Nathan Johnson, Author at QC Makeup Academy
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Nathan Johnson

4 Ways to Keep Up Your Makeup Practice at Home

By Education, From the Experts, Your Makeup Career 2 Comments

We are in the midst of a pandemic – the likes of which, we’ve never experienced before in our lifetime. With so many people quarantined, most of the world is now locked down and/or practicing social distancing.

While it feels like everyone is terrified of the slightest cough or sniffle, it could seem like the worst time to make progress with your education and makeup artist certification.

But this could not be farther from the truth! With a positive attitude and a few helpful suggestions, you’ll be ready to continue practicing your makeup artistry immediately. In fact, when all of this is said and done, you could realistically come out way AHEAD of where you presently are!

4 Ways to Keep Up Makeup Practice At Home Blog - Makeup Palette and Brushes on Table

The first thing I cannot stress enough is: do not look for models! Yes, working on different skin types, tones, etc. can have a profound impact on your growth and knowledge as a makeup artist. But right now, it’s simply not safe to do that.

The time will come when we can practice on others again. When it does, I’ll push you to do so. For now, though, it’s important keep yourself and others safe. So here are a few things you can do instead…

1. Take advantage of your circumstances

If you live with others, you have models you can practice on right there! (So long as they’re already in your immediate living environment, of course.) In some cases, it may be unconventional, but you can practice your makeup skills on your spouses, partners, roommates, parents, and children.

Remember: A face is a face! So even if the person you are confined with is a man, you still have a great palette to work on. Yes, you may have to do some bartering to convince them to be your model. But with a little determination, you can pull it off!

2. Work on yourself

Working on yourself can be beneficial, if you do it correctly. Don’t just sit down and do your makeup. Instead, choose which techniques you want to master, and then put dedicated effort into doing it. Repetition is key, so practice again and again!

Take photos, with your eyes open and closed. Study the photos with the eye of an art critic. Do your best to look at your work objectively, so you can see where improvements can be made.

4 Ways to Keep Up Makeup Practice At Home Blog - Woman Applying Makeup in Mirror

3. Work on face charts

At first suggestion, this may seem absurd, but hear me out! If you can master perfect eyeliners, brows, drop shadows, lip liners, and shadow placement on a piece of paper, it will translate to the face. Training both the hand and the mind will translate to every medium you work in. If you have a makeup dummy head, you can practice your techniques on that as well.

Now, let me clarify: mastering makeup artistry means that every aspect is crisp, clean, symmetrical, and precise. If you hold yourself to an incredibly high standard, you’ll see it transform your skill-set.

4. Follow your makeup artistry checklist

When working on a face chart or a makeup dummy head, mastering each element of the checklist below will help ensure that your time spent actually advances your craft…

Eyeliner Checklist

  • Does the eyeliner on both eyes have exactly the same thickness on each side, every step of the way?
  • Do any wings or cats go at exactly the same angle?
  • Are any wings or cats exactly the same length?
  • Are any wings or cats smooth and crisp?

Make sure to practice ALL of the different eyeliner variations taught in Unit B of your Master Makeup Artistry Course. These different eyeliner styles are:

  1. Natural liner
  2. Wedge liner
  3. Drop shadow
  4. Wraparound liner
  5. Tightlining
  6. Cat-eye liner and winged liner
  7. Lining the lower waterline, and
  8. Lower liner
Makeup artist applying eyeliner to model - makeup artist practice article

Brow Checklist

  • Are both eyebrows symmetrical?
  • Were they done with perfect, hair-like strokes?
  • Do the strokes follow the direction of natural hair growth?
  • Do the brows follow the classic shape?

Make sure to practice all 3 types of brows (classic, thin, and natural), also taught to you within Unit B of the MMA Course!

Lip Liner Checklist

  • Are both sides perfectly symmetrical on the upper and lower lip?
  • Are the upper and lower lip balanced?
  • Is the liner smooth and crisp? 
  • Is the liner exactly the same thickness all the way around?

Eyeshadow Checklist

  • Is the eyeshadow exactly the same on both eyes, every step of the way? (This includes placement, thickness, etc.)
  • Does the shadow go up at a flattering angle at the outer corner of each eye?
  • Is the angle symmetrical on each side?

Make sure to practice each step of applying eyeshadow individually, then practice combining them in different variations!

Blue eye makeup with flowers - makeup artist practice article

What makes us grow the most as artists is practice. So make the most of this time, and all the ways in which you can improve your art!

When working on yourself, a housemate, or a makeup dummy, you’ll use real make up. If you’re practicing on a face chart, you may instead choose to use other (but similar) products. A fine sharpie, an art pen’s with various brush tips, chalk, charcoals, and colored pencils all work well.

Remember: No matter which form(s) of practice you choose, always make sure that you practice meticulous hygiene. It’s more important now than ever.

Covid-19 is here, whether we like it or not. Why not make the most of the time you have, and work towards changing your life for the better? That way, you can be best prepared once this passes – and rest assured, it WILL pass.

These are hard times. People will want to feel their best when things get better and life returns to normal. With the proper training and practice, you’ll be there to make that happen!

On March 26th, we will be doing a very special webinar that will focus on maximizing home learning. We’ll cover all these topics, as well as answer all of your questions. Stay tuned for the announcement and be sure to tune in!

It’ll be fun! We can share a bit of love and connect withing our amazing community. There will even be some very special downloads available for you!

I’m sending you love from the entire QC family. It’s time that we really come together as one race – the human race – and remember that we’re all in this together.

You matter. You are loved. And we are here for you, now and always.

Woman making a heart shape with hands - makeup artist practice article

Maximize your time at home by earning your professional makeup artist certification! Enroll today in the leading online Master Makeup Artistry Course!

DeShawn Hatcher doing makeup on female model

Industry Spotlight: DeShawn Hatcher

By Education, Featured, From the Experts, Makeup Tips and Tricks, Your Makeup Career No Comments

One of the greatest things any artist can do is continue to learn. Makeup artist classes are essential, but there is also mandatory “real world” learning that everyone interested in working in the beauty world needs. Our “Makeup Artists to Follow” series will introduce you to a new artist who has made an impact on the beauty industry.

Learning about them will give you a free master class in what’s happening with the titans in the industry. You’ll see the birth of trends from the people who actually created them – not the influencers who copied them. You’ll see a diverse array of techniques and styles that will ignite your own creativity, connecting you to the greater makeup community.

The first of these cosmetic pioneers that we’ll take a look at is DeShawn Hatcher.

Meet DeShawn Hatcher

DeShawn Hatcher headshot

As a makeup artist, educator, author, and Guinness World Record holder, DeShawn Hatcher is a true dynamo in the world of beauty. As an artist, she’s worked in every area of makeup, and had many different makeup artist jobs: TV, celebrity, editorial, and runway. She even holds the world record as the Beauty Director for the Cotton Inc. 24 hour fashion show.

With a hefty portfolio of images ranging from crisp and clean, to edgy and editorial, DeShawn’s work is a masterclass in diversity. Her passion is driven by an obsession for people to see the beautiful woman herself, not someone caked in makeup. Anything and everything within DeShawn’s portfolio demonstrates her mastery of creating perfect skin, precise lips, and captivating eyes. With her rich understanding of makeup and diverse use of technique, she’s proven herself to be a force in the world of beauty.

deshawn hatcher makeup example on female model #1

In her book, Assisting Rules”, DeShawn discusses how critical it is to become an assistant to a professional makeup artist, if you can, because it can be a fundamental move in blossoming your own professional MUA career. The book is a step-by-step guide to helping anyone break into the industry who has an interest in fashion, beauty, and print. It’s a must-have; rich with tips, tricks, and secrets that only someone who did it herself would know.

Not only do you get to see the ins and outs of what it’s like in the actual industry, you also get to learn from a pro in action. Just as importantly, it provides the chances for you to network, make connections, and get your name out there. These are opportunities that may be harder to come by if you weren’t assisting a professional makeup artist in your early days within the biz.

DeShawn has also contributed to nearly every major magazine, such as Elle, Vogue, Harper’s, WWD, etc. Her list of achievements is endless, but some notable contributions include:

  • Campaigns for some of the biggest international companies (e.g. MasterCard, Panasonic, Boost Mobile)
  • Runway looks for celebrated designers like Tory Birch, Tommy Hilfiger, Christian Siriano, etc.
  • Makeup for television, on networks such as E!, HBO, NBC, etc.
  • Makeup for Beyoncé, Tom Cruise, Vanessa Williams, and Anette Bening being just a few examples.
DeShawn Hatcher makeup example on female fashion model

As if this wasn’t impressive enough, she also teamed up with Graftobian to create the much-needed, and world’s first, Multicultural Foundation Palette for People of Color (Inclusion).

With a focus on education, DeShawn is often a featured speaker at makeup trade shows, makeup schools, and she writes her own blog. Her Instagram, @deshawnhatcher, is a must-follow. But her blog and her YouTube channel in particular are, in my opinion, some of the best resources for people wanting to learn about the beauty business from a true pro.

DeShawn Hatcher makeup example #3

Want to take your professional MUA career to the next level? Check out Nathan’s 3 tips to boost your success!

Halloween Makeup Contest 2019: Trick Category

By Announcements 2 Comments

Thank you to everyone who participated in QC’s Halloween Makeup Contest: Trick category. Below is Nathan’s critique of the five finalists. Click here to view Azzi’s critique on the Treat category finalists.

Here’s what Nathan was looking for:

Effort: Higher points will be awarded to those who combine diverse skills with incredible imagination to create a detailed and captivating horror look. Makeup technique is fundamental, but the more visually stunning the final image is—through the tasteful use of hair, costume styling, props, and accessories—the more points will be awarded.

Skill/Technique: Students who demonstrate the use of polished makeup skills, detailed application, symmetry (when it is supposed to be symmetrical), and a diverse use of techniques will be awarded higher points. There are no rules in horror, so don’t be afraid to change, refine, and create new techniques.

Photo Quality: A good quality image is essential. The photograph should be clean, crisp, and appropriately lit. Higher points will be awarded to images that look like they could be in a horror magazine or media feed. Points will be deducted for images that are blurry, messy, or have cluttered or thoughtless backgrounds (e.g. messy bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.). This doesn’t mean that you need an expensive setup, it just means you need to clean the oils off your camera lens or to borrow a better phone or camera. Incredibly gentle retouching is acceptable, although your makeup should be doing the perfecting on its own. Blurred skin, visible or over-retouching, and filters will result in a loss of points or disqualification.

Fun/Originality: Create a makeup look that is original and from the deepest recesses of your imagination. I expect to see wonder, terror, beauty, and horror! Have fun every step of the way! If you copy or tweak an influencer’s existing work, you will be disqualified. You are an artist—don’t copy. And I can promise you, everyone in the industry has seen enough of the well-shadowed skeleton teeth, the typical sugar skull, the ventriloquist’s dummy, and all the other over-done and constantly copied tutorials. Originality is difficult, especially in a social media driven world, so accept the challenge to create.

Story: A few sentences about your creation and the story behind him/her/it can do a lot to sell your image. Don’t fall into the trap of telling what you did with the makeup. Instead, tell the story of who or what this person or creature is. The stronger your story and concept, the more precise and clear your application will be, and the more points you’ll be awarded. In the past, amazing makeup artists have lost the contest because they refused to tell a story. Don’t let that be you.

Finalists & Scoring

Congratulations to our finalists and everyone who took the time to enter. Remember, winning is nice, but putting the effort into your craft and learning from the process is far better. There were so many incredible submissions this year, it was hard to even settle on the top five. The final determinations came down to the expertise in the work and the uniqueness of the look. Unfortunately, some really spectacular images were disqualified because they were slight variations on famous social media how-to videos. My advice to everyone reading this: if you want to be an artist, stop copying. You are unique and creative. What is inside you is more than enough. There is no better moment than now to let yourself shine.

That being said, let’s celebrate Cassie, Romane, Charley, Kaysey, and Tamara.

Artist: Cassie Stephan


Teeth that will shred anything that comes close. Eyes to make you hypnotized, and my presence will make you fall to your knees. I shadow these lonely fields and capture my prey when unexpected. Farmers that work late into the night have told stories about the scarecrow that lives in these fields and takes you by surprise. Once you go to work, there’s no coming home…


  • Effort: 5/5
  • Skill/Technique: 3/5
  • Photo Quality: 5/5
  • Fun/Originality: 5/5
  • Story: 4/5
  • Total Score: 22


Cassie’s work really captures the spirit of Halloween. The art direction and composition of this photo are superb. Small details like the maggots on the forehead, the textured skin, and the contact lenses put it over the top in the best of ways. If I were to offer one bit of advice, I would recommend making the teeth smaller. Huge pieces of plastic, look like huge pieces of plastic. Perhaps if you decided to create row after row of smaller teeth, the realism of the look would have carried through to the mouth. This is really a beautiful submission. Congratulations.

QC Makeup Academy Halloween Makeup Contest - Trick Category Finalists - Charley Whittingham


  • Effort: 4/5
  • Skill/Technique: 2/5
  • Photo Quality: 5/5
  • Fun/Originality: 4/5
  • Story: 5/5
  • Total Score: 20

Artist: Charley Whittingham


“Plastic Kills”

A report backed by Sir David Attenborough states that our plastic waste is killing people every 30 Seconds. Britain alone exports 650,000 tonnes of plastic waste a year to places such as Malaysia and Indonesia. And, reportedly, throws away two double-decker bus-loads of plastic every 30 seconds.

Plastic is killing our wildlife, destroying their habitat, and OUR environment. Yet, there’s still not enough being done to stop this travesty. If it affected our mother, father, brother, sister, friend, and neighbor, would we act faster to resolve this?

The reason I chose to create this look is because I am very passionate about how plastic pollution is affecting our incredible world. I referred to real life images of animals in danger due to our plastic waste to create this look.

All plastic used in this image, was collected from our beaches. No animals or humans were harmed in the making.

#SaveOurWorld #Plastickills


This makeup carries a very timely message. In terms of morals, sadly, this is more reality than fiction. Everything about the image, from the plastic waste, to the manner in which the model has been carelessly left amongst the rubbish and rubble (as if her life was of no significance), adds to the impact.

The subtle makeup on the face conveys death perfectly. I only wish the wounds had more thoughtful precision. The throat, for example, seems to suggest both strangulation and a slit, but neither really comes through. The wound on the stomach is so stuffed with plastic, that you cannot tell if there is anything there other than some blood and plastic. If these wounds had some dimension and clarity, the image would have struck the gut more powerfully.

Artist: Kaysey Fairbrother-Marsden


Flesh Eater: This beauty lures in males with her stunning features, but quickly turns on them and eats their flesh. Inspired by the film Jennifer’s Body.


  • Effort: 5/5
  • Skill/Technique: 5/5
  • Photo Quality: 4/5
  • Fun/Originality: 4/5
  • Story: 4/5
  • Total Score: 22


This is a fine example of body painting art. Paint and powder effects rely on highlight, contour, and illusion to have any impact. Kaysey did this masterfully.

With the addition of a facial prosthetic, she was able to transform the features beyond the capabilities of paint and powder alone. The work is riddled with detail. The transformation created with the hair is masterful. Small details are incredibly powerful.

For years and years, we have seen the half-face makeup looks. Although there is nothing wrong with it, I would have preferred to see a more novel approach. Perhaps the flesh-eater half could have been consuming the opposite half as if the transformation burned across the face. Perhaps there could have been something more than a bloody line dividing the two applications. I don’t want to take away from the splendor of this, I simply wish it had a more unique twist.

Artist: Tamara Dixon


Grandma jack-o-lantern


  • Effort: 5/5
  • Skill/Technique: 4/5
  • Photo Quality: 3/5
  • Fun/Originality: 4/5
  • Story: 1/5
  • Total Score: 17


I am obsessed with this submission. I have seen variations of the jack o’ lantern person before, but this is unique on so many levels.

First, the use of Grandma is epic. The work with the scar wax/third degree is very good. It is smooth and nearly disappears into the skin. A touch more smoothing on the edges would have hit perfection.

Tamara’s work has a visceral effect. Matching the innocence of loving Grandma with such a gory effect, she has created a compelling image. Sadly, it lacks a story. Had you put a touch of effort into crafting the smallest story and put some thought into composing an image to enhance the story, you would have received 24 points—and won.

Artist: Romane Castelnau


This Devil will make you regret your sins.


  • Effort: 5/5
  • Skill/Technique: 5/5
  • Photo Quality: 5/5
  • Fun/Originality: 4/5
  • Story: 4/5
  • Total Score: 23


Romane demonstrates a tremendous amount of technical artistry in this submission. Not only are we seeing a beautiful application of color, but we are also seeing prosthetics, a bald cap, and handcrafted elements to reshape features. At first glance, one may view this as a face mask that was glued on from top to bottom. But that is part of the magic of the work because it is so much more.

Most impressively, it has been applied with precision, symmetry, and balance. The story is short, more of a statement, but it represents the image and leaves an impact. The photograph is high quality. I simply wish there was a little less shadow in the eye sockets.

It takes mastery to blend the flashing of a prosthetic into the skin, and Romane achieved it here. A touch less mood in the lighting would deliver the punch while allowing the viewer to really see just how much skill and technique went into this masterpiece.

Congratulations Romane!
In the comments below, I’d love to hear from contestants (finalists or not), what you learned in this process, from creating the work, being chosen or not, guidance from the finalists feedback, and how you might learn from that to ensure you make it to the top five next time. 
QC Makeup Academy Tutor - Nathan Johnson - Digital Signature

Congratulations to Romane for winning the 2019 Halloween Makeup Contest: Trick category!

Romane wins a Ben Nye “Primary Creme Palette”, a Skin Illustrator “Hurt Box Wound Palette”, a bottle of Skindinavia “Makeup Finishing Spray”, a set of 5 latex prosthetics, an injury wheel and an RMG bald cap wheel, and two bottles of special effects blood.

We wish to thank all the makeup artists once again for their contest submissions! And to the five finalists, you should all be very proud of your work.

Looking to enroll in some of QC’s courses? Learn more about each course here!