Makeup Artists use highlights and
contours in a subtle way, without blanking out the features of the face first. We create dimension and highlight features, but with a realistic touch or aesthetic. Sometimes a Makeup Artist is using the technique of highlight and contour without really knowing it. Examples include applying a lighter color under the eyebrow (highlight), or adding a touch of shade under the cheekbone to sculpt out more definition (contour).
What are highlights and contours, or highlights versus shading? Highlights are lighter colors that are applied to any area the Makeup Artist wants to stand out. Contours are darker colors that are applied to any area the Makeup Artist wants to sink or set back. Although the face has shape and depth, there are certain lighting situations that can turn the face flat. The greater a threedimensional effect achieved by the Makeup Artist, the better the makeup will be. That said, there is nothing worse than an overdone look when the director has requested a no-makeup look. With blending, you can create beautiful, flawless makeup using highlights and contours with no one being able to see the makeup. There are many Makeup Artists who either highlight or contour, but not both. Think about it. If you apply a lighter shade, for example, on the top of the cheekbone, you will automatically create a sink or shadow right below there for your contour. The same can be said of the opposite.
If you apply a contour or shade, for example, in the temple area, you will create highlights on the top cheekbone and outer upper brow bone. We’ll go into more detail with the charts on what colors work well for both highlights and contours. In the long run, it is important for a Makeup Artist to learn facial structure and to recognize the importance of where light and dark fall on the features of the face.
Forward planes catch the light. Recessed
—Gerd Mairandres, Wigmaster,
San Francisco Opera
The correct colors to use for highlights are important. If the highlight color is too light or too heavily applied for all media (film, TV, HD, print, and theater), your work will be seen as heavy-handed. Highlights in off-whites, cream, pinks, gold, yellows, or any color that is a few degrees lighter than the skin tone that you are working on will work best—except pure white, which in most situations is too harsh. Remember what you learned in Chapter 3—that white mixed with another color is a tint, so you can be as creative as you want to be.