If you want to see some transformational teeth, Jordan Patton suggests any number of the mutation scenes in John Carpenter’s The Thing.
“The majority of those creatures just had such interesting anatomy choices, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Another great one is the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London! There were so many different dentures used through each stage of the transformation each one getting more and more intense.”Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
If Patton sounds like he’s got insight on the subject, it’s not just because those Rick Baker creations are among his favorite dentition-related scenes in film. The artist dedicates his talents as a Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, just outside of Pittstburgh, Pennsylvania.
Realism is vital in these projects, says Patton, who in 2018 was featured on SYFY’s FaceOff, a competition/elimination series in which special effects make-up artists participate in elaborate challenges for a grand prize and the honor of being Hollywood’s next great effects artist.
“Some of the biggest challenges to achieving a realistic look comes from subtle detailing that most wouldn’t think to pay attention to. If you want to achieve realism, you have to replicate every little detail to create the illusion of life inside your piece, down to broken capillaries, veining, pores, body hair, gloss finish versus matte finish.”Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
The freelance sculptor, mask maker, and special effects artist explains some of the curriculum at the school. Before students begin working on major projects, they learn the fundamentals of anatomy.
“We start with a basic human anatomy class. We also stress the importance of anatomy in all of our base sculpture courses, as well as all of our prosthetic makeup classes, because anatomical knowledge is one of the main keys to being able to create a believable makeup.”
Like Patton, graduates of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center move on to successful careers, some where the teeth aren’t designed to, well, terrify. Like dental labs.
“Our first introduction to dental labs as a viable employment option for special makeup effects graduates occurred when many years ago one of our graduates obtained a job in a local dental lab. This graduate realized that the skills he learned at DEC could be applied in a different industry and he was very excited to share that revelation with the Career Services office. By engaging with current students via Mock Interviews and classroom presentations, we were able to present a different career path option to upcoming graduates.”Dana Melvin, Career Services Department at Douglas Education Center
“In addition to dental labs, our graduates move on to develop successful careers in the film industry, theaters, special effects and prop-making shops, medical prosthetics labs, theme parks, set design, toy making, professional makeup artistry, and much more.
Amanda Smith, a graduate of Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor works today as a CAD CAM Production Manager at a dental lab in Pittsburgh. Seven years ago, she was hired for her artistic ability. Here she explains her role.
Back at the school, Patton shares some of the techniques that help students advance in their fields.
“Here we teach a digital sculpting program called Z-Brush that gives the students an introduction into the 3D modeling world and how to utilize those tools, as well as the knowledge of how to work with different file types. Both will be helpful tools to utilize with the ever-advancing world of dental prosthetics.”
He also explains the evolution in the field, using prosthetic dentures as an example.
“While some prefer to stick with the techniques of sculpting in clay on a stone positive and making molds of that, others might be more inclined to go a more digital route by utilizing 3D modeling programs, as well as 3D printing.”Jordan Patton, Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center
Haven’t got your fill of special effects as related to dentistry yet? See a few more examples of student creations at Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program Instructor at Douglas Education Center, shown below.
About Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program at Douglas Education Center: https://www.dec.edu/
About Jordan Patton: https://twitter.com/jpattonfx