Make-Up for Film, TV, Theatre and Fashion

Make-up artistry is one of the professions open to school leavers about which not a great deal is known. When applied effectively, make-up becomes one of the key factors in conveying a sense of drama, whether in a film, theatre, photograph or music video. We take a look at courses offered by one academy in south west London

School Leaver Magazine. Issue 31.4
Friday 01 February 2008 01:00 GMT

Is there a difference between film and theatre make-up?

In film make-up, you see the face magnified on a big screen and every detail is seen in close up, which means that every pore of the skin must look clean. It must not look painted. When you do make-up for the stage, you are doing it from a different point of view: you are trying to make an indistinct face in the distance have features, so it has to be heavier. It does not have to be thicker, that's the mistake that a lot of people make, it just means stronger definition with the colours that you use.

Can you give me some examples of UK make-up courses?

The Delamar Academy in south west London ­ the most successful specialist media make-up training provider in the UK ­ has for the last 15 years offered a course titled "The Complete Make-Up Artist". The Academy's objective is to help all of its graduates achieve their full potential in their careers as make-up artists. In last year's Hollywood Academy Awards, two Delamar graduates ­ Christine Blundell and Trefor Proud ­ collected the Best Film Make-Up Oscar for their work on the award-winning Mike Leigh film Topsy Turvy.

Delamar Academy offers a wide range of courses that allow for flexibility and are essentially "hands on":

  • One-year CertHE Professional make-up design
  • Three-month Complete Make-Up Design
  • Evening course in Beauty and Fashion Make-up

The one-year university CertHE professional make-up design course is validated by Middlesex University and is equivalent to the first year of a degree course. It operates in conjunction with the School of Art, Design and Performing Arts at the university and the programme is taught at the Delamar Academy on a full-time basis. It is fully hands-on, including 9 weeks of 3D prosthetics and special effects and is practical apart from the short essay submitted in the third term.

The purpose of the one-year programme is to give students an in-depth study and time to develop their creative skills, with projects combining all aspects of make-up and hair. An exhibition of students' work and work experience on professional productions ensure that graduates gain a flying start in their future careers as make-up artists and designers.

The course covers much more than fashion and glamour, mascara, gloss and fake eyelashes. Make-up Artistry is a whole world of gelatine, casting, latex, wigs, body art, bald caps, moustaches, beards and prosthetics. Prosthetics are appliances made of rubber, plastic, gelatine or any other material that can be affixed to the actor's face or body in order to change their shape and appearance. These three-dimensional pieces range from simple effects, such as scars or wounds, to more complex additions, like noses chins and foreheads. Prosthetics work is taught at both basic and advanced level and students have the opportunity to set out a project and develop higher standards of work through its completion. Course tutor Paul Carey, who specialises in sculpting and moulding the human form, trained as a figurative sculptor at Madame Tussaud's in London. He has worked in the studios for 25 years, sculpting wax portraits for display in the museum's main exhibitions.

What do I need to get in?

The admission requirements for the programme conform to the University's general entry requirements, including a qualification in English. No previous experience of make-up and hair is required, as the basic techniques are taught right from day one in the very first week.

Students who successfully complete the full programme receive the award of Certificate of Higher Education, Professional Make-Up design. Award certificates are issued by Middlesex University and carry the name of both Middlesex University and the Delamar Academy.

What are the job prospects?

Past students have worked on many major movies, the most recent including: Gladiator , Sleepy Hollow , Star Wars: The Phantom Menace , 7 years in Tibet , Austin Powers , The Full Monty , Secrets and Lies , Goldeneye and even Four Weddings and a Funeral .

Not all Delamar graduates work on feature films. Some prefer fashion or music videos; others like the world of theatre, musicals and opera. Some accept permanent contracts in satellite television and many from overseas start their own schools and businesses.Some even choose camouflage work in hospital burns units or private cosmetic surgery.

Tell me more!

Try reading "The Complete Make-Up Artist" by Penny Delamar, Principal of the Academy. Based on the three-month complete make-up Artist course but written for all students of media make-up, this book provides information, activities and advice. In particular, it meets the syllabus requirements of the new National Vocational Qualifications in media make-up. It also covers the programmes of study for City and Guilds, BTEC, ITEC, IHBC and CIBTAC. Art and Design, Drama and Theatrical students also find the book a useful reference source.

For further information, contact:The Delamar Academy,The Old Church,52a Walham Grove,London SW6 1QR.Direct Line: 020 7381 0213.E-mail:

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