During some episodes of The Walking Dead Michone has 2 zombies (Mike and Terry) without arms and jaw, which she uses as mules and for protection.

I saw images of the actors of the zombies, they have their arms and jaw, so how did they make these special effects? In some scenes it looks like puppets, in some like CGI, but there are also scenes where you can clearly see that this are real actors. I know that they have very good makeup-artists in the series, but how did they hide the arms and jaw? I would guess a combination of CGI and good make-up, but maybe someone has some facts here.

They are very thin and there are also scenes where they have a naked upper body, so they could not hide their arms in clothes or behind the back. (I don't post an image, because this would be 18+ content, but it should be easy to google an image for everyone who does not know what I mean).

  • If you really want to include a picture but are not sure if it's appropriate, you can also hide it behind a spoiler block (>! ...) with an appropriate warning beforehand.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:30
  • Bettter not, i am careful with 18+ content, there is no age check on this site, and a spoiler would not stop younger people from watching such images (i know that they can find the images easy somewhere else, but there is nothing i can do about that)
    – kl78
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:38
  • Well, it's really debatable if a zombie without arms is 18+ anyway. I'm sure we already have such pictures here anyway, even without spoiler blocks.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:40
  • Yes, maybe this is a topic for the meta site, it also depends what country you are from, in USA they show heavy violence but often cut harmless sex scenes, in germany its more the opposite. also i have the feeling that during last years gore and violence in movies have become more common and age-ratings are getting lower.
    – kl78
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:44
  • You can see the vfx in this video at around 1:15: vimeo.com/63430867 Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Extensive CGI isn't necessary. For the arms, it's simple enough to have them wear green/blue socks.

Here is a picture of Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump:

enter image description here

Basically, they shoot this scene twice, once with the actor and another with them missing. A computer looks for blue (green is used more often I think) pixels, and replaces those with the corresponding pixels from the actorless shot. Some post-processing can be required (shadows might not be in the right places), but this is pretty simple.

They do need to do some work where the amputated limb ends (in the above image, his tied-off pants need to be tweaked), but this doesn't typically involve CGI at all, at least of the sort where they texture a complicated 3d model. Someone with photoshop skills touches up the images, frame by frame.

For a visible stump, this might include compositing in flesh tones and scars.

For the jawlessness, I suspect that this is a little bit of makeup/prosthetics, and camera-angles-slash-lightning.

Ah ha! Just found this, while researching screenshots (I haven't watched the season in question):

enter image description here

Green socks. Also note how we're seeing practical effects for their missing jaws. Now, keep in mind that some shows like this will occasionally use CGI, so if there's a particularly creepy closeup where you just know that it can't possibly be practical effects, then that is most likely proper CGI, composited into the shot (so that the rest of the face looks real).


The extras on the discs (season 3) go into detail about how Michonne's friends were brought to un-life on the show.

The faces are prosthetic, extending about an inch and a half in front of the actor's real faces (per Greg Nicotero) If you look at the makeup, you can see how the zombie faces are basically faceplates in front of the actors' real faces:

enter image description here

If you watch the extras, you can even see a makeup artist talking to the actor and the mask moving with a voice coming out. Looks fake, because it is fake. (I'll let you in on a secret: the whole show is fiction!).

enter image description here

Note how you cannot see eyes here (the makeup effects are not yet complete). Because the mask is an inch and a half in front of the actor's face, they actually had to add fake eyes and the actors were effectively blind during filming. They had to rely on audio cues to know where to stand and walk.

Finally, the arms:

enter image description here

The actors wore blue on their arms and hands. After filming, VFX erased their arms and replaced them with background trees/bushes/whatever.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .