Makeup for Monsters: How Artists Use Color Theory to Spook Us
Professional makeup artists use a combination of techniques, color choices, and artistic skills to transform actors into scary monsters whose faces horrify and disgust us.
Makeup artists understand color theory, which includes concepts like complementary colors, contrasting colors, and yellow vs blue-based colors. They use this knowledge to create visually striking and unsettling color combinations.
Here are some of the common color techniques used to create the monsters, creatures, and terrifying characters that we see on screen, stage, and beyond.
Mixed Spectrum Makeup
One of the ways makeup artists create looks that churn our insides is by using principles of the blue-based yellow-based color system to their advantage. This is the same color system that Oxygenetix formulators used to create the blue-based and yellow-based foundation shades.
Everything on Earth is either blue or yellow-based, including you! Combining colors of the same spectrum, whether that's blue or yellow-based creates color harmony, while mixing spectrums creates discord.
Makeup artists will often mix colors in a look that clash in order to create an uneasy feel. This is often the case with scary clown makeup and wardrobe. The colors chosen will be from both the blue-based and the yellow-based color wheels so that it looks "tacky" or not right.
Another way mixed spectrum makeup is used to create horrifying looks is when the makeup artist chooses colors that are opposite the model's coloring on purpose. If the model or actor/actress is blue-based, they will choose yellow-based makeup so that the look is even more unsettling.
Choosing Dark and Unusual Colors
Scary monsters often have unnatural skin tones, such as sickly greens, bruised purples, ashy grays, or blood-red hues. These colors create a sense of unease and otherworldliness.
Texture and Layering
Makeup artists use various textures like latex, prosthetics, and tissue paper to create texture on the skin. They layer different colors and materials to make the skin appear aged, diseased, or rotting.
Contouring and Shadows
Strategic contouring and shading can give depth and dimension to the monster's features. Deep shadows in eye sockets, cheekbones, and around the mouth can make the creature look more skeletal or sinister.
Bold contrasts between light and dark areas on the face can create dramatic effects. This can be achieved with white face paint or powder for highlights and dark, shadowy areas.
Professional makeup artists use their creativity and expertise to turn actors into terrifying monsters using a combination of colors, textures, and techniques. Their ability to manipulate color and create visual effects is a vital part of bringing scary creatures to life on screen or stage.