View Full Version : Achieving a burnt look w/ paint

03-27-2011, 07:59 PM
I have a scene that I want to appear to have been through a fire. Has anyone done detailing of a post fire scene? I know the basic watered down paint in spray bottles technique, but I am interested in specific colors, methods, etc. to achieve a burnt look.

This is the general sort of look I am going for:


03-27-2011, 08:31 PM
That looks like you could base the walls/props with a DARK gray (not totally black), then use watered down WHITE to add color. For post-fire looks, think of all the options in gray scale. Almost EVERYTHING loses it's color or it's severely faded/blackened...also, there would be a thick layer of sute/ash everywhere...so look for a dark gray fullers' earth:


The only problem I'm seeing in your photo is that there are alot of items that seem "untouched" by a fire...the books, parts of the desk, etc. Remember, EVERYTHING must be distressed down! I think for this instance, the "watered down paints" is the best way to go.


Jim Warfield
03-27-2011, 08:59 PM
Besides sooted things, charred edges, maybe dose books with alot of water so as to alow the pages to wrinkle, just as if they got hit by the fire hose. My one old girlfriend always looked like that, hit by the Hose!

RJ Productions
03-28-2011, 03:41 AM
I'd take some of the props like the desks, cut pieces off and actually burn the edges.
Did that with a coffin for my crematory scene. Nothing beats the real look!!

03-28-2011, 05:04 AM
You could rub in some real ash with a paint brush to damp paint to give it a dustier, less crisp look. Also, mixing epsom salt (about as much as the water will take) with a grayish water will make it crystalize when dry and looks charred. Play with it on a piece of cardboard, but the effect should look pretty cool.

03-28-2011, 05:07 AM
...and I have TONS of the real ash I'll send you for FREE if you just want to cover shipping, LOL! :) We have a woodstove so we have buckets of the stuff by the end of burning season.

03-28-2011, 09:38 AM
Im not experienced in the industry enough to really know so much about actual painting. but i am well experienced in makeup, the best burned look i can get is with a stipple sponge and ben nye fresh scab makeup. put the fresh scab on the desired area and dab it with the stipple sponge and it gives a great effect!

03-28-2011, 09:52 AM
I Agee with what Rich said, nothing looks better than real burnt stuff. Place ashes in the corners too! Kimmy had a great idea.

I would recommend using a blowtorch on it's highest setting, (higher the better, it will char the wood without actually catching it on fire because it blows itself out!) I use that technique alot. I wouldn't recommend it for walls because you'll make thin plywood obscenely weak. But desks, bookshelves, chairs, any wooden fixture would look awesome with a charred look.

*random note, that also makes dolls look really creepy. I'm on my phone but when I go home I'll find a picture of a doll I made by blowtorching the he'll out of it's face and hands. So cool. Lol

03-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Great tips, guys. I had also thought about using my torch with the oxygen turned off to smoke the walls, etc. Trying to avoid having a ton of soot, etc. To rub off on customers, though.

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03-28-2011, 10:50 AM
Oohhh sooo wanna see the dollie! I just made a doll this weekend that I painted black and rubbed with some ash and she looks creepy cool...would LOVE to see the blowtorch one!!!

03-28-2011, 05:12 PM
A really neat effect I have done for some stage work is brushing or rolling (with a heavy nap roller) on your paint nice and thick (Acrylic or Latex seems to work the best), and run aross it with an actual blow torch it will bublble and char...looks really nice. Then once it is all dry just put a matte clear coat over it. Just make sure you spray down with some fire shield after and keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case. If doing indoors keep in mind you will get some smoke so make sure there is ventilation and/or breathing protection...and of course if you have sensitive smoke detectors, have them disabled while doing so. I usually will do this outdoors on panels whenever possible. I also get a really nice effect in the same way by spraypainting and immediately igniting with blowtorch..but I would not recommend doing this anywhere but outdoor as you do get a bit of flame for a couple seconds. As FX artist Nick Adler once said...you cant get much better than the real thing.

Mike "Pogo" Hach

03-28-2011, 10:48 PM
Here Kimmy!8856

Thats the only one I could seem to find a picture of, even though we made a TON. This one isn't even my favorite, but it sure is adorable! Also, please excuse the horrendous wounds, I tried getting my little cousin to help me out when I had to babysit one day, and he thought they looked good, so I wasn't about to tell him otherwise lol.

BHays, I also came across this article which might be a little useful if you're on the edge about using actual fire


03-29-2011, 01:21 AM
I planned to actually burn the desks, wood trim, etc. The vacuform cinder block on the walls is my biggest concern since I wouldn't think I could do anything with real fire on that.

03-29-2011, 05:06 AM
Bobby she's cool! Love the wounds too and the story behind them! I only have one doll done, but I think I might torch one instead of painting it black next time. That effect looks soo neat! Thanks for sharing!!!

Allen H
03-29-2011, 06:18 AM
One thing to remember is that fire will have an origin and will travel from one place to another in the room, so the damage is directional.
Black spray paint makes very good soot ( I actually mist the walls above my wall sconces to make them appear as if they gave off soot) just hold it far away and apply in small doses at an angle.
It may also be possible to buy/ get for free a few items that have been in a fire. A melted TV is useless to anyone but us, burned up furniture is the same. Call a fire clean up company and tell them what you are looking out for it cant hurt to ask.

Paint will get you far in achieving the look but dont forget physical things also, like wiring with all the plastic sheath melted off, candles that are bent and limp from the heat in the room, those kinds of details that are more than paint.
Allen H

03-29-2011, 10:45 AM
I don't know if it would work, but blended up newspaper could make some real nice flaking texture. I just remember that ashy charred walls reminded me of the time we made, "Homemade paper" in first grade.

03-29-2011, 01:37 PM
She's not really burnt per se, but she was rubbed in ash after I painted her to make her look older and creepier. :)

03-29-2011, 04:13 PM
Neat kimmy! I just use average dollar store babies.

And good point Allen, another thing to add is that each fire has a source. Maybe a corner trash can someone through a cigarette in or something like that. The damage would be less the further from the fire, so a noticeable source would add more realism than just a soot covered room.

Best of luck with the build! :)

damon carson
03-30-2011, 05:22 PM
Paint and wood. Thats what I remember from the old Haunt World videos. Its a Dr. Lady quote I think?! You can make or do anything with paint and wood. Also I was gonna suggest something similar to what Mike suggested. I would hate to have real burnt furniture in a room because of the fumes ect. May be too much for the actor to deal with if they are working in there. You can do the same with paint. And cutting away parts of furniture to make it look like they burned away.