Film Makeup Test, Part 1 – The Base

Welcome to my first blogpost here on Behind Our Scenes!

I’ve been interested in makeup for a long time, and recently I’ve been taking steps to advance myself in skill, hopefully getting to the place where I can create some fairly good looks for photography and film. I’ve been doing lots of research and buying lots of new tools and more expensive makeup. This movie project with my siblings and friends is providing me with a really cool opportunity to explore the world of film and fx makeup, specifically small wounds and dirt. I’m looking forward to it!


The finished look.

Being as excited as I am about this project, I couldn’t resist doing some tests. I’m still learning a lot and the best way to learn makeup is to practice, practice, and practice some more. I finally have enough supplies to start practicing some of the things I’m going to be doing (or potentially doing) in this film. My lovely sister, Annie, agreed to be my very patient model. She did a wonderful job (hugs sis!). Annie is going to have a part in this film, but her look will probably be very different from the one on the right. This is just a test of various materials, and a learning experience for me.

Without further ado, I present a picture-full documentation of my first foray into facial cuts and dirt.

Parents, please be advised that part 2, detailing how I made the wound, may not be appropriate for small children who do not do well with a little blood. Previewing may be in order. πŸ™‚


A small metal pallet to mix colors. It is easy to sanitize.

A small metal pallet to mix colors. It is easy to sanitize.

I brought up all of my supplies from my dimly-lit room up to the dining room where there is a big sliding glass door that lets in a lot of light. I wanted to make sure I was applying the makeup in the same light that I would be photographing portraits in later.

As part of my new learning process, I’m learning about sanitary makeup practices. When doing makeup for several different people, it’s different than just doing it for yourself. Being sanitary creates a few more steps in the process of putting on normal makeup.

The basic rules are:

1. Sterilize everything after usage

2. No double dipping

There are various new habits I’m learning to abide by these rules, i.e. setting aside used brushes and using a pallet to mix colors and pour liquids onto so I don’t have to dip a brush in a bottle or in a color more than once.

The Base: Clean Face

Here is my lovely model Annie, before any makeup is applied. I had her wipe her face with a cleansing wipe to get rid of any excess oils or leftover makeup.



The first thing I did was work on her eyes. I like to do the eyes first so that if I make any mistakes, or powder gets where I don’t want it, I can easily clean it up without ruining anything else.

I used Urban Decay’s Primer Potion first, then used several colors of matte (not shiny, sparkly, or pearlized) brown in her eye crease to give her eyes more depth. I also dusted her eye lid and browbone with some matte white powder to give them some highlight. Using a dark brown, I lined her eyelash line to make her eye more defined.

At this stage it looks too dramatic; Β it looks like I got the colors and the shapes too dark and stylized. While they are a little more dark than I was thinking they would be, once the rest of the makeup was applied, it looked right.

movie makeup test


Using my new Graftobian foundation pallets (which I am LOVING, btw), I start mixing foundation to try and match Annie’s skin tone perfectly. I like to sort of “water down” the foundation with moisturizer. It helps with the “caked” look and makes it more sheer.

movie makeup foundation

I mixed three colors of foundation.

1. An average color matching her skin.

2. One just lighter to give highlights

3. One just darker to put shadows where I wanted them.

The best place to test colors is on the jaw line because I can then make sure that the foundation blends into the neck without creating weird lines. *yikes*

In the picture below you can see the three colors I mixed.


The matching color went on first, starting in the middle of the face and going out, being careful to blend into the neck and ears. NO LINES!

Foundation for movie makeup

Then the darker color went on the areas of the face I wanted to appear more shadowed: the temples, under the cheekbone, down the sides of her nose, and a little on the jawline. This will help her face to appear slimmer, more chiseled, or give it more definition in the camera, whichever way you want to put it. πŸ˜‰


The lighter color went on the areas I want to stand out a little more. They are mostly the opposites of where I put the shadows: on the top of the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, and up into the middle of her forehead. I also used the light color to go over the dark circles under her eyes one more time and over any red spots that the first color didn’t cover all the way.

highlighting with foundation

After blending the colors into each other nicely so it looked natural, with no streaks or lines, I finished off the foundation by taking a big fluffy brush and dusting Annie’s face with finishing powder, or my poor-woman’s version of finishing powder, baby powder (wonderful stuff!).

This step is important because it makes the makeup stay where I put it, and it also takes away the shiny-ness. Cameras make anything shiny extra, extra shiny, so making the model or actor’s face matte is very important (unless you want them to look shiny for the purpose of the scene, i.e. because they are wet).


Finishing Touches

I took a powder foundation that is just darker than her skin tone, and went over the same places I put the darker cream foundation. I just felt it needed a little something extra. πŸ˜‰


I put a light dusting of blush on the apples of her cheeks and groomed her eyebrows a little bit with the eyebrow brush. This helps to get any loose powder or foundation out of the brows, and in a subtle way, helps make the face look more natural.


The last step for the base was mascara (with a disposable wand, or spoolie, as they are more commonly known). Annie’s eyelashes love to point straight down, which does not bode well for her cheeks staying mascara-free, so I curled them with an eyelash curler first.



The finished product with a tiny bit of lipstick (that was the wrong color so we took it off later).


So far so good, with a few mistakes that I’m nitpicky about but probably nobody else will notice. This is only the second time I’ve mixed foundation, so I’m still learning how to do it. I got it a little lighter than I was hoping for, but it turned out to be a good thing in the end because it helped Annie look cold, hungry, and scared for the final look.

The interesting part with the blooooooood comes in part two, which will be written as soon as I can find some spare brain space. Stay tuned!

Please tell me your thoughts, or ask any questions you have in the comments below. If you would like to know more specifics about the products used, I’d be more than happy to answer your questions.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

~ Rachel


About Rachel Poling

Rachel Poling is a serial hobbyist and one of those sopranos who can sing really high notes and likes sparkly jewelry. She enjoys researching, mulling, doodling, and implementing costume, makeup, and hair ideas. She also enjoys working on film scores, doing color correction, and generally having a toe dipped in anything pre-production. She has yet to act in any films, but she hopes to play an evil queen someday. View all posts by Rachel Poling

4 responses to “Film Makeup Test, Part 1 – The Base

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