By Lindzi Scharf
Updated September 04, 2013 at 09:16 PM EDT
Nicole Wilder/Syfy

Face Off

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On this week’s episode of Face Off, there were no teams for the Spotlight Challenge. While the veterans seemed stoked, the newbies were a tad nervous about working solo.

After host McKenzie Westmore introduced the group to their guest judge, sculptor and concept artist Jordu Schell (300, Avatar) she explained that the challenge would be creating a subterranean creature that once inhabited underground tunnels. Before getting started, the contestants sought inspiration in an abandoned power plant. Once the competition got underway, some buckled under the pressure and others thrived. In the end, season 2 vet Miranda Jory won her third challenge, while season 3 vet Roy Wooley and newcomers Scott Ramp and Aldolfo Barreto Rivera wound up at the bottom of the pack.

Ultimately, it was Rivera — whose creation “didn’t read subterranean” according to the judges — who was sent home. EW spoke with 32-year-old Rivera about Jory’s winning streak, what he would have done differently, and what he’s been working on since he was eliminated.

Entertainment Weekly: How would you describe you experience on Face Off?

Aldolfo Barreto Rivera: It was amazing. A year ago I was just sitting around my house watching the show and then I worked really hard to see if I could maybe make it happen. I feel like I accomplished a lot. I never thought I’d have the chance to even be considered for the show. I’m super happy I had the chance to do it. I left a little earlier than I thought [I would], but I was there a little bit longer than I thought [I would be].

Did you learn anything during your time on the show?

You need a lot of speed since you have no time [to work on things]. That’s one of the things I learned. You don’t even realize it until you leave the show and you’re working on your own stuff and you realize you’re working way faster. Half of the stuff I’ve been watching [on the show], I don’t even remember. I see it [for the first time] on TV, I’m watching just like everybody else. It’s a blur. I don’t remember anything, I was just going for it. The speed and the sculpturing is where I learned a lot.

Did you bond with any of the contestants who were veterans from previous seasons?

Absolutely. [I] keep in touch, especially with Alana [Schiro] and Miranda. We’re kinda close, and Frank [Ippolito]. I mean, I’m a fan of the show, so I knew who they were. It was a surprise to work with them, but at the same time, it was nice. They helped us — especially with Frank, Tate [Steinsiek], Alana, and Miranda — those four people were super helpful and now I’m kinda attached to them.

This week we saw the first solo Spotlight Challenge. Were you nervous when you found out you’d be working alone?

It was scary, of course, but my first episode was supposed to be a team challenge and I ended up doing a full character by myself. So jumping into this one was kinda like, “Let’s do it again.” It was a little crazy because you’re trying to pay attention to what you’re doing and you’re looking around and you’re trying to make something as big as everybody else, especially when the veterans are doing things that are super big. It doesn’t matter how much you say, “I’m going to go smaller. Less is more.’ You get too ambitious and then you realize, “I’m by myself in this challenge.” It was crazy, but fun.

Miranda is on a winning streak. What do you think of her work?

She’s freaking amazing. Her improvement from her season to this season is ridiculous. She’s been doing really [well] and she has a lot more confidence. She’s just going for it. I was there and I saw her work in person. It’s really impressive. I’m happy for her because she worked really hard. We both graduated from the same school [Cinema Make-Up School].

Did you know each other at school?

No, she [graduated] before me. But… when we started talking, we [realized we] had a bunch of friends in common and we’d had the same teachers.

Is Miranda is going to win?

I think it’ll be Tate. It would be fun to see him win because he’s a great artist. But who knows?

What was it like having Jordu Schell on the show this week?

He’s a nice guy. He was super honest from the moment he walked out for the challenge, and he was very specific about what he wanted. It was an honor to have him telling us what to do and giving us tips.

If you could do this week’s challenge over again, what would you do differently?

I’ve had nightmares about it. If I could do something differently, I wouldn’t paint [my creature] orange. I would paint it a little more pale. Looking back now and thinking about the scenario and the themes and the ashes on the floor [of the underground tunnel], I came home and thought, “Maybe I should have made a dragon.” It would have made a lot more sense with the scenario. In that moment, there’s no way to doublethink things and turn back. I would either paint it differently or I would make a dragon.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?

I am working at the L Make-Up Institute in Las Vegas. I teach beauty and special effects makeup.

What is your ultimate goal in the industry?

I would love to be on a set one day. I wouldn’t have to be doing special effects, my forte is beauty and theatrical [ makeup]. I think most of us would like to be working in movies. For now, I’m going to keep working really hard to get better at it.

Face Off airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on the Syfy channel.

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