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Try It, You’ll Like It, Maybe

TV Watch

“Face Off” season four winner Anthony Kosar with his creation. Photo by Syfy.com

Let’s get the simple description out of the way right now. Shows about makeup and costumes are coming to the Syfy channel on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Still with me? OK, time to get to the fun stuff. The artists featured on “Face Off” and “Heroes of Cosplay” use tools such as paint, fabric and prosthetic pieces to transform people into superheroes, monsters, aliens, robots, cartoon characters, science-fiction icons and more.

“Face Off” enters its fifth season next week. I’ve been watching this competitive reality show since it launched in 2011, and I was immediately hooked. Just think of it as “Top Chef,” except with makeup instead of food. Each week, artists are asked to create characters based on a specific topic. In previous episodes they’ve made werewolves from other planets, reimagined “Wizard of Oz” characters and invented superhero/sidekick duos.

One of the most memorable episodes is “Burtonesque” from the second season, in which the contestants were asked to create a whimsical character inspired by an everyday profession worthy of being featured in a Tim Burton film. Rayce Bird won the challenge by designing a cellist who plays an intricate cello with a face on it. This cellist would fit right in next to Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice. Bird went on to win the season.

In an age when most movies and television shows are filled with green screens and computer-generated characters, it’s amazing to watch these talented artists bring these fantastic creatures to life using foam latex, silicone and props. I find it fascinating to watch their creative process from beginning to end, starting with the sculpting phase and ending with painting and applying the pieces to the models.

Season five will feature both new contestants and veterans from previous seasons, so there will certainly be some impressive designs. Be sure to keep an eye on Roy Wooley, one of my favorite artists from the third season.

“Heroes of Cosplay” is a docu-series that debuts after “Face Off.” Cosplay, short for “costume play,” is all about fans dressing up as their favorite characters from sci-fi movies, comic books, video games, anime and more. The show will follow cosplayers who compete to win a cash prize.

I’ve been to a lot of comic conventions and each one is filled with people dressed as their favorite characters, ranging from well-known heroes such as Superman and Spider-Man to obscure characters who have a dedicated fanbase. Some of the costumes are hastily thrown together for fun, while others had months (or longer) of work poured into them. The outfits on “Heroes of Cosplay” definitely fall in the latter category.

I’ll be watching both shows. Even if you’re not a fan of science fiction, I recommend giving them a try to enjoy the work of these artists.

The season premiere of “Face Off” is on Syfy on Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. The series premiere of “Heroes of Cosplay” follows at 10:30 p.m.