Media Make-Up by The Biz at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

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As part of the programme of events at this Spring’s MCM Birmingham Comic Con, Jennifer Lenard, Principal of The Biz Media Make-Up and Hair Academy, gave a series of make-up demonstrations and spoke about becoming a professional make-up artist.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWhether you’re looking to enter the media industry or simply to learn more about the craft, The Biz offers a range of industry-recognised long and short courses throughout the year. These can take anything from a single day to a few months to complete, and cover everything from period and historical looks to special effects like cuts and wounds and elaborate fantasy and sci-fi creations.

In keeping with the weekend’s comic-book theme, Jennifer first showed attendees how to create a version of DC’s Poison Ivy character using an airbrush, glitter and real ivy leaves. She told the audience how much she enjoyed working on fantasy characters, since these afford a lot more creative freedom than more simple, everyday looks. Beginning with a shimmering, pale yellow base which helps to bring out the eyes by reflecting light, she then added a darker colour to enhance the eye shape. Green and black tones were then layered up around the eyes, nose and forehead by spraying an airbrush over pre-made stencils. The airbrush was also used to apply blusher. Jennifer explained that airbrushes help to create a more flawless look, though stressed that it takes practice to use one properly, and that it can be messy and even dangerous if used incorrectly. Between colours, the airbrush was cleaned out using an IPA (isopropyl alcohol) fluid. It tends to take longer to remove darker colours, so for this reason, it’s useful to start with the lightest shade you need to use and work up towards stronger colours gradually.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERANext, she applied glitter using a damp sponge, creating brighter areas that contrasted with the dark colours beneath and added definition to the face. Water-soluble make-up glue was then used to apply false eyelashes and to stick ivy leaves to the forehead. When applying false eyelashes, it’s important to take into account the shape of a person’s eyes, and this can sometimes mean trimming down the lashes to suit them. Since the glue works better once it’s started to become tacky, she recommended applying glue to the second set of lashes before applying the first, to give the air more time to get at the glue. She also said that the person wearing them should keep their eyes closed for a few seconds afterwards to give them time to stick properly. When using glue elsewhere, working quickly is crucial, since the glue soon starts to “go off”, changing from having a honey-like consistency to more of a chewing gum texture.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAsked about the biggest mistake people usually make when applying make-up, she said that people are often reluctant to use too much. “Don’t be afraid to be really bold with colours,” she said, adding that this was especially true for stage productions, where bright lights can really wash the colour away from people’s faces, and those further away can struggle to see expressions if things aren’t well defined. One of the great things about using make-up is that if it goes wrong, it’s easy to remove it and start over, so there’s no need to worry about experimenting a little.

Jennifer also explained how highlighting and darkening certain parts of someone’s face can actually make it appear to be a different shape. As an example of this, she said that darker colours used around the edges of the face could be used on someone with a broad, square chin to make it seem narrower. Highlighting, meanwhile, attracts attention to particular features, making them seem bigger than they otherwise would.

The next demonstration was of how to create an open wound using a sculpturing material, which was mixed with different colours to create the right skin tone for the model. This was then pressed on and moulded with a pallet knife to create ridges forming the sides of the cut. Sponges and brushes were used to add texture, mimicking the skin’s natural pores and imperfections, while powder helped to set it before colour was added. Dark red tones painted inside the cut made it look deeper, while colour dabbed around the outside using a sponge created the impression of bruising and dried blood. To finish off the look, she sewed up the sculpture using a special medical thread and added a little more fake blood. Over the course of the weekend, this demonstration was given on three volunteer models: KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAtwo on people’s arms and the other on someone’s throat. The flexibility of the material meant that when they moved, their fake cuts opened, closed and oozed, just like real wounds would.

Jennifer explained that it’s important to learn about biology and the science behind cuts, bruises and the construction of the skin in order to be as accurate as possible, particularly for work on medical dramas like Casualty. It also helps to know how injuries develop over time – for example, if a character had a nasty bruise in one episode of Eastenders, you’d need to think about how that might change in a week’s time in order to create the right look for the next episode. She said that this is something covered in her courses at The Biz. Interestingly though, Biz students don’t just learn how to create injuries, but can also find out how to conceal them: for example, Jennifer mentioned working with brides who wanted marks and scars covered up for their wedding day.

Her final demonstration was of a more abstract, fantasy look involving lots of colours and glitter. This was created in a similar fashion to the earlier Poison Ivy look, though the end result was quite different. The KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAoverall effect was a kind of “paint splatter”, which Jennifer suggested might be used in promotional material for a make-up company wanting to showcase their full product range. The model’s hair was back-combed with a multicoloured wig and paintbrushes used to decorate. When the look was finished, the colours from the hair seemed to be dripping down onto the face. This demonstration helped to show how even experimental, “messy” looks can work well if you know what you’re doing, as well as encouraging the audience to use their imaginations without worrying about making mistakes.

The Biz Media Make-Up and Hair Academy is based in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. For more information, visit the academy’s website.

Photographs by Caitlin Jenkins. To see more of the make-up demonstrations, check out the Media Make-Up album on our Facebook page.

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