Jan 14, 2016

How to Contour Makeup in Photoshop

In today’s episode, we show you how to contour makeup in Photoshop!

Doing Our Research

We specialize in many things here at Phlearn.  Contouring makeup isn’t one of them.  We used the friendly internet to Google some references on how people actually contour makeup.  Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to apply makeup in Photoshop than it is to do it in real life.  Here’s what we learned from the process, always look for references.  Books, magazines, the internet, even just things right outside your window can be great inspiration for your work.  Sometimes it takes a little kick to get the creative juices flowing.  After we gathered some references we were ready to go.  We wanted to select highlights and shadows and then paint them on our subject’s face.  Then we decided that we’d have to blend everything together seamlessly.

Getting Started

We chose a reference image and dragged it into Photoshop to work as a sort of guide.  We started by analyzing the shadows in our reference.  We then created a new Layer and used our brush tool to mimic what we seen in our reference.  We sample a shadow color in our image and then began with contouring our subject’s cheek.  We weren’t too concerned with precision because we knew that we’d be blurring everything later on.  We then continue to paint a shadow on the chin, around the eye, around the forehead, and down the nose into the eyebrow.  That helped us conclude a rough draft of our dark contour.  Next we started on our light contour.  We took the same process of sampling a light color from our subject and began painting on our subject.  We started with the cheeks, the the chin, around the mouth and on the forehead.  We tried to keep things as symmetric as possible, treating it as if we were real makeup artists.

Adding a Blur

We changed the blending mode on our dark layer to “Hard Light.”  After we’ve changed our blending mode, we added a Gaussian Blur.  This effect helped blend what we’ve painted.  An obvious problem that arose was the color.  A simple Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer helped us tone the color down a bit and made the image a bit more realistic.  We brought the Saturation down and the Lightness up to add realism to the photo.  We then repeated this process for the light contour of the image.  Adding a Gaussian Blur and cranking up the radius until everything blended together.

Final Touches

We lower the Opacity of certain areas so that things blended together better.  We then created a Layer Mask to paint black over the areas that we didn’t want the effect to be visible.  Our end product is a stunning image with a subject who looks like she has makeup on.  It’s crazy to think that we used a reference image from Google as a guide to contouring makeup.  Now it’s your turn to get out there and contour makeup…in Photoshop of course 😉




user image You
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  • user image

    For a man make-up is always a bit mysterious 😉
    Very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • user image

    Nice. Surprised to see you using the hue/saturation directly on the layer rather than as an adjustment layer, though. Not like you at all.

  • user image

    thanks a lot. very efficiant and very well explained. I really enjoyed watching this. the right amount of blur does the trick just as you do split frequency retouching for skin, where you also work with rwo layers …

  • user image

    Aaron’s video lessons are worth watching simply for their entertainment value! The fact that you can learn something really useful is a bonus!

  • user image

    Thanks, again awesome.
    But one question. Why (in 07:40) you do not use the Adjustment Layer HSL and use Image-Adjustment-Hue/Saturation.. instead?

  • user image

    awesome tip! very cool exercise to practice over and over and taking is a step further search for the color pallette of foundations of the different makeup houses and have them as a reference too!

  • user image

    Another great session…thanks for sharing. You make it so easy and phun 🙂
    I was just working on this little tribute to Bowie when i discovered your tutorial…and could apply it right away.

    Thumbs up Phlearn!

  • user image
    Tam Pham

    I really love your training , short explaining, easy and powerfull technicques.

    You are Master of photoshop

    Thanks for sharing.

  • user image
    Pier Giorgio Tesser

    Good tutorial! It did help me a lot.
    I’ve found a nice before and after on the internet. Just for fun!

  • user image

    Nice and helpful!
    Do you have any tut how to remove background from scanned watercolor paintings with very soft colors?
    Thank you.

  • user image

    So much better than messing with Portrait Pro!!!
    Your freebies are brilliant for us average camera club members who are trying to enter something a ‘little bit better’ in our monthly in house and inter-club competitions. Keep it up, please!

  • user image

    Your tutorials are so fantastic you are a great presenter clear and precise explanations, thank you so much for them and please keep them coming.

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    Jaco Mare

    To start with I love your tutorials you guys are grate. I have cs6 extended and was wondering if I can create a studio background with the program.