Monsters and Makeup Effects with Rick Baker

Case Study

//Monsters and Makeup Effects with Rick Baker
Monsters and Makeup Effects with Rick Baker2018-12-07T15:46:14+00:00

Makeup Special Effects, Props, and Movies

Rick Baker was born on December 8, 1950 in Binghamton, New York, USA as Richard Alan Baker. He is known for his work on Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Men in Black (1997), and Planet of the Apes (2001).

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3D Woman Model
Rick Baker was born on December 8, 1950 in Binghamton, New York, USA as Richard Alan Baker. He is known for his work on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Men in Black (1997), and Planet of the Apes (2001).

“A lot of people that started out with me or who have worked with me over the years, have also gotten into 3d printing. They all said good things about Raise3D and I thought this looks like the printer for me, so I bought one. So right away, right out the box, I started printing things and I pretty much didn’t shut it off…I’ve also been really happy with the service. And I can’t say that about the other printers I’ve had where it’s been very difficult to get someone to respond to an email or an answer. I found this company to be great about that.”

Rick Baker Special Makeup Effects Artist

@therickbaker: "started to throw some paint on my 3D print of #DickSmith #doriangray"

Rick Baker – Introduction

Since applying 3D printing, Rick Baker has been able to create repeatability with parts and scaled copies, print direct models and eliminate steps such as sculpting or molding, and decrease overall time with digital design and direct printing.

Special Makeup Effects Artist Rick Baker has been doing makeup since he was 10 years old. As that first generation of kids who grew up in front of the TV, Baker was fascinated by the classic horror film monsters, he grew up watching.

One of his first inspirations was makeup artist Jack Pierce, who was the head of the makeup department at Universal Studios and the creator of iconic looks from Frankenstein(1931), The Mummy (1932), The Wolf Man (1941). While iconic, Pierce didn’t stay current with the times. He continued to do his makeups in the same while, while other tools and processes were being adopted. In the 40s, many of the studios were using foam rubber that was invented a decade earlier, and the lack of change prompted the studios to get rid of Pierce in favour of somebody new.

“I mean Frankenstein saved Universal. And his work, they still make money on his designs today.“ says Baker, “But I took note of that. I’m going to make sure I know what’s new and current and stay up cause I don’t want to be obsolete.”


One challenge for Rick was an effect that was created for the makeup look that included a tongue piece. The theme was vampires from TV series, The Strain. For Rick, he began by creating a traditional clay sculpting, molding, and casting the final piece as a proof of concept. Once the concept proved possible, he digitally created a model for his daughter and printed the negative of the mold and was able to cast within it.

For both the fingers and the tongue piece, sizing was an issue that would have been more prominent if done traditionally. Resizing involves sculpting the model in clay again and again until the model is correct. Each time molding takes place, this clay model is destroyed and would be created anew for each change in version.

Insole printing exposed circuit slot on Raise3D N2
Insole printing exposed circuit slot on Raise3D N2


Utilizing design software Z-Brush, he digitally designed and sculpted the variety of parts to be printed which included some sword based props and finger extensions. The finger extensions for his daughter were created by modeling one finger, then scaling the size up and down to print a copy for each finger. This process was able to print the final product and avoided the molding and casting phases.

“I basically modeled 1 finger in ZBrush and scaled it up and scaled it down and printed out copies of them and basically just popped them onto my daughter’s finger.”


When creating the tongue effect, Rick decided to model digitally in the event that the sizing was incorrect, he could just go ahead and rescale it until the size was right. Fortunately for Rick, the sizing for first print of the tongue piece was perfect. Regardless, Rick mentions how sculpting digitally has the added benefit of speed simply due to the fact that you’re not pushing clay around.

With a 3D model, changes can be made easily and efficiently, but in the case of the tongue that needed to be made in a non-rigid material; he further utilized the printing process to eliminate the mold making step. Instead of printing the tongue itself, he printed the shell of the mold to use directly.

Cost and Time Saved using 3D Printing

Traditionally 3D Printing Percentage Saved
1-2 Weeks to produce model Less than 24 Hours to produce model 85.8% of costs per model
For finger extensions, you would first have to cast the hand and create a base to sculpt on. Just to get this part ready, that would be 3-4 days of prep. If making quick work out of the sculpt, it would be another 3 days to create the clay model. Another 2-3 days goes into molding. Over a week of time would go into something this involved.  In reality, the modeling of the 1 initial finger took about 20 minutes and was rescaled to various sizes. Within the same day, the first version was printed and wearable.

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