“Guardians of the Galaxy” has been in theaters for two weeks and has already made more than $313 million worldwide. 

Before the film’s release, we asked special makeup-effects designer David White to take Business Insider through the process of transforming some of the stars from Zoe Saldana to Karen Gillan into their onscreen characters.

Out of all the actors, wrestler David Bautista was among the cast members who spent the most time on set.

In order to transform Bautista into his character Drax the Destroyer it took a team of five makeup artists five hours each day to apply 18 prosthetic pieces to the wrestler, according to Marvel Studios.

“Drax started as a five-hour makeup, and slowly the time began to fall away, as expected,” White tells Business Insider. “A makeup that extensive is a real slog for the team as it’s so complex.”

“Every day, a Vac forma [plastic mold] of David’s exact body shape with perforated holes in it to indicate exactly where the prosthetics start and finish was offered up,” says White. “This had rice paper skin illustrator airbrushed through it showing the map.”

david bautista vac forma drax guardians of the galaxy

Courtesy of Disney/David White

The mold of Dave Bautista’s upper body shows outlines for the different prosthetic pieces. You can also see the prosthetic shapes behind Bautista’s mold.



White says Bautista was then brush sealed with a chemical and medical adhesive mix. Afterward, makeup artists started applying the 18 pieces onto the actor’s shoulders and the rest of his body.

“The crew all had different tasks in the sequence. Some move[d] onto the paint system while some finished off the prosthetic blending offs,” says White.

Elaborate tattoos and markings cover Bautista’s entire body. As you can see, they’re incredibly detailed.


dave bautista gotg makeup

Disney/Marvel Studios courtesy of David White


dave bautista guardians of the galaxy makeup

Disney/Marvel Studios courtesy of David White



Since Drax isn’t predominantly blue or grey or red there were different paint layers the artists then had to apply.

“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,” White tells us. “Then the whole body is sealed with a fixative so that it can withstand the day’s shoot.”

dave bautista makeup guardians of the galaxy

Disney/Marvel Studios courtesy of David White

Dave Bautista stands with his bust in the background.



In addition to all of that, Bautista also had to wear dentures to “dirty down his real teeth” along with contacts that gave him “ice blue eyes with a red circling the eye iris.”

Co-star Chris Pratt revealed to Buzzfeed that Bautista stood the entire time while his makeup was applied.

“Bautista had to stand like this with his arms out rested on posts … stands that had tennis balls on them,” said Pratt. “He had to stand for hours like that every single day. Never complained about it.”

chris pratt buzzfeed guardians of the galaxy

Buzzfeed screenshot

“Guardians of the Galaxy” co-star Chris Pratt demonstrates how Dave Bautista stood while getting his makeup applied every day on set.


Eventually, White says Drax’s makeup took an average of three hours to do. Bautista recently told /Film the makeup team was able to get it down to 2 hours and 47 minutes one day. However, it takes about another hour and a half to get off. 

Here’s a side-by-side of Bautista’s transformation:

dave bautista guardians of the galaxy