Hi everyone! My name’s Karlee Morse and I’m an award-winning, special effects (FX!) make-up artist with a flair for prosthetic design and costuming and pushing the limits to achieve fantasy-esque creatures and looks. I’ve done a lot of gory projects and recently designed the prosthetics for the film “Becky,” which is usually exciting to fans of gore. Other favorite spooky projects include assisting on the “What We Do in the Shadows” TV series and designing prosthetics on the “Baroness von Sketch Show.” I’ve also worked on music videos, video games, and theater and I’m a part-time professor teaching Advanced Special Effects Makeup, Prosthetics and Props.

I adore Halloween, as the spookiest season of all, with its costume and design, horror scenes and spooky artistry. And I can help people if they have make-up questions.

I am so excited about my latest project! I was recently invited to create [collectible-grade character busts for General Mills of their ever-nostalgic Monster Cereal characters that date back to the early 70’s – Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry. Watch this awesome Behind-the-Scenes video of the process, in action.

General Mills is surprising three lucky fans that will be randomly selected to win these unique one-of-a-kind monsters busts this week. Enter here, should you be interested!

Check out my Instagram page and my IMDb for some of my best work!


Happy Halloween Reddit!

Edit: I love what I do because every project/day is vastly different - including today!!! My first time using r/IAmA!!! I get to meet and work with amazing people, go to cool places, and creatively problem-solve to build various creatures, make-up fx, and props.
Thanks so much for all of the amazing questions on this r/IAmA session. I have so much fun doing what I do, and I think it’s very cool that you’re interested in my work!!
Please continue to share your questions. I’ll answer more if I can. Until next time -- Bye!

Comments: 140 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

scorpyo72116 karma

Hiya, Karlee!
A long time ago, I might have gone the direction of fx artist. I work haunted houses, indie zombie productions, and there's an installation at the MoPop in Seattle with my work on it (and me!).

What was your path to the fx industry and what has your favorite project been so far?

KarleeMorseFX98 karma

What was your path to the fx industry and what has your favorite project been so far?

Cool!!! Would love to see your work!!!
I used to work haunts, indie zombie productions, too, so that’s a good start on this path, I think. Some of my first jobs revolved around the Halloween season (haunts, doing make-up for friends and family, doing my *own* make-up), and from there, I just started to do more and more and more.. I think the more you put yourself out there (and it comes naturally when you love what you do!), the more opportunities present themselves. I’m just a huge keener and I love this stuff. I love shadowing under other artists and learning new techniques, it’s just. So. much. fun.
My favourite job ever was designing prosthetics for Baroness von Sketch Show (season 5 is airing now!!!! And it’s GOOOOOOD), I had a lot of fun with that.

Austin448869 karma

Do you, or anyone in your industry, seek people/models with irregular facial features to sculpt off of for a unique? I have a short, upturned nose that I always felt would make for a good wolfman or something like that, providing the right artist worked on me as a canvass.

KarleeMorseFX105 karma

Yes!!!! 10000%. That’s really cool!
There are many actors who build a career as creature performers based on their unique facial features and figures (Doug Jones!!!! Troy James!!!).
I have a friend with great bone-structure, I turned him into a skeleton once for fun. I just had to. :-)
I also find myself looking at strangers sometimes thinking, “wow, you have a great face for prosthetics!!!”, which may come off wrong, so I keep that to myself!!!

Chayden15362 karma

What was your favorite set and costume to create?

KarleeMorseFX153 karma

set-wise - I don't usually get to build them. Long ago, I used to install Dinosaurs for museum displays, and that was a unique challenge.

costume - I had the chance to work on the werewolf suits at Paul Jones FX for What We Do in the Shadows season 1 and it was sooooo fun!! The actors were on stilts and we custom built the suits to fit them.

WendyHWeiss-MA-RD57 karma

Karlee - Is there anything fun I can make at home for an easy Halloween costume this year?

KarleeMorseFX111 karma

Here’s a super easy recipe for homemade blood: For 1L of corn syrup, add 1/2 cup of cocoa, 2 tablespoons of coffee whitener, and food colouring for the blood colour. Use red with a teeeenie tiny bit of blue/yellow to get a more realistic blood colour. Splatter on a face mask or create a fun photo opp if you’re staying in for Halloween!

RedDwarfBee45 karma

Hi Karlee, Thanks for the AMA. There is a video that has existed on the Internet since 2011 and it allegedly shows an extraterrestrial alien. Do you have any insight into how the alien was created, if it is in fact a hoax? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsQCXN4o4Ps. Which film technique would be most likely, in your honest opinion?

It is from this film series with two other videos with their own related video content and style. https://www.youtube.com/user/ivan0135If you have the time, how much do you think it would have cost to make the entire film series? Best wishes and thank you.

KarleeMorseFX12 karma


ok, what am I looking at? ....

hmmmm... it looks like it could've been made as a stop motion puppet? more likely so than someone in full costume/make-up. it reminds me a lot of Ray Harryhausen creatures. Even the way it's rendered in black and white is reminiscent of this work. The way it moves is very stop-motion-like, and they've rendered the videos with a grainy overlay, so that's a way to blend the movement and make it more life-like.
or it could be real, who knows? I can't say. it's well-executed and entertaining either way. :-)

Cost-wise I don't think it would be terribly expensive to make a series like this? The alien figure itself might be super tiny, and it could be filmed quite easily in a small space (by one person, even!)

MyFreshTakeIsTaken29 karma

If you could do a collectible grade project for... anything -- movie, videogame, dentist office -- what would be your wave-a-magic-wand-and-it-happens project?

KarleeMorseFX67 karma

If you could do a collectible grade project for... anything -- movie, videogame, dentist office -- what would be your wave a magic wand and it happens project?

I think I would love to create some more creatures - I’ve been really wanting to sculpt a Cthulhu lately? Maybe because of the Halloween season.
I also would love to re-envision some cartoon characters realistically. Would love to sculpt and fabricate the Bob’s Burgers cast.

snakeplizzken28 karma

Who's your favorite old school effects artist and why is it Tom Savini?

KarleeMorseFX65 karma

it's RICK BAKER 100%. An American Werewolf in London has my favourite practical fx ever, ever, ever.

Killurmonkey27 karma

What's the most famous puppet you've ever met?

KarleeMorseFX66 karma

Molly from the Big Comfy Couch.
I’ve also ‘met’ some of the stop-motion puppets from the original Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer film and those were coooooooooool.

Gold_Ultima23 karma

Like most things artistic, I assume you've gotten better over time. Is there anything from your old work you look at now and just kinda cringe at because you can see all the ways you could have done it better, or something you had to rush so you were unhappy with the final product?

KarleeMorseFX30 karma


I look at some of my older make-ups and cringe - whyyyy did I add so much blood? It’s a nice way to humble youself by looking back at your early work.

In terms of rushing/being unhappy with the final product.. I think as an artist I’m never fully 100%, there’s always something I might want to change/update. Often times with film/tv work, you’re on a very tight schedule, so you have to work quickly to produce a certain fx/make-up/prop with very little turn-around time (so many sleepless nights, oh my goodness).. So there’s always the conversation/thought of, how is this going to be seen? How are they shooting this? Should I really lose my mind trying to perfect this or am I going to bring it to set and they’re just going to cover it in blood?
^ these are things I stress about. I always want to do the best work possible, but sometimes there are restrictions. You have to pick your battles!!!

tordfan79719 karma

Will you do Fruit Brute or Fruity Yummy Mummy eventually?

KarleeMorseFX12 karma

I SURE HOPE SO. I love those classic Monsters characters, too. We never know what they’ll decide for future fun and giveaways. I guess they like to keep the fans guessing!

theundercoverpapist16 karma

When you have to put several hours of work in to get an actor made-up for their role, how do they take it? Have you ever had someone breakdown, crying or panic attack, while you applied the make-up?

KarleeMorseFX37 karma

Good question!!! Most actors are very excited about it. I think the trick is to create a fun, calming environment for them if they’re going to be in the make-up chair for that long.
I did a make-up recently (pregnant demon) and it was a 7 hour process. She was absolutely amazing. We took frequent breaks, made sure she was comfortable (snacks + coffee + phone breaks), and we actually had a really fun time!!
I have had instances where an actor has felt uncomfortable, claustrophobic, WAY TOO STICKY, etc. and at that time, it’s important to ensure that their comfort is priority #1. As the make-up artist (prosthetics, especially), you’re often the actor’s contact between them and production/the director. I’ve had to advocate for uncomfortable actors before to ensure that they were ok!!

theundercoverpapist20 karma

Wow. Good for you. I remember reading about Jim Carrey's extreme discomfort with the Grinch make-up and prosthetics, so I figured I'd ask.

People like to say things like, "They're making millions of dollars so they have no right to complain about anything," but they don't realize how incredibly hard film casts and crews work to make the movies and shows we watch.

It's nice to hear that you make an effort to improve the experience for them.

KarleeMorseFX17 karma

it's a team effort in every aspect of filmmaking - as an fx make-up artist, I'm working collaboratively with my actor. I want them to really feel like the character, the best compliment is that an actor doesn't feel like they're wearing any make-up at all (which is difficult when you're... a pregnant demon, sitting through 7 hours of make-up) and they're free to just do their thing. If the actor is feeling it, they work through their scenes quicker, the day moves along more smoothly, etc. etc. etc.

It's a two-way street, though, and most actors are aware of this and really lovely, too. :-)

TheProdigalMaverick15 karma

What's something you've always wanted to do, but have yet to be given an opportunity to do it?

(Both related to film work, and then also general life experience)

KarleeMorseFX21 karma

I really, really want to design a werewolf make-up** and full transformation. (Or a creature transformation in general!!!)
Life-wise… I’d just like to TRAVEL (anywhere, please) - have been feeling the travel bug recently (as I imagine a lot of people have!!)
** I’ve done werewolves before, specifically for Odd Squad, a kid’s show. (Can you imagine how patient a kid would have to be to sit through that make-up?), but I’d like to design my own full-on, very scary type. :-)

BoysenberryDeer15 karma

Hello Karlee!

First of all, your work is really amazing. Thank you for all the incredible inspiration!!

And secondly, would you have any advice for a student who is going into the world of SFX makeup? I’m in my sophomore year of film school, and I’ve begun my concentration into makeup and prosthetics. I about love it, but it can be super overwhelming!

KarleeMorseFX20 karma

Thank you for saying so, that’s really kind.
It is a little overwhelming (even now!!) - it’s a very involved career. Expect long days, and verrrryyyyy early mornings (I’m a morning person, it helps tremendously).
In my experience, other artists are very, very approachable, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re all doing this because it’s a fun career, we love this stuff. :-)
Also, remember you never know where your next job will come from and be NICE - I teach at a college, and that’s my biggest piece of advice. You spend such long days working very closely with others, you need to be able to work together and have fun. I’d rather hire/work with someone who is NICE vs. someone who is talented. You can teach someone a craft, but you can’t teach them manners/professionalism.

UsernamesAreRuthless13 karma

Did you get to keep the smaller busts? Do you make busts for yourself when you're inspired?

KarleeMorseFX16 karma

I have the molds for the smaller busts…. :-)
(so I could make myself a small army)
Hah, I would love to if I have the time or if inspiration strikes! I think in my downtime, I try to do different things to recharge (my other creative hobby is embroidery - I like to do horror scenes and characters in embroidery)

cinemachick3 karma

Ooh, an embroiderer! Do you do prefer small subjects or full coverage? Ever tried cross-stitch? Favorite project?

KarleeMorseFX2 karma

haha! it became my quarantine hobby, I love it. so far, I've done small subjects, but I have an idea for a larger, full coverage piece - with different felts and other materials ahhh!!! I love textile art so much, I really want to do more of it.

I actually started doing cross-stitch first and I found it too difficult (too structured, maybe?), then I went to embroidery. I think having a pattern to follow actually stresses me out, oddly enough haha

I did an Alien piece of Ripley and Jonesy, that's been my favourite one. It was fun to figure out how to render her hair. :-) I have pictures posted on my instagram if you're interested (@kombatbaby !!)

Chonky_Boi_5638 karma

What material would you recommend for making a fake amputated arm for a proposal?

KarleeMorseFX13 karma

hahaha Loooove that idea!!!

Smooth-on does a cool life-casting starter kit (if you're trying to make a specific amputated arm, I mean) - and they have awesome how-to videos on their site. I would cast it up in some kind of silicone for a fleshy, realistic feeling. Dragon Skin FX Pro fom smooth-on would be easy to use!!

HavenHorror8 karma

Which of the Cereal Monsters are your favorite?

KarleeMorseFX8 karma

Boo Berry and Fruit Brute (because he reminds me of my dog - that’s.. actually a really good Halloween costume idea for him) - though the Frankenberry bust is my favourite one. I think all of the Monster Cereal characters are so darn cute, though.
Seeing all of the Monsters signifies that Halloween is right around the corner. I think it’s that specific nostalgia factor that fans really love about them! I think it’s especially cool that the brand has been around for so long - they’ll actually turn 50 next year!
(psssst. Did you enter the contest?)

HavenHorror8 karma

Is there another monster or franchise you’d like to do similar busts for?

KarleeMorseFX11 karma

I had SOOOooo much fun retaining the fun, cartoonish style when creating these Count Chocula, Boo-Berry and Frankenberry busts (with an added bit of spookiness). I can’t wait to see who takes them home at the end of the contest. :-)
It would be REALLY cool to do some Kaijuu monster sculpts in a similar style. I think I’d have a lot of fun with that.

NeverEnufWTF6 karma

I'm a big fan of Ubisoft's Far Cry series, and I'm curious what the intersection of makeup and rendering comprises in the video game industry (question mark included to beat the bots, but that's really an open-ended statement asking for further exposition, because I'm a language nerd)?

KarleeMorseFX8 karma

When working on video game projects, I do make-up for facial capture, specifically for their cinematic shoots - so I... put dots on actor's faces.
The have certain facial marker sets that correspond with their facial capturing software. That's how they do amazing life-like facial animations, and get accurate representations of the actor's real-life performances in motion capture.

some markers are painted on, some are glued on with prosthetic adhesive, depending on the software they're using.

(Far Cry 5 was the most fun, for the record)

heytherecatlady3 karma

Hi Karlee! I think special FX makeup is so fascinating (I'm not artistic at all but I love seeing others' creativity).

Have you ever wanted to be on Face Off? Why or why not? As a fan of the show I am curious what your thoughts are about it.

KarleeMorseFX2 karma


Heck no!!! I like to do my work in private, so I can mess up on my own time. :-) I don't particularly like being in front of the camera (but I gave it my best shot for these General Mills behind the scenes videos!!)

I've watched some of it. The artists coming from that show are awesome, though. The first season was especially cool - I loved the challenge when they had to make up themselves in prosthetics/character make-up to trick a loved one into thinking they were someone else!! wanted to see more of that.

I will say that Face Off has created a weird expectation of timelines. I've had productions contact me with requests, and when I give them the timeline, their response: "Yeah, but on FACE OFF they made that in 3 days, so..." to which I say: That's a reality show, my dude.

lonepinemall881 karma


How do you prep the skin before doing face painting or prosthetics? Specific primers? Clean face? Moisturizer?

KarleeMorseFX3 karma

Hi good question!!

I prep the skin by cleaning it first, my favourite thing to use is Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion - a clean face is better for adhesion. I don't use moisturizers or regular primers before something is applied. If you're working on someone with super sensitive skin, Telesis Top Guard is a good product to put onto the skin first (will make for easier removal too!!!), BUT I've had models react negatively to this, so I do a spot test on their arm first. Skincare after the make-up is off is important - hot towels and moisturizer are goooooood. :-)

lonepinemall881 karma


KarleeMorseFX1 karma

no, thank YOU!!!
for the great question. I love talking products. :-)

blitz6721 karma

How much networking would you say was involved in finding a solid position? This is a field I've been thinking about going into for a very long time, also been contemplating doing the Tom savini School of SFX, but I worry about putting in a lot of effort into the work and not putting enough effort into the networking necessary to land a job which I'm not as good at. Super appreciate any response.

KarleeMorseFX3 karma

this job is all networking (and this goes back to my comment about being NICE it's so important to just be NICE TO WORK WITH!!!!). Filmmaking in general is about working together/human connections, I think (that's why I like it so much, I'm a people person haha)

another fx artist once said to me, "If you can see yourself doing anything else, you shouldn't be doing this.", which.. I guess I understand when I think about the obsession of working in this career path - it's very very demanding - but I don't think that should discourage you, either.

TA_Dreamin1 karma

What is the most subtle project you have worked on? Like aging an actor slightly. Something that would be unrecognizable to a layman.

KarleeMorseFX3 karma

I recently designed a dental appliance for an actor - she was playing a set of twins, and the goal was to make the two characters different in a small way. I created a set of teeth that were a bit crooked, slightly off from the actor's original.

It was a cool challenge because they had to be subtle and small (unlike something more obvious, like creature teeth) so that they wouldn't affect the actor's performance. It worked well, I was stoked! :-)

TA_Dreamin2 karma

Thats pretty cool! I do vfx myself and my favorite things to so are the tiny subtle changes that no one would ever notice.

KarleeMorseFX1 karma

ah, cool!! yeah!! that's similar to make-up.

do you ever do fix-ups on fx make-ups? prosthetic edges, recolouring, etc.

Kelestofkels1 karma

Have you ever created a project that you accidentally spooked yourself with?

KarleeMorseFX2 karma

Not spooked, but definitely grossed out.
I did a film earlier this year called Anything for Jackson, and there's a particular character who loses her teeth. I made a dental appliance with teeth that could be removed and it was.. really, really gross. The first time I saw the actor in full hair, make-up, costume, with this dental appliance in, I was really upset by it, haha
I don't know if it's because or recurring dreams where my teeth fall out, though. that's a specific phobia, I think, ha. It was fun to do, regardless. Other people on-set were grossed out too, so.. mission accomplished. :-)