye mask on the characters with LED crystals/jewels that blink in sequence? I know they both wired LEDs before for makeup. Why not this time? Disinterest. They aimed for safe and were outclassed by more ambitious competitors.

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Jason went home for execution problems across the board. The paint job was too heavy and the chest appliance was underthought and hidden by wardrobe. The character he described to the judges did not match the character standing in front of them.

Well, there was that. There was also the fact that Tommy was automatically safe for being on a top team. The judges clearly wanted him to go home for his bad burn sculpt. At least the judges can explain their decisions on this show. I appreciate that.

What did you think of these challenges? I think the superhero one was great. Alice, not so much. Share your thoughts below.

Like the pictures? They all came from SyFy’s Face Off galleries. Go check them out.