Face mapping probably was ‘a thing’ when I was a teenager. I loved playing with croquis (basically poses that fashion is drawn on) so surely there were face maps as well – but I never had the benefit of using one. And what a benefit face maps are, because they can do everything from instruct to create a ‘look book’ for playing around with just how dramatic you want your makeup to be.
First, Understand the Face Map
A face map is easy to find. You can use your favorite search engine for the phrase ‘face map’ and you should wind up with hundreds of printable templates showing different views of a blank, sketched face.
Practice makes perfect, my dear.
Seriously, put yourself back in kid shoes and pull out colored pencils and print out your favorite face map. One of my personal favorite face maps can be found at Ruby time. These are self-made charts that the artist is allowing for personal use. The language is not English, but you won’t need a translation to find the perfect chart to start with. To grab one of the charts on the Ruby Time page, right-click, choose ‘View Image’ and save or print.
So, this is your first step in understanding a face map or face chart. I’ll be using the ‘MUM’ face chart in the illustrations located above this article and referenced in it. But what are we looking at, really?
Going from the top, we have an almost barely-sketched face with only the prominent features drawn, and below that are lines for things like “Skin Care”, “Foundation”, and “Eyeliner”. Things should already be starting to clear up. Using several pages of the same template, you will be able to first pinpoint the areas that need specific techniques for the base (a matte powder base, contoured cheekbones, etc.) and these will go together to create a total look you’ll love.
PRO TIP: Want to start playing serious? Once you’ve got this article’s concept down, you can do the same process using printed transparency sheets, permanent markers, and lay each layer of the makeup on a single sheet which will stack into a flawless look. These, separated by dividers, can be the basis of a makeup artist’s lookbook.
Second, Understand the Map Makeup Layers
When working on paper it is especially important to pinpoint special steps that you need to take – things like shadow contours will make a huge difference in your final look, and knowing right off how you want them to look will save you a ton of time.
We’ll be focusing on 3 layers: Face Contours, Face Highlights, and the Cheeks. Print out 3 sheets of your chosen template and you can follow along to create a complete base to play with.
The layers of makeup really are like the layers of transparency paper where you see an entire face come alive one paper at a time or, for those familiar with graphics programs, the layers used in a canvas. We start with the “bottom” or “base” layer and work our way out.
The bottom layer, or Step One, is Face Contours. This is where you will use bronzer, a powder about 1 shade darker than your natural color, or if you’re very specific you can choose a matte eye shadow. The idea here is to add shadow to areas of your face that are shaded naturally. This creates the illusion of a more chiseled, defined look to even the roundest faces. Reference illustration 02 in the images above for placement help; on your sheets use light, feathery strokes that will imitate a brush – when you apply this layer of makeup, you will want to use a small, fluffy brush that allows you to blend into your natural skin tone.
The second layer, or Step Two, is Face Highlighting. Think about it … if there’s shadow, there must be light. In makeup terms, where there is contouring, there must be highlighting. This is fairly easy to place once your contours are in place – highlights echo them. Reference the 3rd illustration above for placement advice. You can use everything from a very light powder to light blush, and even lighter flesh-toned (a shade or so lighter than your natural coloring) eye shadow to create this effect.
Finally, our third and last step for a base to die for: we look now to our beloved bronzers and blushers to work on our Cheeks.
When choosing your bronzer, pay special attention to how ‘glittery’ or matte it is – this can impact your buying decision. For color, it should be as close to your natural color with a golden hint as possible. When you choose blush, consider the loose powder blush because they create a much less ‘tight’ look which floats across your cheekbones. On your croquis, the bronzer should mimic all the places where sun naturally hits your face. This tends to be the outermost curves of your face where cheekbones, jawline, and forehead protrude more than our eyes, for example. Blush is so easy at this point it almost doesn’t count. Sweep it very lightly at first and add more as needed in a gentle arc from your temple, down your cheekbone touching the highlighted area, and back up in a small ‘u’ shape where the contours of nose and lips begin. Reference the third illustration for placement.
To Continue …
First, really play around with your face map until you’re sure you have 1-3 base canvas looks you really like. Then, spend some time at a reputable cosmetics seller and ask the clerk for advice on coloring if you need. I have to often because two shades will seem to work so well in the mirror to me that I just need another pair of eyes. Finally, practice each chosen base until you’re comfortable with each one of them and can blend them nicely into each other so there are no ‘seams’ on your face.
Next … shall it be lips or eyes? Hmmm we’ll soon find out!