Nicole Wilder/Syfy
Lindzi Scharf
January 30, 2014 AT 12:00 PM EST

Dragons had their moment in the spotlight on this week’s Face Off… Host McKenzie Westmore brought the group to Malibu, CA’s Point Dume State Beach, where films like Planet of the Apes and Iron Man were once shot. The artists were then told they would be tasked with creating dragons for their first solo challenge. Shields that were damaged by different substances (from ice to tar) stood nearby. The contestants were told that each of their dragons had to breathe one of the substances represented. But that wasn’t the group’s biggest challenge. The 18 hour deadline was.

The artists quickly got to work… and just as quickly problems arose. During their first day in the lab, Tess Laeh struggled with symmetrical issues–having sculpted one side of her dragon’s face before the other. Chloe Sens’s seahorse-inspired dragon might have already proved to be a tad too ambitious. The multiple components set her back time wise. Conversely, the remainder of the artists–particularly Rashaad Santiago and Tyler Green–seemed to be right on track.

On fabrication day, Green found himself ahead of the rest of his competitors. He used his excess time to create wings and icicle horns for his vulture-esque dragon creation. Meanwhile, Santiago used the day to create a chest, back, arms, and wings. Elsewhere, many of the other contestants faced time management issues. Laeh was forced to cut one of her dragon’s legs off, a major setback since she now needed to better blend her sculpture. Elsewhere, Niko Gonzalez’s chest mold cracked, which forced him to airbrush his model instead. Meanwhile, Sens struggled to finish her sculpture in time with many of its elements–like her dragon’s chest and back–still incomplete by the end of the day. Once application day arrived, she did her best to troubleshoot, but–due to creative setbacks and time constraints–she left portions of her dragon unpainted. She worried that she’d be sent home.

Judgement day arrived. George Schminky, Green, and Santiago wound up with this week’s top looks. Green was singled out as this week’s winner for his ambitious final product. While Gonzalez, Laeh, and Daniel Phillips found themselves in the bottom, only Phillips was sent home. The judges felt he made “perplexing” decisions and that his make-up lacked dragon elements. (And they had a field day with his dragon’s floral robe.)

EW caught up with Phillips about what it was like being a part of the show, what he would have done differently in his challenge, the story behind that floral robe, and what he’s been working on since filming wrapped.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the experience like being on Face Off?

Daniel Phillips: The experience was incredible. The cast was [filled with] great people. We’re still good friends. We talk every day by social media and keep in touch that way. The experience exceeded my expectations.

Had you followed the show closely before appearing on it?

I actually did. I actually auditioned for season two and I didn’t make season two. My family coerced me, so I sent another audition tape in and I got picked up for season five. I’ve definitely been watching the show through out the years. It’s a cool show to watch. It’s not drama-filled. It’s more about the technical aspects of things, so I dig it for that reason.

How did you feel going into your first solo challenge? What was your first reaction?

My first reaction was “Great, I can finally show them what I can do on my own,” and not have to rely on the skill sets of other people for this challenge. That was my biggest thing. I just wanted to show them what I was capable of doing. It kind of was a pretty big one to have as our first solo challenge, but I thought I met the challenge.

How did your reaction to the challenge change through out?

What they didn’t show on the show was… They did show that I was the first person to pick my flag, but once we got back to the lab I was the last person to pick my model and unfortunately there weren’t very many models left, so I had a female and I really wanted it to be a huge male because I’m thinking, “Dragons. Big monster guy.” I had to re-evaluate my make-up when I got back to the studio and started sculpting. That threw me off a little bit. I picked up the pieces and went with it. In my mind, I liked my make-up. I liked everything I did as far as the make-up went. I thought it was cool.

What was the idea behind the floral silk robe? Did you add it because you had a female model

Well, yeah… The robe, the crazy robe… As you know, we’re under such time constraints with the show that they [only] allow you one piece of wardrobe. I originally intended for them to give me a really big, sick kimono like a geisha kimono. I wanted something like what a karate person would wear. And I got a really silky, negligee type of robe. Unfortunately, at that point in the game, there was no way I could change it. We were doing last looks at that point and it was what it was. I, unfortunately, did not like the robe at all, but I didn’t have anything else to put her in. I had to go with what I had. I was hoping the judges would not beat me up so hard about the robe. Unfortunately, they did.

Is there anything you’d do different if you had to do the challenge over?

{laughs} Yes, I would do a different robe. I thought I met the challenge. I went for a traditional Japanese style dragon. If you look at my design, there are wings on the sides of the head. There’s that bearded, dragon-look that comes from a traditional Japanese style dragon with a big, upturned nose. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t see it that way… I did a reptilian chest piece for her. I tried to keep it as traditional as I could based on the palette I was working with.

It doesn’t sound like you would change anything.

Obviously, when you look at your designs you’re never satisfied. You would always change something. I definitely would have changed my wardrobe. But as far as the look and the overall appeal to the dragon, I liked it. I thought it looked good. I really, really did. I guess that’s a big part about why I’m not upset about leaving the show. Because I really did like my design.

Did you agree with any of the judges feedback?

I respect their decision. That’s the best way to put it. I respect their decisions and the feedback I got from them. I was happy for the feedback. Did I agree with it? I would have to say no. In some cases, I felt like some of the make-up was overlooked. But, for the most part, I respect their decisions.

Were there any other memorable moments that happened when the cameras weren’t rolling?

Spending time with the cast at the house when we didn’t have the cameras on us. I was the oldest one in the house. It was kinda funny because they all looked at me… I was the most experienced. I’ve done a lot of film work. A lot of the younger cast members were just coming out of make-up schools, but it was great to meet a group of people who all had common interests and that actually cared about each other. We got along so well from the first day. Even the production company and the producers looked at us like, “Man, you guys [have] no drama whatsoever.” We tried to instill that in all of us. That’s just how it was. That’s what I miss the most. I miss the camaraderie of hanging out with those guys. It was fun.

Who should we keep an eye on from the group? Are there any standout contestants?

At this point, it’s anyone’s game. I think at this point, everyone… based on me leaving the show yesterday… I mean, in my honest opinion, I should not have been eliminated. That’s just how I feel. The world knows why. They’ve already social media-ed it. It’s well documented on Face Off‘s website and throughout a lot of social media avenues. But, I think at this point, anyone is game. Everybody better be on their toes. It’s anyone’s game at this point.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?

We just relocated my studio [D.P. Studio in St. Clair Shores, Michigan]. I’m working on a lot of… Unfortunately, there’s not too much I can talk about right now because it’s in the works. But there’s some really big shows coming into town here in Michigan. I’m having meetings right now. I am a union make-up artist. We have some union films coming in. So, the next film that comes along is the one I jump on.

What’s your ultimate goal in the world of make-up?

I’m sure a lot of people would say this, but I’d love to have an Academy Award some day. That would be my ultimate goal, but at this point right now… My goal is to just do a make-up that makes me happy. Make-up is my life. It’s what I do. It’s all I’ve known. At the end of the day, I just try to do a make-up that makes me smile. If another make-up artist or person looks at it and says, “That’s good or that’s incredible,” that does it for me. That’s what I love.

Face Off airs Tuesday’s at 9 PM ET on Syfy.

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