Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Realistic Digital Makeup Tips

Realistic Digital Makeup Tips

In this tutorial I will show you a technique that will make digital makeup a lot easier for you. I will show you how to organize your layers so that you can experiment with different makeup colors and change them quickly.

Working on a frontal portrait will make things easier for you but in many cases that’s not possible. The most important thing is to get the technique, than you will be able to apply digital makeup to different portraits at different angles.

Final Result

I got the image from Depositphotos. I only purchased a medium resolution because its enough for this tutorial. You can get the image here:

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop, always remember that a higher resolution image is always better. I will show you how to work non-destructively so there is no reason to duplicate your photo, unless you really want to.

Step 2

You have to keep in mind that a certain type of makeup, colors and so on, look differently on different skin tones. I slightly changed the tone of my model’s skin using Color Balance to increase the Cyans and Blues and get a cooler neutral skin tone. The natural skin of the model looks perfect but I just wanted to make it a bit darker and cooler.

If you want to make any skin tone adjustments it’s better to do it now because that will affect the end result of the make up and you might not get the result you want on your makeup if you make those skin tone adjustments after you apply the makeup.

Notice on the image below that I used Adjustment Layers rather that modifying the original image. That way I can always come back later and make any adjustments I want.

Step 3

Now you can start applying the makeup. I have to admit that I’m not the man when it comes to makeup, in fact I should have asked my sister to assist me with this. If you’re a woman you will do this a lot better than me, I’m just trying to teach you how to do it so please bear with me.

My advice is to paint both eyes at the same time otherwise you may not use the same exact tone of blue or whatever color your using and that can cause you problems. Another good advice is to make each eye on it’s own layer because you might have to use different blend modes for each eye and if, for example, one eye is darker than the other, a certain blend mode will not give you the same result for both eyes.

Start by selecting the Brush Tool (B) and select the color you want to use and paint a bigger area than you need. The reason for that is that it’s always easier to delete what you don’t need than to paint exactly the area that you need and be forced to continuously use the eraser tool.

Now create a layer mask and use it to hide unwanted areas. The brush  settings I usually use when masking makeup is: Hardness to about 50%, Brush Opacity aprox. 75%. That way I can go over an area several times and have more control over what I mask.

Probably the most common question is: “What Blend Mode should I use”. There is not a particular blend mode that works for every makeup style, it depends very much on the lighting on your models face and the colors you use for your makeup.

You just have to try all of them and see which one works best on each particular case. A good technique to find the best blend mode is, after you paint, cycle through all the blend modes and if none of them convince you, choose the one that is closest to what you want and then use the Hue/Saturation adjustment and play with the three sliders until you get what you want.

Step 4

Now do the same for the other eye and duplicate the layer if you need a stronger shadow effect.

Step 5

Ok, now that we got that brown shadow around the eyes it’s time to add a second color. I used a real makeup as guideline and I saw that brown and yellow combine quite nicely.

Again, paint without any fears of going over the eyes or the other makeup layers, no fears, just paint a big fat line of color so that you give yourself room for masking. Then, just as before, create a layer mask and start removing color from the areas you don’t need it. It’s a lot easier this way. Take a look at the preview below.

Step 6

If you want to make the eyes stand out even more, you can use Dodge & Burn to burn the edges and dodge the inside of the eyes, You can also burn a bit the eyebrows. Hold the mouse over the image to see the before and after the burning & dodging.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Remember to use lower opacities when your masking and use 50% strength on the brush when you painting so that you get a fairly sharp edge. Also it’s extremely important to use low opacity on the makeup layers. Too strong makeup just don’t look good.

Feel free to post your results on my facebook wall or on my flickr group wall. Also feel free to request a tutorial if you want.


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