Colour in pigment and lighting in makeup

Characteristics of color:

There are three terms used to describe the characteristics of a color and they are hue, intensity and value.

-Hue is the color we know by names such as red, green, yellow and blue. Pink is the color in red hue

-Intensity refers to tones of the color. Colors which are less bright are identify as low intensity.

-Value refers to the darkness and lightness of a color. The lighter the color, the higher the value.

Light on pigment:

Colors that have low value (dark colors) will have a greater effect on makeup while colors which have a high value has less effect. For a black and white photo or film, colors like, black, red and yellow, etc has low value and so they will appeal bolder than the colors like pink, etc.

Lighting in makeup:

The makeup seen on camera or stage under lights will not look the same as what we see, so it is very important to make adjustments on the makeup.

Direction of light and its effect on facial features:

The key light is used to make a person’s skin look younger and smoother when you positioned high in front of the person. It helps to create nice cheekbone shadows and hide the double chin but remember don’t positioned it too high as it will cast a large shadow under the nose over the upper lip and also under eye pouches. When taking photos or filming an older person who has got well developed nasolabial folds, we should not place the key light from the side angle as it will make the skin looks saggy and bad skin texture. The lower you positioned the key light, the flatter the face will look. Highlighting and shading on make-up is very important as the highlights can help to lift the recessed areas while the shading can define the features on the face.

The fill light is used to lighten shadows on the face in order to create less harshness and reduce contrast within the photo. In films or TV studio, there is usually a diffused light positioned on the opposite side of the camera from the key light. If the key light positioned high in front of the subject and a bit to the left of the camera, the fill light should be positioned to the right side of the camera which helps to illuminating the side of the subject.

The back light is used to create dimensional separation from the background and it is placed behind the subject. It also helps to sharpen the edges and the shape of the subject. Lowering the back light will be better as it will not add to much light on the scalp.


  • Kehoe, V. (c1991). Special Make-up Effects. Focal Press.
  • Conway, J. (2004). Make-up artistry for professional qualifications. Heinemann Educational Publishers.
  • Corson R., Norcross B., Glavan J.(2010). Stage Makeup. Tenth edition. Publisher: Allyn & Bacon.

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