How to Create a Killer Submission for QC's Halloween Makeup Contest - QC Makeup Academy

It’s perhaps the best time of the year. Leaves are changing color, fall boots are in, and horror movies are streaming 24/7. You know what else it’s time for? QC’s annual Halloween Makeup Contest!

That means it’s time to get creative and win some awesome prizes. We know, we know, you’ve been waiting for this moment all year. We have, too! Our judges can’t wait to take a look at all your talented submissions, and here’s the good news: competing is super simple. Dream up a look, create it, submit it, and then, if you qualify as a semi-finalist, sit back and watch your look get ‘likes’ on Facebook.

To help you get started, we’ve put together this guide to creating a great entry!

Come up with an original look

Halloween Makeup Contest Styled Look

Want to really ‘wow’ the Halloween Makeup Contest judges? Come up with something they haven’t something before—don’t just copy a YouTube tutorial or a trendy look. While you can draw from other sources for inspiration or technique, a winning submission is one that’s all your own.

QC judges want to see your raw talent. Have a signature style? Think of ways you can bring that A-game to your submission.

How to come up with a unique look:

  • Turn to iconic books/movies or videogames for a concept you might want to play with. (But adapt—don’t just copy).
  • Think of innovative ways you can use your favorite beauty products for a more theatrical/dramatic look.
  • Rethink conventional color palettes or fuse two totally different looks.
  • Really stuck? Go and peruse your closest Sephora for a product you could never justify purchasing before—and let your imagination run wild.

Style your submission


Finally come up with a killer idea? Make sure your finished look is complete: style your look from head to toe. Previous winners were selected because they nailed it. You can take your makeup look to a whole new level of competition by putting together an entire concept. That means hair, outfit, accessories, and background.

Not sure where to start your styling? Here are our top tips:

  • Going for a gore look? Think of what the backstory of your model is going to be. Is she/he a zombie? Zombies don’t have perfect clothes. Are you going for a 1940’s pinup zombie? Research the period and style away.
  • Inventive sci-fi looks also need a cohesive finished look. This can be as easy as interesting hair!
  • Backgrounds don’t need to be an elaborate tableau, but don’t photograph in front of a pile of dirty dishes. A simple solid-colored background can make a big difference!
    Think about a curtain you can drape for a backdrop. It doesn’t need to distract—just bring things together.

Take a clear photo


Submitting the best photo of your makeup look might sound like the most challenging part of our Halloween contest. But you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take a high quality shot!

Lighting: Make sure your photos aren’t dark or blurry. Try to avoid using a flash if you can. Also avoid harsh lighting, such as a glaring lightbulb or direct sunlight. Natural light is the best for your makeup shot. Think morning light, an overcast day, or a shot near a large window. You can alter lighting with editing tools, but don’t overdo it—judges will keep an eye out for excessive editing.

Focus: With your submission shot, you’ll be trying to capture your entire makeup look, so focus on your model and not the background. Your camera resolution should be a set at no lower than “5M” (or “2592 x 1944”). Try to avoid a digital zoom!

Background: Make your background a cohesive color or pattern with your theme, but don’t let it take over your shot.

Angles: You can work your angles, but remember you can only submit one shot of your finished look. Choose an angle that captures the complete look.

DON’T over-edit


Going heavy with Photoshop is a sure-fire way of making sure you don’t win. This contest is about showing off your makeup artistry skills, NOT your ability to edit images into oblivion! Judges are looking for clear shots of your work.

  • AVOID filters and any other unnecessary editing (like a teeth whitening tool).
  • Step AWAY from the blurring tool.
  • Using an editing software to crop is fine, but do not use it to zoom in.
  • Fixing a random strand of hair is A-Okay, but editing should not compromise the integrity of your original work. In other words, if it takes you longer to edit than it took you to actually create the look, you’ve gone waaay overboard. That means also keep an eye on overexposure, and color adjustments.

Perfect your look

Halloween Makeup Contest Style Submission 2

A simple way to make sure you don’t have to resort to heavy editing? Practice your makeup application before you submit! Execution needs to be flawless. This also means deciding what category you want to submit in (you can submit to all three!):

  • Gore: Judge Michele Mulkey (QC Tutor & Pro SFX Makeup Artist) wants a look that is imaginative. She will be judging in terms of how realistic gore looks. Ability to incorporate a difficult technique also ranks high in the scoring.
  • Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Judge Nathan Johnson (QC Tutor and Executive Makeup Artist) will be looking for creativity. Being able to demonstrate a high degree of makeup artistry skill will also receive top marks. Sci-fi does not mean sloppy!
  • Hollywood Characters: Judge Azzi Williams (QC Tutor) wants drama! Any and all false lashes must be on point! Effort placed toward really creating an immaculate finished look will not go unnoticed in the judging.

Again, application in terms of the finished look is what to keep in mind—not what extra editing can do for your photo. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: Don’t misrepresent your work with excessive digital touch ups. If you don’t like your colors or are not feeling the finish, reapply and try the look again!

Have fun with the process


This is your moment to let your imagination run wild—and for you to get some great exposure! In addition to the satisfaction of being crowned one of QC’s 2016 Halloween makeup all-stars, you’ve also got the chance to win some amazing professional makeup products. Whether you make the final cut or not, you’re bound to learn a lot in the process.

We’ve already covered why entering makeup contests is a fabulous thing to do. If you’re a student of QC Makeup Academy, consider this an opportunity to distinguish yourself among your class! If you just love makeup, this is your chance to prove you have what it takes to take it to the next level. And if you’ve already gone pro, well, our contest is your stage.

Brainstorm with friends. Watch different ‘creature feature’ films. Spend some quality time with Google looking up time periods, fantasy creatures, aliens… you name it! What have you got to lose? You’ve got the skills, so go for it!

Can’t wait to get started on creating your winning look? Head over to our 2016 Halloween Makeup Contest page for official submission details.

Author Alison Kasko

More posts by Alison Kasko

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