Pop Art Makeup – tutorial & comic book character design

Pop Art Makeup looks are well known for the bold primary colors, exaggerated contours and lots of Ben-Day dots. They are visually striking, fun to do and wear and highly appreciated for a fashion project, a costume party or a Halloween character design.

The Comic Book Character Makeup that I’m about to give you points on is an eccentric look and calls for great confidence and an open mind towards makeup and art in general.

When creating a Pop Art Makeup design, you want to look like you just stepped out of a Comic Book. Lichtenstein’s heroines are generally used for inspiration and guidance to achieve this look.

His best known works, such as Drowning Girl, the M-Maybe Girl and the Ohhh…Alright… Girl are Comic Book Characters from “Run For Love!” DC Comics and are considered Pop Art icons and a constant source of inspiration for Pop Art Makeup looks.

Lichtenstein’s post-1963 comics-based women look hard, crisp, brittle, and uniformly modish in appearance, as if they all came out of the same pot of makeup.

Lichtenstein Pop Art

Lichtenstein Pop Art

The looks calls for certain elements, as portrayed by Lichtenstein’s heroines:

  • Thick outlines;
  • Scketched mimical expressions;
  • Bold & vibrant colors;
  • Applied art;
  • Patterns;
  • Ben-Day dots, as if created by photographic reproduction;
  • Large zones of flat colors;
  • High contrast between the subject and the back ground;
  • Comical, decorative, fashionable and fanciful technical manner.

With this in mind, let me take you through the steps of creating a Pop Art Comic Book Makeup:

Comic Book Pop Art makeup

Comic Book Pop Art makeup

Pop Art Comic Book Makeup Tutorial

Start by applying foundation so you have a nice base to work on, and powder your entire face but the eye area, as you’ll need watercolors or colored eye pencils for this area to achieve those vibrant, bold colors.

Next, contour your eyebrows with a liquid liner and a brush, striving to achieve sharp edges. If you need to perfect the edges, use a Q tip dipped in cleanser or concealer.

After you achieved perfectly contoured eyebrows in an angled 50s shape, use the same eyeliner applicator or brush to draw a line down the center of your nose, on one side of the bridge of the nose and around the nostrils.  Thick outlines are a characteristic so don’t worry if your outlines are slick.

Also draw in an expression line between the eyebrows to further emphasize the worried, melodramatic condition of your Comic Book Character.

Next comes the messy part, as you’ll need to outline the contour of your face close to your hair line, your jaw line, your cheekbones and your chin. Pay attention to the anatomical shape of those areas and follow their natural volumes.

If you choose to wear a wig, as my model in the pictures above, outlining your ears isn’t necessary, however you don’t want to skip this step if you want a realistic 2D effect.

Your eyes and lips will be only areas (except the dots, ofc) where you’ll have bold & vibrant flat colors, so choose a color blocking shade and apply it with hard edges. Yes, what they thougth you in make-up school doesn’t apply here! 😛

To get those vibrant colors I used the Mehron’s Paradise Makeup AQ Basic Palette, a semi-soft professional water activated, moist cake makeup in a conveninet 8-color palette that I use for face painting & body painting.

Pop Art Makeup inspiration

Pop Art Makeup inspiration

If you don’t have water activated cake makeup, another great option to achieve the bold, flat color is with wax-based traditional colored eye pencils. I don’t recommend eye shadow for this look, except in the form of pigments, which tend to have a highly concentrated color.

I chose purple, to distance myself a bit from the traditional baby blue hue used in Comic Book Makeup, bu t you can use whatever shade you like as long as it’s a color block hue.

Next off, draw in a winged eyeliner, slightly exaggerated to balance the hard outlines of your face and create a more interesting character.  Also outline your eye socket, where your colored edge stops.

Contour your lower lash lines and use a white/beige eye pencil to line the rims and make your eyes appear bigger, more cartoony.

At this point, you can either draw in lower lashes in a 60s manner or choose an extravagant pair of false lashes like I did in my Pop Art makeup design. The choice is yours.

By leaving the lower lash area bare, you can also drawn in some comic book looking tears using a baby blue eyeliner.

Outline the lips using the black eyeliner and fill in the lips using a saturated red color, leaving a small rectangular shape in one of the corners of the bottom lip. This will be a 2D substitute for your lip color shine. Fill in this gap using a white eye liner, careful not to blend with the red, and create a gradient effect.

The final step is drawing in your Ben-Day dots, which will take a while, or applying them out of perforated red paper, like I did, with lash glue – a perfectly safe product to use on your face.

This method will take about the same time as drawing them, yet it will help you achieve precise dots and a more 2D effect to your makeup. Remember, applied art is one of the characteristics of Pop Art, so this technique will only serve your point and the Comic Book Character design.

There you have it! Following these simple steps, you’ll achieve a great, striking Pop Art makeup to wear on Halloween, at a costume party or in a fashion project. You’ll have lots of fun creating and wearing it, receive a bunch of compliments for your original idea and obviously, pop up in the crowd.

I gathered some more elements of the pop art movement, to help you further understand the imagery.

Hope you liked the look!

Elements of Pop Art – understanding the imagery

Making the ordinary extraordinary was the primary concern of Pop Art artists, the current being born as a reaction to previously established genres, like Abstract Expressionism, as well as an expansion upon it. With an optimistic view to alienate and mock fine art, the movement that emerged in the mid 50s in Britain and in the 60s in the United States emphasized kitsch elements and popular culture imagery such as advertising, news, comic books or celebrities.

In Pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated or combined with unrelated material. The concept of pop art refers not as much to the art itself as to the attitudes that led to it, and although the art itself might be considered eccentric, its interpretation calls for undemanding social observations.

What are the key elements that give the uniqueness of Pop Art?

When examining pop art images, you’ll find there are several key elements that tie these seemingly unrelated art pieces together, and for our purpose – mashing them into a Pop Art Character Makeup – it is essential to decipher and adapt them to your design.

Pop art aims at expanding art into more popular, tasteful and fashionable form. Pop artists express a lot more complicated ideas than the apparently simpler style of reproducing them. The images are offered with a combination of humor, glamour, appreciation and sarcasm.

In Pop Art, a vivid manifestation of pop culture reflects in vibrant colors and busy, sometimes hardly recognizable artistic approaches.

This kind of art manifests clear lines, sharp paintwork and clear representations of symbols, objects and people, having a 2D effect. The images are usually mechanically duplicated and placed closer. The colors are unmixed with hard edges.

Street culture, collage, comic books, grunge and graffiti are typical design elements that are widely used by designers and artists. This art movement is also associated with the use of mechanical means of reproduction or rendering techniques.

Andy Warhol Pop Art

Andy Warhol’s pop art paintings were special and unique because his interest in fame and celebrities, as well as media culture in general motivated him to re-examine mundane objects like “Campbell’s Soup Cans” to celebrities including “Marilyn Monroe” and approach them from an eclectic point of view.

His portraits of Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao are instant attractions for even the most superficial of art aficionados.

Portraits of Elvis, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor completed on lighter backgrounds with silver and grey paints are less glaring than the bright pinks and blues used in the bolder portraits, but they still provide a great homage to the stars of the silver screen.  Andy Warhol pop art is visually distinguishable among all other pop art styles.

Pop Art Lichtenstein

Of equal importance to the American Pop Art movement is Roy Lichtenstein, his work defining the basic premises of Pop Art Character Makeup design like no other.

Selecting the old-fashioned comic strip as subject matter, Lichtenstein produces a hard-edged, precise composition that documents while it parodies in a soft manner.

His best known works, such as Drowning Girl, the M-Maybe Girl and the Ohhh…Alright… Girl are Comic Book Characters from “Run For Love!” in Secret Hearts, no. 83 (November 1962), DC Comics and are considered Pop Art icons and a constant source of inspiration for Pop Art Makeup looks.

The paintings are representative of Lichtenstein’s affinity for single-frame drama that reduces the viewer’s ability to identify with it and that abstracts emotion.

I provided you with more Pop Art imagery from the movement’s famous artist in the photo gallery below, to inspire you in your next Pop Art Makeup design:

Photo Gallery:


As a professional make-up artist and beauty enthusiast, Luiza's expertise has become highly prized over the years. As owner of this site, she set her mind to create a publication for those who are focused not just on beauty trends and popular brands, but also on the industry's most well-kept secrets.

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