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Realistic Wrinkles

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Wrinkle diagram

Black pencils are a staple in any actor's makeup kit, but they're not the best choice for doing age lines. And probably the worst aging effect you can go for is the standard "3 black lines across the forehead" approach to suggest wrinkles - it's flat and unnatural. If you study people's faces, you'll see that a wrinkle is actually suggested by two elements: a shadow and a highlight. Shadows are rarely so deep that they're black - greasepaint colors like "sallow," a shade of brownish-purple, are a good choice for shallow wrinkles (to suggest such things as hollow cheeks), and for deeper wrinkles, like those on either side of the mouth, a better choice would be a combination of sallow or a similar darker greasepaint used in conjunction with a purple, deep blue, or warm brown pencil, depending on the base you're using. For your highlight color, choose a greasepaint that is several shades lighter than the base you're using on the rest of your face. Check out the illustration at the left to see how these three elements -- dark grease, pencil and light grease - can be laid on to create a mouth wrinkle. The drawing is exaggerated for the purpose of illustration -- use a light hand, and avoid harsh lines with careful blending (which means that using water-based pancake for your base is a no-no - the best blending is achieved with greasepaint). This basic method of shadow and highlight should be used with any wrinkle - under and around eyes, jowls, neck, etc. For an illustrated crash course in stage makeup, we highly recommend Herman Buchman's excellent Stage Makeup book, although we've found that many of his techniques must be toned down for the small-stage work that we do.


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