Drawing Hair Curls

To make a feel of the hair continuing as curls down to the outer margin of the cheeks, black lines can be drawn using pencil or brush. The same can be applied to the upper margin of the forehead (if necessary) to make an extra-large forehead look smaller than it is. These are accepted features of an Indian female sculpture. And, in character makeup, they help to suggest some specific aspects of the nature of certain characters. The curls can enhance the brilliance of the ornaments worn near them. However, the side curls must be done according to the shape of the face.

Thilakam / Bindi / Pottu

The significance of Thilakam becomes more relevant if any character is to be indicated in solo or group performances. Anything commonly known in a society (lokadarmi), when stylized for artistic purposes (or any other specific ones like the logos for institutions, festivals etc.) become ‘Naatyadharmi’. In short, a Thilakam indicates a stylized identity. This concept is very similar to the most commonly known symbols like, Om (Hindu); Cross (Christian); Crescent moon and star (Islam) etc. Therefore, it is an important part of Aahharya abhinaya. The black ‘dot’ commonly seen in all three styles of Naatya referred to in this handbook, is to mark the median line of the face and the level above which the prescribed Thilakm has to be placed. This ‘dot’ represents the ‘Bindu’.

For Bharathanaatyam, Mohiniyaattam & Kuchipudi, small variations may be made the conventional types of Thilakam used in accordance with the size & shape of the face, size of the forehead, subtle specifications accepted by regional concepts etc. The apt size, proportionate to the rest has to be decided by the person who does the face makeup

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Note : Traditionally, the colour pigments were prepared from natural materials – Kumkuma Chaanthu (viscous fluid made out of Saffron) for Red; Bhasmam (ash) / ice paste for White; Kalabham (Sandal with Saffron) or Chandanam (Sandal) for Yellow or off-white and Mashi (thick oily paste made out of soot) for Black, etc. These, for more than one reason, are being replaced by artificial materials like acrylic colours, stickers etc. with glittering addendums. As all the other materials used for makeup have undergone such changes, it is irrelevant to insist on using the natural materials for Thilakam alone. But, one must be cautious enough to use only safe materials. The shapes, size, colours and positions should be maintained. Any change is welcome to enhance the aesthetic appreciation.But, it would be illogical to accept any, if they ignored the objectives and purposes for which the earlier ones were made.


Observe the complexion of the face, after rest of the colouring work is over. Choose a bold colour that provides a soft pretty contrast. The general rule in natural makeup is: - For a bright complexion, a lighter pink or neutral colour may stand out enough. For a medium complexion, slightly darker shades could be used. This is the commonly accepted basic rule. Thus, for classical dance makeup under discussion here, pink or neutral red would be most ideal. If the lip-skin is on the dry side, use a type of lipstick that contains good skin conditioners.

Outline lips with a lip-liner. It should be about the same shade as that of the expected lip shade. Draw the line from the outside of lips to the centre, carefully tracing the shape of the lips. A good lip-liner can be used as a base, too. Fill in lips entirely with the liner before applying lipstick; the lipstick will stay on longer without any visual changes. Size and small distortions of the lips, to a certain limit, can be corrected while doing the line work.

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Carefully apply the chosen lipstick within the lines drawn with the lip-liner. Start from the centre of the lips and brush the lipstick outward, filling in all the gaps. For a more precise application, use a soft brush.If the application goes out of the lines of the lip-liner, wipe the excess lipstick away with a tissue.Apply lipstick in light layers, adding only if necessary. However, remember that less is more when it comes to lipstick, because greasy lips are not only unattractive, but also tend to get smudged easily. Open the lips and close them over a think pack of dry tissue to remove the excess lipstick. This helps set it in place as well.

Lip-Gloss’ - This is used to turn the lips highly attractive by making them stand out in an exaggerated manner. Although it is frequently used in natural and model makeup, it may not be often necessary for the stylized dances, referred to here. If a very thin lip needs to be made more conspicuous to keep the total balance of the facial makeup, one may use it judiciously. If used, apply it to the middle of the bottom lip only. Rub lips together.Remember; as in the case of eyes and brows , in the case of lips also, the size, shape, colour, etc. can indicate certain subtle aspects of the nature of a ‘Character’ or a ‘Stage Figure.’


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