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Makeup Artists Bring Characters To Life At San Diego Comic-Con

Reported by Katie Schoolov

Photo caption: A before and after shot of actor and model Katie Kotulak, July 20, 2016.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

A before and after shot of actor and model Katie Kotulak, July 20, 2016.

Whether it's a zombie, a superhero or a villain, creating a realistic fictional character takes a village.

Artists at the Cinema Makeup School booth at San Diego’s Comic-Con give fans a little taste of how they pull characters from comic book pages.

At one booth at San Diego’s Comic-Con, fans can watch as characters take form. Using makeup and prosthetic molds, artists from Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles offer fans a little taste of how they pull characters from comic book pages and bring them to life.

Photo by DC Comics

DC Comics' Bizarro.

Makeup artist Madison Burger graduated from Cinema Makeup School earlier this year. Now, for three days of Comic-Con, she's transforming actor Katie Kotulak into a gender-bending Bizarro.

“Bizarro is a superman villain. He was cloned and in the cloning process kind of got messed up so he ends up being basically the bad version of Superman,” Burger explained.

She moved to California eight months ago to pursue a career as a makeup artist. Burger says Comic-Con is her first big gig, and creating Bizarro took a lot of effort — maybe more than a thousand hours of work.

"This is pretty big for me to do," Burger said. "I'm super excited."

First, she brainstormed the idea of how to represent the character. Once Kotulak was signed on as her model, Burger took a cast of her face and shoulders. Then, she worked with a team of about seven artists to sculpt molds for the upper body, head, face and hands. After making foam prosthetics from the molds, they painted each piece individually. Finally, they fabricated a special ripped and burned Superman costume and created a hair piece from brushed-out yarn.

The final product fans will see at the convention takes months of hard work.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Madison Burger applies makeup to Katie Kotulak at Comic-Con International, July 20, 2016.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Madison Burger applies makeup to Katie Kotulak at Comic-Con International, July 20, 2016.

“Months really go into something like this, long time, a lot of sleepless nights,” Burger said. “It was probably three months from start to now.”

At booth 4429, Burger put the prosthetic face onto Kotulak's face, making her instantly unrecognizable.

"It feels like I’m getting extra skin on the sides of my face," Kotulak said. "Like the opposite of when a reptile sheds its skin."

Kotulak spent about seven hours in the makeup chair on Wednesday. Fifteen minutes before the exhibit hall closed, Burger walked Kotulak — now only known as Bizarro — around the hall as excited fans snapped photos.

“I’m pretty happy with it, for our first test makeup," Burger said. "We apply it two more times this week, and each time it will be quicker, faster, easier, better."

Burger hopes all the hard work will pay off, in the form of a job. She has a degree in illustration with a minor in painting, but was having trouble finding steady work when she saw SyFy's reality show "Face Off."

"I was like, man, that is really cool. I love all of this, and it's still very hands-on. Nowadays a lot of art is computerized. This is hands-on from start to finish," Burger said.

Her dream job would be doing cinematic makeup in the style of "The Walking Dead" or "Pirates of the Caribbean".

Burger will transform Kotulak into Bizarro again on Friday and Saturday at Cinema Makeup School’s booth, 4429, at Comic-Con. Other artists will be there as well, including some from "Face Off."

Reported by Katie Schoolov

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