My makeup routine for photos has gotten so elaborate that I rarely have time to do a shoot in what I like to call “full drag” (even though I’m not the proper gender to be a drag queen). But I do follow makeup tutorials by drag queens when I have the approximately two hours required to prepare my face, so last Wednesday I saw the opportunity to spend an entire day on photos, as long as I didn’t get distracted by other things and lose time. So, I made myself stick to my commitment, and got up fairly early (by my summer standards, which is about 8 AM – as someone who can easily stay up until 4 AM and sleep until 10, eight o’clock is early for me) Wednesday and set to work.
I’d already picked out the makeup tutorial I wanted to try – there are many queens who’ve made tutorials painting their faces like my RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 fave, Pearl, but I like this one the best (partly because I love listening to Fendi’s beautiful accent):
Fendi and I also share an inability to cover up our eyebrows all that well; I’d only tried once before to do this and it was a disaster the first time, so this time I made sure to be patient and not rush the process as well as to be more precise. The first time I tried it I was quite sloppy about things, and the end result was a goopy mess. I watched several different tutorials for this, but this is the latest one I watched while i was actually doing it:
As I work on my face, I stop after each big step and go take a picture so I can make sure when I start taking photos that everything looks like I want. I learned the hard way that what looks fine in the mirror does not necessarily look great in front of the camera under the bright lights; the biggest problem is thinking I’ve got enough paint on only to find out after the shoot that my blush didn’t even show, or my eyebrows weren’t on dark enough and disappeared. I’ve gotten MUCH better at using Photoshop to correct makeup mistakes (and it’s true I always end up having to correct at least one thing, usually the nose contouring which I still fail at way more often than I succeed) but it is always better to get things, if not perfect, then at least as right as possible during the shoot so there’s less work to do later.
So, here’s a little collage of the makeup transformation process. These are just goony shots I was taking quickly to test out my makeup steps, and I was also experimenting with lighting while doing this, so you can see that each photo looks quite different lighting and color-wise. But still, it gives you an idea of how much of a big process the makeup is.
In the first, I’ve no makeup on but the eyebrow cover, so yeah. Yay for makeup you guys! So much sun damage, but what can I do – when I was growing up a tan was considered healthy, and I was ALWAYS tan. Moving on.
In the second shot, I think you can see the tape I have stuck to the outside of both my eyes. This is actually another YouTube trick I learned that I use every day; it keep me from extending my shadow too far out and keeps it even on both eyes, as well as making blending a snap because I can just slop that dark color on and I don’t have to worry about blending the edges. I just yank the tape off and bam – a really nice upward slant to the shadow.
The trick with covering the brows for drag is that you’re SUPPOSED to then create a faux crease above your natural crease to make the eyes look unusually large. Turns out this is much easier to do when you have a young face, like Miss Fendi up there in her video. My eyelids have some sag and ‘extra’ skin, so when i drew on my faux crease while holding things up a bit they looked fine, but when I let go, well, they disappeared. I’m OK with it since overall for my first attempt at creating true ‘drag’ eyes I did better than I expected, but I guess next time I’ll have to use some tape or something to yank my eyelids up a little. Maybe one of those instant-facelift bands I’ve seen advertised might work…
I’d never use this IRL but I bet I could really get some freaky effects out of one of those things! I may have to get one.
Overall you can see that my final effect really wasn’t close at all to what Fendi accomplished, and that happens everytime. The tutorial is a guideline for me to transform myself, but I never look much like the queen in the video when I’m done. Ah well, it is what it is. I was pleased with my little attempt to draw on some non-ridiculous looking eyebrows, and the rest of the makeup was fine since I’m used to all the highlighting and contouring by now – although I did overdo it on the highlighting and came out a bit too white in the photos. Also, I’ve gotten much better at applying false lashes, and actually had a full set on here instead of cutting each lash in half as I usually do and just applying it to the outside corner of the eyes, but I found that with all that dark liner on you can hardly even tell they’re there. Now I see why drag queens use 2 full sets of really huge lashes! Not sure I can go there yet myself, though.
I took about 400 shots this day, and have edited a few so far, but I’ll save those for another post. I’ll just leave you with this one, since I almost always find one makeup test shot that I like enough to process:
Mainly I used Photoshop here to better contour my nose, and I enlarged my nostrils for an extra-creepy look. Obviously I also distorted the lens shape so things would look a little off. There are lots of quite lovely photos to come, though, never fear – this is the only freaky-looking one I’ve done so far. You all know I’m generally NOT going to make myself look bad in my photos! But this one needed something kinda spooky, so there it is.
On to the photos soon!