I would like to know the average time it takes to put an extra into full zombie makeup and wardrobe for The Walking Dead. Just your standard milling-around zombie like we see in the first couple episodes of Season 7 (in the fog, for instance).

The sheer number of extras in makeup consistently impresses me, and I wonder how much time is actually invested in these shots of zombies that are only on screen for mere seconds.

  • While on the set of PotC, makeup artists were applying facial prosthetics and makeup on extras in about 15-20 minutes each. We'd get fake hair (facial and head) scars, boils, dirt/skin coloration. No full masks like the walkers would need, but professionals can churn that stuff out quickly.
    – phantom42
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 4:22
  • @phantom42 That article mentions working from 4 am and only doing 6 people.
    – user31178
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 4:40
  • It's unclear how many people they have doing makeup though. On Pirates, there was a staff of about 10 just for the extras and there were 40-ish of us. The principles had their own artists. If we were filming during the day, we'd usually have about a 5 am call time to be on the bus down to the location. Get there at about 5:45. By then, the entire crew was already there, and the caterers were already almost done cooking breakfast. Get into costume (10 minutes for us), and then into makeup (20 minutes).
    – phantom42
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 5:50
  • If you were lucky enough to get into makeup quick enough, you'd have time to eat and chill a bit before they'd bring us out to the ships just past sunrise.
    – phantom42
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


I found an interview about the creation of zombies on set.

How long does the whole process take? "We have an assembly line of four artists that can finish 40 to 50 zombies in an hour. The first makeup artist shadows around the eyes and cheekbones, the next person does a lighter color over the highlights to accentuate the bone structure, the next person spatters blood, and then the last person puts conditioner in their hair."

So that is on set, however, there is a bunch of pre-production work that is done, including making custom dentures and a rubber face mask which is created before the actors put them on and they are painted.

One of the signature things in 'The Walking Dead' are the teeth. For every character that we do, we make custom dentures. - Greg Nicotero, special effects makeup artist on TWD

  • I didn't realize that they made full masks for much of it. It certainly cuts down the time it takes to apply it to a person, but I wonder how long is spent in the sculpting/making the mask portion of pre-production!
    – user31178
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 15:14

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