Tuesday 24 February 2009

How to Use Contour and Highlight to Sculpt the Face

As I said yesterday, if the New York runways are anything to go by, contouring is going to be big come the fall.

Contouring is a technique that can be used not just to bring out the cheek bones but to sculpt the whole face. The basis of contouring is that dark colours appear to recede where as lightening an area brings it forward so you can shade the face to give it more depth.

As simple as it seems a lot of people struggle with contouring, highlighting and blush so I thought I would share this excellent tutorial from Smashbox with you to help give those that haven't contoured before a better understanding of how to achieve the look.

Back when I was in makeup school I found it hard knowing where to place the colour, it always just looked wrong or very 80's rather than subtly enhancing the natural beauty of the face. The more faces I did though the better understanding I got of the structure of the face and you will soon find the technique comes naturally and is a lot easier to master with practice.

One of my favourite YouTube artists Pixiwoo shows how she uses contouring in her video on her daily makeup routine. At about 7mins in you will see her contouring and how flattering it can be so give it ago!

Let me know your thoughts on contouring and whether you like to sculpt the face or not. If you don't contour already will you incorporate this into your routine? Leave a comment.

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  1. I was so surprised to see all the face contouring stuff coming out these days and an article about it in Allure. Feels so 80s to me. I used to do it for modeling, because my nose didn't look terribly defined in photos. Thanks for sharing the videos. It was interesting to see it done with a fan brush. I've never used one of those before. Gonna have to get one and try a bit of this with a lighter hand than I used in the 80s for photo shoots, because if it doesn't look subtle, that's sooooo 80s. :)

  2. thanks for this. i have all the products to contour a face but never really do it cause i'm afraid of it looking too harsh.

    i did a shoot about a week ago where the photographer requested that i darken up under the models chin and it really did help..... and no harsh lines either.

    i think the trick is to have a light hand and to blend, blend, blend.

  3. It's so funny b/c I have a Fall Fashion shoot tomorrow where I was planning on doing a very clean face w/ contour as the focus...this was planned before NYC fashion wk...guess I'm ahead of the curve lol. I love a good cheekbone on myself or the model as long as it's done right. I almost always do a little contouring and I'm surprised how many models say I'm the first MUA to contour them. Seems like a lot of MUAs are afraid of contouring or don't know how to do it I guess. When working in B&W photography it's a must IMO.

  4. Awesome.. I always wanted to know the correct way to do it.

  5. Sonja/Amy, its definitely all about not being too heavy handed and blending really well so you dont get that harsh 80's line this time around.

    Give it a try and im sure you will be hooked once you see the difference it can make.

    Jessica, That shows what a great artist you are, you must have an instinct for trends! ;)

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