Make-up is usually used to compliment actors' facial characteristics or to disguise them. It also needs to work with their costume and stage character and compensate for the effect of the stage lighting on their complexion. Not as simple as it first seems!
Unless you are in a large theatre with very bright lighting you will not require a lot of make up. Make sure you have a clear work surface, a mirror and good lighting to apply your make-up. The mirrors with lights around them are not just a Hollywood film cliché - you need to be able to see well, and help simulate the effect of the stage lights on the make-up. Close up your make-up may seem a little primitive, but you have to allow for most of the audience being quite a distance from the stage. Always check the make-up under the actual stage lighting, this is best done at dress rehearsal with someone sitting the audience to check for you.
Basic make-up will consist of a base of either a pancake (water based or powder), cream or grease stick make-up about one shade deeper than the natural skin tone. Grease sticks are a heavier makeup than cream and are known by the Leichner numbers; number 5 (Ivory) and number 9 (Brick Red) are popular numbers for men. Peach rouge is popular for women, avoid red, as it is most unnatural, unless that is the type of effect you want to create!
- Examples of basic make up technique
When using powder products apply with a fluffy headed natural bristle brush. When using cream products a synthetic bristles is better. Always use different brushes for your light colours (for highlights) and dark colours (for shadow contours). You will need a selection of sizes of brushes as each face is different, a brush that is a good size for one person might be too big or too small for another person.
For water based pancake makeup you will need Latex makeup sponges. Wedge shaped ones are useful because you can use the edges to get in the nooks and crevices of your face, like around the nostril edge or right up under your eyelashes. The round disc type are fine for larger areas. Each actor will need a small dish for water when using water based pancake.
Small natural sea sponges are good, but ensure you use the ones specifically intended for makeup application.
Larger, fluffier, brushes can be used for blusher and powder.
Remove make-up with cold cream (like Crowe's Cremine), baby wipes or make-up remover oil.
You may need to disguise or add to the actors' appearance, a typical way to do this is to use a beard or moustache. Experienced make-up artists will use crêpe hair. Ready-made hair pieces are easier, but not always as realistic.
- Examples of simple make up effects
copyright Leigh Graham 1997-2010.