Home > Free Tutorials > Retouching > How to Contour Makeup in Photoshop

How to Contour Makeup in Photoshop

  • Easy
  • 15
  • Add to

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

Share this tutorial

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 modes 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 😉

30% Off SALE

Save 30% on all individual purchases & subscriptions now through March 22nd.
Shop the Sale!


How to Master Blending Modes in Photoshop
In this tutorial, we break down all 27 blending modes that Photoshop offers, providing in-depth explanations and practical examples that are bound to help you get your creative work done faster and with impressive results.
Join us as we equip you with everything you need to know about shooting and editing in monochrome.
With over 4 hours of step-by-step instruction, we cover the tools and methodology required to make any color change appear realistic and natural.
While it may seem like magic, the ability to make anything disappear in Photoshop isn’t a trick – it’s a skill that anyone can learn.
Photoshop Compositing
In this tutorial, we cover several tools and techniques that, when combined, will allow you to create perfect masks of anything from the precision curves of designer products to the messy detail of a head of hair.

Watch hundreds of PRO Tutorials and download Lightroom Presets, Photoshop Actions and more.
Learn More


There are no reviews yet.