In my experiences talking to my fellow filmmakers, blood is by far the most common "first effect" that people usually learn how to accomplish on the screen, AND it's also one of the earliest things we taught you here on Indy Mogul. BUT, one thing we've never done is shown you alternative blood recipes. Although there has been plenty of discussion on this topic in Mogulville, we have yet to do a comprehensive analysis of all of the different recipes we've found for fake blood all over the internet... UNTIL NOW.
Today I want to take some of the most common (and some not so common) recipes for fake blood that i've heard or found all over the internet, and put them to a test, showing how they look on skin, how they look on cloth (and how badly they stain it), AND how well they splatter. So here you go, the first official Indy Mogul BLOOD TEST.
SAMPLE #1 - Store bought theatrical blood:
This is theatrical blood that you can get at most costume shops, and get in bulk around Halloween. On the packaging for mine it lists Ethyl Glycol and Hydrocellulose as the main ingredients, but there are other formulas, just this seems to be common. It has a nice viscosity, that seems pretty darn close to real fresh blood.
This is just some smeared on my arm, I think it smudges nicely, and soaks into the skin well. It's pretty easy to clean off, but it CAN stain for a while, takes me a few washes to get it off of my hands.
It soaks into the cloth really good, and looks pretty good I think as fresh blood.
And here is ther Splatter test. Scooped up some, and flung it. Very nice splatter ability, droplets are great, the blooming around the edges is a lot like blood.
SAMPLE #2 - Strawberry Syrup:
This is Strawberry Syrup I got at the story, it's the same kind that you can mix into milk, or put onto Ice Cream. It also has a nice viscosity, but even with extra red and a little bit of green added to darken it up, it still looks a bit "pink" to me.
On my skin, it still looks a little light, and it beads up a little. If your fake sugar liquid based blood does this, mix a little more water into it and add more red.
Now the cloth test, it's a little lighter than the theatrical blood, and it stays sticky while the theatrical blood dries and doesn't produce any residue. Just something to keep in mind.
It splatters ok, but it isn't as dark, and it doesn't bloom the same way as theatrical blood.
This is a watery moisturizer that I got at the store. I would advise to get a thinner one, but if you get a thicker one like KY Jelly, you can water it down (or keep it thick for specialized uses), and put 7 drops of red food coloring, and one drop of green food coloring in it. It's very dark and red, and has a nice viscosity.
It spreads nicely on skin, and doesn't bead at all.
And the cloth test. It spreads nicely, and absorbs really well.
It splatters really nicely, and splatters into droplets a lot easier than it seemed the theatrical blood did.
SAMPLE #4 - Shampoo/Liquid Soap:
It seems pretty viscous and is decently thick, but it forms bubbles really easily, which might cause some issues.
The shampoo spreads really nicely, but it's really bright, and is a bit thicker than blood, so it gels up easily.
It's nice and dark on the cloth, and I like how it looks, but it stays kind of sticky, so that can be an issue.
It splatters nicely, but doesn't really speckle very much as it's kind of thick.
SAMPLE #5 - Petroleum Jelly:
It is VERY thick. And it doesn't take the food coloring very well at all. This might be good for like goo on zombies, or as drying congealed blood, but it doesn't look like fresh blood at all.
On my skin it is very thick, and VERY greasy. I think this is too thick and too purple to be fresh blood, but it might work for some dissolved skin (like from acid) because it looks very gooey.
It looks better on cloth. I think this is because, looking very closely at it, as I stirred it, the dye and the jelly aren't really combining, but seems to be suspended within it kind of like tiny air bubbles. So when I spread it, the bubbles are "breaking" and it gets redder when it hits the fabric. It probably wouldn't be that bad for like dried blood, BUT it's VERY greasy, so I just don't think this is a good blood recipe at all. I was told that it looks similar to some of the darker blood that can be coughed up by people with respitory infections, so maybe you could use it for that purpose, it's up to you.
It splatters with the consistency of clay, so yes, badly.
SAMPLE #6 - Strawberry Jelly/Jam:
I mixed a little more red into it, and I think it actually looks pretty good. It's nice and thick, and would probably be good for drying thicker blood. Better than the petroleum jelly recipe for a thicker gelled blood by far.
I actually like how it looks, but it tends to bead up a little, so add a little water.
I think it looks nice on the fabric, and looks very thick, and the bits of strawberry in it looks like pieces of organic matter, so I think this might be a good idea for a base for a brain matter splatter.
I think it splatters ok, but it doesn't break apart really at all. It stays very thick, and so I think would work better as a part of a bigger splatter, like I said previously if you needed to throw something against a wall for something like a brain matter splatter, I think this might work pretty well.
SAMPLE #7 - Golden Syrup:
Many of our British Mogulers have reported in the past having issues finding Corn Syrup, which is (unfortunately for those who can't find it) used as the base for about 99% of the fake Blood recipes i've found around the internet. So I decided to dig up something that I have been told is easier to find for our British friends, Golden Syrup. Golden Syrup, is a kind of inverted cane syrup, and is very similar to honey. It's also the basis for a lot of Pancake syrups, and if you can't find Golden Syrup, you could easily substitute a Pancake syrup.
Regardless, I REALLY like how this looks, and the consistency of it is really nice.
It smears nicely, but I would probably perfer it to be a bit darker.
I like how it spreads out a lot, and it's nice and bright.
I think it splatters nicely, but it's still a bit thicker than real blood, so you might want to water it down just barely.
SAMPLE #8 - Chocolate Syrup:
It's VERY dark. This is obviously ideal for Black and White Films. But for color, you'll need to water it down and add truely massive amounts of red food coloring to get it start looking right.
It looks a lot better spread out on skin. It's really dark, and I think works really well for dried out and darker blood.
It darkens up on the cloth a bit, and I think looks just about perfect for dried blood.
I think it splatters well, but it's pretty thick. Since it's so dark, and almost opaque, you could probably water it down a bunch.
SAMPLE #9 - Tomato Juice:
Tomato Juice doesn't make good fake blood in most cases, but with added red coloring, it can work pretty well if you need something that is actually drinkable without making you want to brush your teeth. It's VERY watery, but it's got a nice color, even if it's a little to orange for my taste.
It doesn't look great, and it's very thin, but it actually does stay on your skin, but probably the worst out of everything i've tested.
The tomato juice looks pretty good on cloth, but it is VERY bright, and very orange.
By far the most watery out of all of the recipes I tested. Splatters VERY easily, but is very pink after it splatters.
Now, time to take the cloth splotches, and put them in the washer for the final...
I put the bundle in the washer, and put an even amount of detergent on each sample, washed it for a normal spin cycle with hot water, no bleach.
Overall, the Petroleum Jelly seemed to stain the worst, with the Tomato Juice a close second.
So there you have it, a comprehensive look at a lot of the fake blood recipes out there, hopefully this helps you all for the next time you need some fake blood.
Personally, overall, I would say my favorite is probably the Glycerine based personal lubricant, it looked great, and I really liked how it held up on the tests, and in a blind test, 3 different people said it looked the most like real blood out of all the samples, beating out even the theatrical blood.