Movie Make-up Artists: How They Work

If you work as a make-up artist, you need to start working early almost each and every day. When there are productions, a make-up artist should be at the location even before dawn in order to lay out supplies and any special equipment for each actor.

Make-up artists work on a schedule for make-ups, wardrobe, and hair for each actor. The assistant director usually sets the schedule depending on the scenes that need to be shot that specific day.



Each make-up artist is assigned to specific actors or actresses. The make-up artists will be given detailed notes and photos or sketches as a reference in order to achieve the right looks. In some situation, a make-up artist will make his/her own notes and even take pictures of the actor wearing the make-up. All throughout the day, the assistant or make-up artist will do retouches on the actor’s make-up and even change it as the scenes change.



Getting the looks right can take up so much time especially if the make-up includes special effects. For instance, in the movie “Same Name”, Ron Perlman needs to be turned to Hellboy and the process usually takes a minimum of two-and-a-half-hour and a maximum of four hours. Prosthetic pieces cover the actor’s back, head, and chest. The facial prosthetic covers the actor’s face except for the lower lip which has a separate piece. Once the prosthetics are on, the suit needed to be painted and hair is to be added.

Finding and using the right materials demands creativity. Even though make-up artists are experienced and often creative, they also have challenges that they need to go through. Some prosthetic is very hard to create thus thinking out of the box should be done.

During the end of each day, the make-up artist has to remove all the actor’s hairpieces, prosthetic nose, makeup and other special effects. These are to be stored in an area where it’s easily accessible.

Working as a make-up artist can be grueling but fun but these type of jobs are not easy to find. To become experienced, you need to start at the very bottom as an assistant either in television or theater. An aspiring make-up artist needs to work his way up gaining reputation with the people they work with.

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