“All Quiet on the Western Front” hair and makeup artist Heike Merker was down in the trenches and on the frontline with the actors to ensure blood, dirt and mud were being applied to show the horror and tragedy of war.

At Variety’s Artisans Screening Series, Merker discussed how she navigated working on Edward Berger’s World War I drama to tell Paul’s (Felix Kammerer ) journey from a young enthusiastic school boy wanting to join the army to a worn soldier.

It was all in the detail.

Merker spent time researching photos and old war movies, but she found Peter Jackson’s 2018 documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” particularly helpful which helped her hone in on crafting the look.”

After the first explosion in the bunker, Merker wanted to make a statement with Paul’s makeup. “I wanted to show that he’s not just dirty, but he could have died. He’s traumatized after seeing his best friend die. From that point on, it was about showing fragility and making him look thinner and like he was losing weight just by using makeup techniques.”

To show the fragility, deterioration and deficiency of the soldiers on the frontline, Merker paid attention to the teeth. She had seen through research that soldiers didn’t have good teeth. In the film, Paul and his fellow soldiers start off with brilliant white teeth, but once they were at war and fighting for months, “they were painted with yellow and brown to show this slow process of feeling less energy,” she said.

As the war rages on, the weather gets colder and the soldiers are constantly entrenched in mud, dirt and rain, Merker layered and caked on the makeup in between takes. She made different types of mud and dirt in various colors and consistencies from thin to thick and from light to dark. Which she would layer on. She said, “It was about figuring out what was happening in the scene. If it rained in the next scene, the mud and dirt were sliding off, you just had to play with it.”

“It was color pigments. It’s like being a painter, you mix it with water, thin cream, Vaseline, alcohol or even hair conditioner,” she told the audience. In finding the texture, color and right dirt consistency, Merker compared her mixed pigments to real dirt, which she couldn’t use for health and safety reasons.

On the panel, she was joined by composer Volker Bertelmann, sound designer Markus Stemler and VFX supervisor Frank Petzold, who shared insight into their process.

Bertelmann said Berger was a filmmaker with little notes on a creative brief. The composer revealed the notes were simple. “He said, ‘I need music for Paul’s stomach. And I need a snare drum player who can’t play it very well.” Bertleman, who used a three-note motif throughout, told the crowd since every musician he knew was well-versed in the instrument, he ended up being the one to play the snare drum that is heard on the score.

Watch the video above.