Skull-A-Day 5.0 - Tutorial - Dia de la Abby #61: Anatomical Skull Makeup

Related Skull-A-Day Post

Sunday, we went to a wedding. Yes, I went to a wedding with skull makeup. Why, you ask. It was a zombie themed wedding and costumes were highly encouraged. My husband and I participated. Of course the entire wedding party was zombied out. Sadly, there were few zombified guest...oh well. What do you get for reading that spiel? You get a tutorial for how to do this skull makeup. It's different than the basic skull and sugar skull makeup I've done in the past. This is more anatomical and has shading. Not harder, but more accurate. Ok, enough rambling...time for the tutorial!

Front view
Photo by: Carlton Kotalo

  • White Ben Nye cream makeup - For painting in the white areas
  • Black Ben Nye cream makeup - For painting in the black areas
  • Black eyeliner pencil - For drawing with before painting
  • Light grey eye shadow - For shadows
  • Black mascara - For your eyelashes of course
  • Black liquid eyeliner (but pencil would work too) - For drawing your teeth

  • Triangle (pyramid?) makeup sponge - For applying the white cream makeup
  • Angled eye shadow brush - For applying the black cream makeup precisely. Mine is ELF brand from Target and was $1 and works great for this and blending eyeshadow
  • Rounded eye shadow brush - For shading with the eyeshadow. It makes blending easier
  • Paper towel or washcloth - For cleaning off brush and pencil quickly while working
  • Eyeliner pencil sharpener - You will need this sharpen your eyeliner pencil while working on the details

(I didn't use these because I wasn't sure if I would be able to blend well after setting)
  • White baby powder - For setting the white cream makeup
  • Black eye shadow - For setting the black cream makeup


Crop of just the skull for reference in the first set of steps

1) You will be using the eyeliner pencil for the next few steps. You will need to resharpen your pencil when it gets dull...and it will. You will also have to gently clean it off, as it will change color after having contact with the white make up.

2) Using the black eyeliner pencil, draw around your orbital bone (eye socket). Go above your eyebrows, because the black cream makeup covers your eyebrows better than the white. If you mess up, wipe off the error. You want to make sure you get this part right, because it's hard to correct after applying the black cream make-up...more on that in another step...

3) Using the black eyeliner pencil draw around your nose. You will follow around the bottom and sides of your nose. Make sure the top doesn't connect to the eyes. Again, if you make a mistake, this is the time to correct it.

4) Using the white cream make-up and the triangle sponge, to apply the white areas evenly. Blend around your hair line and jaw line.
OPTIONAL: Using a triangle sponge, powder puff or a large brush and white baby powder, apply the baby powder to set your white makeup. Put extra under the eye, nose and mouth will brush this off later.

5) Using the angle brush, fill in the black areas. Paint slow and careful around the outline. For the nose, you will paint under your nose too.
OPTIONAL: Using black loose or pressed eyeshadow and a small brush, apply the eyeshadow to your black make-up to set it. Some might fall onto your white make up. If you have put the extra white powder, you should be able to easily dust off the fallen black shadow with a clean makeup brush.

Side angle view for jaw, cheek and temple references for the next set of steps.
You can also see my bloody flower well too. I made it for this event...and for the heck of it.

6) Now for the jaw line. Suck in your cheeks like you are making a fish face. This is so your cheek and jaw bones show better. Using the black eye liner pencil, carefully draw along the bottom of your cheek bone to where your teeth are. Do this on both sides of your face.

7) Suck in your cheeks again. Using the eye liner pencil, draw your jaw bone, as I have done mine stopping where your teeth are. Do this on both sides of your face.

8) Using the eyeliner pencil, connect the two open lines to form a triangle (of sorts). Do this on both sides of your face.

9) Using the angle brush and the black cream makeup, carefully fill in the triangles.
OPTIONAL: If you want to set this area, put some extra white powder under the black triangles. Using black loose or pressed eyeshadow and a small brush, apply the eyeshadow to your black make-up to set it. Some might fall onto your white make up. If you have put the extra white powder, you should be able to easily dust off the fallen black shadow with a clean makeup brush.

10) Using the angle brush and the grey eye shadow, carefully draw the temple indentation by the eye socket and at the top of your cheek bone. You can feel this area with your fingers. Follow the shape of the indentation. Do this on both sides of your face.

11) Using the round eye shadow brush, blend the grey eye shadow line towards your hair line. I used a little bit more grey eye shadow to help define the shadow.

12) Using the round brush and grey eye shadow, create a small shadow where the cheekbone and jaw bone connect. Blend it well into the jaw bone area and soften the eye liner pencil line.

Close of mouth/teeth for the next set of steps.

13) Now we are ready for the teeth! Make sure your mouth is evenly covered with the white cream makeup. Use the triangle make up sponge to apply more if needed. I left this part for last.

14) Using the black eye liner pencil, draw a light line from the corners of your mouth to the jaw opening triangle. Once you get it the way you want, either define it with the black eye liner pencil or use black liquid eyeliner.

15) Now for the hard part, drawing the teeth. Either with the eye liner pencil or liquid eye liner (which ever you are more comfortable with), start in the middle of your mouth (top or bottom) and draw U shapes for your teeth. I made mine 14 total on the top and 14 total on the bottom...though I think there are 16 bottom teeth in real life. I wanted it to look even. If you use the liquid eye liner, you need to let it dry before moving to the next step. I used liquid eyeliner and it held up very well through eating and drinking at the wedding.

16) With the round brush and the grey eye shadow, lightly place eye shadow under and below the teeth. Blend it well into the white. This is to create a shadow and depth for the teeth indentions.

You are done with the skull! 

The next part is optional and looks great if your neck and part of your chest is showing like mine. You will create a spinal column along your neck and part of your chest. I did this so the bones lined up with the ribcage corset I wore.


1) Using the triangle sponge and white cream makeup, to paint a long rectangle from under your chin (connecting to the skull paint) to slightly below your shirt neckline. Blend the bottom of the rectangle into your skin. I was already dressed when I did my makeup, so this was easy to do.

2) Using the triangle sponge (or the angle brush) and white cream makeup, every few inches on both sides of the long rectangle, make small half circle. These represent the side bumps of your vertebrae. I made 4 sets.

3) Using the angle brush and black cream make up, outline the white lines and bumps.

4) Using the angle brush and black cream makeup, draw straight horizontal lines in between each set of bumps. This represents the space between each vertebrae bone on your spinal column.

I think mine looks a bit cartoony, but my husband really liked how it looked with the rest of my costume. I do too.


My "zombie survivor" husband and me.

Full costume

You can see my ribcage corset that I made. I used chalk (to draw the design), white acrylic paint, a small paint brush, a medium paint brush and lots of patience to make it on an existing black satin corset. This took days, but it was worth it.
In the background is my friend Fiona with her white satin dress that she transformed in a zombie bridesmaid dress with tearing, fake blood and burning.

If you are one of those people that prefers to watch a video tutorial vs. read about it, here is the tutorial I watched as inspiration to do this look.


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