Ready For Your Close Up? What You Need To Know About Film Makeup and Costumes.

Are you a fan of the Oscars? Do you keep track of the winners of the BAFTA Awards every year? The news headlines that are generated after each glittering event tend to focus on who got the best actor award, best director prize, best film award etc. Less – if anything – tends to be reported about the talented creatives who won the best film costume design or film makeup design gongs, which are sometimes referred to as ‘Craft Disciplines’ and often presented much earlier on in the day.

Yet, despite this lack of media attention to film costumes and design, millions of people pore over the photo spreads in the media of celebrities walking the red carpets dressed in their award nightgowns and suits. What does this tell us? In a nutshell, just how impactful clothing and cosmetics can be in the media.

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How To Produce Fabulous Film Costume Design?

Here are some pointers to help you design the perfect costumes and film makeup. You can also enrol on costume design or filmmaking classes to hone your skills and pick up more useful tips and advice.

Character Building

Designing the right film costumes can really help the actor portray their character. Good costume ideas share details with the audience about who the character is and what kind of life they live. They give valuable hints about what their priorities are, their likes, dislikes, social status, profession, age and the historical period in which they live. You can tell the audience a great deal by your choice of material, colours, embellishments and the cleanliness and state of the costume.

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Historical Accuracy

If people are going to watch the film you are working on, it is highly likely that at least some of them will have some knowledge of the time period the story is set in, however, detailed that may be. Historically inaccurate film costume design can really distract viewers from the plot and lead them to question their belief in the story and the authenticity of the production. They will be too busy reacting to the lack of authenticity to concentrate on the storyline or invest properly in the characters on screen.

Attention To Detail

Do your research to ensure you get the smaller details right. These can include things like buttons and fasteners, undergarments, shoes, hair ornaments, hair colour and style, jewellery. Also weapons, such as swords, and how they are carried and held. If your film is set in more modern times, how can you depict that the story is happening in the 2000s, rather than the 2010s, for example? Research the setting and pay attention to small details like watches, bags, mobile phones and the types of brands that your characters might typically wear.

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Capsule Wardrobe

It can be helpful to plan an entire wardrobe for your character, even if they only require one or two costume changes. This doesn’t necessarily mean physically creating lots of outfits, but you can draw them or create mood boards using images from fashion catalogues and magazines. If you can get into your head what your character might wear in different scenarios, e.g. to the beach, at home, or when attending a garden party, for example, you can get a better idea of how to create their style and movie fancy dress tips.

How To Create Magical Film Makeup Design?

Amazing film costumes design is accentuated dramatically when you add in expert film makeup design. Together, the two skills create visually engaging characters that the viewer can believe in. Read on for some more tips.

Set The Scene

Makeup can completely transform the actor into their character, even before they put their costume on. The effects can range massively. Iconic, striking looks can be achieved using movie makeup design, such as Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker or the totally blue X-Men character, Mystique.

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Then, there are other more ‘natural’ effects such as using brown or grey coloured makeup to create dirty, unkempt street children, or evoking a busy housewife who wears practical film makeup in more muted colours.

Complement The Film Costume Design

Make sure your film makeup design complements the costumes. Otherwise, the effects can look out of sync and distracting. Bear in mind what makeup your character would have access to. So, wealthier people will have greater fancy dress costumes, cosmetic choices, as will modern-day characters. People running away from an angry bear in the woods will look less perfectly made up than a prom queen. Think about the specific time of day too – how much makeup will someone wear who is just waking up in their pyjamas, as opposed to someone leaving their house to go to a party, dressed to the nines?

Medical Makeup And Other Skills

Finally, film makeup design is not just limited to making actors look flawlessly beautiful or devastatingly downtrodden. Prosthetic makeup skills are used widely in medical dramas, for example, to make wounds look convincing. Other makeup skills include making people look dead, disfigured, tired or unwell. Try watching some medical or detective dramas on TV and see what makeup techniques you can spot that you might like to have a go at yourself. The BBC TV show Glow Up also has episodes on creating makeup looks for film and TV using prosthetics and period designs.

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