Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Makeup Tutorial: Edge and Elegance II


Start off with a clean face. Apply foundation all over. I decided to put in the highlights on top of the cheeks, right below the brow bone and on the nose.


Here, instead of shadow, I used three different shades of purple eyeshadow. Notice the cheekbone was more curved than angular. The jaw line and the sides of the face were darkened to add dimension and define the shape. The highlighted areas I enhanced with white eyeshadow. On the eye, I used the same colors as the rest, deep purples, violets and white on the inside of the eyelid. I added a little bit of brown to the eyelid crease to create more drama and some pink for the base of the lid.


Next, I lined the brow with some dark brown and applying mascara (extending those eyelashes as far as they will go). You can see the white eyeshadow more clearly in this photo.


Now we need to sketch on the pattern. The lines are drawn on with a light orange-brown cream and a straight edged brush. The contrast of edge and elegance is apparent in the wavy and straight criss-crossed lines.


Using a black makeup cream and the fine brush, carefully line the sketches and thicken them.


Use the straight edged brush to blend the black inwards to create this effect.


For the crystals, pick up the small stones with a pair of tweezers and work both sides at the same time to keep the design more or less symmetrical when placing them down on the skin. I used eyelash glue, as usual, to stick them on. Normally I would suggest dabbing the glue on the skin directly and then putting the stone on the spot, but because you are using a lot of black, the glue brush will quickly become dirty (and they are hard to clean), so I suggest simply putting a blob on the back of the gem and then placing them on the forehead.


Make sure you’re satisfied with the final touches and you’re done! (I did add an orange-brown line around the nose at the end, which I unfortunately forgot to photograph, but you can see it in the final product)

To see the full photoshoot, click on the final image below!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Mindset of An Unconventional Makeup Artist on a Fastforward Track

 It begins with a feeling. A few disconnected ideas strung together by pieces of scrap. How should I describe it? It's like ripping off a section of lined paper where a raw, unrefined doodle was drawn, or nibbling on the breadcrumbs before biting from the sandwich. Then I unfold the ripped page and examine the casual fiddles of pen. I always draw a face. The features are platonic. It is a scrawl of colorless design that is added to a hidden collection of other doodles, which would eventually serve as the preliminary sketches for a grand photoshoot.

Why is this so important to me?

Why, as a child, did I spend hours arguing with my parents just to defend my little cardboard box from being thrown away? I firmly believed my container of textured buttons, glossy gift wrappers, colored ribbons, abandoned watercolor paints, and shiny rocks were fallen gems that accumulated to become necessary tools of some big artistic endeavor. I didn’t know how to explain that gut feeling, which showed me that in the future, these seemingly useless parts would unify for a purpose. But at that particular moment, I could not find clarity in describing what I envisioned, nor did I have the skills to complete these proposed apparitions. Needless to say, these repeated, heated debates about whether anything should be considered 'garbage' never got anywhere. That is, until I learned how to create accessories from the contents of cardboard box to complement my makeup art.

Now I can articulate my thought process.

I want to live in the present. But I am constantly engaged in conversations about what the past has taught me and what the future beholds. What will benefit my distant self, years from now? How may I overcome all possibilities of failure, avoid regrets and outsmart potential mistakes? I had to understand the trajectory of action very early on. I was taught that my behavior must be calculated so that I am granted with success. All this time, I’ve been running through the motions, thinking that this is how to enjoy the present. But my mind has a hidden agenda. It was trained like a professional to tap an algorithm into the system and automatically spew an analysis of pros, cons, threats and opportunities, short and long-term, yeses and nos.

This was the case, until I discovered a specific type of art. Because of the age gap between my sisters and I, I am used to playing the part of an only child. My playmates were mister pen and paper. I would draw disproportional figures of humans on blank pieces of paper, dampening the corners with my little sweaty palms. I talked out loud in what I thought would be the voices of these characters as I drew them. I became more and more enveloped in the fantasy that was their lives. When the paper no longer had any space, I would simply ball up their world in my small fists, crumple up the hour’s work and dispose of it without second thought.

These were the times when I wanted to be a writer. It gave me the same thrill to come up with stories with characters as interesting as the ones I once drew. A decade later, I found the same pattern of flow in doing makeup with its accommodating costumes and graphic designing. Throughout the one to three hours it took to finish a look, I lost myself in the magic of creation. I no longer threw away my doodles, as they soon became primitive versions of bigger dreams.

At the point of pure focus, I found myself enjoying these moments most.  I felt present. My head was clear, time became absent and my hands became mechanical extensions of a body that provided a heartbeat. This continued through the process of editing later on. The most soothing environment, besides bath time of course, was to be sitting on a leather rolling chair, or a velvet sofa, computer in my lap, lounge jazz music softly audible in the background and a flavored latte in my vicinity (pumpkin spice for autumn, gingerbread for winter and cinnamon for spring, with whipped cream and the occasional sprinkle of caramel syrup or cocoa powder). With this and the white noise of chatter surrounding me, I can go for an average of six to eight hours, tweaking the finest detail on editing software. Erasing a stray hair from the model’s head, or adjusting, for the thousandth time, the luminosity of each hue in the photo—these are the things that I strangely find pleasure in, no matter how frustrating it gets to undo and redo things (or the frequent case of forgetting where I had saved my work from the other night).

Finding the right filter is like choosing candy. Innovating a tailored preset (a set of photoshop actions to auto-edit a collection of photos) is like baking homemade cookies on a wintry evening (forgive my clich├ęs, I’m having a moment). When I’m done, I show my models the photos before anyone else, to garner some opinion, which is usually (but not always) positive. It is understandable that due to the nature of my aesthetic, my models get a bit weary of the outcome of the shoot as I do their makeup in production, because at times it is borderline…alien. Quite frankly, I think some of my best works have come out of allowing improvisation to take its course and I divested so much from my initial sketches that I created a completely different look. So it is rewarding to see the remarkable reactions of my models after they go through the processed photographs of themselves.

Often, they start off pleasantly surprised, followed by a humbled expression such as, “Oh, is that really me?” “I actually look like a model!” and “I can’t believe how good this looks.” My theory of where this gratitude comes from can be explained with an analogy. For a girl who walks around day to day without makeup, the one morning she decides to put on some eyeliner and lipstick, people take notice of the accentuation on her features. Sometimes this helps increase her self-confidence and sometimes it doesn’t make a difference. Then the one-day I decide to go to the extreme and paint on her face, does she finally notice something different about herself. How her cheekbones are defined, how her eyelashes frame the eyes better than falsies do, or howthe shape of her face presents a stunning profile when photographed from an awkward angle. We stare at the mirror everyday, blind to the details in our faces that make us unique and wonderful. Words can’t always show us that these little things exist. We have to discover it ourselves.

Now, I must admit the many flaws in my work. I will tell you that I cannot, for my life, draw symmetrically on a face, or on paper for that matter. I failed when I tried to practice ambidexterity in order to get better at painting myself. I will confess that I don’t know everything about creams and powders as a makeup artist is expected to. My photoshop skills save my amateurish photography skills. I’m just lucky I have a nice camera. Sure, through practice, I can look at a photo and know what looks good, what angles to avoid in modeling, how to hide the fat rolls, the double chin and how to crop, adjust or cover blemishes that I couldn’t hide with makeup. From the editing process, I can pull together a professional editorial with my favorite avant-garde style makeup (or full-blown non-fashion-related body art) inspired by paradoxical, abstract and/or literal concepts. But I compensate where I can for the lack of skills, which many self-taught artists experience. I am still learning the techniques and experimenting on my own. However the biggest benefit gained from all this is learning how to appreciate living in the ‘now’ and finding meditation in what I love to do.

With love, 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Makeup Tutorial: Edge and Elegance Look


Start with a clean, bare face.
Apply foundation a slight shade lighter than the model’s skin tone for areas that want to be highlighted and darker around areas that need to be shadowed i.e. under the cheekbones, sides of the face, under the jaw line. This is very soft contour without using contrasting highlights and shadow cream makeup.

 Olive tan and golden spice were the most versatile color for a variety of skin tones.


Fill in the eyebrows with a shade of brown that matches your own eyebrows. Then apply a smokey eye effect.


Begin to pattern the face at the top middle section of your face.
Concentrate on making big swirls, making some lines thicker and thinner. Be careful to wait until the drawings are dry as you work your way down because I have, on many occasions, been frustrated by accidental smudging of my palm on her forehead. 

I used this fine liquid eyeliner to draw the lines. 


Keep continuing the swirls down the side of her neck and over one shoulder until you get the desired effect.

That’s all! This is the final result:

To see the full shoot of this look, click here or the photo above.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pattern Series: Clashing Lines

Edge and Elegance ii

modeled by pia weber
makeup, hair & photography by cindy chen

~ Pixels of jewels find consonance in the amity of blurred edges. ~

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Makeup Tutorial: The Forest Pixi Look


Cream foundation base:
Use foundation of an olive tone cream base to even your skin color out, get rid of any redness, and allow for easier, effective contouring to happen

Highlight and Shadow:
Start off by contouring the nose. Highlight on the tip, and then draw two lines down the sides to create a more intense bridge of nose.

*Note: don’t forget to highlight as well as shadow!

I connected and deepened the crevice where my eyebrow and nose connects because I have bulgier eyelids and the dark brown compensates for any apparent puffiness.

Brown eyeliner:
I lined my eyes with pencil brown liner, elongating the ends with a baby cat-eye.
Add some shadow to your eyelid crease but only follow the normal angle of your eye so it doesn’t become too extreme. Make sure to blend downwards and highlight your brow bone with concealer or whatever you used as highlight!

Line eyebrow with brown pencil (can use the same eyeliner if needed). Extend it a little further down the outsides since we are going for the ethereal, creature-like look and we want it to look a bit weird.


Nude lipstick:
Pale your lips by applying some nude lipstick

Green eye shadow:
Dab some green eye shadow onto your forehead (the general area above the eyebrows) and also where the shadow hits on the cheekbones. I used three shades of green to create a blurred ‘forest feel’: turquoise, apple green and a lighter hue.


Gold and white eyeshadow:
Add gold and white eyeshadow onto where the highlights are, specifically on your nose and cheekbones to get the shining effect when it catches the light. Here’s a side view.

Shiny cheek, shiny cheek~

Cut out your props:
Cut out small pieces of leaves in diagonals so that they don’t become green squares, stick on some flowers; add a pearl in the center if there’s a gaping hole. I just got the flower petal by dismantling a plastic floral bouquet and using the scraps.

Eyelash Glue:
I used the classic eyelash glue trick to stick everything on. Mind you, if the objects like the leaves are thicker or heavier, you will need to hold it on your face longer for it to stay. Try not to scratch the area if it gets itchy or wiggle your forehead. The less movement, the better.

If you’re working with smaller objects that you can’t really hold with your fingers or tweezers, simply dab some glue onto the place you want the object to stick to and then gently press it on the spot until you feel it’s going to stay put once you let go.

Lopsided leaves! (who needs symmetry anyway...)


White eyeliner:
Excuse my subtle duck face. I was trying to show off the white veins I drew where the leaves and flowers protrude from my face with a white wax eyeliner pencil.

I also slightly lined my lips with the white and blended it in. I touched a little white eye shadow on the center of my lower lip to get that nice pout going.

Adding depth to the leaves:
The leaves looked a little fake a while ago, so let’s brush on some gold and green eye shadow that you used a while ago as a base color on top of the leaves. The glue on them will help enhance the color as well and give it more dimension.


Add some false eyelashes, mascara, fix up any colors you want more contrast on, draw some flower patterns (just use white cream makeup and press the tip of a dry, square brush gently on skin to make cascading petal marks down the sides of the neck).

Now you’re done!

To see the final photos from the set, just click here:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Patterns Series: The Bleeding Needle

 Edge and Elegance

modeled by pia weber
makeup, hair & photography by cindy chen

~ The irony of sinister beauty meets the ink of a bleeding needle ~



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Forest Meets Fantasy Series PI

I Spy A Forest Pixi
photography by Andrew More Photography
model and post-processing by yours truly 

For inquiries of his work, email: andrewmax6@hotmail.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DIY: Treasure Gold Rave Bra from the Nocturnal Writer

Here’s a super fun DIY costume for all my concert-goers and rave-lovers out there. I’ll take you step by step through the making of this rave bra, which was inspired by rustic but regal gold and treasure. If I'm confusing you, just comment below with questions and I will choose whether or not I'd like to answer you (I'm kidding, I'll respond).

So this is what it will look like:


Buy your bra. 
Just choose a cheap one that you don’t mind getting all sticky and gross, because honey, you’re never going to be able to wash that again after you decorate the hell out of it. I chose a light pink bra from H&M with minimal designs on it so it’ll be easy to alter. It had a pretty lace ruffle going on in the front, which gave it natural rumply crumply texture. Just make sure it’s thick enough so the spray paint doesn’t bleed into the actual fabric that touches your skin (NOBODY WANTS SWEATY GOLD BOOBS).


Gather a collection of small light craft objects that you can stick onto the bra and not weigh it down (don’t want heavy stuff jiggling on your boobies when you jump up and down at a club). You can literally use ANYTHING. Just look in the pile of 'broken things that I refused to throw away because I'm a hoarder' and pick out old jewelry, buttons that don't belong to any coat, flowers from your ex-boyfriend that you haven't burned yet, beads, coins, and whatever you can find that will bring texture to the look. I was about to deplete my wallet in order to buy amazon vintage brass charms from overseas. Then I found a shop next door that sold stuff from China. So I went for the cheaper option. Guess which one I picked?

You'll see I used styrofoam balls. BIG MISTAKE. Don't do it. It'll burn, melt and let off fumes that get you high (in the bad way). Avoid soft plastic items, styrofoam, or extremely flammable items. The glue gun and spray paint will tear right through the surface.

Also remember that you will be spray painting the ENTIRE bra, so don't worry about the color. What's interesting though, is that if you have rhinestones, crystals or anything shiny, we can scratch off the top layer of gold when it's all done to reveal the colors.

Take a look at the materials I used:
- Fake bouquet of red and white flowers
- Gold beads (Two different sizes: one larger one was part of a necklace that I cut apart and the smaller ones are glossed and came in small packs)
- White ('pearl') beads (these are space filling beads because they are tiniest)
- Styrofoam balls (DON'T DO IT)



Ok, so once you have an idea of where everything is going to go, just go ahead and start gluing things down. Start with the biggest objects and gently place them where you want them to be (I know this might be hard because the bra cups are curved and beads will fall off, so make do where you can). Then just let the magic happen! Improvisation comes in handy right now. If you're going to for a symmetrical look, make sure you're working BOTH sides simultaneously so you don't get mixed up of where you placed which size of bead. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT RIP OFF THE BEADS IF YOU MESS UP ON ONE SIDE. If the glue is hot you WILL burn yourself. If the glue is cold, you WILL rip off the bra fabric, which could tear the delicate seams and RUIN EVERYTHANG (ok maybe not to that extremity, but you know what I mean).

Be creative! Rip apart petals if you think the flowers are too big, cut up the leaves if you want sharper edges. DESTROY IT ALL. Pick up the pieces, and then glue them separately on the bra. Remember you are getting as much diversity of texture as you can.

...So I tried to take photos while I was in the process of glue gunning but then I started sticking my fingers together because apparently I couldn't multitask very well so here's some progress shots I took when I decided it was time to stretch my back.

 *musical interlude*


When you have everything glued down and you've let it sit for a while to let all the glue harden and cool (which shouldn't take too long actually), you're ready for the GOLDIFICATION OF THE RAVE BRAAAAA.

People, when you spray paint, make sure you are 1) in a ventilated area (outdoors!) 2) have some sort of mask to cover your airways 3) have goggles or at least prevent yourself from hovering over the bra as you spray because you will inhale the cloud of paint that bounces back into the air 4) use horizontal and vertical strokes when you spray (hold it close to the bra) and 5) have it positioned in a slightly elevated platform on top of newspapers, plastic or fabric you are going to throw away.

If you're on a time crunch, or just impatient, yeah, you can spray the whole thing thick and wait for it to dry for the next 5 hours. OR the better option is to spray thin layers over the entire thing, wait for it to dry in 2 hours, then spray over the first layer after you examine the parts you missed. It gives it a more complete look. Then just let it air overnight to get rid of the just-sprayed scent so you don't smell like a wall when you wear it.


If you're not satisfied with how it turned it, add more objects! I decided that the center was looking a little empty, so I added more flowers. I was about to leave the red flowers its original color, but then it started looking too cutesy, which strayed from my totally female-empowering treasure-hunting look, so I sprayed that gold too.


Now that the look is complete, it should look something like this~

Now all you have to do is wear it!


  Thanks for reading! : )
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