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Meet your maker: 'Westworld' make-up artist shows his body of work




Artist Christien Tinsley tries out different shades of blood. His favorite? Red Drum by PTM.
Artist Christien Tinsley tries out different shades of blood. His favorite? Red Drum by PTM.
Christien Tinsley

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The ambitious HBO series "Westworld" returned last Sunday to much fanfare. The Robo-Western is about a futuristic wild west theme park where humans can indulge their every whim with the robot hosts there. 

"We have the wood chopper from 'Westworld.' Some body parts on the table are for 'Santa Clarita Diet.' We also have a burnt body for the show 'Scandal,'" says Christien Tinsley, CEO of Tinsley Studio, a special effects makeup studio in Burbank. He and his team worked on season 1 of 'Westworld,' and received an Emmy for their make-up artistry. 

A Martinez holds a decapitated prosthetic head.
A Martinez holds a decapitated prosthetic head.
Beidi Zhang

Tinsley's specialties include prosthetics, fake blood, wigs and tattoos -- just like the abused, lifelike robot parts created by the engineers of "Westworld." Nowadays, the body parts we see in most films are made of silicon. "When I started out in this business, silicon wasn't widely used," says Tinsley. "The silicon-gel technology was primarily used in the medical field for prosthesis, for people with missing noses and ears." 

Brad Pitt's
Brad Pitt's "body double" used in the movie "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
Beidi Zhang

Tinsley also created Aquaman's tattoo suit for "Justice League" and the upcoming Aquaman origin movie. Unlike the temporary tattoos found in dollar stores, these impressions don't wash off or rub off easily. 

Fake blood has also come a long way since Alfred Hitchcock employed chocolate syrup in his movie "Psycho." The shade and texture of blood can vary widely, depending on the vision of the director. "Before we start shooting, I will request a blood test," says Tinsley. "I will put 20 different types of blood on a real person's body. we will film it and see which one photographs the best."

Christien Tinsley testing out different shades of blood on his hand.
Christien Tinsley testing out different shades of blood on his hand.
Beidi Zhang

"I would still use chocolate syrup if we were doing a black and white movie. It has the right viscosity, the right density of color," says Tinsley. "It doesn't matter if it's red. We just need the right effect for the audience. "