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How CARNIVAL ROW Brings its Characters to Life with Horns, Wings, and Chops
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Live-action fantasy and sci-fi projects have benefitted from major advances in CGI technology over the years. But despite digital tools, sometimes the most important ingredient to making epic worlds feel tactile is good old-fashioned practical character effects. Carnival Row’s makeup and hair effects are some of the most important weapons in the show’s arsenal, making us believe in faeries as real flesh and blood creatures. 

In her journey towards creating a member of the Black Raven faerie crime syndicate, Erika Ishii drops into the make-up trailer where she meets Vincenzo Mastrantonio, the series’ make-up designer, and Federico Carretti, the key make-up artist. They start off with a new set of ear coverings to match the winged “Pix” fae, like Cara Delevigne’s Vignette. Then, they add that perfect smokey eye to give her the dark vibes of the Black Raven’s crew. The work on her is actually relatively simple, with just the ears giving her that otherworldly vibe. 

Amy Vorpahl doesn’t get off quite so easy. Building her Faun (a.k.a. a “Puck”) means going through the process of getting the signature curled horns. This means she has to go in for full-on prosthetics. First, she drops by Carnival Row’s hair designer, Francesco Pegoretti to get a wig cap. Pegoritti’s non-wig cap duties include creating the vibrant hairstyles of the series, like the bright colors found in the Tetterby Hotel brothel. 

Amy then meets with Nick Dudman, the make-up effects designer for the show, to learn about her horns. The steps to creating the Puck make-up and prosthetics are almost deceptively simple-looking. The artistic craft comes from personalizing them for each character. The make-up effects artists work with each individual actor to determine the right size and shape of the horn. These same artists are also there on the days of filming to make sure the look stays consistent to the end.

After learning the steps, Amy meets with the make-up effects artists to select exactly which horns will look the best for her Puck. Sarah O’Brien and Georgia Brown assemble the pieces of Amy’s Puck horns, as well as apply the make-up to them. Once Amy selects her horns, the artists apply them using a magnetic cap, and then combined with a forehead piece and a wig to make it all come together. 

Curious to know more about the behind the scenes work that goes into Carnival Row? Follow the rest of our Into the Carnival Row series to unlock even more secrets. 

Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.