On June 25, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films hosted the 41st annual Saturn Awards in Burbank, Calif. More than 500 people attended, including both industry leaders and fans. For their work on Guardians of the Galaxy, David White and Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou won the award for Best Film Make-up. Also nominated were Bill Terezakis and Lisa Love for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Mark Coulier and Daniel Phillips for Dracula Untold; Peter King, Rick Findlater and Gino Acevedo for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies; Peter King and Matthew Smith for Into the Woods; and Adrien Morot and Norma Hill-Patton for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

David White, Christopher Fairbank
David White transforming Christopher Fairbank into The Broker

In Issue 110 of Make-Up Artist magazine, Yianni-Georgiou described working on the film: “It’s a huge make-up film,” says Yianni-Georgiou. “I think that people will be surprised at how make-up heavy it is, and how much work went into creating this particular world within the Marvel universe.

2015 Oscar Symposium: Guardians of the Galaxy Drax make-up
Guardians of the Galaxy Drax make-up

“Our director, James Gunn, wanted everything to look real,” continues Yianni-Georgiou, “whilst also wanting to stay quite true to the comic book in terms of color. He also wanted our aliens’ skins to have total coverage, down to the last millimeter. We had to have something that was delicate enough so that it didn’t look like paint, but also lasted a 16-hour day on a hot summer set, with minimal touch-ups.

“ … During testing, my team and I worked with all of the products on the market to develop our alien looks, but nothing clicked to the point where we—James and I—felt we had it. I brought in Dave Stoneman to collaborate with me to create the perfect product for our needs. We then took to testing it on each of our actors. With our ultra-fine product, using the different colors we’d developed, we airbrushed, speckled and veined onto the skin in layers so as to create characters that jumped out of the screen at the audience. It took us several weeks, but we did it!”

Guardians of the Galaxy: red-hair look
A make-up and hair look from Guardians of the Galaxy

White adds, “This movie had the biggest collection of talented mold makers, sculptors and make-up artists I’ve ever assembled, and I’m extremely proud of them all. Their artistry, dedication and care for what they did was outstanding. And as an artist, I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to visually bring these characters to the screen in the way I would want to see them: as exciting and real as possible, but also with guts and soul.”

For more on the make-up in Guardians of the Galaxy, watch our exclusive artist-narrated video or follow the link to Issue 110. See the complete list of Saturn Awards nominees and winners here.