10 Feb 2012

DIY Blank Makeup Face Charts

Here's a quick and dirty post (edit: actually, no, it turned out quite waffly) on how to make your own face charts, and how to work with them.  This one is mostly for the MUAs out there who are looking for an alternative to more expensive blank face charts, but might be of interest to anyone who is makeup obsessed, or likes to catalogue or plan their looks, or fancies the artistry that goes into creating one...

Face Charts: What They're Used For

Face charts are used by makeup artists to either try out or plan a look.  They are also used to record a look trialled on someone else, for example when I do photoshoots or bridal trials, I always create a face chart of the products and brushes I have used.  In fact I create two of these; one for the target (bride or photoshoot director) (for reference and/or posterity), and one for myself (for the day itself and later, for my portfolio, along with a photograph of the completed look).

These can be hard to find and/or work out relatively expensively.  In Ireland, my only option was to purchase some pads of these online, and even taking pro discounts into consideration, when I included shipping costs (from a few of the places where they're available and/or offered discounts and/or shipped to Ireland), these were working out at between 35-50c a sheet.  That can add up pretty quickly when you're using these all of the time.

Bear with me... I'm getting to the point.  Jump to "the point" below if you don't want to read my waffling.

The Paper Trials

So I started experimenting.  "Normal" printer paper is not great for this.  You need something that "grabs" the product on the page.  The paper needs to have what's called a "tooth".  I experimented with a number of different paper types from local and online artist supply stores.  And because artist paper isn't cheap, either, I badgered some friends of mine into sending me on some sample pieces for experimentation.  I came to the conclusion that watercolour paper seemed to work the best.  And that cold-pressed watercolour paper (also called "Watercolour Not", because it is "not" hot pressed) seemed to be the best all-round, in terms of tooth (HP or "Hot Pressed" has almost no tooth, "rough" is too rough).

Delighted, I purchased a pads of it.  Not cheap, as I previously mentioned, but not crazy expensive either.  Maybe I should have thought about it first, because I realised when I brought it home, that it was stock paper, almost card, and far too stiff for the printer.  Undeterred, I went back out and purchased some more.  At 200g/m2, it was still too thick for the printer.  At this point, I started an obsessed search for Watercolour Not at 150g/m2 or less.  It seems to exist, according to searches, but I couldn't find it in Ireland, I couldn't get any artist supply shop to agree to order it, and I couldn't find anywhere that would ship it to Ireland at any half-decent cost.  Back to the drawing board...

The Point

My choices for blank face chart paper
While on holidays in Killarney (South West Ireland), I picked up a pad of Fine Grain Drawing paper (Daler-Rowney).  A4, thirty sheets, around €6 (which was a bit of a rip-off, because I know that can get it for €4ish in Cork, but onwards).  Smooth but textured, 120g/m2.  Worth a shot.  I brought it home and printed out a face chart.  The printer can handle the weight, the paper takes the ink from the printer cleanly, and it worked reasonably well, but still nothing amazing.

It was going to be my stop-gap, but then I found this: Conqueror Texture paper.  Also A4, fifty sheets this time, 100g/m2.  The printer handles it nicely, weight-wise it's basically good quality printer paper.  It has an irritating watermark, but that aside, it is absolutely perfect.  It's white, it cost me approximately €5 at the time (but they're available much more cheaply if you order a ream of five hundred through an office supply store, around €30-€35, depending on where you buy it).  It has more of a textured finish than a tooth, but it works fine.  It's sufficiently lightweight for the printer to handle it, it's sufficiently textured to grab product, and it looks good.

Standard MAC-type blank face
I put together my own face chart template (I just used MS Word and this blank face image, feel free to use it) and printed out all thirty of them.  At a fiver for fifty sheets, it will cost me 10c per sheet (not including printer consumables or energy costs).  The next time around I'll purchase them in larger quantities and it will wind up costing about 6c/sheet.  Not bad.

Creating a Face Chart

1.  Check to see what weight paper your printer can handle, but standard printers can usually deal with around 150g/m2 or less.  Get yourself some A4 sheets in either
  • Watercolour NOT in 150g/m2 or less (depends on your printer)
  • or the Daler-Rowney Fine Grain Drawing paper (listed above)
  • or (my personal recommendation) Conqueror Texture paper in white (mentioned above)
2.  Create yourself a template using the linked blank face above (or do a google search, there are dozens of different style/shape blank face charts out there) in your word processor of choice.  My template was very simple: I created a table in Word, with two columns; the columns on the left were all merged and the image inserted.  The columns on the right were for the products used (you may want to leave an area free for Client Name, Date, Location, Event too... your call).

Extra Step for the OCD among us (me included!)For a really cool face chart, you could take a photo of your client's face, image process it (I use Adobe Photoshop to turn it into a sketch, then I remove all but the outlines and save it as a jpg file), and insert this into your face chart document... then you have a customised face chart for your client (this is a hell of a lot of extra work and who has the time?!  But on occasion, if you really want some extra wow factor, this is a good tip!)

3.  Print out your finished document onto the paper you procured.  Et voilĂ , highly usable, cheap, blank face charts.

Designing on a Face Chart

Dinkin' aboot...
There are a few ways of designing on face charts.  Bear in mind that you won't use the same brushes to create a face chart as you would on someone's actual face, as you need denser brushes to get powder products to show up.  Here's what I've found works...
  1. Give the face some shape and dimension using bronzer and a flat paddle foundation brush, following the contours of the face.  Contour the nose also with the bronzer, use a flat eyeshadow brush for this (something like the MAC 239 or 252).
  2. "Prime" the eyelid area of the chart, in the same way as you would on a face, with a nude or vanilla coloured matte eyeshadow.  If you have very rough paper, this is a good idea to help you with blending darker shadows.
  3. Apply your eyeshadow on the eye area of the chart, following the shape you would usually apply it on a face (eg outer corner, or lid, or socket, whatever) using a flat brush like a MAC 239.  Flat brushes seem to work better for face charts, in general.
  4. To create/fill-in eyebrows, you can use a combination of pencil ticks with a soft pencil (to emulate hairs) and some matte eyeshadow to "fill them in".  An angled liner brush seems to work best for brows and liner, in my opinion. 
  5. For creating liner, use a kohl pencil, but apply it from your liner brush (run the brush over the pencil and then onto the chart).  Using a kohl pencil directly on the chart usually results in a blobby imprecise mess.
  6. For your eyelashes, use a pencil or a very fine felt-tip marker (I use the caligraphy pen from Muji, it's brilliant) and a series of "check marks" or "correct marks" - right check marks on the right lid (facing you) and left on the left lid.  Quickly, while it's still wet, run a Q-tip over them to blur them slightly at the "lash line"
  7. For the lips, use a lip liner and lipstick, but again, from a lip brush and not directly onto the paper.  Create the illusion of a shine on the lips by leaving an area lighter or unfilled-in, as you can't use lipgloss on the paper.  If the lipstick is very dark, go back over the middle of the lip area with some dark eyeshadow on your liner brush to delineate the lips.
  8. Add blusher to the cheeks as required using a flat foundation brush.  You don't really need to add contour, as you've shaped the face on the chart with bronzer, and highlighter won't show up.
  9. For a nice last touch, colour the iris section of the eye the same colour as your client's eyes.
  10. Remove all excess powder with a large powder brush.
  11. Make note of all the products you used (and the brushes you will use - on the client's face, not the chart!)
  12. Spray (very lightly, and from a distance) with hairspray to seal, and you're done!
- It's a good idea to have some cheaper and/or older brushes that you keep especially for this purpose

- Blending is really important with face charts, blending seems to work best on paper with clean flat or dense round brushes

- You will get a better effect (on paper) from matte eyeshadows, it can be hard to get sparkly or metallic shadows to show up on paper

- You can't use creamy or glossy products, you'll wind up with a mess.  Create the illusion of lipgloss as indicated at step 7 above

- Kohl and wax products (eg pencils, liners etc) are best applied from a brush, not directly on the paper


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