"Transfers" synonymous with "Makeup Effects"

"Transfers" synonymous with "Makeup Effects"

Published by Tinsley Team on 12th Sep 2018

Hello Tinsley Peeps,

It wasn't more then 19 years ago that the word "Transfers" was rarely, if at all ever used in the Makeup Effects Industry. You would be hard pressed to find an article that uses the word as a verb for describing a task in the creation of a makeup effect. 

There were certainly no products using this term. It wasn't until after the creation of Tinsley Transfer products that the word "Transfer" became not only a verb to describe a process but also the noun and more importantly the proper noun. It's kind of like Q-tip, every cotton swab is referred to as a Q-tip. However there is only one Q-Tip. Same with Kleenex. People commonly ask for a Kleenex not realizing that just any tissue is not Kleenex. 

Tinsley Transfers originated and was the trailblazing brand that created Tattoo FX Transfers and later created the Prosthetic Transfer or otherwise referred to as 3D FX Transfers, Pros Aide Transfers, Bondo Transfers etc. Until the creation and supply of a Tinsley Transfer product, Transfers didn't exist.



An early version of Tinsley Transfers Tattoo FX circa 2008.



3D FX Transfer by Tinsley Transfers circa 2013.


Christien Tinsley (founder of Tinsley Transfers) created the original Tattoo FX Transfer on the 2001 film "Pearl Harbor" starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Garner and many more. The idea was spawned out of the need to create continuity for daily application of bruises, wounds and burns. 



Josh Hartnett wears original Tattoo FX created by Christien Tinsley for Pearl Harbor (2001). 



Matt Davis wearing Tattoo FX created by Christien Tinsley for Pearl Harbor (2001).


Michael Shannon wears Scrape Tattoo FX created by Christien Tinsley for Pearl Harbor (2001).


The film was shot out of order over a 6 month period so it was important to create a continuity that worked well. Christien having worked in the makeup effects labs found himself on the Hawaii islands with limited resources.

The first Tattoo FX Transfer was created using Tracing Paper, PVA (a water soluble release film used in fiberglass casting), Pros Aide glue and alcohol activated paint. Tattoo Transfers were created and hand painted in duplicate for each actor on the show and by the end of the show (6 months later) the company was formed. The first 3 products to launch the new company were 4" x 6" sheets of Cuts, Scrapes and Bruises. 


Original SCAB Tattoo FX created by Christien Tinsley circa 1999.



Christien Tinsley in Baja Studios 1999 with the first commercial Tattoo FX.


The companies name Tinsley Transfers is credited to Julie Hewett of Julie Hewett Cosmetics www.juliehewettla.com and Mindy Hall (Oscar Winning Makeup for Star Trek, 2009). These two amazing artists and mentors of Christien coined the transferring wounds a "Tinsley Transfer" and suggested the company be called by the same name. In the spring of 2000 during filming at Baja Studios in Rosarito Mexico Tinsley Transfers Inc. was born.

A short 4 years later Christien Tinsley then came up with the idea for a Prosthetic Transfer (3D FX Transfer) for the film Master and Commander starring Russell Crowe. It wasn't until a year later that the Prosthetic Transfer was used in a big way that garnered it so much attention and that was on the film Mel Gibsons "Passion of the Christ" and "Pirates of the Caribbean". We'll save that story for another blog. Seven years after this the 3D FX Transfer was launched on the consumer market for Halloween. 

Jim Caviezel in the makeup chair wearing Prosthetic Transfers for Passion of the Christ.


Makeup Test on Jim Caviezel dressed in blood wearing Prosthetic Transfers for Passion of the Christ.


In the last 18 plus years there has been an overwhelming growth of Temporary Tattoos and Prosthetic Transfers being used in Film and Television. It is very rare these days to see a film or a television show that doesn't use a Transfer in one form or another. Tinsley Transfers continues to play a huge part in being one of the leading providers of Temporary Tattoos and Prosthetic Transfers for the Film Industry.

Jason Momoa wearing custom Tattoo FX by Tinsley Transfers Studio for Aquaman 2018.


Transfers has become the vernacular used by professional makeup effects artists, aspiring artists and even mass consumers to describe Temporary Tattoos and Prosthetic Transfers. It was a small simple idea that has grown and branded its name by its own action. Tinsley Transfers continues to innovate products for the film industry as well as the consumer market and looks forward to bringing you the first look at what is to come. 

We encourage you to keep having fun, tuning into our blog and sharing this post with friends and colleagues. 

Thank you

- Tinsley Team - 

Products In This Article