Where to find photo reference for FX makeup

WARNING: The following links and suggestions may contain access to graphic imagery and content that is not suitable for children or viewers with a weak stomach. These are references to real injuries, trauma and medical or forensic content.

Creating an injury or trauma makeup is done best when one has a decent understanding of anatomy, or has reference to work off. Photo reference is so important in helping to recreate an injury or makeup with accuracy. We love photo references and so have compiled a master list of places we like to go when we need reference to work off. We will keep this list updated as new suggestions are made.

// Figure 1

Nicknamed the ‘Instagram for doctors’, this mobile app has become hugely popular since it’s launch back in 2013. It’s used by medical practitioners as an image sharing platform to seek opinions of patient injuries, diseases, anomalies and various medical cases. It is a great resource that shows a wide range of cases and is updated regularly.

// Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist

This book is a fantastic resource for students of anatomy, and all makeup artists should own something like this or similar. While this book does not offer details about injuries, it does offer thorough explanations on various body parts alongside detailed and accurate illustrations. It is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to approaching injury FX makeups from scratch.

// Color Atlas of Forensic Medicine and Pathology

Books on Forensic Pathology are by far the most informative method when searching for image reference and information. These books are on the pricey side, but document a wealth of information relating to deaths. These are an amazing resource to teach how the human body is affected by natural and non-natural causes. The Color Atlas of Forensic Medicine and Pathology is our top recommendation.

// Makeup Photo Reference Forum

Facebook Groups have become popular over the past few years, so much so that we happened to stumble across a group just for us. This specific group allows for members to post images of their own injuries or that of others. We hope there are more of these groups around as it is a great place to find reference for smaller day-to-day mishaps and work-related accidents.

// Trauma.org

Trauma.org offers a resource library of trauma-related incidents and the site ‘exists to promote and disseminate the knowledge and practice of injury prevention and trauma care throughout the world.’ This library has a small selection of trauma photos that have been taken in a medical/hospital environment. It’s a good addition to your reference collection.