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Dave Bautista’s Incredible Drax Transformation

November 9, 2019

Retired pro wrestler Dave Bautista’s body
has always been his instrument, but just how do the special-effect magicians of Marvel
transform a titan of the ring into an extraterrestrial soldier of fortune? The answer involves a lot more dental fakery,
time in the sauna, and prosthetic sheeting than you might guess. Any artist will tell you that practice is
key to mastery. “Do it again!” “I can’t!” “You do it again!” But if the artist’s canvas is a person who
has to eat, sleep, and live life outside the makeup chair, the best way to practice is
to make a model and go to town on it. That goes for Bautista’s transformation into
Drax, which begins with a model of his body, which includes his head, face, arms, and torso
down to his hips. From this, the makeup team creates a clear
plastic mold with holes to indicate where Drax’s many tattoos and scars must be placed. The plastic mold is placed on Bautista at
the start of his makeup session, and a type of rice-paper-based special effects makeup
known as “skin Illustrator” is airbrushed through the holes. The result is a map of where Drax’s tattoos
should be placed with an impressive level of precision, allowing the artists to access
a portable, easily replicated starting point. This level of precision is essential to maintain
continuity with a visually complex character like Drax. You may think it’s easy to remember what color
Drax is, but it’s honestly pretty complicated. Compare how he looks in the sterile light
of a spaceship to the warmer sunlight of Ego’s home in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As it turns out, his hard-to-pin-down coloration
is very much by design. Bautista’s body paint odyssey begins with
a base coat of grey. Then, as makeup effects designer David White
told Business Insider in 2014, “We added thin layers of browns, reds, and
greens within the base grey to break up the tone and make it come alive before the final
color sweep.” The green, brown, and red worked into his
alien complexion are subtle, but present. Infinity War and Endgame, which placed Drax
beside far more human characters than ever before, made the artistry behind his design
truly pop. The intricacy of Drax’s tattoos presents a
challenge: They’re not quite like traditional tattoos, as they’re raised and a fairly consistent
shade of red. Yet neither are they as random as battle damage,
or as uniform as purposeful body modification, like Killmonger’s extensive scars. They are, like Drax, entirely unique and entirely
alien. To create them, the makeup artists use 18
prosthetic pieces placed onto the areas previously mapped out using Skin Illustrator and the
plastic mold. Once applied, makeup is used to blend the
prosthetics into Drax’s skin, and a fan brush is raked across his body, turning the raised
tissue of the prosthetics red. Few aspects of the outrageous look of the
Guardians cast have presented the special effects team with more challenges than Drax’s
unique tattoos — and, ultimately, pushed them into ever-more impressive levels of innovation. After the makeup is fully applied, one of
the most difficult special effects problems rears its ugly head: how do you keep the makeup
looking great for hours of shooting, through hot lights, unpredictable weather, bathroom
breaks and meals? Prosthetic makeup department head for Legacy
Effects Brian Sipe explained the challenge to the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Local
706 website: “Our enemy is heat and sweat, and we had heat
from the lights, body heat from the actor, and the muggy Atlanta heat and humidity.” Bautista is brush sealed with a mixture of
chemical and medical adhesive. Though this is notoriously intense way of
finishing off one’s look, it’s Hollywood’s first choice, as it truly keeps even the most
elaborate looks from smudging. It’s the details that truly make a character
design sing. Without her antennae and blank black eyes,
Mantis wouldn’t ride the line between adorable and just-a-tiny-bit-creepy so well. Without her pink highlights and facial grooves,
Gamora might bring to mind asparagus rather than a fearsome alien warrior. So it goes with Drax, whose finishing touches
have nothing to do with tattoos or blue body paint. Do you remember Drax’s teeth? Probably not. But special care goes into making sure they
look believably gross, as a bereaved warrior’s teeth would likely be. Bautista’s teeth are too even and well-maintained
to fit the bill, so a custom set of dentures transforms his pearly whites into dingy greys. Drax’s eyes are just as impressive as the
rest of him — and just as work-intensive. Tailor-made contact lenses transform Bautista’s
dark brown eyes into Drax’s ice blue ones. They’re the sort of unearthly shade you only
really see in television or movies; a blue so bright and cold it brings neon lights and
phosphorescent algae to mind. In addition to this unusual color, the iris
is encircled with a thin band of blood red. These shades bring Drax’s gaze to the fore
of the screen, echoing the blue, grey, and red color scheme of the rest of his body while
signaling to the viewer that there are buried layers to the hulking brute. After Drax has kicked butt, taken names, chopped
a few aliens into pieces, and dropped a few devastatingly blunt quips, comes the final
task, and it’s a doozy: excavating Dave Bautista from the many blended, airbrushed, glued,
and sealed layers that make him into Drax the Destroyer. On first Guardians of the Galaxy, the makeup
up team scrubbed it all off him with brute force. As Bautista told CinemaBlend, two days of
this treatment made his skin, quote, “like hamburger,” and a better method was sought. The answer was found in a portable sauna. “I get in the sauna for about 20 minutes by
myself, and then about three guys join me, and they start scrubbing this makeup off me.” At the end of a day of shooting, Bautista
sits in the sauna, raising his core body temperature and building up sweat, which loosens the makeup’s
hold on his skin. With the help of steam-pumping hoses, shaving
cream, hot towels, and a silicone-based makeup remover known as 244 Fluid, Bautista is freed
from Drax’s shell. The routine for making Bautista into Drax
has changed pretty dramatically over the years. Initially, on the set of the first Guardians
movie, turning Bautista into Drax took a tedious five hours during which he had to stand as
still as possible. Taking the makeup off was another two-hour
journey unto itself. “They have these two sticks that they have,
and they have tennis balls on top of them, and that’s what I grab and perch my arms up
on.” The Guardians sequel saw a dramatic streamlining
of the process. His prosthetic tattoos were reduced in number
from 27 to 18. The sauna was introduced, and removal fell
to 70 minutes. Bautista told ScreenRant on the set of Vol.
2., “It’s so easy, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not kidding. It takes like an hour and a half now. The last one, they got it down to four hours
and everyone was celebrating. This, literally they attack me with paint
rollers all over. And it looks better too. It looks way better.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about Marvel
movies are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.


  • Reply Best Deal Window Tint October 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Fiiiirst!!!😂 😂 😂 😂

  • Reply killerkyle56 October 8, 2019 at 2:01 pm


  • Reply killerkyle56 October 8, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Everyone sub and like my latest vid it would mean the world to me

  • Reply João Calvário October 8, 2019 at 2:03 pm


  • Reply Raj Roy October 8, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    I can't see Batista anywhere in this video…😟

  • Reply Hey man October 8, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    First like

  • Reply Meena P Menon October 8, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I am the sixth to comment if that's a thing

  • Reply Mr. Areeb ッ 彡 October 8, 2019 at 2:08 pm


  • Reply mybabyb15 October 8, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Is it bad that i just realized he had tattoos lol

  • Reply vinifari 2300 October 8, 2019 at 2:32 pm


  • Reply Chicken Nugget October 8, 2019 at 2:33 pm


  • Reply Looper October 8, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Where do you rank Drax among the MCU heroes?

  • Reply xh117 October 8, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    why did they make him so grey? isn't he greenish blue in the comics

  • Reply MSTRKRFT25 October 8, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Every time I scroll thru my feed and see any avengers related video before seeing the channel, my head just says “…Looper…”

    I look down … it’s a looper video lol

  • Reply Agent Venom October 8, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Now he voices in *Gears 5*
    Which is cool too

  • Reply Playboy DD October 8, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Who else clicked fast💀😂
    On the road to 1k🖤

  • Reply K S October 8, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Dave sure has done a great job in moving into acting. Really enjoy watching him. Don't know if he remembers me but I use to do security in Winnipeg and met a lot of the wrestlers. They are all a great bunch Of guys

  • Reply Struggle Drax October 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Hello earth humans.

  • Reply pubup October 8, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    ahh billy elliot. the best MCU hero

  • Reply Eric Shutter October 8, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Drax … amazing character. Needs 10 more movies… with his crazy friends ofc…

  • Reply Mark Hoch October 8, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    The makeup process looks terrible but what about all the time this guy spend in the gym.

  • Reply William Groves October 8, 2019 at 8:17 pm


  • Reply Star Brand October 8, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry but… at 1:11 did anyone else hear the narrator say "essentual"? It's essential not essenTUAL.

  • Reply Dave Ambrose October 9, 2019 at 2:32 am

    The crazy thing about this is that back in his prime 05-10 he was even more massive

  • Reply Chris Mitchell October 9, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Just learned a new word…."essentual"

  • Reply Landyn Lyerla October 9, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Batista was cut waaaaay before the big screen.

  • Reply Rene Hinojosa October 10, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Transformation? What transformation? All that was needed was paint basically.

  • Reply TwstedTV October 13, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    i LOVE this channel, because you guys have good content without trying to sell people a bunch of crap or other stupid advertisement…
    Keep up the great work.!!! 🙂

  • Reply Frankie Norbert Steiner October 15, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Drax kicks names n takes ass.

  • Reply Jason October 15, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Damm I love drax character , but they seem literally forget about the "the destroyer" aspect of the character

  • Reply Uriah Light October 15, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Movie critics deserve to undergo this makeup treatment daily

  • Reply TheMytholoGER October 16, 2019 at 6:44 am

    I always wondered what his make-up process involved, thanks Looper.👌

  • Reply CK_32 October 16, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Body paint and steroids is a “incredible transformation”?

  • Reply el bandido jefe October 16, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    this is the only rule dave can play, he sucks as an actor

  • Reply No! I'm Here To Warn You ! October 16, 2019 at 11:12 pm


  • Reply jamie turnage October 18, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    drax fights like a acient anglo saxon or viking with temper and all

  • Reply Livinghighandwise October 19, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Ok. So who can answer this question for me. How much did Dave get paid in the first Guardians's movie?

  • Reply Weng's Man October 22, 2019 at 4:07 am

    HOT LIGHTS ?!?!

    they don't use LED ?

  • Reply Mr JB November 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Dude did you say ESSENTUAL? Yes, yes you did.

  • Reply Timeoftroubles November 3, 2019 at 5:52 am


  • Reply Online Clientone November 3, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    sometimes i see Drax and yell Steve[Wilkos]

  • Reply matt stockton November 4, 2019 at 12:17 am

    First he does a cycle of testa, deca bolin, and a countless slew of other steroids and performance enhancing drugs, then Marvel glues a few prosthetics on.

  • Reply zeppelin67637 November 4, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Honestly never looked that close at the markings on Dax's body. I thought it was mostly scars. lol

  • Reply thefilthelement November 4, 2019 at 1:32 am

    1:10: this level of detail is "essentual"??

  • Reply Cool November 4, 2019 at 4:55 am

    Dave Batista… protector of pedos.

  • Reply Ol' Sarge November 4, 2019 at 8:30 am

    I liked this guy until he ran his stupid mouth with anti-Trump nonsense…… so tired of that crap

  • Reply MajRatbag November 5, 2019 at 1:14 am

    1:10 the word is "essential" NOT essensual!

  • Reply Aerik Forager November 6, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Why didn't you call it a Draxformation!? ;D

  • Reply Read Zechariah 12:10 November 7, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Ah, who cares?

  • Reply bpmiller87 November 7, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    I'd give Gamora some 244 fluid.

  • Reply Eagle Grip November 8, 2019 at 1:47 am

    That's why I refuse to have a big hulking body. Too many people will want
    to paint me all different colors and make me a movie star. I hate when that

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