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How ‘Penny Dreadful’ Makeup Artists Brought Gothic Characters to Life

Nick Dudman and Sarita Allison have become a force to be reckoned with in the world of makeup design. The two have received their third collaborative Emmy nomination for their work on Showtime’s gothic horror show “Penny Dreadful.” Dudman served as the prosthetic makeup designer and Allison as prosthetic makeup artist.

Dudman, a 35-year industry veteran, says series creator John Logan “had a strong vision for the show,and he stuck to it.” He and Allison have worked extensively together, with credits including “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” “The Mummy” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Designing and producing prosthetics is tricky and delicate. “What’s great about working on ‘Penny Dreadful’ is that John Logan always wants to do things as practically as possible,” says Dudman.

CGI has “changed the way we do our jobs in a huge way,” he adds. “On a show like ‘Penny Dreadful,’ combining the grotesque with the real was a distinct challenge.”

“We did a lot of research,” says Allison. “John wanted to keep things grounded in a specific sort of reality, so the challenge was to make it gory but to be smart about it. I’m always very interested in the smaller things, as those are the bits that bring everything together in the end.”

Both artisans noted the creative freedom that comes with working on the show.

“Even though John Logan has a very distinct idea of what he wants, we’re allowed to come up with new things, which is always exciting,” says Allison.

“We didn’t want to have all-CG creatures running around on the show.” Dudman adds. “It was important to see the performances of the actors underneath all of the makeup.”

Dudman started as a trainee to legendary British makeup artist Stuart Freeborn on “The Empire Strikes Back.” His credits include “Children of Men,” “Batman,” “The Fifth Element,” “Willow,” “Labyrinth” and multiple Harry Potter properties.

Some of Allison’s efforts can be seen in “Touching the Void” and “X-Men: First Class.” Upcoming projects include “Mary Magdalene,” “The Current War” and “Guernsey.”

“Our talents complement each other,” says Dudman. “You need people who are reliable and who you mentally feel can get the job done. You need to protect the work, and the actor, and Sarita brings those qualities to each job.”

“We really have fun,” says Allison. “I love being pushed out of my comfort zone.”

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