Recently, makeup contouring has become all the rage thanks to the abundance of makeup artists sharing their secrets online. However, if you are anything like me, then following makeup tutorials off YouTube rarely turns out as desired. Contouring is a technique which enhances the features of the face by bringing out the highlights and defining the shadows. This results in a glamourous high-fashion look which is no longer reserved for photo shoots and runways. If you just can not get the knack of contouring with makeup, you could always simply do it in post production. By applying the same technique as makeup contouring, you could achieve the same results without the need to ever pick up a blending sponge.

no makeup contouring

Google Makeup Contouring Map

For this tutorial we will be using Photoshop. Open your portrait, straight-on full-face portraits will work best, at least until you get the hang of it. For this technique you will need a ‘map’. Google image search ‘makeup contouring map’ and you will get loads of pictures of girls with crazy shapes drawn on their face with two different shades of foundation. Choose one to your liking, you will need to refer back to this regularly so leave the image open whilst working on your portrait in Photoshop.

makeup contouring

Makeup Contouring with Highlights and Shadows 

The first thing you want to do is create two new layers. Go to Layer>New>Layer and name your new layer ‘Highlights’, set the mode to ‘Overlay’ and check the box to fill with 50% grey. Repeat this process and call your second new layer ‘Shadows’. Now, the contouring can begin. While on your ‘Shadows’ layer, select your brush tool and set the colour to black. You want to use a relatively small brush size here. Start painting over your portrait by following your contouring map. Fill in all the areas which require a darker shade. Try to use single, smooth strokes and avoid going over areas twice.

makeup contouring, highlights makeup contouring, shadows

Makeup Contouring gets better with Enhanced Eyes

When you’re done filling in all the shadows, go to your ‘Highlights’ layer and repeat this process with your brush tool set to the colour white. Make sure to keep referring back to your map as you go along. As we are working on an image, and not an actual face, we do not have any limitations on where we could contour, so I like enhancing the eyes by highlighting the whites of the eyes and darkening the pupils. Once you have finished painting in your highlights and shadows, it’s time to start blending things in.


Blend Things in

At this point I would suggest converting your two new layers to ‘Smart Objects’ by right clicking your layer and selecting ‘Convert to Smart Object’. This allows you to readjust the strength of your blending once the image is finished. Next go to your ‘Shadows’ layer and select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. You will instantly see your shadows blend. Play around with the radius of this filter to achieve your desired results. The larger your radius, the subtler the shadows, and vice-versa. Repeat this step with your ‘Highlights’ Layer. Good makeup should barely be noticeable, so subtlety is key in this case.

makeup contouring, screenshot

If you find that the effect is too profound (or too subtle), you can double click on ‘Gaussian Blur’ in your smart layer to open the window back up which will allow you to readjust the radius.

There you have it; a high fashion look with no makeup required!

© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Steph  Scicluna