Make up tips!

After you have thought out your costume, the next step to creating a character is the make-up. This is a super exciting way to bring your performance to life and tie together all of the visual elements that make up each character. So here’s some things to think about…

The Character
Firstly think who or what is this character. Are they a human, animal, object etc. Think about what features you might need to highlight or disguise. If the character is a human, you can accent the human features – eyes, brows, beards, lips etc. If not, try finding ways to hide the human features. It could even be as easy as adding black to disguise eyes/mouth/arms. Remember it may be called face paint but bodies sometimes need to be painted too! Here’s an example:


It is important to think about how the character will look from the judges point of view. Although Rock Challenge® host shows in lots of different venues, the general layout tends to be similar; judges are relatively far back so they can have a full view of the stage. This means you should spend less time working on smaller unnoticeable details and more time trying to create bold make-up that looks great from a distance. You can create striking make-up by putting dark beside light, doing so will give you defined lines.


When it comes to colours, think about what harmonises or contrasts. Should the make-up blend into the costume or stand out from it? Think about what will pop onstage. Colours that contrast are ones opposite each other on the colour wheel (e.g. orange & blue). Colours that harmonise are the ones that flow nicely together and are adjacent on the colour wheel (e.g. orange, red & yellow). You can even think as far as lighting; will the lighting onstage affect the paint colours? One thing I recommend doing (if you have the chance), is try to have at least one of every type of character painted for the onstage rehearsals. That way you can see how the lights work against the make-up, and either change your plan, or stick to it.


First of all, be aware people in your team may be allergic to face paint, face glue, latex gloves etc. There are some alternatives available, just make sure you ask everyone in the team in advance. Here is a list of the equipment I have used in the past when on a Rock Challenge® make-up team!

  • Latex Gloves – I face painted when I was also a performer. Face paint does wash off but sometimes it takes a few washes. Using gloves made sure my hands were sparkly clean for the performance (and not bright blue).
  • Spray Bottles – having a few bottles of water to spray on your face paint is always a smart idea. It saves taking trips to the nearest sink every so often to get a cup of water, and it saves potentially spilling water everywhere.
  • Snazaroo Face Paint –  great for all colours and easily available. As well as regular colours, they also have metallic colours! Have a look at their online store.
  • Diamond FX Face Paint – the white face paint this company makes is the best and brightest I have ever used. It is really good for defining lines.
  • Paint Brushes and Sponges – there is not necessarily one company that I would recommend, but make sure you have plenty!
  • Glitter, Face Glitter, Glue and Stencils – I would recommend using online stores like Amazon to purchase these. A stencil can be a really helpful way to recreate the same design or pattern on several performers.

There are many places you can purchase these tools. The only thing I would say is make sure the brushes you buy are for painting faces and not for painting walls, although brushes from any craft shop are also easy to work with especially when adding details. If you are very unsure about where to purchase these tools and want to make sure you’re buying the right thing, I would once again recommend Snazaroo. Make sure you have a look at all the different types of paint brushes. Some have unique brush heads to make interesting textures and patterns.

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It’s important to plan out your make-up designs as it makes a big difference once the team gets on stage and it can help to transport the audience into the world of your story.

When the costume, make-up and hair all come together, it can help the performers to fully become their characters and will enhance your performance as a whole.


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