COLOUR! Part 2 – The Colour Wheel and Makeup working together by Make Up Like A Pro

Welcome back to Part 2 of Make Up Like A Pro’s Week of Colour

I hope that you found yesterday’s post useful.  Have a look here to re-cap in case you have forgotten what you learnt yesterday J

Have you started to think about how colour affects your own style choices every day?  Try and keep colour at the forefront of your mind this week and see whether you start to think differently about it


Today, I am going to explore in depth the Colour Wheel and the role of colour theory in makeup artistry.  It is one of the principal foundations of everything that I do.  I have to be able to recognise my client’s skin tone, as well as being able to apply corrective makeup.  I need to be able to enhance or complement my clients natural colouring by looking at their skin and applying my colour theory knowledge.  As part of my casualty makeup skill base, I need to be able to match colour on prosthetic pieces which involves blending away the edges and matching to the skin tone. Check out the casualty makeup below that I have blended and colour matched to the required skin tone.  Not only does my job rely on technique, it also relies on colour matching too!

Blending edges and colour matching

There are a number of colour models but I am going to talk about the colour model RED YELLOW BLUE (RYB) which is used traditionally in art, and the importance of understanding the colour wheel in mixing colours.  It’s not only vital to know what colours look good together when doing a makeup, but it’s also crucial for me to understand what colours cancel each other out too.  For instance if I am required to cover up a tattoo, putting a flesh coloured pigment straight onto the ink is not always enough to knock out the blue of the ink, so picking a colour that will cancel out the blue ink first, then matching the skin colour is a process that I might need to go through

Check out the photos below of the process that I had to go through to conceal a standard tattoo – please note that the photos have NOT been airbrushed.  The concealing of the tattoo has been done entirely through the use of makeup!

Tattoo part 1
Tattoo Part 2
Tattoo Part 3
Tattoo Part 4

Using the same theory to conceal redness under the eye, it is common to use a green makeup initially to knock out the red hue then apply a skin tone on top to match the natural skin colour.  I’ll talk about how that all works below so carry on reading!

The Colour Wheel

This is a fundamental way of looking at how to mix colours together and being able to get the results you require means that you need to get to grips with their relationships with each other.  Below is a list of all the various colour categories that you should be familiar with and how they relate to each other

The Colour Wheel

Primary colours: Red, Yellow and Blue – All other colours on the colour wheel can be made my mixing primary colours together.  You cannot mix any two colours together to make a primary colour and when they are mixed together, they make grey

Secondary colours: Orange, Green and Purple – You create secondary colours by mixing together equal parts of any two primary colours. I.e. red and blue will give you purple (violet)

Tertiary colours: Red-Purple, Red-Orange, Blue-Green, Yellow-Green, Blue-Purple, Yellow-Orange – You can create these by mixing equal parts of a secondary colour and a primary colour together

Complementary colours:  Another concept that is very important when it comes to colour and makeup are complementary colours.  These colours are directly opposite each other on the Colour Wheel.  The aspect I LOVE about these colours is that when you place them side by side, they make both colours appear brighter which gives a strong contrast.  Can you see why this might be a vital piece of knowledge when choosing which eye shadow to wear?  As a very general rule, you usually want the base colour of your eye shadow to be complementary to your eye colour.  Also useful for hairdressing, using a purple shampoo will knock out the yellow from blonde hair, making it more ashen

Quaternary colours: These are made by mixing two of the secondary colours together , resulting in a brown colour.  These colours are particularly important when it comes to describing our underlying skin tones.  An olive brown skin tone which is green + purple has a blue bias and an orange + greenish brown has a yellow bias and will often be referred to golden or sallow.  A purple + orange brown has a red bias and will often be described as ruddy or warm.  All of these underlying tones will affect which makeup will work best on each

Earthy / neutral tones: black, browns and greys: These are created by either mixing all three primary colours with any two secondary colours or mix all the primary and secondary colours together

Harmonising colours: For example blue and green, these colours share a pigment and blend easily into each other

So by categorising colours into their relevant areas, we can see each of their relationships with each other and by mixing different proportions, we can create any colour that we want!

The Colour Wheel

My aim for you all today, is to understand that you can mix any colours together, and understand what happens to them when you do.  I also want you to get your head around how colours mix together so that you can understand that we are able to match any foundation to any skin tone; we are able to conceal any colour with the right combination of colours, to achieve the required and desired finish

So, that is all that I am going to give you today … I think that’s enough to digest before tomorrow!  Can you see that there is much, much more to do with colours than simply getting the mix correct?

How a makeup ends up looking on camera is affected by a whole host of other influencing factors.  I am going to cover this tomorrow along with some other really useful colour theory and the rest of the week I am going to get to the stuff that you have all been waiting for … which colours you should be wearing!!

Stay tuned and see you back here tomorrow!

By Make Up Like A Pro


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