Best Special Effects Makeup School

Best Special Effects Makeup School featured photo

If you’re thinking of going to a special effects makeup school, make sure you stop to consider these first: programs and classes, duration, tuition, and location. I looked for the best at the moment. I found my favorites and I have them all listed below. If you want to find out what made the cut according to these factors, go ahead and read along now!

Special effects makeup has always fascinated me. I always found myself drawn to movies or shows where it makes use of such effects. As a kid, it fascinated me visually but now as an adult, I appreciate the work that goes behind more. I was fortunate enough to test my hand on special effects makeup at a theater class I took for one semester. It gave me a more amusing perspective at the art.

With so many movies that incorporate special effects makeup into their hair and costume choices, I can see why it’s a field many choose to go into. Not only do you bring characters to life but also get your creative juices going.

If you want to hone your special effects makeup skills, I have the best schools you can enroll in below!

Special Effects Makeup Schools 101

Is it worth going to?

Getting yourself to a special effects makeup class or school is an important step in honing your skills and techniques. Sure, you can learn these things through apprenticeships or by working in movie and TV productions alone. But enrolling in a special effects makeup class will make sure you have all the fundamentals and even advanced techniques to stand out from the rest. If you want to make it as a special effects makeup artist, you might want to consider formal training. And considering that instructors in these programs are professionals and well-known in the field, you are sure to get hands-on experience.

Where can I work as a special effects makeup artist?

Special effects makeup artists can work in a variety of fields. First, there’s film and television. From horror to fantasy, these would need your specialty in special effects makeup. Theater also needs artists who can lend their talent and creativity to bring characters to life on stage.

A special effects makeup class, program, por school will teach you about anything makeup – from basics to advanced to even lab techniques. This will open doors of opportunities for you, career-wise.

Our Top Picks for the best Special Effects Makeup Schools

School NameAddressWebsite
Our PickCinema Makeup School3780 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 202,
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Learn More
Runner-UpMake-Up Designory (MUD)Los Angeles Campus: 129 S. San Fernando Blvd.Burbank,
CA 91502New York Campus: 65 Broadway, 15th floorNew York, NY 10006
Learn More
Best Short ClassesNew York Academy of Makeup900 Wheeler RoadHauppauge, NY 11788Learn More
The Art of Makeup School11830 Kerr Pkwy #211 Lake Oswego,
Oregon 97035
Learn More
Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program130 Seventh Street Monessen, PA 15062Learn More

The Best Special Effects Makeup Schools

1. Cinema Makeup School – Our Pick!

Cinema Makeup School

Our number one pick for the best special effects makeup school is the Cinema Makeup School! Located in Los Angeles, it’s Hollywood’s top professional makeup school. It offers students 3 diploma programs: Master Makeup, High Fashion Photographic, and Creature Concept; and 2 diploma tracks: Complete and FX Tracks. It boasts of its pool of faculty and instructors, including award-winning and nominated professionals in the field.

The Complete Track provides a comprehensive makeup education and includes all classes offered. This includes Digital FX, Character Makeup, Prosthetic Makeup, Special Effects Makeup, and Creature Maquette Sculpture classes. The FX track puts focus on advanced classes and techniques for any aspiring special effects makeup artist. The Master Makeup Program starts from basic makeup techniques and ends with Special Makeup Effects. The Creature Concept Design Program touches on both Digital FX Makeup, Creature Maquette. Whichever track or program you choose, you are sure to get your hands busy with special effects makeup.

Tuition fees depend on the track or program:

  • Complete Track –  $36,240
  • FX Track – $32,930
  • Master Makeup Program – $17,340
  • High Fashion Photographic Makeup Program – $6,420
  • Creature Concept Design Program – $3,085

The school also offers different types of scholarships and financial help to eligible students.

2. Make-Up Designory (MUD) – Runner-Up!

Make-Up Designory (MUD)

Coming to a close second of our top special effects makeup schools is the Make-Up Designory ! It has one campus each in Los Angeles and New York. It boasts of its pool of instructors who draw at least five years worth of experience in the field. They offer both 3-6 weeks long individual courses on specific areas and 12-24 weeks long programs for comprehensive training.

It currently offers 4 programs: Fashion Make-Up , Film and Television Makeup , Multimedia Make-Up, and Master Make-Up Artistry. Film and Television Make-Up, Multimedia Make-Up, and Master Make-Up Artistry programs touch on Character Make-Up Artistry courses on top of the basics. These courses emphasize on the elements and techniques of prosthetic application and special makeup effects. The programs also include hairstyling classes that can help you bring more life to your characters. The Master Make-Up Artistry Program prepares students to work in a special effects makeup lab setting.

Different programs have varying duration of classes:

  • Fashion Make-Up Artistry Program – 392 hours over 12 weeks
  • Film and Television Make-Up Artistry Program – 420-hours over 12 weeks
  • Multimedia Make-Up Artistry Program – 602 hours over 18 weeks
  • Master Make-Up Artistry Program – 812 hours over 24 weeks

They also offer scholarships, fucning, and loans eligible students can apply for. 

3. New York Academy of Makeup – Best Short Classes!

New York Academy of Makeup

If what you prefer are short courses, you might want to check out the New York Academy of Makeup! It prides itself as Long Island’s first makeup academy specializing in beauty makeup and custom special effects and prosthetics. It makes sure that students enjoy instructions from high-profile industry professionals. The classes are small and intimate for effective individual attention.

It currently offers 5 programs with varying hours of completion: Pro Makeup Artistry 1, Pro Makeup Artistry  2, Master Beauty, Pro FX, and Advanced Pro FX. The FX programs will help students develop skills and techniques in the field of special effects makeup – from 2D effects to multi-piece prosthetics. The Pro FX program is a prerequisite to the Advanced Pro FX program. Both programs will teach you and get your hands on character development, life casting, sculpting, molding, bruises, cuts, and burns among many others.

All the programs offered are short and quick compared to other institutions:

  • Pro Makeup Artistry  1 – 64 hours
  • Pro Makeup Artistry 2 – 64 hours
  • Master Beauty – 12 hours
  • Pro FX – 64 hours
  • Advanced Pro FX – 64 hours

Graduates have access to the Career Assistance program which offers access to career advice, networking opportunities, and career-placement help.

4. The Art of Makeup School

The Art of Makeup School

Our next pick for the best school for special effects makeup is Oregon’s The Art of Makeup School! All classes and courses are spearheaded by industry professionals. Classes are also kept small and intimate for sure individualized attention. The school offers 4 certificate programs: Multimedia Master Program, Makeup Artistry Essentials, Character and Special FX Makeup, and Fashion Makeup Artistry. Classes are also available for individual enrollment.

The Character and Special FX Makeup program is the go-to for anyone aspiring to be a special effects makeup professional. Top Hollywood special effects artists teach the classes in the program. It mainly focuses on 3D makeup skills and techniques needed for TV, film, commercials, photos, and theater. This helps students develop necessary and advanced skills in character makeup, creative transformation, and appliance fabrication and techniques. The program comprises 10 courses and is a combination of lectures, demos, applications, and photoshoots. Students are also given the chance to practice on a variety of skin types and colors by alternating practicing on each other.

The photography studios in the classrooms allow students to document what they worked on and at the same time build up their portfolio. The school also offers financing options for those who need help in the matter.

5. Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program

Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program

And our last favorite special effects makeup school is Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program! This is a special effects makeup program being held at the Douglas Education Center in Pennsylvania. Started by Tom Savini, known as the Godfather of Gore and is a well-known special effects makeup artist, students are sure to learn a range of skills in special effects makeup. This includes skills in sculpting, molding, prosthetic, props, and more. With smaller-sized classes, this gives students personalized and individualized attention.

By enrolling in the program, students have the opportunity to design and create film-quality special effects makeup in a simulated shop setting. And as if they’re in the real-world setting, students will be equipped with time management skills under strict deadlines. Students are free to use the center’s photography studio so they can document their work and build their portfolio at the same time.

The center offers two creative programs under their belt: Tom Savini’s Special Effects Makeup Program and George A. Romero’s Filmmaking Program. Students enrolled in the special effects makeup program have the chance to work  and collaborate with students enrolled in the filmmaking program. This will teach students to develop skills in working with the film industry, preparing them for their future careers.

How to Choose the Best Special Effects Makeup School

Programs and classes

When looking at special effects makeup schools, you should first consider the programs and classes offered. Take a close look at the special effects programs and the classes or courses you would be taking under it. Some special effects programs start from makeup basics and end with special effects and prosthetics. Some programs put focus on the special effects and prosthetics, skipping the basics of makeup.

There are some institutions that also offer individual classes and courses on top of the program you’re enrolled in.


The next thing you should consider is the program’s or course’s duration. Different institutions offer varying durations for their classes. Some longer programs take 12 to 18 weeks to complete while some shorter programs have 12 to 64 hours in a 2-week duration. Find a program that best suits your time and schedule.


Special effects makeup schools have varying tuition fees. This can depend on the duration and classes included in the program. Longer programs would have a more expensive fee while shorter ones are cheaper as well. From what we’ve included in our list above, tuition fees range from $300 to $5,000 to $37,000 depending on the programs, classes, and duration.


The last important factor you should keep in mind in choosing your special effects makeup school is the location. From our list above, we’ve included schools with campuses in California, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Whether you’re a local or from out of town, these are top schools in the game.


Going to a school for special effects makeup will surely take your skills and creativity to the next level. And with instructors who are well-known and well-versed in their respective fields, you are sure to learn only from the best.

Our number one pick for the best school for special effects makeup is the Cinema Makeup School! It offers 3 diploma programs and 2 tracks to choose from. Most programs and tracks offer fundamentals of makeup basics and include classes on special effects. Coming to a close second of our favorite special effects makeup schools is the Make-Up Designory (MUD)! It currently has 4 programs under its belt. Selected programs put focus on prosthetic application and special effects makeup and even includes hairstyling to complete the look. And if it’s short classes you’re more willing to take on, check out the New York Academy of Makeup! It offers makeup and special effects classes that last from 12 to 64 hours only. It’s the perfect choice for anyone with a busy schedule.

And there you have it – our top picks for the best special effects makeup schools! Happy learning and we can’t wait to see your work on TV, in movies, or on stage!