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WINNERS REVEALED: Merry Little Elf Makeup Contest

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It’s time to announce the winners of our Merry Little Elf Holiday Makeup Contest!

But first, we would like to extend a huge “THANK YOU” to all our participants, the semi-finalists, finalists, and our judge!

This year, our fabulous judge, Nathan Johnson, created a personalized scorecard for each finalist to determine the winner.

Judge: Nathan Johnson

There is no better way to spread holiday cheer than with a winter makeover, except when that winter makeover has an ELFIN theme! This years holiday contest is tailor-made to stretch your imagination and challenge your skills.

What is a holiday elf to you? For some it will involve realism and complex prosthetics, for others it will be more artistic-perhaps more of a cartoon or pop art interpretation. As long as you have fun, there is no right or wrong.

Here’s what Nathan was looking for:

  • Creativity: As long as you delve into the elfin world, there are no limits to what you can create. This is your chance to show personality and flair, take risks, and express yourself. Here’s a tip, don’t do Google searches and copy or modify an existing makeup…be yourself and be a true creator. If you create from your own imagination, you’ll rack up higher points.
  • Realism: Does the makeup look realistic? Whether you make a woodland elf, an elf prince/princess, a LOTR Elf, an elf who just survived an epic battle, a cartoon recreation, a pop art elf, or whatever other elf you can imagine, make sure that the character is realistic for the genre you are working within.
  • Combination of Skill: The more difficult and complex techniques you utilize, the more likely you are to get higher points. If you use prosthetics, practice getting perfectly smooth edges and making sure the coloration is realistic. If you create a cartoon character, make sure to perfect highlight/shadow and precise application techniques. No matter what you try to create, pay attention to every detail, including symmetry, blending, and over-all accuracy. The better your use of combined skills, the higher points you will receive.
  • The Story: I want to read a few lines that tell the tale of your character. Not what you did, but who it is, what happened, etc. Include your in the “description” box in the entry form below. This is your chance to sell me the makeup through storytelling. Historically, this is the most overlooked section of the contest and in the past in has been what has made or broken the winner.
  • Final Image: Bring the image to life. This comes down to clear photography, use of props, costumes, and setting. Does the image enhance and further the make-up artistry? Delicate and tasteful Photoshopping and use of lighting/ring lights are acceptable, but Instagram/Snapchat filters and Facetune correcting apps are not.
  • Final note: Good luck and have a ton of fun. I cannot wait to see the amazing magic you’re going to make.

Merry Little Elf Contest Scoring:

Makeup Artist Amanda Westgard Makeup  Contest Submission

Artist: Amanda Westgard

  • Creativity: 9/10
  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skill: 7/10
  • The Story: 2/10
  • Final Image: 8/10
  • Total: 34/50

Comments: I do appreciate the uniqueness of this application. Of all the submissions, it is by far, the most out of the box and purely of your imagination. The camouflage, the tribal lines, and the amulet, all tell a very bold story that makes the imagination run wild. But there were two things missing for me. Equal weight was given to all 5 categories. Instead of writing the story of your character, you simply named her.

Had challenged your imagination for a few sentences of story, that would have garnered full points from that section, instead, that accounts for the loss of most of your points. Second, is the combination of skills. Your ability with detail (the brows, the spots on the nose, etc) is superb. It shows you are a great artist. But, if you had considered using more skills—either prosthetics or highlight/contour to reshape the face, for example—your look would have been over the top perfection. You did great work. In the future, really challenge yourself and don’t forget the story!


Makeup Artist Monique Lovecchio Makeup Contest Submission

Artist: Monique Lovecchio

  • Creativity: 6/10
  • Realism: 7/10
  • Combination of Skill: 5/10
  • The Story: 10/10
  • Final Image: 7/10
  • Total: 35/50

Comments: I appreciate your take on bringing to life a shelf elf who is makeup obsessed. It is a very creative concept.The makeup application is lovely. It combines many beauty techniques. There are two things I want to point out. Green and red/pink must be used very carefully on the face for several reasons. First, people can get a greenish or yellow hue if they are ill.

Second, when reds/pinks are used improperly around they eye people can look like they are sick or have been crying. I think you have done lovely work above the eye, but I want to take a look at the inner corner and the lower lash line. The red inner corner is evoking images from many a horror movie where someone becomes infected with some deadly strain and the inner part of their eye goes red. Combine this with the green below the lash line and it almost has an unintended sinister or ill feeling. when you add in the nude/ colorless lip and lack of blush, the feeling of un-wellness carries through a bit more. She is an elf and she loves makeup, right? Some color in the lips and color in the cheeks would have made her far more jolly, AND they would have gone a long way to counter the red inner corner and green below the lash line. It is very in trend to do cut creases, nude lips, overly shaped brows, and minimal blush, but leaving some—or all— of them out might be more appropriate to the character you are creating. Additionally, the only thing that makes this an elf, and not a makeup using holiday colors is the hat. I would encourage you to consider a few other techniques to finalize the look. My main take away for you—you have a lot of skill and you’re a great story teller. I would just reconsider some application techniques/ color placement and knowing when trend makeup helps or hurts a character. Great job.


Makeup Artist Adela Simpalean Makeup Contest Submission

Artist: Adela Simpalean

  • Creativity: 7/10
  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skill: 6/10
  • The Story: 10/10
  • Final Image: 9/10
  • Total: 40/50

Comments: This is a lovely makeup and it is very true to an existing character. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. As a whole, the application is nearly flawless. The skin, lips, and cheeks are perfect. The eyes have just enough detail to make them the focus. The details on the forehead are lovely, not fully symmetrycal, but that can easily be overlooked. I commend you on doing a beautiful makeup and making sure the image continued to tell the story. The one thing that would have sent you over the edge would have been the use of some more skills. For example, if you’d added an elf ear of some sort. Congratulations.


Makeup Artist Jessica Shay Makeup Contest Submission

Artist: Jessica Shay

  • Creativity: 7/10
  • Realism: 10/10
  • Combination of Skill: 9/10
  • The Story: 8/10
  • Final Image: 9/10
  • Total: 43/50

Comments:I have to admit, there is nothing original about this concept. There are a ton of online how to’s teaching people how to put broken ornaments on the face. That being said, you did it beautifully. You actually did it better than most of the people teaching the how-to’s. With the application, you hit two sides of makeup very well. With the use of ornaments, their adhesives, and the complimentary wounds and bruising, you demonstrated a wonderful, horrible, and realistic, use of prosthetic work.

Also, the beauty makeup you did is precise and gorgeous. BUT, I do have to ask, if someone was in this big of a fight, would their eye makeup still be this perfect? probably not. Thank you for the story as well. I will make one last confession. If it wasn’t for your story, no one would ever guess this is an elf. It looks like a woman who got into a nasty situation at Christmas Town Shopping Center. The use of an elf ear, would have taken this to a whole new level (as possibly would have a beauty makeup that reflected her trauma, even in a small way). Again, the work you did is superb. In the future, I want you to innovate beyond what everyone has already done. Just because you can do it better, doesn’t mean it’s innovative. This is excellent work, next time show me your imagination.


Makeup Artist Cara Sawtell Makeup Contest Submission

Artist: Cara Sawtell

  • Creativity: 7/10
  • Realism: 10/10
  • Combination of Skill: 9/10
  • The Story: 9/10
  • Final Image: 9/10
  • Total: 44/50

Comments: I find both the story and the makeup fascinating. I want to give you great kudos for fully committing to the story you are telling and for using a great combination of techniques to make it happen. Yes, this is a makeup challenge, but sometimes, it is the lack of perfection that best tells the story. The skin and lips are perfect, except where you don’t want them to be.

I love that you used the broken ornaments in a variety of ways, shapes and sizes. The candy cane through the mouth is a great effect and it sells your story. Remember, if a candy cane pierced the cheek the would would likely not be so huge, consider a smaller wound and more bruising. Like I said earlier, you have not done anything with the candy canes or the ornaments that has not been done before, many times, but you did fully commit to a story. What really sells this is the fact that you can tell her makeup was precise and beautiful before she got into her sugar related debacle. The smudged eye makeup, combined with the other techniques you used really make the image click perfectly with your story. Also, you used an elf ear. It is definitely not the most realistic, but it really goes far to add a final detail to your look. You did a lovely job. It is your combination of skills, willingness to tell a story, attention to detail, and presenting an image that truly corroborates the story that set you apart. Great Job.


Final notes from Nathan: I want to send out my congratulations to all of the amazing artists who participated. Each of you has the makings of a winner, but I did have to make the final decision based on the 5 guidelines that were laid out in the beginning. I am so proud of all of you and I look forward to seeing all the magic you make next time. Congratulations to all of you, but especially to our winner Cara Sawtell.

Congratulations Cara for winning our 2017 Merry Little Elf Holiday Makeup Contest!

Cara wins a Tarte Limited-Edition Treasure Box, a Sephora “Fox in a box” sponge set, and a Too Faced “‘Tis the Season to Sparkle Glitter Set”.

Student Prize Winner

The lucky winner of our student prize draw is QC Makeup Academy student Michele Clauser! Michele wins a Too Faced “Boss Lady Beauty Agenda”!

Thank you to all the artists who submitted entries for the contest! And to the 5 finalists, you should all be very proud of your work. Once again, congratulations Cara for winning the 2017 Merry Little Elf Holiday Makeup Contest!

Halloween Makeup Contest 2017- WINNERS REVEALED!

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It’s time to announce the winners of our 2017 Halloween Makeup Contest!

But first, we would like to extend a huge “THANK YOU” to all our participants, the semi-finalists, finalists, and our judges!

This year, our wonderful judges—Nathan Johnson and Azzi Williams—created personalized scorecards for each finalist to determine the winner of their category.

Click the links below to navigate to each category and view the judges’ choices:

The lucky winner of our student prize draw is QC Makeup Academy student Elektra Heart! Elektra wins an Anastasia Beverly Hills’ “Subculture Palette”, and two pairs of Stilazzi’s fantasy lashes.

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Halloween Makeup Contest 2017- Fantasy & Sci-fi Category

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Category: Gore Makeup

Judge: Azzi Williams

Here’s what Azzi was looking for:

  • Creativity: I want to see something truly unique that shows you as a true, innovative artist that is not afraid to push your creative boundaries. Outstanding hair, costume styling and accessories need to all work together with your makeup artistry to create an overall visually stunning look.
  • Skill: Technique in sci-fi and fantasy is a must to really bring the look to life, so I’m looking for detailed brushwork, killer contouring and blending, plus the ability to demonstrate how to use high-pigmented products and textures.

  • Photo quality: If you want your work to get noticed and taken seriously, photos need to be high resolution, clear, detailed and beautifully lit. Creative or even plain backgrounds work, you can even experiment with fabrics or wrapping paper textures until you find the perfect way to celebrate your look.
  • Nothing blurred, out of focus or with poorly thought-out backgrounds (certainly no bedroom clutter in the background. And less is more with skin retouching and photoshop – and yes, I will be able to tell!

  • Fun: I want to see the joy, magic and fantasy in your overall look, and outstanding artistry that simply jumps out of the page in its Halloween glory!
  • Final note: All the best with your exciting creative makeup journey ahead and have loads of fun creating your look! Finally, GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Fantasy & Sci-fi Scoring:

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Ashley Sloan Makeup Artist

Artist: Ashley Sloan

  • Creativity: 8/10
  • Skill: 9/10
  • Photo Quality: 9/10
  • Fun: 9/10
  • Total: 35/40

Comments: Creative, intense pigments and incredibly artistic. Immense effort to create a truly unique look. Would have loved to see a little more intensity around the eye makeup to take the look to a more dramatic edge, perhaps with a false lash or shimmer for extra dimension. Also think about the hair when submitting a look – perhaps add a wig or style for extra effect.

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Brooke Forget Makeup Artist

Artist: Brooke Forget

  • Creativity: 9/10
  • Skill: 10/10
  • Photo Quality: 10/10
  • Fun: 8/10
  • Total: 37/40

Comments:Intense, creative and haunting, beautiful recreation of a look that is currently a social media favourite amongst makeup lovers. Although it’s not a unique concept, it has been executed beautifully and shows tremendous skill and talent.

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Heather Warner Makeup Artist

Artist: Heather Warner

  • Creativity: 8/10
  • Skill: 9/10
  • Photo Quality: 10/10
  • Fun: 9/10
  • Total: 36/40

Comments: A popular look this season with the launch of IT, this look is beautifully intense and photographs with energy and punch. While it is not a unique design concept, the pigment and application is bold and haunting.

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Tyler Russell Makeup Artist

Artist: Tyler Russell

  • Creativity: 9/10
  • Skill: 9/10
  • Photo Quality: 10/10
  • Fun: 10/10
  • Total: 38/40

Comments: A wonderful bold and creative effort. The neon intensity of the pigment used stands out and the artistic merit is incredible. Would have liked to see the hair come together with the makeup – perhaps a wig or a style that is consistent with this epic pop zombie look.

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Brittany Bullers Makeup Artist

Artist: Brittany Bullers

  • Creativity: 10/10
  • Skill: 9/10
  • Photo Quality: 10/10
  • Fun: 10/10
  • Total: 39/40

Comments: The whole look is cohesive, fun, creative and vibrant. A pop-art take to a classic Halloween look. The black detailed work could be sharper and more defined, but otherwise a vibrant and energetic adaptation.

Congratulations Brittany for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Makeup Contest with your creative pop-art zombie look!

Brittany wins an Anastasia Beverly Hills’ “Lip Palette Vol. 1”, a RCMA’s “Shinto Palette”, and a Stilazzi’s artist caddy bag!

Thank you to all the artists who submitted entries for the contest! And to the 5 finalists, you should all be very proud of your work. Have a Happy Halloween everyone and once again, congratulations Brittany for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Contest, Fantasy & Sci-fi category!

Halloween Makeup Contest 2017- Gore Category

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Category: Gore Makeup

Judge: Nathan Johnson

Note from Nathan:

I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to all who entered our Halloween makeup contest. I can say with certainty that these are among the best entries we have ever had. It was impossibly hard for the voters and the team at QC to narrow it down to a top 5. The winner was selected entirely by using the criteria that was listed at the outset of the competition. Remember, for the purpose of this contest, story is just as important as application. I would like to say it was too difficult for me to choose the winner on my own and I had to enlist the help of the team at QC. What some made up for in application, others made up for in story or other criteria, and all of those elements had equal weight in this contest.

Here’s what Nathan was looking for:

  • Realism: Does the make up look realistic? Whether you make a woodland fairy who was smashed on a car windshield, or a demon who lost an epic battle against the powers of good, you want to make sure that the characters and their wounds and gore read as realistic.
  • Combination of skills: Major points will be given to those who go out of their way use a great combination of skills. Yes, anyone one can do a black eye, but how much more fascinating is it to have that black eye be combined with an piece of metal impaled through the chest of a killer clown?! Challenge yourself to use the full arsenal of your skills, beauty and FX, to create something really amazing.
  • Difficulty and skill of application: If you can artfully pull off more difficult and complex techniques, you are more likely to get higher points. So practice getting perfectly smooth edges on your prosthetics and making sure the coloration of all the wounds are realistic. Also, if you create a very complex character like a killer clown who has been injured, or a zombie whose flesh is tearing away, or a nymph who barely survived an attack by a werewolf, you’ll get far more points than someone who does a black eye and a cut on the cheek.
  • Originality: Be sure to create your character from your imagination. Every year, many people recycle the good old favorites that have been made popular by YouTube and Instagram (e.g. the skin peeling away to reveal the cyborg below, the person who was wounded in a fire, etc.). I am not suggesting you don’t use burns or a cyborg reveal, but what if the cyborg is under an elf or a wooden marionette? What if the one who survived the burn is a fairy who escaped a forest fire? Use your imagination.
  • The story: I want to read a few lines that tell the tale of your character. Not what you did, but who it is, what happened, etc. Include your in the “description” box in the entry form below.
  • Final look: This comes down to clear photography, use of props, costumes, and setting. Bring it to life baby!

Gore Scoring:

QC Makeup Academy Contest- Charley Arnold Makeup Artist

Artist: Charley Arnold

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 10/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 52/60

Comments: This is a stunning image. It is made even more impactful by the fact that you know the story before you even read the description. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, the photography, model, artistry, and art direction all align to tell a powerful tale. The prosthetic use is lovely, the edges may not be perfectly blended, but the use of blood helps them to fade into the skin.

If I were to make two recommendations, they would be about the size of the wound and the use of blood. The holes in the back seem a bit too large for an area around a sawn off wing. I think the image might be a bit more powerful and realistic if the holes ended quite a bit closer to the “bone” of the wing and were a bit asymmetrical. Because the holes are so big, there would need to be far more blood running down the back, versus just being smeared to hide the prosthetic edges. To take your work a step further, I recommend practicing flawless edges for your prosthetics, even if they are self-made. Blood and bruising are tools to enhance a look, not to hide minor application weaknesses. I do want to commend you on the use of color. Your care with highlight and shadow in the wound gives it a beautiful dimension. As I said above, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I would have appreciated a bit more story. Who cut off her wings and why? The quote is good, but the story is lacking. Excellent work.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Elena Maraniello Makeup Artist

Artist: Elena Maraniello

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 51/60

Comments: This is a beautiful example of storytelling through imagery. Before I even read your description, it was clear to me that these were demon twins and that you were a filmmaker. But the rest of the story is lacking. Who are these demon twins? Where did they come from? What do they want? Even answering one of those questions would have satisfied the request for your characters’ story.

The makeup is really quite excellent. I appreciate the small details– the holes where the twine pierces the lip are perfect on the photo-right model. You created depth and incredible realism. If I were to offer some suggestions, I would say the bruising/darkness below the eye could be a bit closer to the eye. When you start to put color everywhere or pull it down too far, you can detract from the image. In this case, because there is a lighter area above the half moon of darkness, it makes it look a bit like a dark circle that was placed too low. Additionally, the edges of the cross on the forehead could be a touch smoother. If you used “Third Degree” makeup, it looks a bit like it might have dried before you could really perfect the edges. Again, the photo-right model has smoother edges than the photo-left model. These are just small micro-adjustments on a beautiful application.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Jeimaliz Troche Makeup Artist

Artist: Jeimaliz Troche

  • Realism: 9/10
  • Combination of Skills: 9/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 8/10
  • Total: 50/60

Comments: For a first go, you have done some very compelling and graphic work. The roasted flesh peeling away from the arm is disgusting and in many places quite realistic. You would benefit a bit from the use of black. If someone was burned so bad that their flesh was literally hanging off, some of it would most certainly be charred.

There would also be a good amount of soot and smoke residue on the fingers and surrounding skin. The third and fourth degree burns are quite wonderful, I would just work a bit on the second and third degree. Instead of just putting a wash of maroon over the pinky edge of the hand (and on the fingers), use a gentler wash of red with a few blisters (maybe even some that have popped. This can easily be done with “third degree” silicone and latex). Then by letting the red fade gradually, you’ll have all the varying levels of a burn, and it will enhance the realism. The burn on the pinky itself is magnificent. This is beautiful work, and with a little bit more finesse, some picture quality, and a story, it could have been the winner. I cannot wait to see what you create for the next contest.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Tamikah Rivette Makeup Artist

Artist: Tamikah Rivette

  • Realism: 7/10
  • Combination of Skills: 8/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 8/10
  • Originality: 10/10
  • Story: 10/10
  • Final Look: 9/10
  • Total: 52/60

Comments: When it comes to originality, no one has you beat. You are also the only one who truly committed to a story. I want you to know how much I appreciate that. The complexion, the detailed work below and above the eye, the flesh tone eyelashes, and the freckles are absolute perfection. I am also crazy about the textured forehead. I’m not just speaking of the use of twine (for the veins?), but rather the texture of the head itself.

I wish some of this uneven texture, as well as the veins, reappeared elsewhere– perhaps on the shoulders, lower jaw, or chest. I can only find two minor things to point out. First, the area below and around the ear looks like it is peeling away, as do some of the veins. Secondly, a part of me would have appreciated it if there was a touch less blood. Sometimes when you create a very powerful image, a touch of editing will make it even more thrilling. A tiny trickle of blood running from her ear can be far more powerful than a bath of it. I learned from the QC team that you submitted this entry for the other category, and they rightly moved you to gore based on the amount of blood. I think this could have worked in either category, had you been a bit more restrained with your use of blood. Remember, our job as artists is to enhance a character, and allow its story to be told. When one is too aggressive on one element, it can overwhelm and detract from the rest of the look.


QC Makeup Academy Contest- Halie Holley Makeup Artist

Artist: Halie Holley

  • Realism: 8/10
  • Combination of Skills: 10/10
  • Difficulty & Skill of Application: 9/10
  • Originality: 9/10
  • Story: 7/10
  • Final Look: 10/10
  • Total: 53/60

Comments: There is an old saying “the devil is in the details”, and I think you really took that to heart here. There are a lot to love here, but I think my favorite part of the makeup is the bite on the shoulder. It has depth, it is graphic, and in my imagination, it is likely where she first got bit causing her zombie transformation! I really love the texture and details on the face.

The scaled effect of the skin is innovative. You have completely distorted the features using a combination of techniques. And very impressively, all the edges are invisible. Yes, some may be hidden by the hair, but in the mask of the face, the application is flawless and that is where it matters the most. The rotting nose is glorious. The one thing that confuses me is why has the mouth sealed itself shut? Perhaps if you told me a bit of a story… for example, she was doused in battery acid by someone trying to escape her clutch, etc. Also, consider the blood. If someone has gone so far as to rot, they would most likely not have any relatively fresh blood below the eye. Blood flow is a sign of life or recent death. You could argue that that blood is from biting and consuming her victims, but I would counter by pointing out that her mouth is melted shut. The flawless application, diverse use of techniques, and the overall professionalism send this look to the top. For higher points, next time use your story to explain the application choices. Very impressive work. Beautiful image. Congratulations.


Thank you again to all who entered. It was a delight to see your beautiful work.

– Nathan

Congratulations Halie for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Makeup Contest with your creative pop-art zombie look!

Halie wins a Ben Nye’s “Primary Creme Palette”, an Esum’s “Pro Palettes & Spatula”, a set of 5 latex prosthetics, two Graftobian creme foundations, liquid and gel blood, and a stipple sponge.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone and once again, congratulations Halie for winning the 2017 QC Halloween Contest, Gore category!